Cannabis Can Prevent Alzheimer’s
Studies show that small doses of marijuana are effective in preventing and slowing down Alzheimer’s.
One of the biggest myths being spread by anti-marijuana groups is that pot is bad for your brain.
However, there are studies that can prove the opposite is true. While marijuana is already widely accepted by many for its medicinal benefits, particularly for pain management, cancer treatment, nausea and depression among many others; a 2014 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that small amounts of THC can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s in patients. THC has the ability to interrupt the production of a protein known as beta-amyloid which accumulates to build plaque in the brain, causing Alzheimer’s disease.
According to Chuanhai Cao, lead author of the study, “THC is known to be a potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties, but this is the first report that the compound directly affects Alzheimer’s pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels, inhibiting its aggregation.” Cao, a neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy, also added, “Decreased levels of amyloid beta means less aggregation, which may protect against the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Since THC is a natural and relatively safe amyloid inhibitor, THC or its analogs may help us develop an effective treatment in the future.”
Researchers state that when THC is administered at low doses, its health benefits outweigh the possible risks of memory impairment and toxicity.
Gary Wenk, a psychology and neuroscience professor at the University of Ohio and an expert on Alzheimer’s and chronic brain inflammation, started studying cannabinoids after big pharma companies sent him compounds to study which were were unable to treat inflammation in the brain. He and his team also studied elderly people who didn’t suffer from dementia and discovered that those who smoked marijuana back in the 1970’s aren’t getting Alzheimer’s as fast as other older people, even if they are already at their 60’s and 70’s..
But according to Wenk, “the equivalent of one puff a day” is enough to prevent dementia.
The Effect Of Cannabis On The Brain
Lighting up can protect your brain in several ways. For one, cannabis has anti-inflammatory properties. Neural tissue inflammation may be partially responsible for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Many studies have been conducted in an attempt to connect the links between neuroinflammation and the endocannabinoid system.
A 2009 study investigating the brains of deceased individuals with Alzheimer’s showed that there were significant changes in their endocannabinoid system, particularly a heightened expression of cannabinoid receptors located in the microglia, or the primary immune cells within our central nervous system. The key takeaway from this is that either when Alzheimer’s disease begins to form in the body this will affect the endocannabinoid system; or when the endocannabinoid system is no longer functional, this leads to the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Second, cannabis is also an antioxidant which has protective benefits on the brain. Many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s are also caused by oxidative stress caused by increased antioxidant levels in the body. Inflammation results in oxidative stress, decreases the antioxidant capabilities of our cells, and causes the body to produce more free radicals. All these activities interrupt synapse function in the brain and result in neuron loss which ultimately lead to memory impairment and other neurological conditions.
Third, cannabis also promotes neurogenesis, or the growth of new neural tissue. Patients of Alzheimer’s experience massive breakdown of neural tissue which is when symptoms of the disease begin to manifest itself. On top of that, neurogenesis is also disrupted because of the presence of amyloid beta proteins. Therapies, such as cannabis oil medication, can help stimulate neurogenesis and prevent or slow down Alzheimer’s.
While the vast parts and processes of the human brain still leave much to be understood, it is clear that preventing neurodegenerative diseases later in life means that we need to be taking better care of our brains. Regular exercise is crucial in preventing cognitive decline when we get old, but adding some marijuana to your lifestyle can also be extremely beneficial because of its numerous therapeutic effects on the brain.
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