What are Neurodegenerative Diseases?
Neurodegenerative diseases occur when nerve cells in the brain or elsewhere in the body lose functionality and slowly die. The most common types of neurodegenerative disorders are Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. There is currently no treatment to slow the disease progression or to cure it; nevertheless, there are treatments to relieve mental or physical symptoms.
- Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder. It destroys memory and thinking skills. As a result, it interferes with a person’s ability to perform simple daily tasks. In older adults, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia – loss of cognitive abilities of remembering and reasoning.
- Parkinson’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder. It affects movement and is often accompanied by additional problems, such as thinking difficulties (dementia), depression and emotional changes, swallowing problems, eating problems, sleep disorders, bladder problems and constipation. Many of the symptoms caused by the disease are due to the death of neurons that produce dopamine, a chemical messenger in your body. The loss of dopamine causes abnormal functioning of the brain.
The number one risk factor for developing neurodegenerative disorders is age. As health services have improved in developed countries, life expectancy has been extended, so more people are affected by neurodegenerative diseases. As such, research is aimed at understanding and finding treatment options for the diseases. In addition to age, genetic and environmental factors can play a role in developing neurodegenerative diseases.
How can CBD help with Neurodegeneration?
Cannabidiol (CBD) possesses a large number of pharmacological effects, including anticonvulsive, sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. In a few studies, CBD was found to have potential use in the treatment of cognitive decline due to neurodegeneration.
Inflammation, a common denominator among neurodegenerative diseases, has been implicated as a critical mechanism responsible for the progressive nature of neurodegeneration. While the exact action of CBD remains unknown, it might be achieving its effects through anti-inflammatory properties. One study suggests that the neuroprotective action of CBD occurs through the restoration of certain proteins that play a role in a cell death, called apoptosis. CBD may stimulate neurogenesis, according to another study; however, the mechanism of this action is also not known.
You can read a few studies published by the National Institutes of Health on how CBD and other cannabinoids affect neurodegeneration at the following links:
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