Overview of Degenerative or pervasive neurological conditions

Neurological disorders are disorders of the body’s nervous system, which consists of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. According to the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, there are more than 600 nervous system diseases. The most common types include Parkinson’s diseaseepilepsystrokemultiple sclerosismigrainetumors of the brain and spinal cord, Tourette syndromeperipheral neuropathyspinal cord injury, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Damage to the body’s nervous system can be caused by a genetic disorder, a trauma event that causes a brain or spinal cord injury, tumors, degeneration, autoimmune disorders or blood flow disruptions. The cause of some neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease, remains unknown.

While symptoms of neurological disorders vary significantly depending on the specific type of disorder, they can include muscle weakness, loss of muscle control or poor coordination, paralysis, loss of sensation, spasms, seizures, loss of mental control, loss of consciousness, confusion and pain.

There is no cure for most neurological disorders, so the focus of treatment is on limiting the progression of the disorder and managing symptoms. Medications can be used to control pain, spasms and seizures.

Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Degenerative or pervasive neurological conditions

Research has shown that cannabis possesses neuroprotective effects, which in turn support the health of the brain, spinal cord and nerves, and help in preventing and limiting the progression of various neurological disorders. The major cannabinoids found in cannabis, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), have both shown they can help protect neurons, modulate the inflammatory response and encourage neuroregeneration (Lafuente, et al., 2011) (Kubajewska & Constantinescu, 2010) (Croxford, et al., 2008).

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

The cannabinoids in cannabis have shown they are capable of delaying the onset of ALS, prolonging neuron survival and slowing the progression of the disease (Bilsland, et al., 2006) (Carter, Abood, Aggarwal & Weiss, 2010) (Raman, et al., 2004). CBD specifically has been found to significantly slow the onset of ALS (Weydt, et al., 2005). Cannabis can also help with managing the pain, appetite loss, depression, sleeping problems, spasticity and drooling associated with ALS (Amtmann, et al., 2004) (Carter, Abood, Aggarwal & Weiss, 2010).

Epilepsy

In numerous studies, CBE has demonstrated the ability to reduce or even eliminate seizures (Blair, Deshpande & DeLorenzo, 2015) (Rosenberg, Tsien, Whalley & Devinsky, 2015) (Szaflarski & Bebin, 2014) (Devinsky, et al., 2014).

 

Migraine

Through their activation of the CB1 and CB2, cannabinoids effectively inhibits the pain response caused by migraines (Akerman, Holland, Lasalandra & Goardsby, 2013) (Baron, 2015) (Greco, et al., 2014).

 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Cannabis’ cannabinoids slow the neurodegenerative process of multiple sclerosis by helping to regulate the body’s immune system, modulating its inflammatory response and encouraging neuroregeneration (Kubajewska & Constantinescu, 2010) (Croxford, et al., 2008). One study showed that cannabinoids reduced the damage to myelin caused from inflammation, thereby offering neuroprotection (Pryce, et al., 2003). Another found that cannabinoids reduced neurological disability, improved motor coordination and limited the progression of the MS in animals with a model of multiple sclerosis (de Lago, et al., 2012).

 

Parkinson’s Disease

Studies show that cannabis’ neuroprotective effects can slow the progression of Parkinson’s. Its cannabinoids suppress excitotoxicity, glial activation and oxidative injury that lead to neuron degeneration. They improve the mitochondria function and the clearance of cellular debris, which also supports neuron health (More & Choi, 2015) (Garcia-Arencibia, Garcia & Fernandez-Ruiz, 2009) (Lastres-Becker & Fernandez-Ruiz, 2006). CBD has also shown to support the health of neural cells mitochondria (da Silva, et al., 2014) (Zuardi, 2008).

Peripheral Neuropathy

Cannabis effectively reduces neuropathic pain (Jensen, Chen, Furnish & Wallace, 2015) (Baron, 2015) (McDonough, McKenna, McCreary & Downer, 2014). Cannabis-based medicines have even shown they can reduce chronic neuropathic pain that had previously proven refractory to other treatments (Boychuk, Goddard, Mauro & Orellana, 2015).

Prion Diseases

CBD has shown to protect neurons against prion toxicity and therefore reduced the risk of prion diseases, a group of rare degenerative brain disorders (Dirikoc, et al., 2007).

 

Spinal Cord Injury

Cannabis’ cannabinoids limit neurological damage caused by a spinal cord injury if administered shortly after the traumatic event. The cannabinoids reduce the proinflammatory cytokines and delay the atrophy and degeneration of neurons and thereby protect the white matter and myelin sheath surrounding the cord and nerves (Arevalo-Martin, Garcia-Ovejero & Molina-Holgado, 2010) (Latini, et al., 2014) (Arevalo-Martin, Garcia-Ovejero & Molina-Holgado, 2010) (Arevalo-Martin, et al., 2012). An animal trial have found the administration of cannabinoids shortly after a spinal cord injury caused an improvement in locomotor functional recovery (Kwiatkoski, Guimaraes & Del-Bel, 2012). In addition, cannabis has found to be among the most effective pain relief treatments for people with spinal cord injuries (Wilsey, et al., 2013) (Heutink, Post, Wollaars & van Asbeck, 2011).

 

Stroke

Cannabinoids reduce infarct volume and improving functional outcome following strokes (England, Hind, Rasid & O’Sullivan, 2015). When administered shortly after a stroke, CBD specifically protects neurons and astrocytes from damage, and therefore leads to improved functional, histological, biochemical, and neurobehavior recovery (Lafuente, et al., 2011).

 

Tourette Syndrome

Cannabis effectively suppresses tics and improves behavioral problems associated with Tourette syndrome (Muller-Vahl, 2013) (Muller-Vahl, et al., 2002).

 

Tumors of the Brain and Spinal Cord

CBD has shown it has anti-tumor properties, with one study showing it significantly inhibited the growth of cancer cells (Massi, et al., 2004).

 

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