As neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease impact millions worldwide, pharmaceutical limitations have led patients to seek alternatives.
Recent research reveals that tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THC-A, a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, may address symptoms and causes of these neurological disorders through various pharmacological mechanisms. THCA is a promising treatment avenue, offering potential neuroprotective benefits without the mind-altering effects associated with cannabis.
THC-A’s Therapeutic Mechanisms
THCA could effectively treat neurological disorders by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and acting on anti-inflammatory and antioxidant pathways.
The ECS is a complex cell-signaling network regulating various physiological processes, such as mood, immune function, inflammation, motor control, temperature regulation, memory, and learning. THCA interacts with the ECS by weakly binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors primarily located in the brain and immune system. Scientists believe this action may modulate immune responses and reduce inflammation related to neurological disorders. Like THCA, THC (or regular weed) also binds with CB1 and CB2 receptors but with much greater strength. Learn more with Qwin’s THC and THC-A differences guide!!
THCA also acts on anti-inflammatory pathways, inhibiting the activity of certain damaging enzymes, which play a role in producing pro-inflammatory molecules. By inhibiting these enzymes, THCA may help reduce the synthesis of inflammatory markers that can lead to brain damage.
Finally, THCA possesses powerful antioxidant properties, which can help reduce oxidative stress that damages cells and tissues. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to fight them off. By scavenging free radicals and reducing oxidative stress, THCA may mitigate inflammation.
THC-A and Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a health problem that occurs when the body attacks its nerve coverings, causing damage. Over 2.8 million people around the globe have MS, and in the U.S., 1 in 333 are at risk of developing the disease. People with MS can have weak muscles, vision issues, tiredness, and trouble with balance.
Treatments for MS typically focus on managing symptoms, reducing inflammation, and slowing disease progression through medications such as immunosuppressive drugs, corticosteroids, and disease-modifying therapies. However, these treatments can have side effects and might not work well for everyone.
Scientists found that Δ9-THCA-A, a substance in the cannabis plant, can interact with CB1 receptors and PPARγ pathways to reduce inflammation and protect against damage, which is vital for neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. PPARγ (Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma) helps regulate genes involved in inflammation, metabolism, and cell growth, playing a crucial role in controlling inflammation in the brain and protecting nerve cells. By working with CB1 receptors and PPARγ pathways, Δ9-THCA-A may improve brain function and slow down the progression of neurological disorders.
THC-A and Parkinson’s Disease (PD)
Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is a progressive neurological disorder that primarily affects movement and coordination for over 8.5 million people worldwide. It occurs due to the gradual loss of dopamine-producing nerve cells in the brain, leading to tremors, muscle stiffness, slow movement, and balance problems.
Current treatments for PD focus on managing symptoms and improving patients’ quality of life. These treatments include medications that increase dopamine levels, deep brain stimulation, and physical therapy. However, these options may not completely relieve symptoms or prevent disease progression.
In Parkinson’s disease, the loss of dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra leads to motor symptoms such as tremors, stiffness, and bradykinesia. This neuronal loss is partly due to neuroinflammation, where activated immune cells in the brain (microglia) release pro-inflammatory molecules that contribute to neuronal damage.
THC-A’s anti-inflammatory properties can alleviate this neuroinflammation by suppressing the production of pro-inflammatory molecules and reducing the activation of immune cells in the brain. Additionally, THC-A’s anti-inflammatory properties could protect nerve cells from further damage, possibly slowing down the progression of the disease.
THC-A and Epilepsy
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. These seizures can range from mild to severe, affecting a person’s consciousness, movements, and sensations. Epilepsy affects people of all ages, races, and genders, making it one of the most common neurological conditions worldwide. Over 3 million people globally have a seizure disorder.
Current epilepsy treatments focus on controlling seizures with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), which stabilize brain electrical activity. However, AEDs may not work for everyone, and some patients still experience seizures despite multiple medications. In severe cases, alternative treatments include surgery, vagus nerve stimulation, or dietary therapies like the ketogenic diet.
THC-A may be a novel treatment option by reducing the abnormal electrical activity in the brain associated with seizures. Dr. Sulak, a medical expert, shared his experiences using THC-A and THC to treat seizures, pain, and arthritis. He suggests that a higher dose of 2 mg/kg of THC-A mixed with THC can be effective for these conditions.
Preliminary preclinical investigations have also discovered that THCA exhibits anticonvulsant activity while lacking “adverse psychoactive effects.” This has sparked renewed interest in THCA as a potential anti-seizure treatment in the USA, where experts think it could be more accessible and cost-effective than CBD.
THC-A and Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by memory loss, cognitive decline, and behavioral changes. Over 55 million people worldwide have the condition. It is the most common cause of dementia, affecting millions worldwide. Available treatments for AD primarily focus on managing symptoms and slowing disease progression, but they do not offer a cure or halt the degeneration of brain cells.
Researchers have been investigating the potential benefits of THC-A for treating Alzheimer’s disease due to its promising anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects shown in preclinical studies. The potential benefits of using THC-A to treat Alzheimer’s include reducing inflammation, protecting neurons from damage, and slowing disease progression.
A 2023 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that compounds like CBDA and THCA demonstrated anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties in a mouse model with Alzheimer’s. These compounds improved memory and decreased damaging markers, indicating their potential as effective future treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.
The Bottom Line
The evidence suggests that THC-A may be promising for treating neurological disorders, including MS, PD, seizure disorders, and Alzheimer’s. Its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties can reduce inflammation, protect neurons from damage, slow down the progression of diseases, and improve memory. As it is non-psychoactive compared to other cannabis compounds like THC, it could provide an alternative solution without any psychoactive side effects.