Medical CBD oil keeps gaining popularity for its ability to treat and provide relief for an ever-growing list of ailments, from pain and seizures to anxiety. One of the powerful benefits being discussed is its ability to treat and even reverse debilitating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease. This is important news for the millions who endure the disorders or have loved ones dealing with them. But how can medical CBD oil produce such results?
The Matter of Iron Building Up With Age
The answer is complex but it involves a series of studies that have indicated, for a variety of reasons, that the compound is effective at treating the diseases. An important place to start is with CBD’s ability to combat iron buildup. A buildup of iron can cause all kinds of disease in the body including liver fibrosis, heart attack and cancer. Iron builds up as we age and is shown to increase up to 10 times compared to that of younger cells. One place that iron is known to build is in an area of the brain known as the basal ganglia which is involved in habit regulation and voluntary movement. This is the area of the brain related to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
How Excess Iron Impacts the Brain
In a 2014 study published in Molecular Neurobiology, scientists investigated the effect of excess iron on the brain. Mitochondria are found in every cell and are responsible for generating chemical energy in the cells and regulating programmed cellular death. One of the problems discovered in those with neurodegenerative diseases is less chemical energy at the synapses where cells communicate with each other. This shows a link between mitochondria and neurodegenerative diseases. These scientists flooded rats with iron and then observed high levels of dynamin-1-like protein (DNM1L) and caspase 3 which are proteins that are associated to cellular death. The cells were dying at a higher rate than normal. This showed a clear link between neurodegenerative diseases and mitochondria associated with excess iron in the body.
“Our results suggest that iron affects mitochondrial dynamics, possibly trigging synaptic loss and apoptotic cell death and indicate that CBD should be considered as a potential molecule with memory-rescuing and neuroprotective properties to be used in the treatment of cognitive deficits observed in neurodegenerative disorders,” say the authors of the study.
When cannabidiol, medical CBD oil, was given to the rats, the DNM1L and caspase 3 levels in the hippocampus returned to normal. Medical CBD oil was actually able to protect the brain from the effects of the excess iron in the body. While much more research is needed in this area, the findings suggest the value of medical CBD oil when it comes to treating neurodegenerative disorders.
The Results of Medical CBD Oil Application on Brain Inflammation
The fact that medical CBD oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory is also another factor that affects its ability to treat neurodegenerative disorders. Chronic inflammation is a major cause of many illnesses and is connected to the development of Alzheimer’s. Gary Wenk, PhD, professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University has been researching ways to reduce inflammation for more than 25 years. PET studies show that after the age of 30, the brain begins to become inflamed and stops producing as many new neurons which are an essential part of making new memories. He believes that “one puff is enough” to protect the brain against inflammation and that a low dose daily exposure during midlife is especially helpful in preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
A study conducted by researchers in Naples, Italy and published in the British Journal of Pharmacology showed that CBD was able to reduce neural inflammation in particular. This is the specific inflammation in the brain believed to be at the root of Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative diseases. Mice were injected with amyloid-β (Aβ), the protein that is believed to cause neuronal cell death. The study states that “CBD dose-dependently and significantly inhibited GFAP mRNA and protein expression in Aβ injected animals.” Authors state that “the results of the present study confirm in vivo anti-inflammatory actions of CBD, emphasizing the importance of this compound as a novel promising pharmacological tool capable of attenuating Aβ evoked neuroinflammatory responses.”
Using CBD as an Antioxidant
A study conducted by researchers at the Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Regulation, NIMH, Bethesda, Maryland reviewed how cannabinoids acted as neuroprotectants in rat cortical neuron cultures that were exposed to toxic levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate. The study found that CBD and THC “both reduced NMDA, AMPA and kainate receptor mediated neurotoxicities. Neuroprotection was not affected by cannabinoid receptor antagonist, indicating a (cannabinoid) receptor-independent mechanism of action. Glutamate toxicity can be reduced by antioxidants. Using cyclic voltametry and a fenton reaction based system, it was demonstrated that Cannabidiol, THC and other cannabinoids are potent antioxidants.” The study concludes that “In a head to head trial of the abilities of various antioxidants to prevent glutamate toxicity, cannabidiol was superior to both alpha-tocopherol and ascorbate in protective capacity.”
The Importance of Regulating the Endocannabinoid System
Another important factor to consider when it comes to CBD is its effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). All throughout our body are CB1 and CB2 receptors that regulate homeostasis in the body. This means they regulate mood, sleep and appetite among a large host of other natural and automatic processes of the body. We naturally trigger these receptors to do their job and maintain our general health, but a host of issues, such as age can affect this process. The cannabinoid compounds such as CBD found in marijuana can trigger and balance the ECS, restoring equilibrium.
A big part of the ECS is its ability to regulate brain cell growth in adults. A study, conducted by researchers at the Buck Institute for Age Research, CA showed that when mice were given cannabinoids, it promoted hippocampal new cell growth (neurogenesis) in the areas of the brain associated to memory and learning. It also promoted neurogenesis in the areas of the brain connected to depression and anxiety, creating a correlation between the plant and its use in treating these disorders.
While there is still a lot of research to be done, medical CBD oil has an ability to treat and assist those suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, helping patients to get some relief and recover their health. More than this, it can work to reverse some of the effects of the disorders and even prevent them from occurring which is good news for everybody.