Cannabis may protect brain cells from oxidative damage

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A study published last Thursday (20) in the scientific journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine suggested that cannabinol — CBN, a substance extracted from the Cannabis plant — has the potential to protect brain cells from oxidative damage, which may lead to future therapies aimed at to the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

In the study, the team looked at the process of oxidative damage in brain cells, which can be triggered by the gradual loss of an antioxidant called glutathione, and treated nerve cells with CBN, later introducing an agent to stimulate oxidative damage.

Through this technique, scientists discovered that CBN protected mitochondria (related to the production of energy for the cell). To confirm this interaction, they replicated the experiment in nerve cells that had their mitochondria removed. In these cells, CBN no longer demonstrated its protective effect.

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Scientists noticed that CBN did not activate cannabinoid receptors, which are necessary for the psychoactive response. In other words, CBN-based therapy would work without causing any of the famous psychological effects caused by cannabis (which are present in a compound called THC).

In addition to Alzheimer’s, this substance has the potential to help treat other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, which is also related to the loss of glutathione. In any case, the researchers say that more studies are needed to fully understand the interaction between CBN and brain cells.

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