Extremely low doses of the cannabis compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may slow or even halt entirely the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study from neuroscientists at the University of South Florida (USF) shows.
Findings from the research were reported online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
For the study, researchers from the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute showed that extremely low doses of THC reduced the production of amyloid beta (which is found in a soluble form in most aging brains), and prevented abnormal accumulation of this protein – a process considered to be one of the pathological hallmarks in Alzheimer’s disease. The THC was also found to selectively enhance mitochondrial function, which is needed to help supply energy, transmit signals, and maintain a healthy brain.
“THC is known to be a potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties, but this is the first report that the compound directly affects Alzheimer’s pathology by decreasing amyloid beta levels, inhibiting its aggregation, and enhancing mitochondrial function,” says Chuanhai Cao, PhD, the study’s lead author and a neuroscientist at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute and the USF College of Pharmacy. “Decreased levels of amyloid beta means less aggregation, which may protect against the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Since THC is a natural and relatively safe amyloid inhibitor, THC or its analogs may help us develop an effective treatment in the future.”
The study, which can be found by clicking here, concludes; “These sets of data strongly suggest that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways.”
A study published earlier this month by the National Institute of Health also found THC to be a potential treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease, though it found that combining THC with another cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) was even more effective.