According to the Alzheimer’s Association, ten percent of Americans age 65 and older suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. With 5.5 million Americans already diagnosed, the at-risk population is growing rapidly. Without intervention, this chronic neurodegenerative brain disorder is estimated to affect 16 million Americans by 2050. At present, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
Can marijuana alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease?
Current treatments focus primarily on the management of symptoms and like most medications, these drugs often cause adverse side effects. Nausea, vomiting, indigestion, decreased appetite, chest pain, and cramps are a few of the complications. Long-term complications include reduced heartbeat, hypotension, yellowing of the skin, tingling of the distal extremities, weight gain or loss, increased anxiety, muscle twitching, shivering, convulsions, stroke, heart and liver problems, and kidney problems.
In recent years, exploratory studies have revealed that certain elements found in the Cannabis sativa plant are useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and HIV dementia. Cannabinoids work at the cellular level, having the capability to not only remove the buildup of senile plaques but to also inhibit the inflammatory process that can speed the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a four-week trial, ten patients with Alzheimer’s disease were treated with medical cannabis oil and showed a substantial decrease in delusions, agitations, irritability, apathy, sleep, and caregiver distress. The study concluded medical cannabis oil as a safe and effective treatment.
Usage of THC and CBD in the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
Mice with advanced Alzheimer’s disease demonstrated that THC and CBD working together effectively decreased memory impairment. Another study performed on mice inoculated with Beta-Amyloid protein showed that CBD reduced inflammation and inhibited Beta-Amyloid formation.
In a study conducted on cells with Beta-Amyloid, a low concentration of THC reduced Beta-Amyloid levels and resulted in a decreased hyper-phosphorylation and enhanced mitochondrial function. In conclusion, THC demonstrated potential therapeutic benefit for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways.
In a further study, a group of cells exposed to Beta-Amyloid were treated with CBD while others were not. While exposure to Beta-Amyloid resulted in damage to the cells, those treated with CBD before exposure had a substantially greater cell survival rate. The results indicate that CBD possesses a mixture of neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, and anti-apoptotic effects against beta-amyloid peptide toxicity.
Ongoing research and studies continue to prove the positive effect of cannabinoids as a preventative medication and as part of a regular program of treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.