While many have heard that Marijuana can help reduce the symptoms of brain disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and can ease some of the side effects of cancer, several studies have also shown that the drug may have potential benefits for Alzheimer’s sufferers.
In two separate studies conducted on rats, one at the Cajal Institute in Madrid, Spain and the other at the Scripps Research Institute in California, the active ingredient in marijuana, known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC was found to be as or more effective than any commercial drug available on the market at preventing an enzyme called acetylycholinesterase (AChE) from breaking down acetylcholine (ACh).
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter found in the brain and spinal cord. Depleted levels of acetylcholine are often found in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers and many current Alzheimer’s treatments work by attempting to increase acetylcholine levels.
“These findings offer convincing evidence that THC possesses remarkable inhibitory qualities, especially when compared to AChE inhibitors currently available to patients,” said Dr. Kim Janda, a researcher at the Scripps institute. In addition, THC may also help block the build up of clumps of amyloid protein, a precursor to plaques that are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers.
“These findings that cannabinoids work both to prevent inflammation and to protect the brain may set the stage for their use as a therapeutic approach for Alzheimer’s disease,” according to Maria de Ceballos, one of the researchers involved in the Spanish study.
The possession of Marijuana is illegal in the majority of countries although some allow small quantities to be possessed for personal use. Around a dozen states in the United States allow the possession of small amounts of Marijuana for medical purposes.
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