Cannabis May Offer Alzheimer’s Hope, Study Says

Dublin, Ireland: Marijuana compounds offer an alternative approach for treating the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a forthcoming review in the British Journal of Pharmacology.

Investigators at the Trinity College, Institute for Neuroscience, in Dublin report that cannabinoids have been shown to protect neurons from the deleterious effects of amyloid plaque – the primary pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Cannabinoids also demonstrate a propensity to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, while also promoting neurogenesis (the birth of new neuronal cells), authors report.

Authors write: “In recent years the proclivity of cannabinoids to exert a neuroprotective influence has received substantial interest as a means to mitigate the symptoms of neurodegenerative conditions. … [C]annabinoids offer a multi-faceted approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by providing neuroprotection and reducing neuroinflammation, whilst simultaneously supporting the brain’s intrinsic repair mechanisms by augmenting neurotrophin expression and enhancing neurogenesis. … Manipulation of the cannabinoid pathway offers a pharmacological approach for the treatment of AD that may be efficacious than current treatment regimens.”

Preclinical studies have demonstrated that cannabinoids can delay disease progression in animal models of several neurodegenerative diseases, including multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Alzheimer’s disease: taking the edge off with cannabinoids?” appears online at: http://www.nature.com/bjp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/0707446a.html.