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As scientific research expands deeper into the field of medical marijuana, new information is coming to light. Preliminary studies now show that a compound known as cannabidiol (CBD), found in the Cannabis plant, could hold great potential in controlling a wide range of illnesses. These include mood disorders, skin conditions, anxiety, cancer, nausea, epilepsy and seizures, neurodegenerative illnesses, among others. In this article, we will look at the relevant research with regards to CBD for neurodegenerative conditions, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’sand Huntington’s disease.
What are neurodegenerative conditions?
Neurodegenerative diseases are illnesses characterized by loss or damage to neurons in particular areas of the brain/nervous system. Scientists believe that it is this loss/damage to neurons that causes the deterioration in cognitive and motor functioning in patients suffering from these conditions.
Causes of neurodegenerative conditions
Numerous mutant genes as well as environmental factors have been citedas major triggers of neurodegenerative conditions, but the exact mechanism of causation remains largely unknown.
Neurodegenerative conditions are currently on the rise in most developed countries and are one of the leading causes of deaths. In the U.S. alone, 5.4 million people have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and a further half a million are suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
According to the WHO, neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s come with heavy disease burdens, comparable only to chronic diseases such as cancer. These disorders are burdensome since they not only affect the health of the individual considerably, but also cause emotional, financial and other practical effects on the families and caregivers.
Inflammation and its fundamental role in neurodegeneration
At the moment, inflammation stands as the common sign across the many types of degenerative conditions. Inflammation has been linked as a crucial mechanism largely involvedwith the progressive nature of all chronic neurodegenerative illnesses.
There are only few therapies available for controlling the wide range of neurodegenerative conditions. However, most of these treatments are only effective for a handful of cases and most present adverse side effects. As such, researchers are still on the search for novel therapeutic methods for mitigating the problem.
CBD for neurodegenerative conditions
In this contest for finding the best neurodegenerative therapy, CBD, a compound derived from cannabis, has gained special interest due to its many therapeutic properties and lack of psychotropic effects.
In the ongoing studies, it has been shown to have anticonvulsive, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, sedative, anti-inflammatory, and neuro-protective properties, just to mention a few. Read the brief below for an overview of what the latest research has to say.
Scientific Evidence Concerning CBD for Neurodegenerative conditions
CBD and memory deficits induced by brain iron loading
As already mentioned, cannabidiol is a major non-psychotropic constituent of the Cannabis plant that shows a huge number of pharmacological effects. Due to its supposed neuroprotective properties, a team of scientists used an animal model to test its effects in mice with memory impairment induced by overloading the brain with iron. Accumulation of iron in the brain has been associated with the pathogenesis of numerous degenerative conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In the results, a single high-concentration injection of CBD was able to improve recognition memory in the mice. The scientists concluded that CBD has potential of providing a new therapy for treating cognitive decline that is common in all neurodegenerative conditions and recommended human clinical trials.
In a follow-up study, the results suggested that iron build-up in the brain plays a possible role in triggering apoptotic cell death and synaptic loss. They recommend CBD to be considered as a potential compound with neuroprotective and memory-restoration properties that can be utilized to control cognitive deficits. This is something common in patient with neurodegenerative conditions.
CBD’s role in Alcohol-induced neurodegeneration
In another study, researchers attempted to establish the effects of CBD as a therapy for alcohol-induced neurodegeneration. Alcohol-abuse disorders are characterized by excessive alcohol consumption that leads to both cognitive and behavioral impairment. The researchers found that the highest CBD concentration reduced neurodegeneration in the entorhinal cortex of the brain by 48.8%via transdermal delivery. The results demonstrated that the use of CBD for controlling alcohol-induced degeneration and similar illnesses is highly feasible.
CBD for AIS
Another interesting studyfocused on the use of CBD as a therapy for arterial ischemic stroke (AIS), a condition that currently has no available treatment. Even though the study was carried out on rat models, the results showed that CBD reduced neuronal loss and apostasies and also regulated the activation and proliferation of microgliala and astrogliosis.
What does this mean for you?
This study concludes that the administration of CBD results into long-term functional recovery by minimizing neuronal loss and controlling metabolic derangement and neuro-inflammation in rat models. Further human clinical trials are needed to confirm these results.
CBD for brain ischemia
Lastly, a different investigation sought to find out the effects of CBD on emotional and cognitive damage induced by the occlusion of the bilateral common carotid artery in mice. The outcome showed that CBD promoted neurogenesis and stimulated dendritic restructuringin the brains of the mice. This means that CBD holds true potential as a molecule that can be formulated to prevent various forms of ischemia.
How does CBD work to protect against neurodegenerative conditions?
CBD exhibits a huge range of therapeutic properties, as mentioned above, making it a unique compound that presents numerous challenges to researchers in terms of its main mechanism of action in our bodies.
For starters, these properties seem to be exerted via various molecular mechanisms that differ from one organ/physiological process to the next. Scientists are still trying to pin down the exact mechanism of action of this mysterious compound and they have been finding out a few things.
CBD’s potential as a neuroprotective agent based on its combined anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects have gotten the scientific community particularly interested. The compound is currently under numerous preclinical studiessolely focused on its use for neurodegenerative disorders. There is even a clinical study evaluating patients with Huntington’s disease to determine its feasibility as a viable treatment.
According to research, CBD’s neuroprotective properties do not seem to be exerted by the activation of the natural endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), like its psychoactive counterpart THC, except in vitro and at supraphysiological levels. This is because when CBD is administered, there is little activation of these receptors, except in the case of damage to an immature brain where CB2 receptors re highly activated.
Nonetheless, CBD has been shown to inhibit the enzyme FAAH thereby enhancing the action of natural cannabinoids such as anandamide. CBD is also able to target nuclear receptors of the PPAR family and ion channels. Moreover, it can activate metabotropic receptors for serotonin/ or adenosine.
Another study suggests that CBD’s neuroprotective effects involve pharmacological targets. This was after the scientists excluded all the unlikely and implausible targets, which included the currently known endocannabinoid receptors. According to the results, the most plausible targets include: voltage dependent anion channel, CaV3.x, and G protein-coupled receptor 55 among others. While there was no casual proof, they represent the most recommendable targets for research.
Let’s conclude with a study that used CBD to improve the performance of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). MSCs have received considerable interest in regenerative medicine in the recent years since they can be easily extracted orally. Based on the outcome, the study hypothesized that human gingiva-derived MSCs conditioned with cannabidiol present a highly feasible method for developing a therapeutic formulation to combat neurodegenerative diseases.
Cannabidiol is one of the major cannabinoids derived from Cannabis and free of the psychoactive effects normally associated with THC. It comes with a broad-spectrum of therapeutic properties, including neuroprotective effects in various neurodegenerative diseases. This is due to its combined anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties among many others. The compound also seems to be largely involved with the modulation of numerous biological targets in the brain including channels and receptors. As it stands, preclinical studies largely show that CBD can help in managing various effects, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, AIS, Huntington’s disease (HD), cerebral ischemia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).