When an established, respected health research institution talks, people listen. The Salk Institute in La Jolla, California has recently published research on the application of cannabinoids to degenerating brain cells.
This isn’t as strange as it may sound; science has long known that the brain and other organs contain cannabinoid receptors—receptors are protein molecules that receive signals from various chemicals in the body and serve as neurotransmitters. There are different receptors on different types of cells, specific to their purposes.
“Researchers have studied how cannabinoids act on the brain and other parts of the body. Cannabinoid receptors (molecules that bind cannabinoids) have been discovered in brain cells and nerve cells in other parts of the body. The presence of cannabinoid receptors on immune system cells suggests that cannabinoids may have a role in immunity.” (1)
The fact that these types of receptors exist in the body means that we are meant to respond to the chemicals specific to cannabinoids—the human body produces its own version of cannabinoid chemicals.
Modern Western science has recently been branching into exploring cannabis’ phytochemicals and their impacts to health. More studies are being conducted on animals all the time.
Cannabinoids are also extremely effective in relieving the symptoms of Crohn’s and Irritable Bowel Disease.
Countless other maladies are expediently treated—and even cured—with cannabis and have been for millennia.
Yet cannabis remains on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Schedule 1 of prohibited controlled substances, thereby severely restricting further research in humans.
Fighting Brain Inflammation
The latest research conducted by Salk and published in Nature Partner Journals-Aging and Mechanisms of Disease explored the use of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana on neurons implanted with amyloid beta, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease that builds up, leading to plaque in nerve cells in the brain. Amyloid beta causes cellular inflammation, which leads to neuron death.
“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves. When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.” (2)
When THC was applied to the inflamed cells, amyloid beta was stifled and nerve inflammation was eliminated, thereby preventing their death.
The answer as to “why?” seems pretty common sensical.
The human body doesn’t respond well to foreign substances. Manufactured foods; pharmaceuticals; and chemicals in air, earth, and water have been found—without question—to cause illness, disease, and premature death.
But there are cannabinoid receptors. In the brain.
“…these data show that there is a complex and likely autocatalytic inflammatory response within nerve cells caused by the accumulation of intracellular Aβ, and that this early form of proteotoxicity can be blocked by the activation of cannabinoid receptors.” (3)
When a natural substance enters the body, there are places for it to go—the body responds. That is how all the various nutrients our bodies require for health and survival are recognized and allowed to do what they were designed to do, nourishing and sustaining us.
An unnatural substance has nowhere to go, wandering aimlessly. At best, it will end up being eliminated without being processed or it will stick around until the body figures out what to do with it. T-cells will attack it, causing inflammation and infection, compromising the immune system and making us susceptible to any microorganism that comes our way (and there are many).
The invader may be stored in fat tissue where it will be joined by others until the accumulation damages or kills healthy cells. It may actively adversely react with any of the innumerable chemicals intrinsic to the human body. The immune system will work hard trying to get rid of it, straining organs, bones, and tissues.
It’s about time that science fully explores cannabis in all its many varieties. From making paper, clothing, food, and fuel to fighting cancer and neurodegeneration, this hardy plant is not the demon it has been made out to be—quite the opposite.
Just ask the neurons in your brain.