Cognitive decline is the No. 1 fear among Americans older than 50, but while we know that exercise, proper diet and social and educational
engagement can help maintain brain health, there is as yet no intervention that can fully prevent the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
If no such development occurs, the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple in the next 50 years. And while there has been hope that natural remedies could have an impact, none has been shown to be effective so far. When a study released last month proved that ginkgo biloba could not prevent Alzheimer’s, one researcher called it the “nail in the coffin” for that theory.
Could marijuana be the answer?
Cannabinoids, the active chemical components of marijuana, can regulate inflammation in the brain and promote neurogenesis — the growth of new neural pathways — even in cells damaged by age or trauma. As more research has indicated that brain inflammation appears to be a cause of several degenerative diseases, marijuana has been getting a closer look as a potential preventive medication.
Cannabis extracts are proving to be remarkably effective against a wide range of diseases for thousands of people. Unfortunately, there is a subset of the population that responds negatively or not at all. Numerous factors influence an individual’s unique response to cannabis medicine, including genetics. Some people may never be able to benefit from cannabis due to rare genetic mutations. However, a major cause of poor experiences may be controllable – the health of the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabis and the Endocannabinoid System
Cannabis is effective because it works through the endocannabinoid system, the function of which is to maintain homeostasis. Given this role, it may often be the best place to target for treating disease, which fundamentally is a state of non-homeostasis. For cannabis to work most effectively, the endocannabinoid system needs to be healthy.