Anyone who knows someone affected by Alzheimer’s knows how truly devastating this degenerative mind disease can truly be. For someone who’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the world can be a very confusing and lonely place. If there is one thing that’s certain, it’s that Alzheimer’s is a completely uncertain reality, one that can be filled with extreme fear and disorientation.
What’s worse is that Alzheimer’s is irreversible and as it progresses works to destroy one’s thinking skills and memory. There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, and patients are left to suffer with this condition that strips them completely of mental function and quality of life. While there is no cure per say, there is hope.
Medical marijuana is showing great promise when it comes to treating Alzheimer’s disease. Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, has shown to possibly reverse some of the brain impairments caused by this terrible disease.
Tests performed in lab mice with Alzheimer’s showed that CBD restored the memory of these mice back to their normal levels. According to Dr. Tim Karl who performed these tests and presented the results at the 2013 annual meeting of the Australian Neuroscience Society, “it basically brings the performance of the animals back to the level of healthy animals. You could say it cured them.”
While not exactly accepted as a “cure” for Alzheimer’s just yet, cannabidiol is showing great promise as a potential lifesaver for the millions of people that suffer from Alzheimer’s worldwide. More than 750,000 people in Canada suffer from Alzheimer’s and in the US over 5 million people have fallen victim to this progressive degenerative disease. If medical marijuana does indeed help with this disease, there are so many people that could see life-changing benefits from it.
How exactly medical marijuana, specifically cannabidiol, work on Alzheimer’s?
Researchers speculate that the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol may contest the underlying factors of Alzheimer’s disease itself. One of the main features of Alzheimer’s is neurodegeneration, which is basically the progressive loss of the function or structure of neurons. With cannabidiol helping to reduce neuroinflammation, neurodegeneration automatically decreases as well.
In an article published by Lisa Eubanks, Ph.D. and Staff Scientist at Scripps Ranch Institute in California, she’s conveyed the fact that THC (the psychoactive component in medical marijuana) is much better at inhibiting Alzheimer’s than approved prescription drugs donepezil and tacrine. She went on to state that “THC and its analogues may provide an improved therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease by simultaneously treating both the symptoms and progression.”
Research in Spain (a known leader in medical marijuana research) seems to show the same thing. A 2013 study performed on mice showed that the stimulation of the cannabinoid receptors in the brain through medical marijuana improves several “altered parameters” such as memory and decreased learning ability.
Stories about the positive effects of medical marijuana on the brain of Alzheimer’s patients seem to echo similar sentiments. At Ohio State University, professor of neuroscience Gary Wenk, Ph.D. has been studying Alzheimer’s for over two decades. According to a statement he made to Time Magazine, he has been “trying to find a drug that will reduce brain inflammation and restore cognitive function in rats for over 25 years; cannabinoids are the first and only class of drugs that have ever been effective.”
As medical marijuana continues to push forward in Canada, the United States and other countries around the world, perhaps it will soon be recognized as a powerful component in the treatment of the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease. For those with Alzheimer’s where even taking a shower can become difficult, these studies come as welcome relief. And for those that love them, medical marijuana may offer just the hope they’re looking for in sparing their loved ones the pain of this absolutely debilitating and progressive degenerative disease.