Scientists have discovered that cannabis can slow and reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases in mice, and are continuing further research on the healing benefits of cannabis for other neurological diseases and disorders of the brain. Some scientists may be close to having full proof research studies on cannabis interactions in the human brain which show it is capable of curing brain or neurological diseases, including ones as debilitating as Alzheimer’s disease. (1)
Studies in Mice Show Cannabis May Improve Outcomes in Patients with Alzheimer’s and Other Brain Related Disorders
Scientific researcher Andreas Zimmer has been studying mice and their aging brains for well over 15 years now. His mice are relatively normal in most ways, except when it comes to his geriatric mice who are around 18 months old. The brain of an 18 month old mouse compares closely with the brain of a human who is in their seventies.
Therefore, the mice who are 18 months old have cognitive struggles similar to individuals with brain disorders who are in their seventies, such as completing mazes, having the capability to socialize normally, and other tasks related to cognitive health. In comparison, their counterparts, the merely 2 month old mice, completed the exact same tasks as them with effortless stride. (1)
Now, Zimmer is attempting to turn back the hands of time for the older generation of mice by administering low doses of synthetic THC under their skin over the course of a 28 day research study.(2) Study results showed that synthetic THC slowed progression of brain diseases and cognitive struggles when administered to older mice. In fact, in some cases, it offered the struggling mice a brief period of reprieve from their health woes by entirely reversing their issues for a short period of time.(2)
According to a statement from Discover Magazine regarding the research study, “older mice that had forgotten how to run mazes recovered the knack. Mice whose aging brains couldn’t distinguish an empty can from a fellow mouse suddenly relearned the ability. ‘The effects are extremely robust and easy to see,’ says Zimmer. ‘It works reliably on every measure of cognition we have for mice.’”(2)
The results of Zimmer’s experiments on cannabis and brain disorders speaks volumes about medical uses and healing benefits that the cannabis plant could play in treatment modalities for neurological diseases and brain issues one day. It paints quite a positive, promising outlook for further research studies which may uncover cures or treatment management options for neurological and brain disorders which are currently difficult, untreatable and incurable, and essentially lead to devastating heartbreak for patients and their loved ones. (2)
Studies Show Cannabis Improves Brain Disorders by Reducing Brain Inflammation
In a recent study, researchers at Madrid’s Complutense University and The Cajal Institute compared the brains of two different control groups of deceased individuals who died at roughly the same age. The brains in one group were from individuals who had Alzheimer’s Disease, while the brains of the individuals in the other group did not.
Upon closer examination of brain receptors, researchers found that the people that died due to brain disease all had reduced functioning of the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors. They also noticed that a naturally occurring structure in the body called microglia accumulated in areas where plaque deposits from Alzheimer’s Disease existed. Microglia are signaled when the body is injured or in certain cases of immune issues. However, this can cause further problems, as the microglia can spark inflammatory processes when activated.
While inflammation has its role in benefiting the body’s health at certain times, it can prove mildly to severely destructive at times. It all depends on the specific case, and what is sparking the inflammation. For example, if you have a sprained knee or broken ankle, inflammation acts to your advantage by protecting the joint or injured area from further injury while also helping repair damage caused by the injury. On the other hand, inflammation occurring in the brain is bad and causes more problems. This is why doctors must frequently strive to manage brain inflammation in neurological patients.
Study Showed Cannabis May Improve Brain Health in Alzheimer’s Patients by Stopping Brain Inflammation and Microglial Activation
Researchers concluded cannabis can help combat brain inflammation in mice. To gather data, researchers gave all of the mice an injection of amyloid protein, which helps create the plaques in the brains of humans with Alzheimer’s. Mice were split into two groups. One group was given a cannabis derived treatment of cannabinoids to inhibit microglial activation and further disease progression. The other group was not given any treatment.
Scientists then proceeded to take cell cultures from the mice throughout the study, which essentially showed that the brains of mice given the cannabinoid treatment after receiving the amyloid injection no longer had brain inflammation and disease progression stopped worsening, while brains of mice not administered cannabinoids after getting the injection remained inflamed. These mice either continued to show progression of disease severity or zero improvement with time, and were used to model Alzheimer’s disease in human brains as the disease progresses. (2)
1. Freedman, D. H. (2020, February 7). The Experiments Revealing How Marijuana Could Treat Dementia. Discover Magazine. https://www.discovermagazine.com/mind/the-experiments-revealing-how-marijuana-could-treat-dementia
2. Belén G. Ramírez, Cristina Blázquez, Teresa Gómez del Pulgar, Manuel Guzmán, María L. de Ceballos. Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology by Cannabinoids: Neuroprotection Mediated by Blockade of Microglial Activation. Journal of Neuroscience. 23 February 2005, 25 (8) 1904-1913; Accessed 15 October, 2020. https://www.jneurosci.org/content/jneuro/25/8/1904.full.pdf; DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4540-04.2005/