A groundbreaking study has revealed that this now-popular cannabinoid has potential benefits for treating neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s that to date have no known cure. Cannabinol (CBN) is slowly taking center stage in cannabinoid science due to its powerful therapeutics that are now emerging. Recently, scientists discovered that CBN has stronger sleep-inducing effects as compared to CBD. Now it appears that CBN can fight Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by a progressive deterioration in memory and other significant mental capabilities. This is triggered by oxidative damage that causes a progressive loss of brain cell connections as neurons begin to degenerate and die. The main symptoms of Alzheimer’s are confusion and memory loss. Treatment for Alzheimer’s is usually focused on symptom control.
A few decades ago, a regulated process of neuronal cell death was described and named oxytosis. This same process can trigger the development of neurodegenerative cell diseases. The mechanisms underlying oxytosis have been linked to a depletion in glutathione which is a hormone that is known to prevent oxidative stress.
A group of researchers from Salk have discovered that CBN plays an important role in neurodegenerative diseases. CBD reduces oxidative damage to brain cells which causes cell death.
Details of the Study
The researchers reviewed the process of oxytosis which is linked to the development of Alzheimer’s. After administering CBN to neurons the researchers initiated oxidative stress which caused oxidative damage to the cells. They were able to observe how CBN protects the mitochondria in neuronal cells and prevent oxytosis. Damaged cells in Alzheimer’s disease usually have curled-up mitochondria; these were not present when CBN was administered. When the team replicated the experiment in cells that lack mitochondria, the protective effects was lost. As the chief researcher, Pamela Maher, put it:
“We were able to directly show that maintenance of mitochondrial function was specifically required for the protective effects of the compound.”
Maher confirmed the findings of the study and how this could lead to the discovery of alternative treatment options for Alzheimer’s diseases. She said, “This discovery could one day lead to the development of new therapeutics for treating this disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, like Parkinson’s disease.”
The study had multiple funders including an Innovation Award from Salk University, The University of California, San Diego, and the Bundy Foundation.