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Medical Cannabis and Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a group of rare diseases that develop when a protein called amyloid abnormally deposit in your organs and/or tissues. All proteins begin as a string of amino acids in which they fold themselves into a 3D shape. This process is responsible for allowing the proteins to perform useful functions within our cells. Amyloid is a description of the proteins that have folded abnormally and collected together after doing so.

When the proteins don’t fold themselves correctly, they have trouble breaking down as the other proteins do. Therefore these proteins can build up in tissues and organs. The consequences of these build-ups in organs and tissues are severe, and it may lead them to stop working, that is when amyloidosis occurs. These deposits can happen in one part of the body (localized amyloidosis), but more commonly several different parts of the body are affected (systemic amyloidosis), like the heart, liver, digestive tract, kidneys or nerves.

Most people diagnosed with the most common type of amyloidosis are between the ages of 60 and 70 and 70% of these diagnosed patients are men. Amyloidosis can be a secondary disease and the risk of acquiring the AA amyloidosis increases if you have a chronic infectious or inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, and osteomyelitis. The cause of amyloidosis can also be hereditary, although this is a rarer form to acquire this disease.

The symptoms of Amyloidosis changes depending on the location and size of the amyloid deposit and some of the signs and symptoms of amyloidosis are:

  • Kidneys disorders, including kidney failure
  • Enlarged liver
  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diarrhea, often with blood
  • Constipation
  • Gastrointestinal disorders (GI)
  • Lung problems
  • Bleeding problems
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged tongue
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Sleep apnea
  • Skin conditions such as color changes, easy bruising, etc.
  • Swelling of the shoulder and joints
  • Diminished function of the spleen

There is no cure for this disease, but there are treatments that help you manage the symptoms of amyloidosis and limit the production of the amyloid protein. The disease is often discovered after some organ has suffered significant damage. Therefore the initial treatment for this disease involves correcting organ failure and/or some underlying illness such as infection or inflammation.

There have been some researchers about the benefits of marijuana for treating and preventing amyloidosis, and it was found that the substance in the cannabis plant THC helps to prevent the formation of amyloid plaques and suppresses cell-mediated immune responses. THC is also a neuroprotector and an analgesic. Cannabis inhibits B-amyloid peptide aggregation, and cannabinoids have immunomodulatory properties that are helpful in neuroinflammatory diseases. CBD, another substance found in cannabis, reduces inflammation, anxiety, and nausea.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) discovered in the last decade is a promising field of research since it participates the brain immune control and neuroprotection, playing an essential role in the cellular communication network and in between the nervous system and immune system. Many cell types involved in AD neuropathology have components in this system. Not stopping there, there are many different types of research relating to the benefits of ECS and cannabis for helping to treat amyloidosis.

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Data Last Updated 12/02/2019

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