Cannabis: The Holy Grail of Anti-Aging?

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As more and more Americans realize that anti-aging is a science – not an impossibility, they search for natural solutions that are verified with medical studies.

One of them is surprisingly, cannabis, and you may find it interesting how cannabis fits into the picture.

How Can Plants Provide Anti-Aging Effects?

One direction scientists have looked at is the effects of the consumption of natural plants that the earth has provided since the beginning of time. Each plant in itself is a treasure box full of benefits in the form of medicinal constituents. Some of those benefits may encompass anti-aging.

4 Criteria That Determine Anti-Aging Effects are Possible

How a plant provides anti-aging effects is that it affects any or all of the following four areas:

1. Vitamin and Mineral Content

A plant contains vitamins or minerals that may reverse nutrient deficiencies tied to disease and aging. When the plants selected for eating are nutrient-dense, an anti-disease and anti-aging effect can become cumulative.

For example, vitamin C is a cofactor for different enzymes that stabilize the triple helical structure of collagen. Impaired collagen synthesis leads to skin wrinkling, loss of the plumpness look of the skin of youth, and fast wound healing.

Vitamin C and vitamin E are both protective agents against sun damage. When high vitamin C and vitamin E foods are eaten, then aging slows down.

Currently, not enough medical studies have been performed on the nutritional composition of the cannabis plant.

2. Kill Inflammation and You’ll Get Some Anti-Aging Effects

A plant that contains medicinal constituents with significant anti-inflammatory properties is one that offers anti-aging effects. Inflammation causes congestion in the body’s metabolic processes and organs, which means the body’s functions are interfered with, leading to eventual aging.

Inflammation also that is occurring systemically causes the eventual breakdown of whole body systems and can cause adrenal fatigue or exhaustion, which then may involve other organs that aren’t working optimally.

This anti-inflammatory effect is one that cannabis possesses, and will be discussed more in depth in this article.

3. Antioxidants Neutralize Free Radicals

A plant contains antioxidants that quench free radicals, eliminating them from circulation. Free radicals are clearly tied to aging.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant found in different foods such as wheat germ oil and some types of meat but it’s also in different herbs. Vitamin E prevents collagen cross-linking and fat oxidation, and stabilizes the cell membrane by inhibiting the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Hempseed extract is loaded with natural antioxidants, Chinese researchers at the College of Food Science and Nutritional Engineering in Beijing reported in the 2012 journal, Food Chemistry.

4. Other Medicinal Constituents

A plant may contain polyphenols and other medicinal constituents that prevent mutation of the mitochondria or DNA. This then reverses and slows down aging.

Polyphenols are found in herbs, tea, coffee, red wine, chocolate, vegetables and cereal grains. There are thousands of them found in our present food supply. Polyphenols are divided into different categories based on their structure. Some of them include lignans, phenolic acids, stilbenes and flavonoids.

Polyphenols prevent tumor growth and cause the death of cells that are mutated or damaged, while improving the survival of cells that are healthy, thus extending life span.

For example, supplements of the polyphenol beta-carotene can significantly lower the rate of mutation of the mitochondria in skin cells called fibroblasts that are exposed to damaging UV light.

Cannabis contains flavonoids, stilbenes and lignans according to Italian researchers at the University of Piemonte Orientale. The discovery of the stilbenes in cannabis in a Mississippi variant species dates back to 1984.

What One Study Reported About the Anti-Aging Potential for Cannabis

Michigan State University researchers have confirmed that THC, one of the active ingredients in cannabis, can potentially slow mental decline that contributes to aging.

The study was done in HIV patients who have constant inflammation that occurs inside their brain tissue. This results in decreased cognitive function, which in turn gives the appearance of aging. An inflamed brain doesn’t and can’t operate at high capacity.

However, with THC, the number of white blood cells causing inflammation in the brains of the patients of those that smoked cannabis was reduced significantly – even to the level of that of healthy people!

This effect then lowered the number of proteins that were produced by the white blood cells that directly cause inflammation. This exceptionally great result was not seen in those who did not smoke cannabis. In fact, those who did not smoke cannabis had high levels of inflammatory cells in their bloodstream.

The university scientists from Michigan State University’s Institute for Integrative Toxicology believe that it’s possible that THC can also make a difference in other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other disorders that exhibit aging through loss of cognitive functioning as well as other inflammatory conditions.

Although these initial studies still need to be confirmed and added to, the evidence is mounting up that cannabis could be used in the arsenal against aging of not only the brain but also other organs. Combined with other known anti-aging factors, you may find your holy grail.

Resources

Schagen, Silke K., et al. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol 2012 Jul 1;4 (3):298=307. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/

Eicker, J., et al. Betacarotene supplementation protects from photoaging-associated mitochondrial DNA mutation. Photochem Photobiol Sci 2003; 2:655-9.

Scalbert, A., Johnson, I.T., and Saltmarsh, M. Polyphenols, antioxidants and beyond. Am J Clin Nutr 2005, Jan; 81 (1 Supplement): 215S-17S.

Pollastro, F., Minassi, A. and Fresu, L.G. Cannabis phenolics and their bioactivities. Curr Med Chem 2017 Aug 10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28799497

Chen, T., He, J., Zhang, J., Li, X., Zhang, H., Hao, J., and Li, L. The isolation and identification of two compounds with predominant free radical scavenging activity in hempseed (seed of Cannabis sativa L.). Food Chem 2012 Sept 15; 134(2): 1030-7.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23107724

ElSohly, H.N., Ma, G.E., Turner, C.E., ElSohly, M.A. Constituents of Cannabis sativa, XXV. Isolation of two new dihydrostilbenes from a Panamanian variant. J Nat Prod 1984 May-June;47(3):445-52. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6481358

 

 

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