Neurological diseases are estimated to impact 100 Million Americans every year, with health care costs estimated to reach $600 Billion a year by 2030. There is a lot of evidence that shows that CBD may protect brain cells from diseases like ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington's, and potentially help these patients retain their quality of life and function longer. In fact, the United States government held a patent on cannabinoids as “neuroprotectants”. These chemicals in cannabis can disable certain things in the body, which can cause tissue damage that can make many health conditions worse, or even cause some disorders.
How CBD May Help Manage Alzheimer's
Alzheimer’s is the fastest growing degenerative neurological condition in the United States, impacting an estimated 5.8 million US citizens in 2019. Despite its high prevalence, at 1 in 10 people over age 65, treatments are limited to symptom management. In Alzheimer’s Disease, brain cells are damaged by buildup of plaques. When those tissues get damaged, the brain cells cannot communicate with one another as well, leading to symptoms like memory issues, dementia, and confusion. Modern research shows that cannabidiol, or CBD, may be particularly effective at protecting healthy brain cells from this type of damage. Animal studies have also demonstrated that CBD holds some promise for treating Alzheimer’s disease, especially when you used during the early stages of the disease.
How CBD May Help Manage Huntington's Disease
Huntington's disease is an inherited neurological disorder affecting an estimated 30,000 people in the United States. Huntington’s disease progression is caused by destruction of neuron cells in the brain, which changes the ability to move, process emotions, and may impact cognitive function as well as symptoms including jerky movements and metal health problems. Research is still emerging, as is our understanding of how CBD may provide neurological protective benefits. Regardless, there are case study outcomes supporting CBD for Huntington’s disease, such as this 1986 trial that saw Huntington’s disease symptom improvement in patients taking 600 mg/day over 6 weeks. Another chemical found in hemp called cannabigerol, or CBG, has also been found to protect neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease.
How CBD May Help Manage ALS
ALS is a progressive neurological condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, and results in losing physical abilities like walking, writing, speaking, swallowing, and eventually breathing. Despite a shortened lifespan of 2-5 years from diagnosis, it’s estimated that 16,000 in the US are diagnosed with ALS each year.
While there isn’t any research specifically demonstrating the relationship of cannabis and ALS, the proven neuro protective properties of CBD may be worth pursuing, since protecting healthy brain cells may slow disease progression. A review of preclinical data supports that cannabis may address many underlying imbalances present in ALS, through its proven antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neurological protective effects. In this mouse study, treatment of ALS with cannabis resulted in improved brain cell survival, later onset of symptoms, and slower disease progression.
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