Marihuana może pomóc leczyć mózg

Will marijuana defeat Alzheimer's? The research looks promising

Marijuana is the subject of much research, but the last decade has brought an exceptionally large number of discoveries. The latest suggests that one of the numerous compounds contained in Cannabis may protect our nerve cells.

One in 10 people over the age of 65 suffers from one of the neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease. This is a huge population, and we have limited treatment options. Scientists are therefore looking for help from various sources, sometimes quite unusual.

Marijuana for Alzheimer's

One of these sources is marijuana, or rather one of several hundred active substances in this phenomenal plant. You probably already know a thing or two about THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidol). This time it's about a less known compound – CBN, i.e. Cannabinol. Its psychoactive effect is small, but scientists see its potential in neurological treatment.

Scientists from the Salk Institute have published the results (PDF) of an incredibly interesting experiment. They started by researching the effects of CBN as a means of protecting the brain against “aging”, i.e. the death of nerve cells due to errors in the operation of their mitochondria (“cellular power plants”). This process goes hand in hand with insufficient neurogenesis (production of new nerve cells) is responsible for diseases associated with old age and head injuries. CBN, meanwhile, modulates mitochondrial function and thus prolongs cell life.

After working out how the functional groups of the CBN molecule work, specialists designed four analogues, i.e. compounds similar to CBN. Experiments on mouse and human nerve cell colonies are still far from clinical tests of the new drug, but it is still worth reporting their results. Compounds synthesized in the laboratory work stronger and better than natural CBN, extracted from hemp. They penetrated the cell faster and prevented its death more effectively.

The publication states that specialists from the Salk Institute see the potential of CBN analogues not only in the therapy of older people. They also mention the possibility saving nervous systems after injuries, for example administering new drugs to accident victims and football players. They tested this application on fruit flies after brain injuries, and here too the results were surprisingly good. There are already plans for further research and further improvements in building molecules of analogues of the compound that hemp gave us.

People have been growing cannabis for over 12,000 years. This plant has many uses, including potentially medicinal ones, thanks to its rich chemical composition. Traces of compounds derived from Cannabis have been found, among others, in the bones of people buried over 2,500 years ago in China and in the 17th century in the crypt of a hospital in Milan. This latter discovery suggests a medical use, probably as a painkiller.

This plant attracts more and more scientists interested in the active compounds it contains. Urban legend says there are 420 of them, but we have already identified over 500! Over the last decade, over 30,000 publications on the effects of cannabis on other living organisms have appeared in scientific journals. In the years 2021-2023, there were over 4,000 articles per year. The year 2024 also began with the publication of interesting discoveries in the field of marijuana biochemistry, including about its anti-inflammatory and anti-skin cancer effects.

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