THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that gets you high, but the latest developments in research show that the compound is capable of more than just euphoria. A molecular study shows that THC induces the removal of toxic plaque in the brain, a contributing feature to the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
Alzheimer’s, also referred to as senile dementia, affects more than three million Americans per year. Memory loss, confusion and agitation are the main symptoms of the disease. While it is still unclear as to why people develop Alzheimer’s Disease, it is clear that it happens when brain cells and those cells’ connections degenerate and die. This leads to destruction of memory and other mental capacities.
THC can interrupt this process for the better. Cannabis’ powerhouse ingredient blocks the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChe) and prevents the amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta) from collecting. Abeta is a plaque that builds up on the walls of the arteries in the brain. This build up is detrimental for Alzheimer’s patients because of its ability to induce a toxic inflammation of cells that severely damage the neurons in the brain.
Luckily, THC’s anti-inflammatory components attack Abeta and give nerve cells the opportunity to survive.
A study conducted with animal models exhibiting a wide variety of diseases including stroke and dementia, outlined the powerful effects of cannabis. Researchers created a synthetic cannabis called J147 and noted that it activated the cannabinoid receptors in the brain and stopped the accumulation of plaque, death of nerve cells and inflammation.
Another study published this year found that doses of medical cannabis oil with a control amount of THC helped reduce symptoms of delusion, agitation, irregular sleep patterns and irritability for dementia patients. Although this study only examined 11 participants for four weeks, all of the patients noted overall improvements in mood and mentality. This small study alone is a huge step in proving cannabis’ important role.