About five people in every 100,000 suffer from the disease, which makes it a rare illness since it only affects a small percentage of the population. Currently, there is no cure for Huntington’s disease so researchers around the world are looking for treatments and therapies to fight this disease.
Researchers have also discovered that CBD helps neurons with their antioxidant properties. Although CBD and THC are almost identical molecules, the properties of CBD allow it to be a powerful antioxidant, but also safe and tolerable in high doses to humans.
Did you like the post? Give us some feedback! This post has been done based on existent research to the date of publication of the article. Due to the increase in studies based on medical cannabis, the information provided can vary over time and we’ll keep informing in further writings.
Researchers who have collaborated with the Universit of Eastern Piedmont (Italy), focused on the effects of a cannabis compound called cannabigerol, from there they were able to develop new types such as VCE-003.2, where they observed the results both in vitro and in mice. In both cases, the compound exerted an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effect. In addition, the molecule increased the ability to promote the survival of the affected neuronal precursors, so it is possible that it could repair neurons.
One of the less well known neurodegenerative diseases is Huntington’s disease. Through a mutated protein it attacks the cells of the brain. It is a hereditary disease, which usually appears in people aged around 35-45 years.
Although medical cannabis cannot cure this condition, cannabinoid therapy may improve some of the symptoms. The team at the University of Cordoba (UCO) together with the Universidad Complutense de Madrid and the Cordova company VivaCell Biotechnology, have developed a new cannabinoid compound. After several trials, they have been able to test the neuroprotective effects of cannabinoids in animals with Huntington’s disease, this has opened the door to the development of an effective drug for the patients that need it.
From a molecular point of view, it has been known for some time that HD results from the mutation of a single gene, which codes the protein known as “huntingtin” (The Huntington’s Disease Collaborative Research Group, 1993). However, the precise mechanisms by which the mutated huntingtin causes progressive degeneration of MSNs are extraordinarily complex and only partially known (Ross et al., 2014).
Mievis S et al. (2011) Worsening of Huntington disease phenotype in CB1 receptor knockout mice. Neurobiol Dis 42:524-529.
Cannabinoids and HD: preclinical data
Several clinical trials have been conducted to date with cannabinoids in HD. A first 6-week double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled trial on 15 HD patients who were administered 10 mg/kg/day of CBD orally showed that this cannabinoid was safe but did not affect the severity of the chorea and other symptoms of the disease (Consroe et al., 1991).
Palazuelos J et al. (2009) Microglial CB2 cannabinoid receptors are neuroprotective in Huntington’s disease excitotoxicity. Brain 132:3152-3164.
There is currently no known cure for HD. It leads to the death of the patient between 10 and 20 years from the onset of the symptoms. The disease has an approximate prevalence of 1 case per 10,000 and is caused primarily by the degeneration of a specific population of neurons, called “medium spiny neurons” (MSNs). These cells make up practically all (
Through proper clinical trials, researchers can prove whether a potential treatment is both effective and safe. This is the standard that all other medicines are held to, and it shouldn’t be any different for cannabinoids.
It’s a plant, originally from Asia and India, that’s been known for thousands of years to have effects on the human brain. Many cultures have used it medically and recreationally. It’s psychoactive, which means that when taken – for example, by smoking its leaves – it alters the way our mind perceives things, characteristically inducing relaxation and euphoria, but it can also cause anxiety and paranoia.
Cannabis, or medical marijuana, has been touted as a treatment for lots of conditions, and Huntington’s disease is no exception. Whenever it hits the news there’s a lot of interest, and recently cannabis found the spotlight again with videos claiming it can reverse the nerve cell damage in Huntington’s disease. These are extraordinary assertions that deserve to be explored.
What can individual experiences with cannabis tell us about Huntington's disease?
The cannabis plant contains over 100 different cannabinoids, but the most psychoactive is tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC, which potently activates CB1 receptors. The other main cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD), isn’t psychoactive. In fact, it reduces the activation of both CB1 and 2 receptors.
There currently aren’t any treatments capable of curing Huntington’s disease, so some might think sufferers have nothing to lose from trying alternative therapies. However, there are risks.
Claims that there’s a solid body of evidence supporting the use of cannabinoids in Huntington’s disease are highly misleading, and there’s certainly no evidence that they can cure or reverse the disease. However, it’s also worth remembering that there are several exciting potential drugs being trialled around the world right now that hold great promise. Cannabinoids are just a small part of the big picture, and real progress is being made in understanding and treating Huntington’s disease.
Searching the internet, you’ll find several videos and news stories suggesting people’s Huntington’s disease has been reversed by cannabis. We’re very pleased that these individual patients have found something that works for them.