Can Cannabis Help Alzheimer’s Patients?

alzheimer cbd treatment

The short answer is that cannabis has a lot of potential to benefit people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. There have been a significant number of tests that show encouraging results.

Cannabis may be able to help treat the root causes of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. On a smaller scale, it has also proved useful for treating surface level symptoms, like excessive aggravation.

 

Because there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, many people are encouraged by the current findings associated with cannabis as a treatment. Some are taking the initiative to try this supplement even without FDA approval. However, it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor before implementing any supplements into your treatment plan.

 

So far, cannabis has shown to have only minor side effects associated with long-term usage. In comparison to the negative side effects of current medications for Alzheimer’s patients, it is much more tolerable.

 

Testing is still in preliminary stages, so to fully understand the implications of cannabis as a treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease, more testing needs to be done. Some countries have taken the leap and finally started to test the effects of cannabis on humans.

 

For example, the U.K. just began its first major trial in February of this year. This trial is funded by Alzheimer’s Research U.K. and is led by researches at King’s College London. It includes about 60 patients between 55 and 90 years old. They will be monitored to see if there is any change in aggression or agitation in these patients.

 

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The U.S. has yet to implement any similar test, despite the current evidence that such research may have significant findings.

 

Animal Testing

 

The first significant study that proved the benefits of cannabis for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease was done in 2014. This study was done on Alzheimer’s Disease transgenic mice with a control group.

 

These mice were given cannabidiol (CBD) daily for eight months. CBD proved to reduce cognitive deficits, reduce social withdrawal, and increase facial recognition. This is believed to be a result of the subtle effects on neuroinflammation, cholesterol levels, and dietary nutrient retention. These results need to be further investigated so that results can be confirmed and studies can be done on humans.

 

Treating Root Causes

 

Your body has an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) that is a network of receptors in the central nervous system and immune system. These receptors can be found all over our body, but have a heavy concentration on our brain and spinal cord. They sit on the surface of cells and communicate with our body when something has changed on the inside of the cell and needs attention. This may include inflammation or a build-up of substance on the cell. Our body naturally produces cannabinoids to help prevent cell death, inflammation, and to clear out harmful build up.

 

The ECS is directly related to Alzheimer’s Disease. Upon death, those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease have an increased expression from their ECS receptors that suggests that the system was working hard to correct the effects of Alzheimer’s.

 

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So, how can cannabis help your ECS combat these diseases?

 

Cannabis has the ability to reduce damage causing oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and cell death. It also encourages the brain’s ability to repair itself. These traits are all valuable in the treatment of what we suspect are the root causes of Alzheimer’s Diseases.

 

Inflammation

 

We currently don’t know whether inflammation is a result of Alzheimer’s Disease or if it’s the other way around. However, we do know that bringing down inflammation is a good idea. It decreases the damage done to brain cells which can prevent or slow cell death. Cannabis has the ability to decrease that inflammation.

 

Build Up

 

People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can accumulate a build-up of iron on their brain cells which leads to cell death. Cannabis, CBD specifically, can help protect the cells from that build-up. The prevention or slowing of that build-up will slow the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

Cell Growth

 

Cannabis is able to promote neurogenesis on the areas of your brain that are related to memory and learning. This trait is also suspected to be the cause of cannabis’s anti-anxiety and anti-depressive traits. This cell growth will help your brain naturally repair areas that have been damaged. Further testing needs to be done on this trait, as it has only been proved through tests done on animals. However, there have been promising findings.

 

Treating Surface-Level Symptoms

 

There have been some great results when it comes to the use of cannabis to reduce physical agitation and aggression in patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. There have been multiple studies to prove that there is a noticeable increase in behavioral symptoms of patients diagnosed with different types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

 

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While this will not cure Alzheimer’s Disease by any means, it may make it less stressful on the person diagnosed as well as their caretakers and family members.

 

Conclusion

 

We still have a lot to learn about the potential positive and negative side effects of long-term cannabis usage for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. More studies need to be done to fully understand when and how cannabis should be used as a treatment. In the U.S., clinical studies are scarce and often hard to get approved. However, enough positive results have been found to warrant this additional testing.

 

If these findings hold under further investigation, cannabis could seriously change the way that we treat Alzheimer’s Disease and its symptoms.

Marina Turea

Marina has been calling Chicago home since 2007. She's a world traveler and an avid reader.

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