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Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia may be the most heart-breaking of all ailments. As the population ages and life expectancy is extended, Alzheimer’s and dementia become ever more common.

Alzheimer’s is now the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and it’s a factor in many more. One in three seniors has dementia at the time of death.

It’s also one of the nation’s biggest health care expenses. A recent report estimates that dementia treatment will cost $236 million in 2016, with much of the expense borne by family members. In the years to come, those costs threaten to bankrupt government medical programs and countless families.

Given the personal and financial costs, any progress in dementia treatment is more than welcome. And the recent discovery of chemical compounds that promise to prevent – and even reverse – the growth of plaque on brain cells and the inflammation that are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s is especially exciting.

The research, by Salk Institute Labs, is preliminary and based on brain cells created in the lab. The compounds that show such promise include tetrahydrocannabinol, and if that sounds familiar, it should. Also known as THC, it’s one of the main components of marijuana.

This finding didn’t come out of the blue. Beginning in the late 1980s, brain scientists began understanding the endocannabinoid system, named for the cannabinoid receptors in the brain that transmit signals through natural chemical compounds similar to those in marijuana. The endocannabinoid system is associated with a broad range of functions, including memory, pain and mood. Researchers studying that system are pursuing new ways to treat a range of illnesses, including Parkinson’s, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder – and now, Alzheimer’s.

Researchers are a long way from figuring out how THC might be helpful in treatment, and there are concerns that using marijuana in the wrong dosage or the wrong regimen could harm people with Alzheimer’s. But the preliminary findings are a step on the road that could lead to treatments that would improve the lives of millions.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Marijuana And Alzheimer’s
Author: Staff
Contact: (508) 775-1200
Photo Credit: SDK
Website: Cape Cod Times