Yet another study has brought to light even more incredible medicinal properties of marijuana, highlighting just how important it is for more extensive research to be carried out on a global basis. In this instance, research suggests that one of the components found in marijuana has the potential to fight the toxic proteins that are known to be the cause of the devastating symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. One of the most heavily researched diseases in recent history, scientists are still no closer to uncovering an outright cure or even an effective treatment method against Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless, research into the effects of cannabis may have on the disease has suggested that the key to successful treatment may have been right there under our noses all along.
The study was carried out by a group of scientists from the Salk Institute in California, who focused specifically on how THC and the other active compounds present in marijuana can affect the ‘amyloid beta’ protein associated with the disease. When plaques begin to form and the catastrophic symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin to present themselves, there is very little that can be done to effectively slow the progression and absolutely nothing that can be done to stop or reverse the process entirely.
Or at least, not in terms of the current treatment options available.
“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer's disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” explained one of the researchers behind the study, Antonio Currais.
“When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”
While cannabis has been associated for some time with highly beneficial effects when used to combat inflammation, this is the first instance in which cannabis or any kind of cannabis extract has been studied in accordance with Alzheimer’s. As far as the team behind the study is concerned, it absolutely paves the way for more intensive research into how and to what extent cannabis compounds may be able to help fight the disease.
“Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer's, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” commented the senior author of the study, Professor David Schubert.
Alzheimer’s disease is known to affect well in excess of half a million people in the United Kingdom alone, having a devastating effect both on the patients themselves and their families. The condition remains the most common type of dementia and has so far proved impossible to stop upon initially having been detected. The most commonly associated symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include gradual loss of memory, speech difficulty and reduced cognitive function in general. While there are various drug based and therapeutic treatments currently available and routinely used, none have so far proved effective enough to be considered a cure.
Once again therefore, the results of the study strongly underline the importance of taking a more realistic and liberal view to medical marijuana research, given the way in which it is demonstrating incredible effectiveness in a wide variety of arenas. From the treatment of chronic pain to severe forms of epilepsy to anxiety to insomnia and now perhaps even dementia, to continue overlooking what could be a revolutionary treatment for so many deadly conditions represents a counterproductive approach to say the least.