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Study Confirms CBD Could Protect Brain Against Neurodegenerative Diseases

While more research is necessary, a new study confirms CBD contains neuroprotective potential against degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Back in 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was granted a patent for the neuroprotective capacity of non-psychoactive cannabinoids. You are not reading that incorrectly. An arm of the federal government, which classifies marijuana as an illegal substance with no accepted medical value, has technology rights to CBD’s ability to protect the brain.

“Cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases,” reads patent No. 6,630,507.

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A new study from Korean scientists published last month in the Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research journal aimed to dive deeper. While the federal government owns this patent, the scientific community has released mixed results on this phenomenon. Variables like brain cell types and experimental conditions have led to “different and somewhat contradictory results,” the researchers wrote, with the goal of understanding whether or not CBD held any potential in protecting brain cells against oxidative stress.

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Photo by Tinnakorn Jorruang/Getty Images

The answer, it turns out, is yes — a possible link between CBD and slowing brain cell death exists.

“The use of low-concentrated CBD significantly rescued the neurons from the oxidative stress, confirming its neuroprotection capability,” researchers concluded.

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For the study, researchers tested what effects varying levels of CBD molecules had on hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), or oxidative stress. The molecule is considered a pathological culprit in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and ALS. Tested under “in vitro” conditions, or in a petri dish, researchers found the antioxidant properties of CBD provided hippocampal neurons a protective layering from the initiation and progression of apoptosis, or cell death, caused by oxidative stress.

Researchers acknowledged more examination is necessary, as the brain contains complex structures and networks that could influence such results. They added possible avenues of further study could be around the administration of CBD — that is, if taking CBD by smoking, eating edibles, or applying topically could impact its effect on the brain. But the study concluded that CBD does contain neuroprotective potential worthy of further exploration.

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