In a preliminary study conducted by researchers from the Salk Institute it was found that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds found in marijuana could aid in the process of removing plaque-forming proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that causes a person to lose their memory at varying rates and lose the ability to perform tasks they once did daily. It affects more than 5 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health, is a leading cause of death, and is expected to triple in Americans in the next 50 years.
Amyloid beta is a toxic protein that appears in the brain years before symptoms of Alzheimer's disease present themselves, and is a major component in the development of plaques in the brain that are a hallmark of the disease. In the studies, THC was found to promote the cellular removal of amyloid beta, meaning it could prevent or slow down the progression of the disease.
"Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer's, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells," says Salk Professor David Schubert, the senior author of the paper.