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How Does Marijuana Help Treat Alzheimer's?

People like to joke about marijuana users having poor short-term memory: but as it turns out, the plant could actually benefit some people suffering from real memory loss issues.

A recent study led by the Cellular Neurosciences and Biology Center examined how THC helps the brain consume energy more efficiently. This could be good news for patients with Alzheimer's, given that the disorder fundamentally changes the metabolism of glucose in the brain.

According to the study, "the idea of alleviating symptoms of dementia by boosting cerebral energy metabolism has been toyed with for decades," although few drugs have been developed to try to reverse that process.

According to study author Attila Köfalvi, researchers created chemically-modified THC analogues that acted only on the brain's CB2 receptors - which "protect neurons by promoting glucose consumption (energy) by the brain and reducing dependence," according to Pravda.

The THC analogue was engineered not to activate the CB1 receptors in the brain, which have the less-desirable effect of killing brain cells. In rodent studies, using the THC analogue allowed the brain to process glucose more efficiently, which could help alleviate some of the symptoms of Alzheimer's.

It's in line with the findings of another recent study that "strongly suggest[ed] that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer's disease through multiple functions and pathways."

While more research is needed, "in the future," writes Köfalvi, "this discovery could pave the way for a palliative therapy in Alzheimer's disease."


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