Cannabis Could Be Used to Treat Alzheimer’s Study Finds
Cannabis continues to be a controversial topic in the medical field, with some doctors advocating its use and extolling its many benefits while others still vilify its historically illegal nature and the act of smoking as a way to discard its potential as a medicine. As a large number of physicians recommend cannabis for a wide variety of ailments ranging from sleep disorders to anxiety and depression, researchers have also turned their attention towards studying the effects of medical marijuana on Alzheimer’s patients. Although research on this matter has been ongoing, recent studies are revealing that cannabis might not only be useful for preventing Alzheimer’s but also treating patients who have already developed symptoms.
Cannabinoids are Neuroprotective and Prevent Neurodegenerative Diseases
According to a study from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, the primary psychoactive active ingredient in marijuana (THC) has the ability to interact with a special receptor in the brain to protect cells from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The receptor is called COX-2 and it turns out cannabinoids can help modulate and control these receptors which play a key role in the development of several neurological diseases. The study found that medical marijuana not only has the potential to prevent the onset of chronic illnesses but also to protect patients from brain damage in the event of an acute traumatic injury or stroke. Coincidentally, this neuroprotective effect has been found to be highest in Sativa varieties like the ironically named Amnesia Haze.
THC Inhibits the Growth of Amyloid Plaque
A study conducted at the Scripps Research Institute discovered that THC can inhibit the growth of amyloid plaque, which is a significant marker for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The study, which is published in the journal of Molecular Pharmaceutics, found that THC inhibits an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AchE), which is known to facilitate and accelerate the growth of amyloid plaque – the build up of which eventually causes the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
THC Stimulates the Growth of Neural Connections
One study found that intravenously administered THC given to lab mice increased the rate of neurogenesis (the formation of brain cells and neural connections) by up to 40%. The study revealed some of the scientific workings behind marijuana’s ability to spark creativity and “out-of-the-box” thinking. This data in particular came as a shock to many in the medical community, being that there has long been a misconception that using cannabis “kills brain cells,” when in fact the outdated study that erroneously came to that conclusion was actually proving that smoke inhalation kills brain cells and has since been refuted multiple times.
The Short-Term Memory Scare
Many people are initially surprised to learn that cannabis can have protective effects on the memory, considering the temporary effects that THC has on short-term memory. However, research has found no evidence that there are any long-term effects on short-term memory. In fact, the data suggests that it may even strengthen the user’s short-term memory and attention span when the user is no longer “high.”