Updated on January 3, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Myasthenia Gravis is an autoimmune disorder characterized by the breakdown of muscle strength and agility. Deficient amounts of cetylcholine receptors within the postsynaptic membrane causes muscle weakness due to their reduced functionality. For many patients, this insufficiency leads to weakness within the muscles, breathing impairments and vision issues.
However, many patients can effectively manage their symptoms by developing a treatment plan with various medications — including medical cannabis.
Because Myasthenia Gravis arises from the breakdown of vital enzymes and biological compounds, a medication must inhibit these irregularities to help patients find relief. Cannabis varieties target the endocannabinoid system and raise neurotransmitter levels to normalized ranges. The receptors in CBD can activate and regularize cetylcholine and other receptors demonstrating insufficient or irregular levels to promote a level of homeostasis in the body.
As researchers and medical professionals have worked to uncover the curative properties of cannabis over the decades, they’ve discovered various uses for this important substance.
Although recent discoveries surrounding cannabis use and properties are innovative and seem rapidly progressive, health professionals have been uncovering the effects of marijuana for decades.
In 1980, a team of researchers conducted a study that examined the impact of cannabinoids on activating cannabinoid receptors. Although they may not have directed their research directly towards myasthenia gravis patients, their discoveries produced promising results for those with this condition and other autoimmune diseases.
A. V. Revuelta and his team of researchers found that cannabis helped decrease acetylcholine turnover rates to healthy levels. This supports the idea that transmitter receptors crucial to modulating cholinergic neurons can be managed when marijuana enters the body.
Due to the reduction in acetylcholine turnover rates, patients can experience the following benefits from cannabis intake:
The effects created by CBD appear to influence neurotransmitters in a manner that promotes internal stabilization and proper receptor regulation.
The endocannabinoid system is of particular interest to researchers and doctors seeking to examine the effects that autoimmune disorders such as myasthenia gravis play on receptor irregularities.
In a study conducted by Zhu Friedman and a team of various other researchers in 1998, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was found to induce programmed cell death in T cells while activating necessary receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Also known as THC, this essential chemical compound is a vital component in cannabis products.
Apoptosis is especially crucial in myasthenia gravis patients, who require a decrease in acetylcholine turnover rates. Cannabis was found to efficiently regulate receptor activation to ensure transporters and enzymes performed their given functions appropriately.
THC was also found to stimulate CB1 and CB2 receptors, two vital receptors found within the endocannabinoid system responsible for ensuring proper bodily regulation. Because these receptors provide nervous system and immune system regulation, ensuring they remain normalized is essential.
A 2002 study conducted by researchers under the guidance of academic scholar Lisa Eubanks sought to explore the potential cannabis plays as a successful mediator of receptor functioning in the endocannabinoid system of various patients. Although Eubanks and her team primarily focus on the effects of medical marijuana on Alzheimer’s disease patients, her finding holds crucial discoveries for potentially treating those with myasthenia gravis, as well.
When administrating cannabis to patients, the researchers discovered that THC compounds significantly lowered amyloid-beta levels while increasing mitochondrial functioning. Moreover, this leads to repressed acetylcholinesterase levels that effectively increased the number of neurotransmitters.
In myasthenia gravis, the acetylcholinesterase is responsible for the ruin of the enzyme acetylcholine. Because this gives acetylcholine enzymes more time to interact with receptors before breaking down, muscle contractions can ensue. Cannabis helps normalize this system to ensure acetylcholine breaks down properly.
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