Cannabis, also known as marijuana or pot, is a type of plant that contains many chemical compounds called cannabinoids. These compounds affect the brain and can change how it works.
Researchers have found that cannabinoids may be effective in treating some neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease. Some of these chemicals reduce the amount of glutamate in the brain and increase the production of a neurotransmitter that helps prevent memory loss.
In a recent study, scientists have found that small doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a chemical in marijuana, may reduce the amount of beta-amyloid proteins, which are a hallmark characteristic and key contributor to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This research is important as it suggests that cannabis medicines can inhibit the growth of these plaques in the brain, reducing neurodegenerative damage.
The human brain contains over 100 billion nerve cells that perform many functions, such as memory, thinking and learning. These cells communicate with each other via a special protein called acetylcholine. When acetylcholine levels decrease, it causes Alzheimer’s symptoms. In addition, a second protein called tau forms into twisted fibers that interfere with the ability of nerve cells to communicate. These tangled fibers also contribute to brain cell death.
Other symptoms that might be associated with Alzheimer’s include confusion, difficulty understanding and remembering things, problems with judgment or decision-making, and changes in mood, personality or behavior. These changes are often referred to as behavioral and emotional symptoms of dementia, and can be difficult to manage.
Medications and other treatments can ease these behavioral and emotional symptoms, and may improve quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and their families and caregivers. These therapies are usually cholinesterase inhibitors that can help ease memory loss, confusion and thought problems by improving neural communication across the brain.
These medications are usually prescribed for short-term use and come with side effects that can be uncomfortable, such as nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Some drugs are available that may have a longer-term effect, such as memantine (Namenda) and donepezil (Namzaric).
Marijuana has been used for thousands of years to treat pain, anxiety and other medical conditions, and it’s believed that its psychoactive properties can help reduce or alleviate the effects of some symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s. Researchers are interested in the potential role that tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoids, like cannabidiol (CBD), have on the brain.
A recent preclinical study from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, has found that THC and other compounds in marijuana can slow the growth of amyloid plaques in the brain. The research is important as it shows that cannabis medicines can inhibit the production of these plaques in the brain, thereby reducing neurodegenerative damage.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects millions of people around the world. The disease causes tremors, stiffness and slowness of movement in the body’s motor (movement) areas.
It is characterized by the loss of nerve cells in a small region of the brain called the substantia nigra. These nerve cells produce a chemical messenger that helps control movement. When these nerve cells die, they can no longer make enough dopamine to regulate movement.
This loss of dopamine results in a variety of motor symptoms, including shaking, tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement. Other symptoms of Parkinson’s include balance and coordination problems, difficulty with walking, and loss of sense of smell.
Some of these non-motor symptoms can appear years or even decades before the more common motor symptoms. They can be difficult to diagnose and may affect a person’s quality of life.
As the disease progresses, many non-motor symptoms can become severe and troublesome. They include fatigue, constipation, loss of sense of taste or smell, problems with vision and dental health, sleep disorders, mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, and orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when standing up).
Treatment for Parkinson’s can help manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life. There are many medications and treatment methods available, but it is important to discuss the best options with your healthcare provider.
There are some studies that show cannabinoids can reduce or eliminate tremors, stiffness and other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, more research is needed to determine if they can be used as an effective treatment for the condition.
A recent survey found that most patients are open to using medicinal cannabis for their symptoms. They rated the benefits of cannabis as moderate or very good. Some patients reported that they felt more alert and active, while others reported that their sleeping patterns improved.
Dyskinesia is a form of uncontrolled, involuntary movement. It can range in severity and may look like fidgeting, swaying, or twisting. It can cause problems in your everyday life and affect your ability to perform certain tasks. It can also be painful and distressing.
It can happen when you take Parkinson’s medicines, such as levodopa (Sinemet CR, Sinemet, Sinemet FS, Stalevo, Rytary, Duodopa). These drugs replace the missing dopamine in your brain and help keep your movements steady. But when you take them for a long time, your dopamine levels go up and down. They also get harder to control, so you might start getting dyskinesias.
These symptoms can be annoying, but they don’t have to stop you from doing the things you want to do. The key is to talk with your doctor about them. He or she can make changes to your treatment plan to reduce the risk of them happening. You can also try to control them by avoiding situations that trigger them or by making sure you do your exercises regularly.
If you do have trouble controlling your dyskinesias, it can help to talk with your doctor about using different medications. It’s also helpful to keep a motor diary. This can record when your dyskinesias start and how long they last. It can also help you track any changes to your medication.
A number of studies have shown that cannabis can help with some forms of dyskinesias. These include tremors, dystonia, and chorea. The results have been mixed.
The best results appear to be in patients with Parkinson’s disease who use levodopa to replace dopamine. In these cases, cannabis can help to control tremors and dystonia. It can also help to reduce the shakiness caused by the levodopa.
However, these benefits are only small and there is a lot more research needed. For now, it is recommended that you stick to levodopa and talk with your doctor about other ways to control your dyskinesias.
The endocannabinoid system is abundant in the basal ganglia, where it influences GABAergic and glutamatergic inputs to the brain. It also has many receptors in the striatum, where it influences dopaminergic transmission.
Other Neurodegenerative Diseases
Many neurodegenerative diseases involve a deterioration of brain cells, which lead to the loss of nerve cell function and ultimately to death. These conditions can result in the loss of memory, thinking, and ability to perform daily tasks.
These conditions affect millions of people worldwide, and their cost to the economy is estimated at more than $800 billion annually. While some medications have been shown to reduce the symptoms of these disorders, no effective cures are available.
Treatments that slow or stop the progression of these conditions are needed to address this health problem, and there is much research being done to find new therapies. One of the most promising areas of research is with cannabis, which has been recognized for thousands of years as a psychoactive plant and whose phytochemical components have been known to have positive effects on brain tissue.
CBD has been shown to improve the symptoms of PD and AD in animal models, and it also shows a neuroprotective effect against oxidative stress and inflammation. However, more work is needed to determine the precise mechanisms underlying these positive effects.
Interestingly, endocannabinoids have multiple physiological and pathological functions, including modulation of pain perception, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal function, the regulation of movement, posture, and cellular and humoral immune response. Moreover, they are thought to have an impact on the apoptosis and cell death of neurons in a range of diseases, including cancer.
The endocannabinoid system is a complex network of ligands, receptors and their metabolites. It plays a key role in the control of various aspects of brain functioning, such as behavior and cognition . Its pleiotropic effects are due to the interaction with different receptors, namely the CB1 and CB2 receptors, as well as with ligands. The eCB system has been demonstrated to undergo dramatic changes under inflammatory and pathological conditions, such as in the case of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies have shown that CBD can reverse cognitive deficits in animal models of AD by reducing oxidative and inflammatory responses, decreasing Ab accumulation, and regulating tau hyperphosphorylation. Furthermore, it can inhibit the progression of the disease by inhibiting TDP-43 and increasing PPARg agonist activity.