Alzheimer’s disease (hereafter referred to as ‘Alzheimer’s’) is a progressive neurological disorder that affects a range of mental functions, including memory, reasoning, learning ability, personality, behavior and more. The onset is typically gradual, with symptoms slowly developing in severity over the course of months and years, in contrast to some other cognitive diseases that manifest much more quickly.
Alzheimer’s falls under the category of ‘dementia’, an umbrella term that refers to any condition that affects memory and/or cognitive ability. There are currently about 564,000 Canadians living with dementia, according to Alzheimer Society Canada. Experts estimate that Alzheimer’s accounts for about 50-70 percent of all dementia cases.
Despite the high frequency rate, the exact cause of Alzheimer’s is still unclear, though genetics, environment and lifestyle are thought to be contributing factors. Because so much is still unknown about Alzheimer’s, there is currently no cure for the disease. Instead, treatment is centered around helping patients manage cognitive symptoms in the short term.
As many jurisdictions around the world become more receptive to the idea of medicinal cannabis, a number of preclinical studies have surfaced that show cannabis may have a role to play in preventing or treating Alzheimer’s.
How do Cannabinoids Protect the Brain?
Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are by far the most well researched, and it’s these two cannabinoids that seem to be responsible for the neuroprotective qualities of cannabis.
Cannabis may also prove to be a critical player in the battle against Alzheimer’s due to the fact that some cannabinoids are able to pass through the blood-brain barrier, a protective system that prevents harmful substances – including most pharmaceuticals – from entering the brain. This allows the cannabinoids to interact with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which may be important for treating Alzheimer’s.
There are a number of studies that support this theory. For example, in one investigation published in Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, researchers set out to find out how cannabinoids such as THC affect the beta amyloid, which tends to accumulate in the brain prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s. The study found that certain cannabinoids can effectively remove the beta amyloid, suggesting that early intervention could reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s developing or progressing.
In another study, researchers explored how THC and CBD might affect mice that exhibited symptoms of Alzheimer’s and found the cannabinoids helped improve learning and reduced amyloid clumps. The results were promising, with investigators noting that “the present findings show that the combination of THC and CBD exhibits a better therapeutic profile than each cannabis component alone and support the consideration of a cannabis-based medicine as potential therapy against
Using Cannabis to Treat the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Cannabis may also be an effective tool for treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. A few studies have shown that cannabis can significantly improve the mood and behavior of Alzheimer’s patients and reduce agitation and aggression – two traits that are commonly associated with the disease. Being able to better manage this sort of negative behavior could improve the quality of life for both patients and caregivers, as well as friends and family of the patient.
In summary, a lot of promising research is beginning to emerge that indicates cannabis may hold the key to solving the mysteries of Alzheimer’s. However, more research is still needed before we fully understand how cannabis oil interacts with Alzheimer’s in human subjects, and it’s important to be mindful of this if you’re considering using cannabis oil to treat yourself or a loved one.
Treat Sleep Issues with Cannabis
Canabo Medical Inc. has identified a few strains of cannabis that work well for treating sleep issues. Feel free to refer to the company’s new online self-referral program for individuals with sleep issues.
Each patient is unique and should be assessed by one of Canabo’s Cannabinoid Specialists to get the correct strains and amount of cannabis.
By: Jareth Trigwell