Study Summary: Efficacy of Cannabinoids for Alzheimer's

Updated: Jul 10

Welcome to Higher Learning LV's Study Summary series. This series reviews and summarizes peer-reviewed research studies and was developed specifically for cannabis industry professionals. These study summaries provide easily digested quick reads for a variety of important issues regarding the commerce and chemistry of legal cannabis.

A 2019 study entitled "Efficacy of Cannabinoids in a Pre-Clinical Drug-Screening Platform for Alzheimer’s Disease" that was published in the journal Molecular Neurobiology investigated the potential wellness benefits conveyed by 11 cannabis-derived cannabinoids, including CBN and THC.


The study's authors noted a lack of solid research about how various chemical compounds from the cannabis plant might potentially benefit patients suffering from neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.


"Eleven cannabinoids were assayed for neuroprotection," reported the study, which examined the efficacy of the cannabinoids for their potential beneficial influences...."

"Finding a therapy for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is perhaps the greatest challenge for modern medicine. The chemical scaffolds of many drugs in the clinic today are based upon natural products from plants, yet cannabis has not been extensively examined as a source of potential AD drug candidates," reported the study.


The Study

The researchers targeted the potential medicinal efficacy of various cannabinoids in the treatment of the neurodegeneration involved in brain diseases such as Alzheimer's. "Here, we determine if a number of...cannabinoids are neuroprotective in a novel pre-clinical AD and neurodegeneration drug-screening platform that is based upon toxicities associated with the aging brain," reported the study.


"Eleven cannabinoids were assayed for neuroprotection," reported the study, which examined the efficacy of these molecules for their potential beneficial influences on a number of biochemical mechanisms involved in Alzheimer's, including "toxicity, oxidative stress, energy loss, and inflammation."

Peer-reviewed journal Molecular Neurobiology


"These compounds were also [examined] for their ability to remove intraneuronal amyloid* [plaques]." The buildup of amyloid plaques in the brain is one of the most severe symptoms of Alzheimer's and a chief contributor to the loss of cognitive capacity and overall functionality suffered by patients.


"The study found that nine of the 11 cannabinoids "have the ability to protect [brain] cells...."

The study also examined the ability of cannabinoids to "synergize to produce neuroprotective effects that were greater than additive," a nod to the controversial entourage effective theory that purports that an interactive synergism exists between cannabinoids and terpenes that results in wellness benefits when consumed by humans.


The Results

The study found that nine of the 11 cannabinoids "have the ability to protect [brain] cells...." The scientists also identified mechanisms involved in this protection of brain cells that did not involve the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), in support of the idea that many other microscopic cellular receptors and neurotransmitters are involved in the mechanisms of the ECS

The THC molecule


The study found that the nine cannabinoids are able to prevent or decrease the buildup of amyloid plaques, including a reduction of oxidative damage and protection against "loss of energy." The study concluded that "there is a need to focus upon CB1 agonists [in the ECS] that have these functionalities if neuroprotection is the goal."


More precisely, the study revealed that a combination of the cannabinoids CBN and THC "lead to a synergistic neuroprotective interaction."

More precisely, the study revealed that a combination of the cannabinoids CBN and THC "lead to a synergistic neuroprotective interaction." The study concluded that "these results significantly extend the published data by showing that...cannabinoids are potential lead drug candidates for [Alzheimer's disease] and other neurodegenerative diseases."


View the original study.


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