Amyloidosis

Can medical cannabis help patients suffering from symptoms of Amyloidosis? Read below to find out more. 

What is amyloidosis?

Amyloidosis is a disorder that occurs when proteins in the body mutate and become twisted clumps of misshapen proteins that gather around the organs and tissues. Amyloidosis is rare but can be widespread or localized to one area depending on the type and cause. Systemic amyloidosis is the most common form, affecting various organs and tissues. Localized amyloidosis affects one organ or part of your body. There are several types of amyloidosis. There is no cure for amyloidosis, but its progress and symptoms can improve. 

The three primary types include:

  • Amyloid light chain (A-light chain or AL)
  • Amyloid serum A protein (AA or SAA)
  • Amyloid transthyretin protein or TRR protein (ATTR)

Who does it affect?

Amyloidosis is a rare disease that affects an estimated 4,000 people in the United States yearly. Doctors typically diagnose amyloidosis in older people ages 50 to 65. It affects more men than women.

What are the symptoms?

Amyloidosis symptoms can vary. For example, cardiac amyloidosis symptoms include fainting, shortness of breath, and weakness. Renal amyloidosis symptoms may include swollen feet and legs.

Overall symptoms may include the following:

  • Extreme Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Weak grip
  • Joint pain
  • Rashes

Causes of Amyloidosis

Researchers have identified over thirty various amyloid proteins. Sometimes, amyloidosis happens because an underlying condition is linked to an amyloidosis type. Around thirteen percent of those who develop the disorder also have multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma occurs when abnormal plasma cells form in the bone marrow and multiply uncontrollably.

Factors that may cause the two other main types of amyloidosis:

  • Amyloid serum A protein (AA)
  • Amyloid transthyretin protein or TRR protein (ATTR)

Diagnosis and Treatment

Doctors may do several different tests to test for amyloidosis, including:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Echocardiogram

Doctors can help amyloidosis patients by treating symptoms, organ damage, and the underlying cause. Other treatments for various amyloidosis types may include:

  • Targeted therapy targets specific proteins, genes, or tissues that cause amyloidosis. 
  • Bone marrow or stem cell transplantation uses an intense dose of chemotherapy. 
  • Organ transplantation may include kidney, liver, or heart transplantation to treat certain types of the disorder. 

Can Medical Cannabis Help? 

Many people report that there are several potential benefits of using medicinal marijuana for amyloidosis. The therapeutic benefits may include the following: 

  • Anti-inflammatory effects can decrease swelling and pressure.
  • Better Sleep Quality
  • Decreased chronic pain 
  • Improved symptoms of anxiety
  • Uplifted Mood 

THC can help to stunt the disorder by preventing amyloid buildup, and CBD may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, appetite loss, nausea, and depression. CBD primarily aids in treating symptoms of amyloidosis through the cannabinoid’s anti-inflammatory effects.

The inflammatory process occurs when the human body is exposed to a harmful stimulus. It happens as a means to restore homeostasis within the body. Although effective, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have a range of adverse effects, especially in long-term use. Recent research suggests that herbal medicines, including cannabinoids, are becoming well-known as potential anti-inflammatory drugs. 

In a recent review published in 2021 called “The Effects of Cannabinoids on Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines: A Systematic Review of In Vivo Studies,” researchers found that when cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), or CBD was combined with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a reduction in the levels of at least one inflammatory cytokine was observed, and some improvements in disease or disability were observed. 

In 1999, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base states, “The profile of cannabinoid effects suggests that they are helpful for treating patients. Although some medications are effective for these issues, they are not equally effective in all patients with:

  •  Nausea 
  • appetite loss
  • chronic pain
  • anxiety

A 2018 study of oral dronabinol in HIV/AIDs patients managing severe weight loss revealed a positive effect on weight gain among cancer patients. Dronabinol was also associated with improved taste, smell, and food enjoyment among patients. 

Delta-9 THC can potentially promote weight gain in patients, as well as reducing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. A few, studies have been conducted with delta 9-THC to determine the drug’s capacity to ease low appetite and wasting in those with cancer, cachexia, amyloidosis, or HIV. 

Last Updated: June 14, 2024

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