Cannabidiol, or CBD — the main non-psychoactive ingredient in cannabis — may inhibit some triggers for Alzheimer’s disease research according to a new animal study.
The research, undertaken by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University found that high doses of CBD helped restore the action of key proteins, namely L-33 and TREM2 (when both proteins are low, it’s a clear indication of the disease, the researchers said). It’s the first time CBD has been found to normalize levels of these proteins that clean up beta-amyloid plaques in the brain . These plaques are one of the major hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, which is the most common form of dementia.
In the study, published as a short communication in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers gave a two-week course of high dose CBD to mice with early-onset familial Alzheimer’s. Familial Alzheimer’s is an inherited version of the disease in which symptoms begin to occur in people in their 30s and 40s (about 10-15% of patients suffer from this inherited version).
As well as restoring action of the L-33 and TREM2 proteins, the cannabinoid CBD also improved cognition in this mouse model of early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Moreover, Dr Babak Baban, a lead researcher on the project, explained in a press release that CBD also reduced levels of the protein IL-6, which is associated with the high inflammation levels found in Alzheimer’s.
CBD should be at least equally effective in the more common, nonfamilial type Alzheimer’s, which likely have more targets for CBD, Baban also noted. His team are already looking at CBD’s potential in a model of this more common type and are moving forward to establish a clinical trial.
The researchers added that next steps include determining optimal doses and training CBD earlier in the disease process. They also are exploring delivery systems including the use of an inhaler that could help deliver the CBD more directly to the brain.