Cannabidiol (CBD) is increasingly used by people affected by neurodegenerative diseases
Neurodegenerative diseases include a wide and various group of degenerative diseases affecting the central nervous system and which, in general, have as a common characteristic a process of neuronal cell death. The neurodegenerative diseases which are most known by the public are Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. In recent years more and more people complement the use of cannabis products due to the beneficial and neuroprotectant effects of cannabidiol (CBD).
Degenerative diseases: what are they, which are they, how many people suffer from them
Today, identifying a neurodegenerative disease is still very difficult. The difficulty of making an accurate diagnosis of the different forms of dementia can be explained by the fact that the symptoms can be very similar, especially in the first stage of the disease.
Dementias, moreover, can be caused by the interaction of a wide range of factors: genetical, neurochemical and, not least, the presence of other diseases.
Dementia in general involves from 1 to 5 percent of the population over the age of 65, and about a 30% of the over 80s. With dementia, according to the Superior Institute of Health, is generally meant, “a condition of chronic and progressive dysfunction of the cerebral functions, leading to a decline of the cognitive faculties of the individual. The generic definition of “dementia” includes different diseases, some classifiable as “primary” dementias, like Alzheimer’s Disease”. Some of the most known neurodegenerative pathologies are:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Huntington’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
- Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
- Frontotemporal Dementia
- Lewy Body Dementia
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
In 2015 a report of the Ministry of Health presented the data on neurodegenerative diseases and the situation in Italy. In Italy alone there are 1 million cases of dementia, of which 600 000 due to Alzheimer’s Disease; to these 930 000 individuals are added who, due to a stroke, live with a disability, 240 000 are the patients affected by Parkinson’s Disease and 1 patient every 1.000 citizens with Multiple Sclerosis, for a total of 60 000 cases. We are talking about a very complex situation of which the numbers are bound to increase over time, due to the progressive ageing of the population.
Which are the remedies of classical pharmacology
For now the neurodegenerative process has not yet been fully understood and the diseases provoking it do not have, in fact, a 100% effective treatment.
At the moment the medical-scientific community is working with animal models in order to research new potential therapies which, in future, will hopefully prove to be effective. In some cases experimental treatments are applied, result of the most recent research studies.
For example, gene therapy could alleviate the memory problems linked to Alzheimer’s. Scientists of the Institute of Neurological Disease of San Francisco (USA) discovered that when increasing in mice the quantity of a neurotransmitter, called EphB2, it would be possible to prevent or impede the effects on memory caused by this pathology / memory loss caused by this pathology.
However, for now, the current treatments are aimed at limiting the more acute symptoms of the various pathologies, in order to guarantee the patient relief during his/her healing process.
Cannabidiol (CBD) for neurodegenerative diseases
Cannabis is increasingly used every day in order to diminish the symptoms of some neurological diseases. This is the case, for example, for Parkinson’s Disease, for which it was demonstrated that cannabidiol contributes to the reduction of both motor disruptions and disruptions of different nature.
Online it is possible to find many video testimonies of individuals using cannabis with this purpose. One of the most striking examples has as its protagonist a man affected by akathisia, a severe psychomotor syndrome, which is manifested with the inability to stay still; he is able to live with the disease by taking cannabis.
The reason of the effectiveness of cannabis lies in its particular mechanism of action on the endocannabinoid system, a biological system present in the human body, composed of endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids are small signalling molecules deriving from a polyunsaturated fatty acid: arachidonic acid.
Endocannabinoids activate the cannabinoid receptors of type 1 (denominated CB1) and type 2 (CB2). The first receptors are present in the brain and in some peripheral tissues, while the second ones can be mainly found in the cells of the immune system. The whole of endocannabinoids of an individual is described as the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system exerts its action on the regulation of an enormous variety of physiological and cognitive processes, like appetite, pain sensation or mood. Cannabidiol (CBD) acts indirectly on the receptors of the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabidiol (CBD) more specifically does not act on a particular pathology: it is a “regulating” substance of our endocannabinoid system. Cannabidiol (CBD) modulates already existing mechanisms active in our organism. Essentially, when an imbalance or decompensation occur in the endocannabinoid system, the modulation provided for by cannabidiol (CBD) – which acts, for example, on the immune system or indirectly on an inflammatory process – tend to recover the original balance.
High quality CBD is used by thousands of people throughout the world, who, each and every day, fight their battles against diseases, which currently have no treatment. The request of these individuals – the only one – is to be able to lead a decent life, also with the help of treatments supporting them to cope with their specific pathology.