What is the research into cannabis and Alzheimer’s disease, and can an alternative treatment option help to relieve symptoms? Marijuana, or cannabis, has been used for centuries to treat a variety of conditions.
Many people are aware that it can help relieve symptoms of certain medical conditions like cancer and HIV/AIDS, while others believe it helps fight off glaucoma and relieves pain.
As research continues into the potential benefits of cannabis, evidence is emerging to suggest that marijuana may also be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Disease: What Is It?
It is believed that about 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia with the vast majority being over the age of 65. The most common types are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Lewy body dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all cases. It is also the 6th leading cause of death in the United States with someone developing the condition every 66 seconds.
Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease have difficulty performing everyday tasks that were previously easy for them such as preparing a meal or driving. Some people even become forgetful while others lose their ability to communicate effectively. As it progresses, Alzheimer’s disease can also take away a person’s dignity by preventing them from dressing themselves or going to the bathroom without assistance. Currently, there are no treatments available to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease but researchers believe medical marijuana may be able to offer patients some relief.
Cannabis and Alzheimer’s Disease Research
The active chemicals in marijuana are known as cannabinoids. These chemicals are similar to the ones produced naturally by the human body that help regulate a variety of functions including memory, thinking, concentration, movement, coordination, appetite, and pain sensation. To perform these tasks naturally, the cannabinoids bind with receptors found all over the body. It has been suggested that by artificially increasing cannabinoid levels it may be possible to reproduce their beneficial effects on particular conditions. This is what researchers have done when examining whether cannabis can offer relief for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
There have been several studies conducted that have shown there are improved cognitive performances among individuals at various stages of dementia after being treated with cannabinoids. Other research suggests medical marijuana can also improve behavioral symptoms such as irritability and aggression, decrease neurodegeneration and protect memory from damage. One study examined THC’s effects on mice with a condition similar to Alzheimer’s disease and reported the chemical prevented nerve cells from dying.
Medical Marijuana and Dementia
Marijuana is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease but it may be able to help alleviate some of the symptoms. In 2009, a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported cannabinoids were effective in relieving some of the behavioral and psychological problems associated with dementia including in reducing anxiety and aggression. Additionally, research has shown that medical marijuana was even more beneficial for patients suffering from Lewy body dementia since they respond better to THC than most other types of dementia. The use of medical marijuana in this form of dementia has been widely documented by researchers such as Dr. Gary Wenk who discovered THC improved memory function and significantly reduced tremors in mice after 16 days of treatment.
Since there is research to support the idea that cannabis and Alzheimer’s disease research is valid, we believe it’s worth considering as a potential treatment option. However, more research is still needed to determine the benefits of cannabis for people suffering from dementia.
For further inquiries related to cannabis and Alzheimer’s disease, reach out to Dr. Green Relief today. We can help you find a doctor who will provide you with the necessary documentation required to obtain medical marijuana.