Study Says Marijuana May Prevent Alzheimer’s

By Paul Gaita 12/08/14

Two separate studies both showed that medical marijuana can be useful in treating the degenerative disease.

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A pair of new studies has indicated that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

The studies were published in the September and November editions of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and illustrate how THC may have a positive impact on two key characteristics of Alzheimer’s. Researchers from the University of South Florida and Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia attempted to determine how THC impacted a type of protein cell called amyloid-beta that is linked to the disease.

When the cannabinoid was applied to Alzheimer’s research cells at various intervals over the course of a 48-hour period, the research group found that it reduced the aggressive nature of the amyloid-beta while also boosting levels of mitochondira, a specialized element of the cell responsible for providing chemical energy and monitoring cell growth, among other functions.

“This is the first report that [THC] directly affects Alzheimer’s pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels and enhancing mitochondrial function,” said the study’s lead author, Chuanhai Cao, PhD. “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.”

The second study, conducted by scientists from several medical universities and hospitals in Spain, focused on THC’s role in affecting nerve cell function through the endocannabinoid system which performs a variety of tasks, not the least of which is homeostatis, or the maintenance of a stable internal environment.

Their research showed that the natural anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis can reduce the chronic brain inflammation that characterize Alzheimer’s while also promoting homeostatis and brain cell health. Both studies support findings from previous research that has promoted the positive impact of cannabis and THC on Alzheimer’s symptoms.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.