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Cannabinoid Antioxidant Protects Brain Cells -- Without the High

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National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists have discovered that cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive, naturally-occurring substance in the marijuana plant, is a potent antioxidant which can prevent brain cell death in an experimental stroke model. The cannabinoid's neuroprotective properties matched or surpassed other antioxidants in the cell culture model, report National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) researchers Aidan Hampson, Ph.D., Julius Axelrod, Ph.D., and NIH colleagues.

As an antioxidant, cannabidiol might hold promise for preventing brain damage in stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and perhaps, heart attacks, say the researchers.

"Cannabidiol is a desirable candidate for a side-effect-free therapeutic agent because it does not activate cannabinoid receptors, which mediate marijuana's high," explained Hampson, of the NIMH Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Regulation. "It does not produce euphoria."

In disorders like stroke, neurotoxic levels of the brain chemical messenger glutamate are released, overstimulating glutamate receptors, which opens the floodgates to a massive influx of calcium and formation of toxic reactive oxygen species, or free radicals. Antioxidants can protect against this process. Cannabidiol protected cultured rat brain cells against damage from glutamate and reactive oxygen species, performing better than vitamins C and E and as well as the potent antioxidant BHT. Although the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana (THC) known to activate cannabinoid receptors also protected the neurons, neither cannabinoids' antioxidant properties were mediated by cannabinoid receptors.

Preliminary results from studies now underway using cannabidiol in live animal models of stroke are looking promising, said Hampson. He noted that the substance passes readily from the blood into the brain and in the past has been tested in humans over several weeks, at high doses, with no apparent side effects reported.

Hampson, Axelrod and colleagues Maurizio Grimaldi, M.D., Ph.D., National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), and David Wink, Ph.D., National Cancer Institute (NCI), report on their findings in the July 7 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

NIMH, NINDS and NCI are components of the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Source: hempworld.com
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