Study: Cannabis Could Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
New Evidence in Support of Medicinal Cannabis
A study conducted by researchers at The Roskamp Institute in Sarasota, FL suggests a relationship between the cannabinoid system and the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. According to Corbin Bachmeier, the study’s head researcher, patients with Alzheimer’s disease could benefit from cannabinoid receptor stimulation.
What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating – not only to individual patients, but entire families. It is the most common form of dementia (“a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life”) and places a major burden on those closest to the patient; it can take a toll of the caregiver financially, psychologically, and socially. Despite the disease’s prevalence, there is little understanding about its cause and progression, though research shows it’s related to plaques and tangles in the brain.
In accordance with research about plaque formation as the cause of Alzheimer’s, a common hypothesis is that Alzheimer’s is caused by deposits of beta-amyloid (Aβ) in the brain. Beta-amyloid is a grouping of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), and has a number of functions within the brain. Deposits are partly caused by reduction of the beta-amyloid transport protein, lipoprotein receptor-related protein1 (LRP1); the amyloid hypothesis for the cause of Alzheimer’s has been well supported since it was proposed in 1991. More researchers are targeting beta-amyloid and its close relatives when studying Alzheimer’s patients.
How Can Cannabis Help Treat Alzheimer’s Symptoms?
Modulation of the cannabinoid system was shown to reduce Aβ brain levels and improve cognitive behavior in AD animal models — Corbin Bachmeier, The Roskamp Institute
The Roskamp Institute’s study used mice with Alzheimer’s symptoms. Researchers stimulated the cannabinoid receptors and inhibited enzymes that degrade endocannabinoids in the mice (thereby increasing levels of endocannabinoids in the body). Their results showed that beta-amyloid clearance across the blood-brain barrier and out of the brain doubled.
This isn’t the first study to suggest that cannabinoids may prove useful for the prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it is one of the first to provide a rationale for the cause. In observing the LRP1 protein, the researchers found a 50% increase in the brain after cannabinoid treatment. Since this protein is responsible for transporting beta-amyloid across the blood-brain barrier, having more LRP1 might mean that less beta-amyloid will be left behind in the brain.
If further studies reinforce these findings, the cannabinoid system could prove to be quite beneficial in prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
For an overview of the potential of cannabinoid medicine use for the management of Alzheimer’s disease, click here.
For information on reasonable expectations and safety in considering whole-plant medical cannabis use, as well as how you can advocate to move cannabis out of the Schedule I controlled substance classification in order to increase research on phytocannabinoids in the United States, click here.