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CBD and Huntington’s disease

Nainen katsoo rannalla auringonlaskua.

28.3.2023

Tarkoitettu ammattilaisille

Tällä sivulla esitetty tutkimustieto on tarkoitettu vain ravitsemuksen ja terveydenhuollon ammattilaisille, eikä sitä ole tarkoitettu välitettäväksi kuluttajille.

Huntington’s disease is a rare but all the more unfortunate disease that occurs mostly among the white population. In this article, we’ll look at Huntington’s disease, the endocannabinoid system behind it, and whether CBD could help alleviate its symptoms.

What is Huntington’s disease?

 

Huntington’s disease (Huntington’s disease) is a disease occurring in the central nervous system that strongly affects functions related to memory, behavior and body movement. Huntington’s disease is quite rare and is estimated to affect 4-10/100,000 people in Finland. Huntington’s disease is mainly a disease of the white population and it occurs most in Europeans, but also in North America and Canada the prevalence is almost at the European level. (1,2)

Huntington’s disease is caused by an error in the HTT gene, which causes degeneration of the central nervous system. (1,2)

Symptoms of Huntington’s disease

 

Symptoms usually only start at an older age. Most often in 30-year-olds at the earliest, but usually only in those who have crossed the 50-year-old threshold. The symptoms are clear changes in behavior, compulsive movements, dementia and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, social challenges and sadness. The symptoms usually start with movement called chorea, weight loss and sleep difficulties, and slowly progress to other typical symptoms. (2) The symptoms are manifold and vary greatly between patients.

Sometimes the symptom is also psychotic symptoms such as paranoia and visual and auditory hallucinations. (2)

Prevention, diagnosis and treatment

 

The hereditary but rare Huntington’s disease is caused by an error in the protein called huntingtin, which encodes the HTT gene. It is estimated that about half of those who carry the genetic defect eventually become ill, and the timing of the onset of the disease largely depends on how much longer than normal the CAG repeat period is in the huntingtin chromosome. The reason why not everyone gets sick or why the disease breaks out in some people is not yet known. (1,2,3)

Getting a diagnosis is often slowed down by the fact that the sufferer himself does not notice and admit the symptoms, but making a diagnosis is quite easy based on the symptoms.

There is no cure or treatment for Huntington’s disease. Specially developed drugs are used to treat symptoms such as compulsive movements and mood, but the drugs are often poorly tolerated and quite ineffective. Usually the patient dies no later than 20 years after the diagnosis, but if the disease has already been diagnosed at an older age, it has hardly appeared alongside the usual symptoms of old age. (1,2)

 

The endocannabinoid system and huntington

 

The endocannabinoid system is found in almost all humans and animals. The purpose of this system is to be in the background of vital functions, monitoring and balancing processes so that the body functions as optimally as possible. Sometimes, for some reason, a malfunction occurs in the system and the system starts to operate either with over- or under-production. Dysfunction of the endocannabinoid system is at the root of many diseases, but it is not the actual culprit for the onset of diseases.

Two receptors belonging to the endocannabinoid system have been recognized, the CB1 and CB2 receptors. During Huntington’s disease, CB1 receptors are clearly reduced, while CB2 levels seem to be normal compared to a healthy person. The levels of CB1 receptors are directly proportional to the CAG repeats, but nevertheless, decreased CB1 receptor levels are likely a consequence, not a cause, of Huntington’s disease. (3,4)

CBD oil bottle and hemp leaves.

Huntington’s disease symptoms are diverse and can be mitigated by e.g. CBD oil.

 

 

Does CBD help?

 

CBD is a cannabinoid found in the hemp plant, which, according to research, has numerous properties that have a positive effect on health. Oil is pressed or extracted from hemp that contains all the active ingredients of hemp, this is called full spectrum oil.

Huntington’s disease involves the death of nerve cells and the inflammation that occurs in them. CBD has been found in studies to prevent cell death (5), to relieve inflammation and also to protect nerve cells, and thus it might slow down the progression of the disease and possibly ease its symptoms.

CBD oil may also have other effects that may ease the symptoms of Huntington’s disease. CBD has been detected to relieve anxiety and MS disease in studies

to restrain the body’s compulsive movements. It might have too memory-enhancing or memory-preserving properties according to research on Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Summary

Huntington’s disease is a multi-symptom disease for which there is still no curative treatment. It is possible to alleviate the symptoms and slow down the progression of the disease with the help of medicines and possibly also CBD oil.

Sources

  1. Huntington Association of Finland Huntington’s disease. https://www.huntington.fi/fi-huntingtonin-tauti.htm. Referred on 27.12.2022.
  2. Sipilä OTJ, Kaasinen V., Hietala M., Päivärinta M. and Majamaa K.. 2019. Duodecim Aikakusikirja. Huntington’s disease. https://www.duodecimlehti.fi/duo14763. Referred on 27.12.2022.
  3. Pazos MR, Sagredo O. and Fernandez-Ruiz J.. 2008. Current Pharmaceutical Design. The Endocannabinoid System in Huntington’s Disease. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18781982/ Cited 12/27/2022.
  4. Lastres-Becker R. and Fernandez-Ruiz JJ. 2003. The endocannabinoid system and Huntington’s disease. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Isabel-Lastres-Becker/publication/9063804_The_endocannabinoid_system_and_Huntington%27s_disease/links/59a542a645851570311b3604/The-endocannabinoid-system-and-Huntingtons-disease.pdf. Referred on 27.12.2022
  5. Rieder S., Chauhan A., Singh U., Nagarkatti M. and Nagarkatti P.. 2009. Cannabinoid-induced apoptosis in immune cells as a pathway to immunosuppression. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3005548/. Referred on 27.12.2022.

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