With the increase in Alzheimer’s sufferers and estimates saying that the numbers will triple in the US by the year of 2050, there is a need of finding beneficial treatments for it. According to a recent study, marijuana may be the crucial element to such therapy.
Unfortunately, more than 3 million people in the US live with this disease which is also the sixth major reason for death in the US.
The study which was published in the Aging and Mechanisms of Disease journal points out that a compound from marijuana was able to eliminate the beta-amyloid protein from the brain nerve cells.
This protein is known to clump together in those with the condition and forms plaques. This plaque further impedes the proper communication between brain neurons and causes the numerous Alzheimer’s symptoms, including memory problems.
How Can Marijuana Help in the Fight against Alzheimer’s?
The prevention of beta-amyloid buildup in the brain may be of aid in the treatment of Alzheimer’s; however, researchers have not clearly discovered the role of this protein in the illness.
Brain inflammation is a contributing factor to the damage linked with Alzheimer’s and scientists have assumed that this was a result of the immune-like brain cells, not the nerve cells.
The nerve cells in the brain have receptors which are triggered by lipid molecules called endocannabinoids. They are naturally produced by these cells and may help with the signalling of nerve cells.
To this extent, marijuana can be of aid because it has a chemical we know as THC which is similar to these endocannabinoids and it triggers the same receptors. So, scientists wondered if THC could avert the death of nerve cells.
For the purposes of their theory, the research team applied THC to nerve cells with beta-amyloid production. It was concluded that cannabis was able to lower the levels of this protein and to eradicate the inflammatory response to the protein and averted the death of the cells.
Clinical trials are necessary in order to find out the role of THC in the protection of the nerve cells from the beta-amyloid; however, the scientists consider their findings to reveal more about the role of this protein in Alzheimer’s and thus, increase the chances for new treatments.
What Is Alzheimer’s?
This progressive and neurodegenerative illness is manifested by a gradual memory loss, and the loss of learning capacity, judgement, and communication. In extreme cases, the cognition may decline to a point where the individual needs a caregiver for their daily activities.
This disease is most common in people at the age of 65 and more. Only 6 to 8 percent of patients have symptoms prior to this age. This is known as early-onset Alzheimer’s. The symptoms of the disease can be mild, moderate, and severe.