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Neurodegenerative Diseases and Medical Marijuana

Neurodegenerative disease is an umbrella term for a range of conditions which primarily affect the neurons in the human brain. Neurons are the building blocks of the nervous system which includes the brain and spinal cord. Neurons normally don’t reproduce or replace themselves, so when they become damaged or die, the body cannot replace them. Cannabis can be used to help protect those neurons.

How neurodegenerative diseases work

Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable and debilitating conditions that result in progressive degeneration and/or death of nerve cells. This causes problems with movement or mental functioning. Examples of neurodegenerative diseases include Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s disease, however there are hundreds of different neurodegenerative diseases that affect millions of people worldwide.

Cannabinoids have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory qualities, which can prove useful in preventing, stopping, or reversing debilitating neurodegenerative disorders. Because of cannabinoids, cannabis has the potential to slow the onset and progression of neurodegenerative conditions.

List of neurodegenerative diseases

The most frequently diagnosed neurodegenerative disorders are:


• Alzheimer’s
• Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”)
Parkinson’s
Huntington’s
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
• Prion disease
• Spinal muscular atrophy

Risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases

Many researchers believe a combination of factors may contribute to a higher risk of acquiring a neurodegenerative disease, including traumatic brain injury, genetic mutations and environmental factors (e.g., heavy metals, pesticides). The one consistent risk factor of developing a neurodegenerative disorder, particularly for Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, is age. Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia, accounting for possibly 60-80% of cases.

Links

Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids

Surgical Neurology International

Read more

Medical Marijuana and Parkinson’s Disease

Practical Neurology

Read more

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