Study: Cannabinol (CBN) may help to shield the brain from neurodegenerative disease

Powerful research indicates that one of cannabis’ lesser-known cannabinoids, cannabinol (CBN), may prove effective for warding off and even treating age-related neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s.

Although scientists have already brushed up on their knowledge pertaining to the properties and effects of cannabis’ primary compounds THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), the therapeutic qualities of CBN are not so widely understood.

Fortunately, evidence is surfacing to suggest that CBN may help treat neurodegenerative disease. 

A team of researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California have conducted cutting-edge investigation into CBN’s potential to shield nerve cells from oxidative damage an integral element in cell death.

Cannabis for neurodegenerative disease: What is CBN?

Previous studies into medical cannabis have primarily targeted the abundant substances THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), However, these aren’t the only cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant, with hundreds already having been identified by scientists.

The non-psychotropic compound CBN (cannabinol) does not make users feel “high”, which is a term used to describe the mind-altering effects commonly associated with THC. However, it is a mildly psychoactive compound.

Previously, a team of researchers at the Salk Institute in California assessed the green plant’s neuroprotective properties. Now, thanks to their new research effort, they claim to have figured out the specific mechanism by which CBN exerts neuroprotective effects. 

According to the results of laboratory experiments, CBN can successfully stop cell death, A.K.A.”oxitosis”, which is spurred on by a glutathione deficiency.

Study’s findings could prompt further research into CBN for neurodegenerative diseases

The study involved treating nerve cells with CBN post-oxitosis. When scientists dug a little deeper, they found that CBN bolstered the main supply source for cells, A.K.A. the “mitochondria.”

Cells appeared to take on a curled formation when oxidation occurred — a change that is noticeable in the brains of patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s. Impressively, once injected with CBN, the cells managed to sustain a healthy composition, all the while maintaining their ability to function.

We were able to directly show that maintenance of mitochondrial function was specifically required for the protective effects of the compound,” said the study’s lead Professor, Pamela Maher.

There’s a good chance that the findings of this recent study into CBN for neurodegenerative diseases could assist with the development of new treatment strategies for patients with brain problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

“We found that cannabinol protects neurons from oxidative stress and cell death, the two main causes of Alzheimer’s disease. This discovery may one day lead to the development of new therapeutics for this disease and other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease,” said senior author Maher, who also assumes the role of head of the Salk Cellular Neuroscience Laboratory.

The study into CBN for neurodegenerative diseases was financially backed by the Bundy Foundation, Paul F. Glenn Center for Biological Research on Aging at the Salk Institute, the University of California San Diego, The National Institutes of Health, the Shealy Foundation and the Salk Institute Innovation Award.