CBD’s Anti-Inflammatory, Neurological Benefits Could Provide Alzheimer’s Relief
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects more than 6 million Americans of all ages.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is known and widely used for a wide array of potential benefits, including pain relief, sleep, stress and anxiety relief, its anti-seizure properties — the list goes on. While the non-psychotropic cannabinoid already boasts a number of positive effects, could preventing and alleviating Alzheimer’s disease be among them?
According to a new study, the prospects are looking strong.
By 2050, the number of people over the age of 65 with Alzheimer’s could grow to a projected 12.7 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, underscoring the need to explore potential options to alleviate or prevent the disease. Currently, there are no cures for Alzheimer’s, though some medications can provide relief and mitigate symptoms.
Alzheimer’s is progressive disease characterized by changes in the brain, resulting in distorted and lost memory along with other important mental processes over time.
So where exactly does CBD fit in? Researchers from China Pharmaceutical University took a closer look at the neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory mechanisms of the cannabinoid in their study titled “Assessing Cannabidiol as a Therapeutic Agent for Preventing and Alleviating Alzheimer’s Disease Neurodegeneration,” published in the journal Cells.
They found that CBD may enhance cognitive function and offer protection against the protein Aβ1–42, a biomarker associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s. Aβ42 is also related to other similar conditions and symptoms like mild cognitive impairment and vascular dementia.
CBD’s Anti-Inflammatory, Neurological Benefits and Alzheimer’s
Authors note that CBD may specifically work against Alzheimer’s, given the role that neuroinflammation plays in ongoing synaptic and neuronal damage. CBD is already well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, so researchers conducted experiments on mice to model Alzheimer’s disease using Aβ1–42. They also utilized an RNA-seq analysis to further understand some of the actions CBD may have to offer when it comes to Alzheimer’s.
Ultimately, they found that CBD did not cause significant damage or cell death. Instead, CBD appeared to counteract cognitive and memory impairments induced by Aβ1–42.
Researchers administered Aβ1–42 to the mice, which were then put to the Morris water maze test. This test is often used to assess spatial learning, cognitive functions and memory in rodents.
Those mice treated with Aβ1–42 took longer to complete the maze, indicating increased cognitive issues. After being treated with CBD, it took mice significantly less time to escape, implying better cognitive function. CBD also helped to combat the negative impacts Aβ1–42 had on learning over a five-day period.
Additionally, researchers looked at the navigation patterns of mice, concluding that CBD had the potential to boost spatial memory among Alzheimer’s models.
Promising Findings Show the Need for Expanded Research
“Our findings suggest CBD’s efficacy in moderating microglial and astrocytic activation, offering anti-inflammatory benefits that protect synaptic function and alleviate AD-associated cognitive deficits,” authors note. “Our data support CBD’s potential therapeutic role in countering AD-related neuroinflammation.”
Along with demonstrating CBD’s ability to counteract certain cognitive impairments caused by Aβ1–42, researchers said the study left them with “invaluable insights” surrounding CBD’s role in modulating critical genes within the inflammatory reaction, “underscoring its robust anti-inflammatory potential.”
They also note that the equivalent dose for humans from the study is about 115 mg of CBD, which would make it a viable oral supplement. Still, researchers reference that the potential role of CBD in combating Alzheimer’s “remains conspicuously absent from contemporary guidelines.”
“Our research substantiates CBD’s efficacy in either preventing or mitigating the effects of AD. Thus, future formulations of CBD supplements might be strategically positioned to include indications for AD prevention and alleviation, expanding its therapeutic repertoire,” the study concludes.
Alzheimer’s and Cannabinoids: An Emerging Field of Research
While it may still be limited in the grand scheme, the exploration of cannabinoids and Alzheimer’s isn’t brand new. Denver-based MedPharm Holdings received funding in 2022 to move forward to study cannabinoids as they relate to neuropharmacology, specifically Alzheimer’s.
Other research has noted the “promising” potential that cannabinoids like CBD hold when it comes to Alzheimer’s and dementia-related symptoms, specifically citing findings in rodent models showing the effect of cannabinoids in reducing amyloid plaque deposition and stimulating hippocampal neurogenesis.
A Toronto-based biotech company is also researching the potential of new pharmaceutical formulations of the psychedelic drug Dimenthyltryptamine (DMT).