Most current therapies for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) have limited effectiveness and often only affect symptom exhibited by the brain of AD patients. Considering the numerous complex pathological mechanisms involved in the progression of AD, treatments targeting a single causal or modifying factor offer limited benefit.
Cannabinoids however, exhibit pleiotropic activity. This means they target parallel processes that play key roles in AD. The processes include amyloid beta (Aβ) and tau protein processing, neuroinflammation, excitotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction, and oxidative stress. Cannabinoids improve behavioral disturbances, as well.
Amyloid beta protein production is thought to be the primary cause of Alzheimer’s disease. These Aβ protein gather to form plaques between neuro cells, blocking key signals pertaining to memory, communication, and motor functions. Tau protein creates neurofibrillary tangles inside nuclei, cause cells to die off.
Cannabinoids, in this case, phytocannabinoids are chemical compounds found in this cannabis plant. The most well-known, yet infamous. cannabinoid is Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the psychoactive compound, known for making marijuana users’ “high.” The second most well-known cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD) which has anti-pain, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety effects.
The effects of cannabinoids are retained through the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and neuronal signaling. The endocannabinoid system has its own naturally produced cannabinoids, just like the cannabis plant. The ECS is a major bodily system known for regulating bodily homeostasis. When the system is imbalanced, a range of ailments can occur.
In light of the properties for the treatment of AD and the limited side effects exhibited by these compounds, patients are hopeful. Further progress in clinical trials to test the capacity of cannabinoids to curb this neuro-degenerative disease are still required.
If you are interested in using medical cannabis to treat Alzheimer’s, you should consult local laws to assure you aren’t partaking in illegal activity. You should also consult your doctor or a medical professional, as they are most qualified to give you individualized medical advice and offer information on medication interactions.
Here is the full scientific article if you wish to download it.