Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease that destroys the neurons in the brain and robs its victims of their memory and cognitive abilities. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia. Dementia is "a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life." In the case of Alzheimer's disease, it is a gradual and progressive decline over time. Many people do not experience symptoms until they have already had the disease for ten years. There is still no cure for this disease.
Alzheimer's disease results from the accumulation of defective and misfolded proteins both within the neurons themselves (tau proteins) and outside of the neurons (beta amyloid protein). Tau proteins, which hold the microtubule structure of the neuron together, are not made correctly and as a consequence, misshapen, fragments of proteins known as peptides are created. These proteins clump together into "fibril tangles" inside the neuron where it blocks the flow of nutrition through the cell. As a result, the neuron becomes toxic and dies from starvation.
The beta amyloid protein is a fragment of protein or peptide that has been cut from the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by the enzyme gamma secretase and beta secretase. The amyloid precursor protein is a glycoprotein that exists in cell membrane of the cell. Although scientists do not yet know its exact function, they think that it might form ion channels near the synapses of neurons.
These fragments are normally cleared away from the brain, but instead clump together into "plaques." The plaques become toxic to surrounding neurons, impair their communication with each other, and eventually cause them to die.
Recent research has discovered that cannabinoids have neuroprotective properties and stop the progression of the disease by acting on the endocannabinoid signaling system. Endocannabinoids are fatty acid molecules that are produced naturally in the body. These molecules bind to receptors or binding sites existing on the surface of cells throughout the body. When the endocannabinoids attach themselves to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, a number of biological functions are regulated and controlled. These biological functions include cells with these receptors are located in the hippocampus (memory, learning), the cerebral cortex (decision-making, emotional behavior), the cerebellum (motor control, coordination), putamen (movement, learning), the hypothalamus (appetite, body temperature) and the amygdala (emotions).
CBD, a natural cannabinoid found naturally in Cannabis, is effective in managing Alzheimer's disease. Corbin Bachmeier of the Roskamp Institute, explains that CBD indirectly stimulates the cannabinoid system by mimicking the actions of endocannabinoids. It also inhibits the enzymes or proteins that breakdown endocannabinoids within the body. This results in the increase of the endocannabinoid levels in the body. Increased endocannabinoid within the body has been shown to reduce the amount of the beta amylose protein fragment and plaques that are produced in the brain. Evidence of improved cognitive behavior in laboratory animals treated with CBD was also seen. Researchers agree that CBD has the potential of changing the way Alzheimer's disease is managed in the future.
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