In 2013, mainstream media began reporting on the promise of aCBD strains like Charlotte’s Web (named after a five-year-old girl whose grand mal seizures were dramatically reduced with cannabis oil) to treat seemingly intractable epileptic seizures in children. By garnering public support for greater access to medical cannabis among families in need, these stories helped advance the cannabis legalization campaigns that continue to this day.
Although other medical and therapeutic uses of cannabis (such as for pain, nausea and sleep problems) now seem to dominate public discourse, the plant’s ability to improve a variety of neurological disorders remains a topic of interest. significant in health care and scientific research. . Cannabis constituents are being studied for potential use in treating not only epileptic seizures, but also traumatic brain injury, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntingon’s disease, and other neurological disorders.
Project CBD identified four recently published articles on the topic, including two reviews of previous research and two original studies. Together they offer an overview of the state of the science, including what remains to be learned and what is becoming increasingly clear.
Not just cannabinoids
A multitude of cannabis-derived phytochemicals, including cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other antioxidants, have shown neuroprotective effects through various cellular and molecular pathways in preclinical research, according to researchers from the University of Adelaide. Scott Smid and John Staton Laws III in a new review of the journal Phytomedicine.1
“Cannabis-sativa synthesizes many classes of secondary metabolites including more than 140 terpenes, 104 cannabinoids, [and] 26 flavonoids… which demonstrate a diverse range of bioactivities,” the authors write. Of these, a surprising number have been shown in previous studies to possess neuroprotective properties, including cannabinoids CBD, Radio Canada [cannabichromene]Delta-8 THCand Delta-9 THC; the terpenes limonene, myrcene, linalool, alpha-pinene, beta-caryophyllene, humulene, alpha-bisabolol, friedelin and terpinolene; and the flavonoid cannflavin A.
Although these findings in cells and animal models have not been confirmed in randomized, controlled clinical studies in humans, they nevertheless provide “strong evidence” for a role for the constituents of cannabis, individually or in combination. , as potential neuroprotectors, write the authors – and lend support to the idea of using medical cannabis as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Spotlight on CBD
A second recent review, published in the journal Molecules in August,2 emphasizes the ability to CBD and certain synthetic derivatives for reducing neuroinflammation mediated by microglia, central nervous system immune cells known to be modulated by the endocannabinoid system.3 Since many common neurological disorders are characterized by inflammation of the brain, cannabinoids could potentially support disease prevention and/or treatment by tempering or reversing the pro-inflammatory response of microglia.
A growing body of clinical and preclinical evidence supports this hypothesis, write the authors, also based in Australia (in this case, Western Sydney University) – especially for cannabidiol. “CBD has promising therapeutic effects… [for] neurological disorders such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, ischemic brain damage, neuropathic pain, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease,” they note. “A number of preclinical studies suggest that CBD exhibited potent inhibitory effects of neurotoxic molecules and inflammatory modulators, highlighting its remarkable therapeutic potential for the treatment of numerous neurological disorders.
However, they add, the molecular mechanisms of action that underlie CBDThe effects of on neuroinflammation via microglia appear to be complex and are still poorly understood. To shed light on the matter, the authors review what current science says about several pathways thought to be crucial to the pathophysiology of microglia-mediated neuroinflammation, including – alphabet soup alert! – “the downward regulation of NADPH mediated by oxidase SAR, TLR4–NCκB, and NFI-β-J.A.K.–STAT ways. »
Finally, the authors summarize preclinical studies investigating the anti-neuroinflammatory activity of more potent synthetic substances. CBD derivatives, and CBD in tandem with THC. All told – despite the uncertainties about the precise mechanisms – the evidence looks pretty good, they conclude.
More support for full-spectrum extracts
Meanwhile, recent articles from Italy and Spain describe studies using in vitro (in cells) tests to further assess the neuroprotective potential of various cannabis constituents.
The first, published in September in Frontiers in pharmacology,4 evaluated the antioxidant and neuroprotective activity in mouse brain cells of two extracts – one in water and the other in hexane – of the “industrial hemp” strain Futura 75. While this strain is said to contain 2- 3% CBD and about 0.1% THCthe authors note that they are interested not only in cannabinoids, but also in terpenes, alkaloids and especially flavonoids.
The extracts showed an array of “striking” and “interesting” effects, the authors conclude, and “could be a source of compounds potentially beneficial to human health, particularly related to neurodegenerative disorders.”
The second article, recently published online and which appeared in the November issue of Fitoterapia,5 tests a different full-spectrum cannabis extract on a different cell line using different assays suggesting neuroprotective effects. But again, the work “demonstrates[s] the in vitro Efficiency of Cannabis-sativa extract as a neuroprotective agent,” the authors write, “providing the entire cannabis phytocomplex as a more effective strategy, compared to its main constituents alone.
Nate Seltenrich, a freelance science journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area, covers a wide range of topics, including environmental health, neuroscience, and pharmacology. Copyright, Project CBD. May not be reprinted without permission.