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Robert Bergman

May 9, 2019

Nearly 5.5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimers Disease, with many more suffering worldwide. The progressive disease robs individuals of their quality of life and is often traumatic to family members.

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Although there are medications to slow its progression, many of it symptoms, such as aggression are not treatable. On top of that, conventional medications add their own risks.

For those living with Alzheimer’s Disease, marijuana and CBD oil may provide additional relief. This article explains some of the basics of Alzheimer’s Disease and how THC and CBD can help prevent or delay its symptoms.

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible brain disorder that slowly destroys thinking and memory skills. It’s also progressive, which means it continuously worsens over time. Eventually, sufferers lose the ability to carry out simple, everyday tasks.

Alzheimer's_Disease
Alzheimer’s Disease

It’s the most common form of dementia, with symptoms generally first appearing in the mid-60s age range. Dementia is a general term that describes the loss of memory and other intellectual abilities that make simple task hard or even impossible.

What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease

Experts, such as the National Institute on Aging (NIH), do not know the exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease in most people. For those who experience early-onset Alzheimer’s, the cause is usually a genetic mutation. Late-onset Alzheimer’s is generally caused by a complex series of changes in the brain that happens over decades.

Most scientists believe the causes of Alzheimer’s include a combination of environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors. However, how much each individual factor increases or decreases the risk of developing the disease is different from person to person.

Age Risk Factors
The elderly have the greatest risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s, according to research. For example:

  • Of people 65-years or older, one out of nine has Alzheimer’s
  • Of people 85-years or older, nearly one out of three has Alzheimer’s

Although still a mystery as to why studies show that risk increases dramatically the older we get.

Family History Factors
Another strong factor that increases risk is family history. People who have immediate family members (parents or siblings) with Alzheimer’s have a higher chance of developing the disease. The more family members with Alzheimer’s, the higher the risk. When a disease runs in the family, either environmental factors, genetic (hereditary) factors, or both, may play a role.

Family Factor
Family Factor – Image powered by Prosperityedwell.com

Genetics (Heredity)
Researchers agree that genes are involved in Alzheimer’s. Two different types of genes are responsible for affecting whether or not a person develops the brain disorder: risk genes and deterministic genes:

  • Risk Genes

– These genes increase the chances of a person developing a particular disease. However, they do not guarantee the person will develop it. So far, several risk genes have been implicated in the development of Alzheimer’s disease by scientists. Of the known risk genes, APOE-e4 (apolipoprotein E-e4) has been identified as the one with the strongest influence. Researchers estimate that APOE-e4 may be a causing factor in up to 20 to 25 percent of Alzheimer’s patients.

  • Deterministic Genes

– These genes are the direct causes of diseases. That means that anyone who inherits these genes will develop a particular disorder. Researchers have identified variations that are direct causes of Alzheimer’s disease in the genes responsible for coding three proteins. They are amyloid precursor protein (APP), presenilin-1 (PS-1) and presenilin-2 (PS-2).

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

In many cases of Alzheimer’s disease, the first sign that cognitive impairment exist is memory issues. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a common memory issue.

MCI causes people to suffer from more problems with their memories than what’s normal for their ages. Issues with their sense of smell, as well as movement difficulties, have also been linked to MCI. However, these symptoms don’t interfere with them living their everyday lives.

Elderly people suffering from MCI have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s. But, not all older MCI sufferers actually develop it. Some even return to normal cognition over time.

Other non-memory related declines also begin to become noticeable over time, and may be symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Word-finding problems
  • Impaired judgement
  • Impaired reasoning
  • Vision/spatial issues

Current Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s currently has no cure. It’s a very complex disease that likely can’t be successfully treated with just one prescription drug. Instead, researchers focused on developing ways to help:

  • Delay or slow the symptoms of Alzheimer’s
  • Maintain mental functions
  • Manage behavioral symptoms
Current Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease
Current Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease – Image powered by Fastcompany.net

Treatments for Maintaining Mental Function in Alzheimer’s Patients
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several prescription drugs to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms. The three common medications below were developed to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s symptoms:

  • Donepezil (Aricept®)
  • Rivastigmine (Exelon®)
  • Galantamine (Razadyne®)

Severe Alzheimer’s is commonly treated with a prescription drug called donepezil.

Treatments for Managing Behavior in Alzheimer’s Patients
Common behavioral symptoms of the brain disorder include:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Wandering

The problem with Alzheimer’s drugs is that they aren’t very effective at treating the behavioral issues associated with the disease. There are also common side effects, such as fainting and severe diarrhea.

CBD and Alzheimer’s Disease

Research has found that plant-derived terpenoids, such as cannabinoids, possess therapeutic qualities that could effectively treat Alzheimer’s. By studying cell cultures, scientists determined that manipulation of the endocannabinoid system by cannabinoids can directly normalize and regulate NMDA receptor activation.

CBD and Alzheimer’s Disease
CBD and Alzheimer’s Disease – Image powered by CBDoilstock.com

CB1 receptors inhibit the release of glutamate. This helps to prevent neuronal excitotoxicity. Because of this, cannabinoids can directly improve neurotrophic factors derived in the brain and inhibit excitotoxicity in a brain with Alzheimer’s.

Neural tissue is thought to be a major factor in the development of brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Cannabis is anti-inflammatory, which helps bring relief to the neurological system.

Medical Research on Medical Marijuana and Alzheimer’s Disease

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a preclinical study. It shows that THC administered in very small doses can slow down beta-amyloid proteins production. These proteins are believed to be a key contributor and main characteristic of the progression of Alzheimer’s. This 2014-published study is among multiple studies that support the effectiveness of tetrahydrocannabinol in prohibiting toxic amyloid plaque growth.

Another study, conducted in La Jolla, California at the Salk Institute found that THC combined with other active compounds found in cannabis may help reduce the brain’s beta amyloid content. Beta-amyloid is one of the trademark characteristics of Alzheimer’s. Some scientists believe it’s a direct cause of the neurodegenerative disease.

Many studies have provided evidence that cannabinoids may provide neuroprotective benefits to help fight the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The study above appears to be the first one to show that cannabinoids affect both the accumulation of amyloid beta and inflammation in nerve cells.

In another study, investigators discovered that the beta amyloid levels could be reduced by exposing the patient’s beta-amyloid proteins to THC. Exposure to the marijuana compound also stopped inflammation with the nerve cells, normally caused by beta amyloid. Throughout the process, the nerve cells continued to survive.

Repairing nerve function isn’t the only benefit marijuana has for those with Alzheimer’s. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease recently published its findings on a study on cannabis extracts and AD. Research shows that administering extracts from marijuana which contain THC to people with Alzheimer’s helped relieves some disease-related symptoms, such as apathy, aggression, delusions and agitation.

During the small Israeli trial, 11 Alzheimer’s patients were studied by researchers. They were all given medical marijuana with THC contents over a 4-week period. Of the ten participants who completed the trial study, there was a significant reduction in psychological and behavioral impacts brought on by dementia, one of the biggest issues for sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease.

Medical Research on CBD Alzheimer’s Disease

According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NCBI), several findings indicate that CB1 and CB2 receptors could be the key to treating the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Activating both CB1 and CB2 receptors at non-psychedelic-causing doses helps reduce harmful “β-amyloid peptide action and tau phosphorylation.”

Medical_Research
Medical Research – Image powered by Medicalresearchalliance.com

This also promotes the fundamental repair mechanisms in the brain. Endocannabinoid signaling also modulates numerous other pathological processes that help with such issues as:

  • Excitotoxicity
  • Oxidative stress
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Mitochondrial dysfunction

CBD can effectively help treat inflammation caused by Alzheimer’s symptoms. It can also help relieve the stress caused by the disease itself, without getting the patient high.

CBD vs. THC

The marijuana plant contains two main active compounds: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). THC helps relieve some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. However, it does cause a euphoric high in users. It’s also believed to have the ability to slow down (or stop) the progression of the disease.

CBD actually counteracts the effects of THC that cause the high feeling. So, Alzheimer’s patients can benefit from the medical and neurotrophic effects of smoking weed, eating CBD- rich edibles or indulging in other types of medical marijuana products (such as CBD oil), without experiencing an intoxicating euphoria. Cannabidiol also helps relieve depression and stress, from which many Alzheimer’s patients suffer.

How to Take Medical Marijuana for Treating Alzheimer’s Symptoms & Medication Side Effects

Many people ingest cannabis with a pipe, vaporizer or by rolling it in cigarette papers or cigars. However, it could be a bit difficult to get a person with Alzheimer’s to sit still and smoke cannabis.

There are more effective ways to take medical cannabis to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms, and side effects from Alzheimer’s medications. They include:

  • Marijuana Edibles

– Dairy products, candies, baked goods and other food enriched with cannabis are called edibles

  • Cannabis Infused Honey

– DIY or buy it in medical marijuana dispensaries and add it to teas and foods

  • Cannabis Lip Balms and Cannabis Creams

– Contain high levels of CBD which promote dopamine production

  • Hemp Oils

– CBD oil works well for Alzheimer’s patients. It’s simpler to administer (and self-administer) than smoking or vaping marijuana.

Growing Your Own Medical Marijuana to Treat Alzheimer’s Symptoms & Medication Side Effects

For those with Alzheimer’s or their caregivers, growing your own medical marijuana gives you access to effective treatment right at your hands. This keeps Alzheimer’s care both convenient and affordable, as the only financial investments are the costs of the seeds and cultivation.

Growing_Marijuana
Growing Marijuana

DIY medical cannabis growing also allows you to control quantity and quality. You can start your new crop before the current one is gone. Plus, you can choose the strain of marijuana that’s best for you and your personal Alzheimer’s symptoms.

For Alzheimer’s symptoms, sativa strains such as AK-47, Chocolope and Jack Herer are recommended. They are helpful for conditions such as stress, depression, anxiety, anorexia and Alzheimer’s. Buy your medical marijuana seeds today.

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The founder of I Love Growing Marijuana, Robert Bergman, is a marijuana growing expert that enjoys sharing his knowledge with the world. He combines years of experience, ranging from small-scale grows to massive operations, with a passion for growing. His articles include tutorials on growing... [read more]

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  1. By Keith Plumley

    ,24 Mar 2017
    I started smoking cannabis in 1977 when I was 17. I had had epilepsy since I was 8, severe grand mall seizures at least twice a month. After I started smoking cannabis I never had another. I am now 56 […]Read More
  2. By elizabeth

    ,26 Mar 2017
    My husband was showing all signs of dementia(alzheimers) besides being diagnosed with a cancer . He already had been smoking pot for years but when he started to eat very strong butter his dementia has changed actually everything has. He […]Read More
    1. By Roy ILGM

      ,27 Mar 2017
      Wow that's an amazing story Elizabeth! Thanks for sharing :D
  3. By Ken

    ,14 Feb 2018
    We believe in the power of CBD. CBD oil has helped my Mom deal with the symptoms of Alzheimer's. - Ken

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