Extensive research on the impact of endocannabinoid system modulation and its effects on neurodegenerative disorders has occurred in the past several years. In 2014, British Journal of Pharmacology published a review titled “The influence of cannabinoids on generic traits of neurodegeneration”, in which the authors concluded the following:
“Signalling from the CB1 and CB2 [i.e. cannabinoid] receptors are known to be involved in the regulation of Ca2+ [calcium] homeostasis [i.e. the mechanism by which systems are kept balanced], mitochondrial function [i.e. function of components of cells that produce energy], trophic [i.e. growth] support and inflammatory status… while other receptors gated [i.e. modulated/controlled] by cannabinoids… are gaining interest in their anti-inflammatory properties. Through multiple lines of evidence, this evolutionarily conserved neurosignalling system has shown neuroprotective capabilities and is therefore a potential target for neurodegenerative disorders.” While the current article briefly touches on the evidence that exists for the potential of cannabinoid therapy as treatment for neurodegenerative disorders, the BJP article will provide a more extensive overview.
According to an article published by the Harvard Neurodiscovery Center, “If left unchecked 30 years from now, more than 12 million Americans will suffer from neurodegenerative diseases.” It is therefore imperative that the medical and scientific communities continue to extensively research any and all potentially successful therapies for these disease processes.
Cannabinoid Therapy for Neurodegenerative Diseases
“If left unchecked 30 years from now, more than 12 million Americans will suffer from neurodegenerative diseases.” – Harvard Neurodiscovery Center
Given the highly favorable safety profile of whole-plant cannabis, and the severely debilitating symptoms caused by certain neurodegenerative diseases which could potentially be alleviated by its use, whole-plant cannabis medicine may be a safe and useful additional therapy for patients with certain neurodegenerative diseases who are finding it difficult to control their symptoms with standard therapy. Increased research on cannabinoid medicine and modulation of the endocannabinoid system in relation to neurodegeneration has the potential to lead to novel therapies which may help to prevent progression, and potentially initiation, of these diseases.
Another review published in 2012 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (source of the graphic below) discusses that cannabis may exert neuroprotective effects through mitochondrial regulation, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant (i.e. agents that prevent free radical damage) properties, and clearance of damaged cells and molecules in the brain. The author also noted that signaling of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) may decrease as people age, and therefore decreased function of the ECS may be a partial cause for age-related cognitive decline. According to the author, Dr. Andras Bilkei-Gorzo, “[E]levation of cannabinoid receptor activity either by pharmacological blockade of the degradation of cannabinoids [i.e. keeping cannabinoids active and in the brain for a longer amount of time] or by receptor agonists [i.e. receptor activation] could be a promising strategy for slowing down the progression of brain ageing and for alleviating the symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders.”
For information on how you can advocate, expectations, and safety in considering whole-plant medical cannabis use, click here.
I would look for CBD (cannabidiol) dominant strains which have shown to exhibit neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic effects (among many other benefits). It is best to incorporate some THC because they enhance each others effects. Please discuss incorporating CBD dominant strains into your treatment regimen with your neurologist. I have included some studies done below which may be helpful.
“They were very friendly,” Yumoto said. “It wasn’t scary; no pressure. They did a lot of explaining.”
A friend of Yumoto’s who helped with the carpentry work on the Champlain Valley Dispensary in Burlington suggested she try medical marijuana. Her neurologist was interested in the effects of the treatment and agreed to fill out the paperwork so she could become a certified patient.
“I have hope, but I really don’t believe it can cure this disease,” she said in a soft voice, her hands folded in front of her. “It may not even help with some conditions.”
“They really don’t know how it will work for me,” she said “They just say it depends on the person.”
Yumoto was counseled to take only a drop or two of each extract per day and then gradually increase the dosage.
In the end, she was given two extracts. One, called Otto, is high in CBD, or cannabidiol, a component of marijuana that can ease pain and muscle tightness. The other, called Indica, is high in THC and is a relaxant and appetite enhancer.
Two months into the therapy, the drug does seem to be helping, at least a little.