For the fourth edition of our Cannabis and Conditions blog series, let’s focus on a disease that affects many people in the United States: Alzheimer’s Disease. This is a disease, that over time, causes confusion, and can ultimately erase the sufferer’s memory.
Alzheimer’s is a disease that comes on slowly, initially with the sufferer not being able to recall recent events but still able to remember memories from their past. As the disease progresses, the symptoms continue to get worse. Although the exact reason as to why some get Alzheimer’s disease and some don’t isn’t entirely known, there are two types of nerve damage that seems to be related, neurofibrillary tangles, which is when nerve cells get tangled, and beta-amyloid (protein deposits) build up in the brain.
It’s estimated that 5.8 million or 10% of American adults are living with Alzheimer’s disease. 5.6 million of which are 65 years or older, meaning that only 200,000 people living in the U.S., under the age of 65, experience younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Women are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than men.
After the disease has begun taking over, the symptoms go from not being able to remember recent activities to worse. This includes possibly forgetting their loved ones, how to dress and feed themselves, and how to use the toilet. WebMD.com tells us that other symptoms include:
- Trouble focusing
- A hard time doing ordinary activities
- Feeling confused or frustrated, especially at night
- Dramatic mood swings – outbursts of anger, anxiety, and depression
- Feeling disoriented and getting lost easily
- Physical problems, such as an odd walk or poor coordination
- Trouble communicating
Typical treatment of Alzheimer’s tells us that there is no cure of the disease, but early diagnosis is key. By catching it early, there are medications, sensory therapy and other options that can help the disease. The medications available won’t stop the disease, but could be used to help with memory, mood, sleep, and behavior changes. Some more natural treatments include art and music therapies. Some scientific studies show this is beneficial for people with Alzheimer’s, as it stimulates the senses, which can improve mood, behavior, and daily function.
Treating with Cannabis
An article by Leafly.com talks about five different ways that cannabis could be helping Alzheimer’s patients. They credit cannabis for doing the following:
- THC slows the buildup of neural plaques
- Cannabis fights inflammation
- CBD could prevent cell death
- Cannabinoids stimulate cell growth
- Starves off other Alzheimer’s symptoms
When it comes to Alzheimer’s, both CBD and THC are great at limiting the harmful plaque and proteins associated with the disease. They both have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
CBD is also known to protect brain cells. This can help people suffering from the disease hang onto memories longer and also have less “episodes.”
As of now, a combination therapy of CBD and THC is what is recommended most as far as treating Alzheimer’s with cannabis. A list of good strains for the disease can be found here.
According to Neurologist, David Perlmutter, “There has been a lot of “buzz” lately about the potential of using marijuana as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. In a recent study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, scientists at the University of South Florida demonstrated how low levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannbinol or THC, the chemical found in marijuana that is thought to be responsible for the high, is able to reduce the formation of the sticky protein beta-amyloid, which accumulates in the Alzheimer’s brain. Indeed, as one of the study’s authors commented, ‘While we are still far from a consensus, this study indicated that THC and THC-related compounds may be of therapeutic value in Alzheimer’s disease.’”
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If you are thinking about using cannabis as an alternative treatment, do your own research to obtain all the information necessary for you to make the decision. We can answer many questions and give you recommendations but the research and decision is up to you. We are not licensed physicians. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any cannabis product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.