Cannabinoids and Alzheimer’s Disease

I woke up to an odd dream and it left me thinking, huh? I haven’t t dreamed much in years because of nutrient deficiencies but I increased my use of some supplements I need due to genetics and have had a few dreams again. They are fun even if they don’t mean anything but it may be a way for the subconscious to put together bits of information that the conscious mind hadn’t noticed.

Dreaming is diminished when B vitamin deficiencies are a problem particularly vitamin B6 which can be a problem with some genetic conditions. I’ve been taking my vitamins regularly though and it is always fun to dream after having many years without any memory of dreams. Wondering what the mind was thinking can be fun even if just a guessing game.

It was just a fragment, chatting with another nutrition professional as we were waiting for a nutrition conference to begin – but first a calvacade of 200 different car companies showing their latest and greatest or most classic, I don’t know, we hadn’t seen them yet – the feeling or comment from the other nutritionist was why is this happening here? My answer as I awoke besides, odd, was that we all need fuel to keep going, and a variety of types of fuel.  This was an educational metaphor that worked well with adults or children – you need fuel to keep your body going just like your car needs gasoline.

Background, I’m driving a loaner car which is brand new, full of brand new volatile chemical car smell, while my car’s rusty transmission is being replaced. Turns out cars not only need gasoline and windshield wiper fluid and radiator fluid they also need transmission fluid that isn’t full of rust – good to know.

The body needs carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, trace minerals, and phospholipids and many other chemicals that can be made within the body if it is well-nourished and has average genetic and youthful abilities. That is a lot to expect from a body and a nutritionist can be a helpful expert to have on your team in addition to your automechanic experts.

It is 420 day – a typical day in some circles to discuss or celebrate cannabinoids – so some celebratory news – cannabinoids have been shown to help breakdown the clumps of protein that lead to Alzheimer’s Disease – and the good news from my research for everyone who prefers to keep their distance from cannabis/marijuana itself is that cannabinoids are part of cell membranes and can be found in many foods in small quantities and in a few foods in larger quantities. https://www.medicalmarijuanainc.com/dr-titus-insights-alzheimers-research-work-dr-schubert/ – search term 200 found this article which includes the number $200 billion is spent on Alzheimer’s Disease care every year. That would buy a lot of pumpkin seeds.

The article includes the number 192 – the number of pharmaceutical chemicals that have been anticipated and tested in hope of a cure or effective treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease that have ultimately not been successful. One hundred and ninety two chemicals tested, one hundred and ninety two chemicals found ineffective – cannabinoids however have been found effective at helping the body to naturally break down the tau and  beta-amyloid protein clumps that lead to brain damage and later symptoms of dementia in Alzheimer’s Disease and a few other neurological conditions including traumatic brain injuries and autism. (links re tau/amyloid in autism & Alzheimers) (links re tau/amyloid protein in traumatic brain injury)

So I personally don’t want to wait for number 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 199 and 200 in hopes that a patent protected chemical treatment can be found to substitute for our body’s natural abilities – I would rather eat pumpkin seeds and other phospholipid rich foods today. Ibuprofen is a pharmaceutical that is no longer covered by a patent and it has been found to be beneficial in protecting against Alzheimer’s Disease (link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180326140239.htm) and the underlying reason is likely that ibuprofen prevents the break down of cannabinoids (book excerpt)(a variety of links) – but you need cannabinoids first and some people might no longer be able to make them after a certain age or state of health or may never have been able to make them as well due to genetic differences.

So celebrate protecting your brain today by eating pumpkin seeds, cardamom spice, Rosemary, chocolate, or leafy green vegetables. – the brightly colored tiny inner part of a piece of corn that you can see when eating corn on the cob is also a good source.

Another source of a variety of beneficial phytonutrients that we tend to discard instead of eating is the white part around oranges and grapefruit – don’t worry about trimming it all away because it is good for us and mild in flavor. The tougher peel also has beneficial nutrients but it is strongly flavored and can be used in tiny amounts to add a lemony flavor to foods, either freshly grated as lemon or orange zest, or it can be purchased in Middle Eastern grocery markets as powdered dried lemon or lime (Citron vert Seche moulu or Limon seco molido, or Arabic, see example). For maximal flavor add the dried lemon or lime after cooking at the table. The flavor rich terpenes that give the lemony flavor can be effected by long cooking times. The boiling point of limonene is 348.8°F.

Disclosure: This information is being provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. While I am a Registered Dietitian is is not intended to provide individualized health care guidance. Please seek an individual health care professional for the purpose of individualized health care guidance. Thanks.

It is not a coincidence that my phospholipid rich diet overlaps with Nrf2 promoting foods

The punchline – phospholipids are the building block of cannabinoids which are also a phytonutrient that causes an increase in production of Nrf2. (1, 3) The most concentrated source of cannabinoids or phospholipids is found in medical marijuana or the non-euphoric CBD oil which is more likely to be available legally. However there are other legal sources of phospholipids and cannabinoids. The phytonutrients are also found in cocoa beans/baking cocoa/dark chocolate (processing reduces the concentration and availability of the ‘bitter’ tasting nutrients in more processed milk chocolate and chocolate syrup.) Phospholipids add a slight bitter taste to foods which I’ve always been able to taste and tend to prefer. A genetic screening did find that I have a double/ both sets of genes/ difference in my ability to make any chemical with phosphorus – the phospho- part of phospholipids which are important in many chemicals in the body not just cannabinoids. (4 – an open access textbook on phosphorylation)

For example the original Lemonhead TM candies have more flavor to me than the more recent version of lemon flavored Chewy Lemonhead, (lemonhead.com). Bitterness is something we have a specialized set of tastebuds to detect. Our tastebuds have a few specific types and there are some that detect sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and some for Umami (fermented protein/free amino acid/a hint of soy sauce like flavor). Recently reseachers have suggested a set detect starch but sweet is also a starch so it might be similar to the sweet detecting tastebuds. The article explains that the difference between simple sugars and complex, longer chain carbohydrates called polysaccharides, can be detected suggesting there are two types of carbohydrate sensing tastebuds. (2)

Our sense of smell adds a lot more differences to our enjoyment of foods and beverages. Terpenes are particularly good smelling and other phenolic compounds also add aroma. Cinnamon and vanilla, basil, oregano and lemon are all sources of phenolic compounds or terpenes. These were discussed in more detail in the recent post on Nrf2 and diet tips for promoting Nrf2. It is a protein that causes genes that make important antioxidants to become active so it helps protect us against damage from oxidative stress which can be caused by health factors or by real world worries whether an upsetting conversation or bad traffic.

Pomegranate seeds (not the juice) and pumpkin seed kernels are also good sources of phospholipids. The spice cardamom powder is also a good source. See the section The DASH Diet and Pumpkin Seeds on the home page of my other website: effectivecare.info. A salad recipe and more information about genetics and cannabinoids are also available on that site or in the post Is it Starvation or Addiction?

Pomegranate extract has been studied in animal based research to examine in more detail how it helps hypertensive blood pressure problems and reduce oxidative stress. The mechanism was found to involve increasing Nrf2. The formation of mitochondria increased, and their function improved. Before treatment the hypertensive animals had fewer of the specialized proteins that are involved in production of mitochondria. Mitochondria are the cellular organelles primarily responsible for turning blood sugar/glucose into usable energy. (5)

This study uses a pomegranate extract that incorporates the peel, seeds and juice as all contain the bioactive phytonutrient, punicalagin, thought to be most helpful for anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and anti-diabetic effects. The animals who received the extract were found to have better blood pressure, reduced heart hypertrophy ( a sign of worse heart health) and a lower heart rate. Neuronal/nerve cell activity and oxidative stress markers were decreased in the experimental treatment group compared to the control group which received a saline solution and no pomegranate extract. Angiotensin converting enzyme which is involved in blood pressure control was lower in the experimental group  that received pomegranate extract and may be the mechanism for the lower blood pressure. Pro-inflammatory cytokines were reduced in the experimental group after treatment, an indication that hypertensive inflammation was reduced. The pomegranate extract treatment led to increased levels of phosphorylated AMPK which then leads to an increase in Nrf2 and its resulting increases in antioxidant proteins which protect against injury and inflammation from oxidative stress chemicals. (5)

Pomegranate is referred to as an ancient fruit in a research study on its benefits against hepatocellular carcinoma. Spoiler alert – it was found beneficial. (6)

“PE (Pomegranate Extract) treatment (1 or 10 g/kg), started 4 weeks prior to the DENA challenge and continued for 18 weeks thereafter, showed striking chemopreventive activity demonstrated by reduced incidence, number, multiplicity, size and volume of hepatic nodules, precursors of HCC (Hepatocellular Carcinoma).” (6)

One to ten grams per kilogram (1 to 10 g/kg) (6gives us a quantity but that is of the extract which is made with the juice, seeds and peel. The inner peel is whitish in color while the outer peel is vibrantly colored similarly to the juice. An average adult weighs somewhere around 70 kg (68 kg ~ 150 pounds) so the animal study used an equivalent of 70 to 700 grams of pomegranate extract. Five grams is about a teaspoon so 70 grams would be slightly less than 5 Tablespoons or about 1/4-1/3 cup which is roughly a half a pomegranate worth of seeds with the juice and would be a reasonable serving size. Ten times that would be more than a typical serving at approximately two and a half to three and a third cups of pomegranate extract per day, for 22 weeks (6– but if you have Hepatocellular Carcinoma that might sound good compared to other chemotherapy treatments.

My health and anxiety seems to be improved with a half a pomegranate worth of the seeds per day, or half in the morning and half in the evening when anxiety is worse. I have not tried using any part of the peel or interior whitish colored membranes so I don’t know what how edible they would taste. Pumpkin seed kernels are a higher fat food and the serving size is about 2 to 4 tablespoons, 1/8 to 1/4 cup as a snack my themselves or sprinkled on a salad. I prefer to have some of both foods every day. As well as other dark green leafy vegetables and herbs, beans, rice, nuts and other seeds, and ground lemon powder and/or lime or lemon juice. One healthy food alone isn’t enough to improve my health and mood on it’s own however the half a pomegranate can improve my mood when I’m having a worse anxiety moment. Pumpkin seed kernels are a higher fat and protein substance and don’t seem to have the quick acting mood lifting effect but I notice when I run out of them and don’t have any for a few days.

Regarding the “ancient fruit” reference in (6), yes pomegranate is mentioned in the Bible, Old Testament; 1 Samuel 14.2, “Saul was staying in the outskirts of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree…” and Old Testament; Haggai 2.19: “Is the seed yet in the barn? Do the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree still yield nothing? From this day on I will bless you.” Also pomegranates are mentioned as a decorative feature in a church: “House of the Lord” Jeremiah 52.17, 52.20-23 “As for the two pillars, the one sea, the twelve bronze bulls which were under the sea, and the stands, which Solomon the king had made for the House of the Lord, the bronze of all these things wre beyond weight. 21 As for the pillars, the height of the one pillar was eighteen cubits, its circumference was twelve cubits, and its thickness was four fingers and it was hollow. 22 Upon it was a capital of bronze; the height of the one capital was five cubits; a network and pomegranates, all of bronze, were upon the capital round about. And the second pillar had the like, with pomegranates. 23 There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; all the pomegranates were a hundred upon the network round about.”  (7)  So it seems pomegranates were thought quite valuable during Biblical times.

Menu tips to be continued later, Happy holidays!

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. Li X., Han D., Tian Z., Gao B., Fan M., Li C.Li X., Wang Y., Ma S.Cao F.,

    Activation of Cannabinoid Receptor Type II by AM1241 Ameliorates Myocardial Fibrosis via Nrf2-Mediated Inhibition of TGF-β1/Smad3 Pathway in Myocardial Infarction Mice., Cell Physiol Biochem 2016;39:1521-1536, https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/447855 (1)

  2. Chase Purdy, The human tongue has a sixth sense and its a taste bud that loves carbs. Quartz, qz.com, Sept. 8, 2016, https://qz.com/776857/the-human-tongue-has-a-sixth-sense-and-its-a-taste-bud-that-loves-carbs/ (2)
  3. Wang Y, Ma S, Wang Q, Hu W, Wang D, Li X, Su T, Qin X, Zhang X, Ma K, Chen J, Xiong L, Cao F: Effects of cannabinoid receptor type 2 on endogenous myocardial regeneration by activating cardiac progenitor cells in mouse infarcted heart. Sci China Life sci 2014;57:201-208. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24430557 (3)
  4. Claude Prigent, Editor, Protein Phosphorylation, Publisher: InTech, Chapters published November 29, 2017 under CC BY 3.0 license InTechOpen.com, https://www.intechopen.com/books/protein-phosphorylation (4)
  5. Wenyan Sun, Chunhong Yan, Bess Frost, Xin Wang, Chen Hou, Mengqi Zeng, Hongli Gao, Yuming Kang,and Jiankang Liu,

    Pomegranate extract decreases oxidative stress and alleviates mitochondrial impairment by activating AMPK-Nrf2 in hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus of spontaneously hypertensive rats., Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 34246.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5054377/ (5)

  6. Anupam Bishayee, Deepak Bhatia, Roslin J. Thoppil, Altaf S. Darvesh, Eviatar Nevo, and Ephraim P. Lansky.,  Pomegranate-mediated chemoprevention of experimental hepatocarcinogenesis involves Nrf2-regulated antioxidant mechanisms., Carcinogenesis. 2011 Jun; 32(6): 888–896. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3314278/ (6)
  7. Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Containing the Ole and New Testaments, Thomas Nelson & Sons, New York, 1952, 1 Samuel 14.2, page 297, Haggai 2.19, page 984 https://www.amazon.com/1952-Revised-Standard-Version-Bible/dp/B000U2L3E0 (7)

Medical marijuana is not the same as an addiction

The need for medical marijuana may be a daily need like any other medication and physical or mental withdrawal symptoms may occur when it is not available just like many other medication.

There can be genetic reasons that someone may need an external source of phospholipids or cannabinoids from food sources throughout their lives for best health or the need may arise during an illness or later in life due to changes associated with aging. The cannabinoid system is involved with many other functions of the body so symptoms can be diverse when there is a lack and cravings for something may occur which may be interpreted incorrectly and other substances may be overused in addictive ways. Overeating food, use of alcohol, nicotine and heroin/opiates products may all be problems that occur with an underlying dysfunction in the person’s ability to make cannabinoids internally the way people of normal physiology are capable. I discuss this topic in more detail and include some legal food sources that are naturally better sources of cannabinoids or phospholipids in an section I wrote for my newer website https://effectivecare.info/addiction-or-starvation%3F

which is also copied onto this site with a few additional details about the salad recipe: Is it Addiction or Starvation?

While I am past the age of having babies, and entered grand parent age the need to reschedule marijuana for the purpose of research may be important for the fertility of younger women and men. The cannabinoid system is essential for both female and male fertility, in a U-shape need – too little or too much can be problems. Overuse of medical or recreational marijuana could interfere with fertility but an underlying deficiency could also be a cause of infertility in either gender.

Infertility problems can be caused by a problem with cannabinoid receptors or an excess or inadequate supply of cannabinoids. Research in the cannabinoid system and its effects on physiology beyond toxicity and addiction are limited due to the federal listing of the cannabis/marijuana plant as a Schedule 1 substance, something considered to have no medical value. However the listing is in error and a number of medical officials and organizations have recommended changing the federal listing. An overview of the research that is available on the cannabinoid system’s role in female and male fertility and reproduction is available here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034092/

The system is involved in the fertilized egg successfully implanting in the woman’s uterus and the cannabinoid system is involved in the male reproductive system in a few ways including the motility of the sperm – are they able to effectively get to where they need to go? A variety of cannabinoids exist and some also have effects on hormonal controls that occur within the brain that effect male reproductive health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651943/

The balance of cannabinoids is critical and too much use of an external source such as medical marijuana is linked to male infertility, however again a U shape need exists. Some is necessary, too much or too little is a problem.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.