In mitochondrial disease, patients' mitochondria cells fail and are unable to process oxygen, help cells generate RNA and DNA necessary for growth, and convert food into energy. Therefore, patients with mitochondrial disease cannot generate enough energy to sustain the mitochondria cell, and it becomes injured or dies. Over long periods of time, this can cause whole systems within the body to fail, something that is life threatening. Those who suffer from mitochondrial disease may experience a loss in motor control, muscle weakness, muscle pain, gastro-intestinal disorders, cardiac disease, liver disease, diabetes, developmental delays and poor growth, respiratory complications, seizures, visual and hearing problems, and susceptibility to infections.
Research surrounding cannabis for mitochondrial disease is limited. That being said, research has shown that mitochondrial function is modulated by the endocannabinoid system, and when cannabinoid receptors are activated, they have a positive effects on the integrity of mitochondria. Therefore, because cannabis has the ability to activate these receptors, it may have the ability to sustain mitochondria, allowing for successful oxidative phosphorylation and energy production. One study involving rodents found cannabis improved mitochondrial function, and it was suggested cannabis triggered the release of antioxidants that acted as a cleaning mechanism to remove damaged cells and improve the efficiency of mitochondria. Cannabis can restore mitochondria to normal after being deliberately aberrated, which improves mitochondrial membrane potential. Lastly, research shows cannabis treatments increase mitochondrial activity.
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