Alzheimer’s disease is a chronic neurodegenerative disease with no known cure. As the average life expectancy increases, experts claim that 13.8 million Americans could live with the disease by 2050.
Although the body naturally slows down with age, Alzheimer’s is not a natural result of aging. To date, scientists understand little about the disease, so most research focuses on slowing disease progression rather than finding a cure.
Medical cannabis is one such avenue that has delivered highly positive results. In this article, we discuss both Alzheimer’s and the potential of marijuana for slowing disease progression.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, which begins with mild memory loss before progressing into more severe symptoms. Eventually, Alzheimer’s symptoms become so severe that they can lead to death.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of the disease include:
· Serious memory loss
· Significant behavioral changes
· Mood alteration
· Difficulty speaking
· Problems swallowing
· Loss of mobility
Sadly, there is no cure for this disease. Symptoms can progress for many years before the patient eventually requires full-time care and regular medical attention.
How Medical Cannabis Impacts Alzheimer’s Disease
Firstly, a full disclaimer that medical cannabis isn’t designed to cure the disease. Instead, scientists study its potential to slow disease progression and lessen symptoms.
One of the issues with this research is that studies tend to use different strains. For example, one study could use auto-flowering seeds from Zamnesia, whereas others prefer specific strains like sativa or indica from other parts of the world. However, most comprehensive studies have demonstrated promise.
In a study published in a 2016 edition of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, it was found that delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) had the potential to reduce caregiver distress and weaken psychological symptoms.
Moreover, an older study published in 2006 in Molecular Pharmaceutics uncovered a link between THC and disease pathology. The study pinpointed an unrecognized molecular mechanism that indicated THC molecules could directly impact disease progression.
Within this study, they found that THC could have anticholinesterase characteristics. In plain English, this could improve memory and prevent the buildup of amyloid β-peptide, a marker of Alzheimer’s.
From a broader perspective, scientists are also discussing the impact of compounds within cannabis that may have neuroprotective properties. In particular, they have found that phytocannabinoids and terpenes may protect the brain’s pathways.
And these results have been generated with minimal research. Such positive results at this stage indicate that medical cannabis could be beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients, but more research is needed to understand its impact on the brain fully.
Should You Use Cannabis to Protect Your Brain?
Medical weed has not been proven to cure or treat Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, the research is only just beginning. We have barely scratched the surface of understanding how cannabis and its various compounds impact the brain.
However, based on limited research, full-spectrum medical marijuana, containing both cannabinoids and terpenes, could provide enhanced benefits. While none of these benefits point toward treating or reversing the disease, current research indicates that weakened disease progression and symptoms are possible.
So, where does this leave you if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with this disease?
Speak to your doctor about the benefits of using medical cannabis. Supporting someone with Alzheimer’s is physically and emotionally draining. It also requires a personalized care plan to help patients and their families.
Note that many states have added Alzheimer’s to their lists of qualifying conditions, so you could qualify for an MMJ card if you have been diagnosed with this condition. On the other hand, this is not something every state has recognized, but we expect this to change as more research becomes available.
Medical cannabis is beneficial for a range of health purposes. Over the years, more and more benefits have been uncovered, which is why so many states have decided to legalize medical weed for a wide range of conditions.
But medical weed should always be taken after consultation with your family physician to get the most benefit from it.
By speaking to a medical professional today, you can discover if your health condition could qualify you for an MMJ card.