Study: Cannabis Beneficial for Alzheimer's by Improving Glucose Consumption in the Brain

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

Photo Credit: Medical Marijuana Inc.

According to a new study published in Neuropharmacology, cannabis can protect brain cells by encouraging glucose uptake, and therefore energy consumption, which could in turn help manage and treat cognitive degeneration in those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease. Researchers have previously understood glucose uptake as being linked to the worsening of brain conditions like Alzheimer's disease. When fewer proteins move glucose to the brain, Alzheimer's patients suffer from cerebrovascular degeneration, neuropathy, and cognitive dysfunction. This process may even contribute to the development of cognitive decline in the first place. 

In this new animal trial, a team of researchers led by Attila Köfalvi from the Cellular Neurosciences and Biology Center, University of Coimbra, and the Cajal Institute Centre for Biomedical Research in Neurodegenerative Disease found activation of the CB2 receptors using modified THC, without activating the CB1 receptor, enhanced glucose consumption in the brain by about 30%, which helped to protect brain neurons. Köfalvi explains, “Through various laboratory techniques, we conclude that the CB2 receptor, when stimulated by chemically modified THC analogues to interact only with the CB2 receptor without activating the CB1, avoiding the psychotropic effects and keeping beneficial effects, promotes increased glucose uptake in the brain.”

Other studies have found cannabis can benefit Alzheimer's patients in other ways as well, like through the prevention of plaque build up, lowering amyloid-beta levels, and enhancing mitochondrial function. Cannabinoids like CBD also have neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, and anti-apoptotic effects. This information has been provided by Medical Marijuana Inc. and approved by our Chief Medical Officer. You can also access the entire text of the study via Science Direct.