Updated: Feb 9
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A September 2022 peer-reviewed research study entitled "Neuroprotective Potential of Cannabis Sativa-based Oils in Caenorhabditis Elegans" published in the journal Scientific Reports explored "the protective potential of terpenoids [cannabinoids]" produced by cannabis and how they might play a potential therapeutic role in treatment of diseases based in neurodegeneration, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
The study observed that cannabis produces "hundreds of chemical compounds" by secondary metabolism and that these compounds include cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemicals. "Among the cannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) stand out as the two main ones," reported the scientists.
The study's authors "hypothesized that these oils [from CBD and THC] are effective in decreasing or delaying the symptoms caused by Alzheimer disease" and other diseases involving neurodegeneration. It evaluated the protective potential of different concentrates of CBD and THC. This preclinical study was conducted in vivo, meaning that living creatures (nematodes) were studied, but they were not humans.
"The scientists noted that cannabinoids like CBD and THC modulate the development, synaptic plasticity, and response to endogenous and environmental damage of the nervous system."
The scientists noted that such cannabinoids modulate the development, synaptic plasticity, and response to endogenous and environmental damage of the nervous system and that deficiencies or problems with any of these mechanisms leads to a number of neurodegenerative diseases that involve impairment to cognition, memory, and the senses, including behavioral disturbances.
The study reported that cannabinoids interact with the cellular receptors that populate the endocannabinoid system and are found throughout the nervous system. The most dense receptor within the central nervous system (CNS; brain and spinal cord) is the CB1 variety (while the CB2 type is most dense in the peripheral regions outside the CNS involving the tissues, glands, and organs of the immune system).
"Through the interaction between cannabinoids and their receptors, an anti-inflammatory response is generated, which is an important strategy for maintaining physiological homeostasis and acting on the central nervous system, including pain reduction," reported the study.
The study reported that that CBD "did not show as high an antioxidant action as THC under these test conditions." It noted that the endocannabinoid system receptors, "mainly CB1, are important biomarkers of body weight gain" and that many (but not all) cultivars (strains) of cannabis produce an increase in appetite.
"This is particularly important in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases with loss of appetite, where the use of [CBD and THC] oils can also favor an improvement in food intake."
"This is particularly important in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases with loss of appetite, where the use of [CBD and THC] oils can also favor an improvement in food intake," reported the researchers.
The study concluded that cannabinoids such as CBD and THC may be effective in the treatment of neurdegenerative diseases due to a number of mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other benefits.
Despite results indicating positive outcomes from CBD and THC, the study emphasized the need for additional research, particularly clinical trials involving humans. "Consequently, greater investments in scientific research are needed, in addition to breaking the taboo on the use of the C. sativa plant as an alternative for medicinal use, especially in neurodegenerative diseases, which have shown positive initial results," it summarized.
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