CBD helps the body remove toxic iron levels, stop brain inflammation and arrest the death of brain cells that lead to dementia-related disease.
These are some sobering statistics: between 2000 and 2015, the number of deaths linked to Alzheimer’s Disease increased 123 percent! It is now the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. At this moment, 5.7 million Americans are living with the disease, but as the demographic shifts to an aging population, things are expected to triple by 2050. It’s a race against time to find a treatment, and hopefully a cure. A new area of study includes the investigation of how cannabis can reduce toxic iron levels.
Medical research teams around the world are throwing everything they’ve got at the problem. One of the newest discoveries in the fight to find a solution for this devastating disease is cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD. This is one of the major cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant; it is non-psychoactive, well tolerated, and safe to use. CBD has enormous potential as a novel treatment for dementia, even for the latest implicated culprit: the build up of toxic iron levels.
Iron Contributes to Dementia
As we age, our bodies slow down, and we increasingly have problems effectively eliminating excess minerals. At appropriate levels, minerals are the building blocks for life. Iron is an essential mineral needed for the production of oxygen-carrying hemoglobin. When you are low on iron, you are said to be ‘anemic,’ the symptoms for which are pallor and exhaustion. Iron is also involved in mitochondrial functioning in the production of cellular energy.
Toxic iron levels lead to significant health issues, including liver and heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.
Iron accumulating in the brain negatively impacts communication between neuronal cells. Scientists have recently confirmed that patients with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of age-related dementia typically register high levels of iron in their bodies. It is known that high iron levels disrupt DNA patterns, increase the presence of free radicals, trigger increased inflammation and cause cell death.
How CBD is Fighting Iron Build Up In the Brain
CBD is not able to directly reduce toxic iron levels, but it does help the body improve elimination even as it’s hindered by high levels of minerals. In 2014, Brazilian researchers found evidence (in lab rats) that CBD protected against iron-related cell death. First, they fed rats a diet high in excess iron. The rats responded by creating high levels of specific proteins (dynamin-1-like and caspase 3) responsible for cell death.
But, when treated with a small dose of CBD, dangerously high protein levels returned to normal. The authors concluded that CBD could offer protection against iron-related apoptosis.
CBD Is Also a Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Agent
Another route through which CBD is fighting the triggers of dementia is through its powerful anti-inflammatory characteristics. These properties are already well established in multiple disease models. Neurological inflammation is one of the major symptoms of dementia, but one which has proven especially challenging to treat.
Dementia-related inflammation is, at least in part, thought to be connected to high iron levels. CBD’s anti-inflammatory characteristics target this iron-related inflammation according to a recent review of the related research which stated CBD “presents anti-inflammatory properties in [Alzheimer’s Disease] models.”
So far, the very early publications looking at CBD for Alzheimer’s have made a solid case for deeper exploration of cannabinoid treatment for dementia patients. Lab and animal models have shown great promise. The next step will be to engage in clinical trials with humans. It is hoped that cannabis will become a novel treatment and perhaps even reverse the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.