The Prohibition Of Marijuana And The Rise In Alzheimer’s: Is There A Link?
When the U.S. Census Bureau released detailed information from the 1940 Census online in 2012, there was a flurry of activity as curious people checked out what the demographics of the 1930s were like, analyzing data about addresses, sex, race, age, employment, and of course, cause of death.
As it turns out, many people in the 1930s died for similar reasons as people today do—heart disease, high blood pressure, and related conditions have ranked consistently as the leading cause of death since 1910. There was, however, one major omission on the 1940 Census report: Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t listed at all. Apparently, while the disease no doubt existed, it wasn’t a significant enough killer to be included as a leading cause of death.
For those interested in the medical benefits of marijuana, this fact is of particular relevance: Marijuana, like alcohol, was outlawed in the 1930s—only, unlike alcohol, it never became legal again. And, while alcohol has been shown to be capable of causing dementia with heavy use, emerging research suggests that marijuana may have been key in keeping the number of Alzheimer’s cases low prior to the 1930s. That’s right: Marijuana has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, one of today’s leading causes of death (and possibly the most damaging elder illness in terms of the emotional toll taken on sufferers and their family members alike).
How Marijuana Can Protect Us From Alzheimer’s
According to recent research, THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, may work to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease and slow its progression. A Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology study published in the journal Molecular Pharmacology revealed that 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) both “competitively inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) as well as prevents AChE-induced amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) aggregation.” As the AChE enzyme is believed to play a central role in the development of Alzheimer’s (it is this enzyme which many chemical medications seek to target, with varying degrees of success), this research suggests that the cannabinoid molecules found in cannabis could halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Marijuana is likewise preferable to the enzyme-inhibiting drugs currently on the market as, unlike the chemical medications currently used to treat Alzheimer’s, it does not cause seizures and other potentially dangerous side-effects. It also appears to work better when it comes to preventing the buildup of plaques on the brain; according to study author Lisa M. Eubanks, “Compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of Aβ aggregation, and this study provides a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which cannabinoid molecules may directly impact the progression of this debilitating disease.”
Hopefully, as our understanding of marijuana’s beneficial effect on the brain increases, legislation will be altered and preventative therapies relying on THC will be made widely available. The amount of human suffering which could be spared, and the amount of health care funds which could be saved, is practically inestimable.
Cerrone Crowder is the CEO of The D.O.P.E (Delivering Opportunities for People Everywhere) House Inc., a nonprofit based in the Chicago-land area whose mission is aimed at providing equal Medical Marijuana access to low-income patients. As an emergency medical professional for over a decade, “The Weed Professor” has dedicated himself to educating the masses on the numerous health benefits of the cannabis plant. He can be reached at: email@example.com