Does Pot Fight Alzheimer's?

Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 03:10 PM

By Nick Tate

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Can pot combat Alzheimer’s disease? That’s the intriguing suggestion by neuroscientists who have found that even very low doses of a compound found in marijuana may slow or halt the progression of the condition.

The study, conducted by the University of South Florida, trace amounts of THC — short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol — block the accumulation of amyloid beta proteins in the brain, which have been linked to the memory-robbing disease. These low concentrations of THC also selectively enhanced cellular functions that help supply energy, transmit signals, and maintain a healthy brain.
 
ALERT: These 7 Things Activate Alzheimer’s In Your Brain

“THC is known to be a potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties, but this is the first report that the compound directly affects Alzheimer’s pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels, inhibiting its aggregation, and enhancing mitochondrial function,” said lead researcher Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy.
 
“Decreased levels of amyloid beta means less aggregation, which may protect against the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Since THC is a natural and relatively safe amyloid inhibitor, THC or its analogs may help us develop an effective treatment in the future.”
 
Researchers suggested findings, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, don’t provide an argument for pot use, but that they could open the door to potential new treatments.
 
 “Are we advocating that people use illicit drugs to prevent the disease? No,” said researcher Neel Nabar. “However, these findings may lead to the development of related compounds that are safe, legal, and useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”
 
As many as 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, with the numbers projected to reach 14 million by 2050, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ALERT: These 7 Things Activate Alzheimer’s In Your Brain

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