Mitochondrial disease is a wide range of illnesses that affects each individual differently. Some mitochondrial diseases are severe or even deadly, while others have a less significant impact on daily life. Many persons’ mitochondrial illness symptoms vary considerably from one day to the next, making it difficult to establish a healthy routine. Mitochondrial disease is also related to the formation of numerous additional health problems.
Mitochondrial diseases are extremely difficult to cure and have a high rate of recurrence. Medical marijuana can assist people with mitochondrial disease in managing its ups and downs. Cannabis may help you feel better from a variety of mitochondrial disease symptoms, as well as various other ailments related to this illness. If you have a mitochondrial illness, medical marijuana might be the complementary therapy you’ve been looking for.
What Is Mitochondrial Disease?
Mitochondrial diseases are caused by damaged mitochondria in a person’s cells. Mitochondria are organelles found in all multicellular organisms’ cells. Heart and muscle cells only have mitochondrial DNA, according to humans. The term “power plant” is often used to describe mitochondria. They execute a variety of critical functions that ensure that the body functions appropriately.
Mitochondria are cellular organelles that convert food into energy, or adenosine triphosphate (ATP), through an oxidative phosphorylation process. ATP is the body’s primary source of energy and is used by cells to function effectively. Mitochondria also have an impact on a number of other processes in the human body, including cholesterol metabolism, hemoglobin synthesis rate control, and liver ammonia detoxification. Overall, mitochondria play a significant yet complicated role in maintaining bodily health.
When mitochondrial dysfunction interferes with cell function, the cells in the body are only able to generate a limited amount of energy and are unable to make RNA and DNA that is required for growth and function. Cells damaged by mitochondrial disease become harmed or die. This can result in entire bodily systems shutting down, such as the respiratory, endocrine, or cardiovascular system. Mitochondrial diseases that are most severe affect the brain, muscles, or nerve tissue, since these types of cells require more energy and rely more on mitochondrial function for proper operation. Mitochondrial disease can manifest differently in individuals based on which cells it affects.
Causes of Mitochondrial Disease
Mitochondrial diseases are caused by inherited or random gene changes that affect the activity of the proteins and RNA molecules in the mitochondria. These changes can occur in the nDNA, which is DNA found in the cell’s nucleus, or mDNA, which is mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondrial disorders are mostly genetic and more common among children than adults. Other family members or siblings frequently inherit mitochondrial disease as a result of inheriting defective genes. Mitochondrial diseases are most often inherited, although they can happen at any age. External causes such as infections, environmental pollutants, poisons, some medicines, and unhealthy habits account for a smaller proportion of mitochondrial disease cases. About one in 4,000 people in the United States has a mitochondrial disease.
Symptoms of Mitochondrial Disease
Mitochondrial DNA disease is a general term that refers to a group of diseases caused by mutations in mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria are tiny structures inside cells that convert food into energy. Because of their wide range of duties and the many distinct types of mitochondrial failure, there are hundreds of unique mitochondrial disorders. Each of these abnormalities presents its own set of symptoms, which varies from patient to patient. In most situations, mitochondrial dysfunction affects multiple bodily systems.
While the medical community is still researching the connection between mitochondrial mutations and the resulting symptoms, many physicians are uncertain about it. Two individuals whose mtDNA contains the same changes may experience different symptoms in some circumstances. Conversely, two persons with distinct mitochondrial abnormalities might have identical symptom patterns. As a result, mitochondrial disease is sometimes difficult to identify.
Here are some of the most frequent indications of mitochondrial failure:
- Severe developmental delays and poor growth
- Visual and hearing problems
- Speech impairment
- Loss of motor control
- Muscle pain or weakness
- Increased susceptibility to infection
- Digestion problems and constipation
- Respiratory problems
- Autism or autistic features
- Neurological problems
Effects of Mitochondrial Disease
Mitochondrial disease is also linked to a number of other disorders. Neurons require a significant amount of energy to function properly, which is why the mitochondria are so essential. Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other dementias may be caused by mitochondrial failure in neurons. Mitochondrial malfunction can also be seen in a variety of disorders, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Gastro-intestinal disorders
- Autoimmune disorders
- Metabolic disorders
While the existence of mitochondrial dysfunction as a root cause for other conditions has not been established, mitochondrial failure or impairment is present in these maladies.
Current Treatments for Mitochondrial Disease
There is presently no cure for mitochondrial disease, so the aim of mitochondrial disease therapy is to alleviate symptoms and slow or halt the progression of the illness. For certain patients, therapies that are already effective in treating their mitochondrial condition’s symptoms and effects exist. Seizure medicine, for example, can be taken by those who have seizures as a manifestation of their mitochondrial disorder. Other individuals with a mitochondrial disease must typically use a variety of treatments depending on their specific set of symptoms.
Mitochondrial diseases are difficult to treat and have a high mortality rate. Here are some of the most common treatment options for mitigating symptoms and slowing disease progression.
- Vitamins and medicines: Some vitamins and medications may be beneficial for boosting mitochondrial disease patients’ energy levels. Carnitine, a particular amino acid, can improve the efficiency of ATP formation in the mitochondria. When patients’ mitochondria are unable to create enough on their own, they may take creatine supplements to increase their ATP reserves. Finally, people with mitochondrial disease may benefit from taking coenzyme Q10 supplements, which function as a precursor in the production of ATP by mitochondria. Vitamins and medicines, on the other hand, have not been proven to be effective for treating mitochondrial disease and vary from person to person.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidant supplements can help mitigate the effects of mitochondrial disease by neutralizing the free radicals produced as a result of damaged mitochondrial function.
- Physical therapy, speech therapy, or respiratory treatment: Patients with motor deficits can be aided by physical therapy, which may assist them in increasing dexterity and extending their range of motion. Speech and respiratory treatment might also aid in the maintenance or improvement of functional ability.
- Avoidance of stressful factors: Patients with mitochondrial disease should follow a healthy lifestyle by avoiding cigarettes and alcohol. They should also avoid consuming MSG, which has been linked to migraines in study after study. Physiological stress, such as heat exposure, cold stress, hunger, or lack of sleep, may exacerbate the symptoms of mitochondrial disease in some people.
- Dietary changes: Patients with mitochondrial disease should eat on a regular basis and should not try to reduce their food intake, such as when attempting to lose weight. Patients generally do better if they have small meals throughout the day rather than long periods of fasting. A high-fat diet is often beneficial for some people, but reducing fat in the diet can be advantageous for others.
Because mitochondrial diseases can be so different, people with these disorders should first speak to a doctor before utilizing any therapies, including changing their diet.
The Effectiveness of Current Treatments for Mitochondrial Disease
The efficacy of current therapies for mitochondrial disease is strain-specific, and it varies from patient to patient. In general, patients with milder mitochondrial diseases will have a better response to therapy than those with severe mitochondrial disorders. Treatment regimens that are expertly tailored to a person’s specific set of symptoms can help some patients feel better and reduce the rate at which their mitochondrial disease progresses. Personal treatment plans that should be effective for other individuals, on the other hand, do not result in benefits or improvement.
The effectiveness of therapy for mitochondrial disease is also dependent on a case-by-case basis. Some people will experience immediate benefits from treatment, whereas others may not see results until several months into the treatment process. Treatment for mitochondrial disease may help to slow the development of the illness at the cellular level without providing any visible alleviation of symptoms for patients in some instances.
Treatment for mitochondrial disease is not always successful or may even exacerbate the problem in some people. Treatment for mitochondrial diseases can’t reverse any harm that has occurred to cells. As a result, individuals who have already suffered neurological damage or other impairing effects may not benefit from treatment except to maintain their current condition.
Treating Mitochondrial Disease With Medical Marijuana
Mitochondrial disease is a terrible illness that causes progressive damage to muscles, nerves, and other organs. Mitocondria are the energy-generating structures inside cells that produce oxidative stress in order to function properly. Some cannabinoids have antioxidant properties and can regulate mitochondrial activity, making them ideal for treating mitochondrial disease. Cannabinoids may assist in the maintenance of balance between oxidative stress and antioxidant defenses by regulating mitochondrial activity. When mitochondria transform nutrients into energy, there is inevitably some oxidative stress generated.When oxidative stress is too high, the body may emit damaging free radicals that interact with cell membranes, proteins, DNA, and other organelles. Antioxidants protect against oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. Because THC and CBD have antioxidant qualities, medicinal marijuana use may help to prevent mitochondrial damage caused by dysfunctional mitochondria.
Cannabis contains cannabinoids that help to maintain the correct ratio of oxidative stress produced by mitochondrial activity. Oxidative stress, in moderate doses, is a helpful signal to cells that asks them to replace damaged mitochondria and other broken cell components with new ones. However, if oxidative stress levels become excessively high, they can harm the cell and cause it to self-destruct in a process known as apoptosis. Autophagy and apoptosis collaborate to keep cellular homeostasis. Damaged cells and free radicals may accumulate in the body if this natural regeneration method isn’t working properly. This imbalance might lead to the development of a variety of illnesses, as well as an accelerated rate of neurodegeneration.
Mitochondrial disease can be treated with cannabis to help maintain the balance of autophagy and apoptosis in cells. THC in smaller dosages can boost mitochondrial activity by influencing the mitochondrial membrane and promoting the production of ATP. This mechanism also aids in cell regeneration by triggering autophagy, which restores damaged cellular components. CBD and THC, when used together in high doses, can decrease the activity of mitochondria by binding to CB1 receptors, which inhibits mitochondrial function and induces oxidative stress. Cannabinoids may also help to slow the aging process and prevent dementia by suppressing neurodegeneration.
Clinical Studies of Cannabis and Mitochondrial Disease Treatment
Cannabinoids have been studied in a number of clinical trials to see how they impact mitochondrial activity. It is thought that cannabinoids affect mitochondria in a beneficial and optimizing manner. These studies lend weight to the contention that cannabis may be used as a medicine to treat mitochondrial diseases.
According to a 2012 research published in the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences journal, the endocannabinoid system has a multifaceted interaction with mitochondria and modulates mitochondrial function through various pathways. Endocannabinoids are chemicals produced by the body that interact with the mitochondria to both rejuvenate and destroy cells, depending on oxidative stress levels. That implies THC and other cannabinoids may be able to regulate mitochondrial function. A 2007 study published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications revealed that THC and two other cannabinoids can alter mitochondrial function similarly.
According to a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Physiology, stimulation of the endocannabinoid system may help cells breathe better by interacting with mitochondria, suggesting that treatments for mitochondrial diseases that target the endocannabinoid system might be beneficial.
Cannabinoid interactions with mitochondria in mice, according to a 2012 research, might help to limit neuroinflammatory reactions that lead to aging and delay cognitive decay. It improves motor and cognitive impairment caused by neurodegenerative disorders as well as slowing natural cognitive decline. According to the majority of studies, cannabinoids can modulate mitochondrial activity to maintain cellular homeostasis.
Medical Marijuana as Treatment for Symptoms of Mitochondrial Disease
Medical marijuana has also shown to be effective in treating a range of mitochondrial-related symptoms and diseases. Medical marijuana can help patients with mitochondrial disorders feel better and slow the disease’s progression.
The following are some of the advantages of using medical marijuana to manage mitochondrial disease’s symptoms and consequences.
- Chronic pain: The treatment of pain is perhaps the most well-known use for medical cannabis. Cannabis has been shown to significantly reduce persistent suffering, including back and neck discomfort, muscular pain, and overall physical tiredness.
- Seizures and epilepsy: Cannabis may be an option for those who are unable to take anti-seizure medicines. Medical marijuana can also aid in the reduction of seizure severity and occurrence in people with epilepsy or other seizure disorders by combining it with other medications.
- Diabetes: Medicinal cannabis can assist diabetic patients reduce weight and control their blood sugar levels. Medical marijuana may also alleviate the symptoms of diabetes, including inflammation, pain, and nerve damage.
- Alzheimer’s disease: Cannabinoids like CBD have been shown in studies to promote mitochondrial function, which helps to slow the symptoms of aging and neurodegenerative disorders. THC has also been found to reduce the risk of developing an Alzheimer’s-related damaging plaque in the brain. When individuals with dementia use medical marijuana, they may notice improved memory and cognitive functioning.
- Cancer: Cannabinoids from cannabis have shown to be effective in fighting cancer. Endocannabinoids can induce a positive feedback loop in the high-stress condition of cancer cells, causing cell death. Cannabinoids present in marijuana may have a similar effect and, as a result, kill cancer cells to promote cell homeostasis. Cannabis can also help with the symptoms of cancer and traditional cancer therapies such as fatigue, pain, weakness, and sleeplessness.
- Kidney disease: Cannabis has been shown in numerous studies to be useful for treating a wide range of kidney-related issues, including chronic pain, sleeplessness, nausea and vomiting. Because marijuana has no negative impact on the kidneys, it is a safe supplemental therapy.
- Autoimmune disease: Cannabinoids in medicinal cannabis have the ability to affect the immune system and improve its performance.
- Migraine headaches: Migraine sufferers who have access to medical cannabis report that it relieves their chronic migraine pain, nausea, and stiffness.
Best Marijuana Treatment for Mitochondrial Disease
Because the effects and symptoms of mitochondrial disease vary from patient to patient, there is no one-size-fits-all medical marijuana therapy. High-CBD strains of cannabis, such as Harlequin and Sweet and Sour Widow, might work for some patients. Other patients may respond better to high-THC strains, such as Blackberry Kush and White Russian. Individuals who want to use medical marijuana can do so in a variety of ways. Patients with muscular discomfort or loss of motor control, for example, may smoke or vaporize their medicine. It might take some trial and error before a patient finds the best therapy for them, because finding the proper strain and treatment approach for mitochondrial disease may be difficult.
If you’re considering medical marijuana as a treatment for mitochondrial disease, get in contact with a physician right now. A board-certified medical cannabis specialist will be delighted to assist you in determining whether medical marijuana is the best option for you and creating a treatment plan that works for your specific requirements.