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Medical Marijuana’s Effect on Alzheimer’s

By Rebecca McCurry 09/12/2014

A large percentage of individuals know someone who ends up getting Alzheimer’s disease, a neurological disorder that causes loss of memory and learned behavior. Watching a loved one suffer the effects of this devastating disease are quite painful, but is it possible that cannabinoid therapy may help patients with Alzheimer’s experience some type of relief from their symptoms? There are approximately 4.5 million Americans with this condition, and at this time there are no approved treatments available to stop the progression of AD. There are also not many pharmaceuticals at this time that have been FDA-approved to treat the disease’s symptoms.

A recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggest that in tiny doses, THC might slow down the production of the beta-amyloid production, which is a known hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. A lead author at the University of South Florida’s Bryd Alzheimer’s Institute, Chuanhai Cao explained, “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 aggression.”

There have also been similar studies that concluded that THC is effective in fighting the formation of harmful brain plaques. A 2006 study by the Scripps Institute found that THC blocked aggregation of plaques completely.

None of these researchers are suggesting that anyone at this time uses illicit drugs to prevent the disease. They are just explaining that their findings suggest that the compound can be explored further in hopes that it can someday help to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Many states with intact medical marijuana laws approve the medication for use with conditions such as cancer, Crohn’s disease, MS, Parkinson’s disease, seizures, migraines, chronic pain, and many other debilitating conditions. Medical marijuana has been proven quite effective at helping relieve symptoms of many illnesses, allowing patients to lead happier lives. Researchers only hope that with ongoing studies, cannabis can someday help those with Alzheimer’s as well.

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