Does cannabis cure? It’s hard to say. Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I controlled substance and is federally classified as having “no medical value.” With tight restrictions on growing and distribution, research is limited to pre-clinical trials that do not fully encompass the needs of human health.
It is entirely possible that marijuana is more than a recreational drug. In fact, many researchers point out to marijuana as a medicinal powerhouse that can offset the symptoms of several chronic illnesses. What comes into play, however, is a heated discussion over the ethics of using an illicit drug to prevent disease. At the same time, there are a handful of degenerative illnesses with no cure. Science is looking for ways to save lives, and sometimes that includes non-conventional methods of healing, like utilizing the biologically active compounds in marijuana.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which affects nearly six million Americans, has no cure. The nature of the disease is so viciously persistent that science cannot keep up with the progression of the affliction. Researchers have exhausted a great deal of time and effort looking for a cure, but every possibility has been met with a greater consequence.
Alzheimer’s works by attacking the hippocampus, or the brain’s memory center. The progression of the disease leads to the release of a brain chemical, called glutamate. The glutamate is activated at such toxic levels that it eventually destroys the brain’s neuron system. Current treatment includes acetylcholine supplements that help stymie the decrease in cognitive function. While they do help the cause, they do not reverse the disease or prevent its eventual destruction of the brain’s neurons.
CBD and Alzheimer’s
THC and CBD are the active compounds in marijuana. They interact with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system by bonding with CB1 and CB2 receptors. THC and CBD have anti-inflammatory properties, and this is a big deal because Alzheimer’s disease is thought to be born out of brain inflammation.
Early research suggests that CBD has the ability to activate PPAR-γ receptors, which aid in brain cell survival. Research is also exploring how marijuana can reduce the instances of neurofibrillary tangles, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Though this area of medical research has a long way to go, science still recognizes marijuana’s ability to offset the behavioral symptoms of the disease.
Lab studies and limitations
An early signifier of Alzheimer’s is the build-up of Amyloid-beta (AB-ß) plaques in the brain. Scientists have exhausted tremendous energy exploring how to remove the AB-ß plaques, but their efforts were met with major consequences. Eliminating the plaques is impossible because they also contain properties that are vital to proper brain function.
This challenge is made even more difficult by the fact that research is limited to pre-clinical trials on rodents. So, even though cannabis has been shown to reduce the buildup of AB-ß plaques, it is still a mystery if the same would be true for humans.
Does medical marijuana help Alzheimer’s disease?
Does marijuana prevent Alzheimer’s disease? No. That has not been proven. However, early evidence suggests that cannabis can counteract some of the painful and confusing symptoms of the disease. The medical community continues to foster a curiosity for marijuana and its supposed healing powers.
Cannabis shows a great deal of promise in relieving pain and discomfort, and this has given hope to sick people and their loved ones. The one major obstacle is the federal government’s classification of the drug, which keeps it off the streets and severely limits the breadth of conducted research. Until the ban is lifted, science will have to rely on rodent trials, consisting of THC and CBD oil for Alzheimer’s. To read more articles like this and learn more about the health benefits of marijuana, check out our blog.