Marijuana Has Potential to Treat Alzheimer’s, Says Salk Institute Study

Article by Kate Simmons, Westword


Alzheimer’s is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that slowly shuts down the brain and eventually leads to death. But a new study gives patients and their families hope that marijuana could help.

Researchers at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies published a study in the June journal of Aging and Mechanisms of Disease announcing the discovery of a compound present in marijuana that triggers the removal of beta-amyloid protein from neurons. In layman’s terms, that means cannabis could help remove deadly plaque accumulation from the nerve cells.

“It is reasonable to conclude that there is a therapeutic potential of cannabinoids for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” writes David Schubert, senior researcher and a professor at Salk.

Little is known about the illness, including what causes it, but that hasn’t stopped scientists from researching how neurons deteriorate in the brain and trying to determine how to slow down or stop that process. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S.; the number of patients diagnosed with the disease is expected to more than double by 2050.

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