Study: How Neurodegenerative Diseases May Be Treated By Cannabidiol (CBD)

Medical advancement in the Western World has led to an unprecedented rise in life expectancy. In the United States, the life expectancy for women is 81.6 years while men fall behind at 76 years. An unintended result of this medical progression is the increase in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
Regretfully, not much is known about neurodegenerative diseases and much research is needed for those suffering. What we do know can be attributed to Dr. George Bartzokis’ research. His research revealed a correlation with age-related buildup of iron and brain degeneration. The study essentially showed that excessive iron buildup was responsible for disruptions in the brain causing cognitive deficits associated with various brain diseases.
Your brain actually stores iron in the Basal Ganglia which refers to a group of subcortical nuclei responsible primarily for motor control. In other words, this part of the brain controls intentional movement and the patterns created when forming habits. One can see why the disruptions in the Basal Ganglia would be linked to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, since these are illnesses that affect your motor skills and memory.
Iron, Mitochondria and Cell Death
Mitochondria is found in the cell membrane and generates most of a cell’s chemical energy. It’s often referred to as the “cellular power plant.” The job of the mitochondria is to control cell processes which also includes a cell’s programmed death.
On the molecular level, a disease like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s for example can exhibit signs of less chemical energy at the synapses (cells submitting energy to one another). This suggests that mitochondria plays a vital role in sustaining an uninterrupted circuit of neurons in the brain. What was also discovered was that the buildup of iron disrupts the dynamics of mitochondria and as result, leads to more cell death.

CBD may help treat Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Researchers from Pontifical Catholic University in Brazil examined the relationship between CBD and neurodegenerative diseases in a 2013 study. They drew inspiration from past studies

that revealed that cannabidiol helped recover iron-induced memory deficits. The scientists were in search of an answer as to how CBD oil helps those with neurodegenerative diseases and the relationship with mitochondria in particular.
In their tests, they further proved the theory that iron disrupts mitochondria in lab rats. Some of the test subjects were overloaded with iron and some were treated with cannabidiol. They discovered high levels of dynamin-1-like (DNM1L) and caspase 3 (both proteins are associated with the death of cells) and attributed this to the excess iron.
Cannabidiol testing was very positive. The researchers were able to examine the specific effects of cannabidiol and its reversal in the levels of DNM1L and caspase 3 back to their normal levels. The conclusion in this case was that CBD had actually protected the brain from the proteins associated with cell death, which at the root was caused by the increased iron. They also stated that CBD should be considered as a potential molecule with memory-rescuing and neuroprotective properties.

Moving forward
Research surrounding the benefits of CBD for specific neurodegenerative diseases is lacking but the evidence that iron buildup in the brain and its relation to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease is overwhelming. It is without a doubt that cannabidiol may prove to be a successful way of treating neurodegenerative diseases. There is a bright future for research and promise for those awaiting solutions.

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