Cannabis and Alzheimer’s
What is Alzheimer’s?
Alzheimer’s is one of the most commons forms of Dementia and the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
It begins within the neurons of the hippocampus, which is the primary part of the brain that forms memories. The brain begins to process a build of up beta amyloid (Aβ) plaques which is toxic to neurons.
The effected neurons slowly begin to die and eventually leads to a shrinkage in overall brain tissue. This causes one to lose basic thinking skills and memory loss. Over time, one will be unable to carry out essential living skills. Such as; using the restroom, brushing their teeth, and even eating food.
Progression of Alzheimer’s
A person may suffer from Alzheimer’s anywhere within the range of 4 to eight years, but some have lived as long as 20 years. All cases of progression are different in each person.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s one begins to have short-term memory loss, trouble remembering new names, losing or misplacing items, complications with planning or organizing, and difficulty in performing usual social or work tasks.
They then begin to lose their own personal history memories, like their address, favorite color, age, or phone number. They start showing signs of not wanting to communicate with people, and usually become moody in social situations. They begin having trouble controlling bladder and bowel movements.
Many show significant changes in personality and compulsive behaviors like shredding tissue or hand-wringing.
In the final stages of Alzheimer’s, they lose the ability to walk, sit, and eat on their own. Communication skills fade and they lose capability of forming sentences.
They also become extremely susceptible to infections.
Is there a Cure?
No, unfortunately Alzheimer’s is irreversible. But there are many treatments that are used to help slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Most of them come with side effects that may be too challenging for someone suffering with Alzheimer’s.
Donepezil, galantamine, and memantine are some the top treatments currently used in Alzheimer’s. They all come with side effects like; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision, depression, headaches, increased heart rate, swelling of the limbs, and joint pain.
Treating Alzheimer’s with cannabis
Studies have shown that the production of beta amyloid (Aβ) is slowed down by cannabis. They have also found that THC is more effective than current treatments we previously mentioned that have been approved by the FDA.
Scientists are finding that Cannabis compounds THC and CBD are reducing inflammation, helping stimulate new neural tissue growth, as well as slow the progression of Alzheimer’s.
Dr. Gary L. Wenk, a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, has gathered data showing that fewer people were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in those who smoked cannabis in the 1960’s.
Dr. Tim Karl led a research study in which mice were treated with daily injections of 20 mg/kg of CBD for three weeks. The treatment showed that daily CBD intake had a positive effect in reversing brain damage by reducing the amount of amyloid plaques.
The most we can do at this point is spread the word about the positive effects of cannabis on Alzheimer’s disease, and show our support for cannabis related Alzheimer’s studies and experiments, in the hopes that cannabis can potentially lead to a more successful method of treatment.