Medical Conditions

Alzheimer's Disease

A Brief Description

The most common form of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disorder named for Dr. Alois Alzheimer who first diagnosed it in 1906 after performing an autopsy on the brain of a woman who died of an unfamiliar mental illness.

Although the exact cause of the disorder is not known, the disorder damages and eventually destroys brain cells, leading to memory loss and changes in thinking and other brain functions. Alzheimer’s usually develops slowly and gradually gets worse as brain function declines and brain cells eventually wither and die.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include:

  • Difficulty remembering newly learned information
  • Disorientation
  • Mood and behavior changes
  • Deepening confusion about events, time and place
  • Unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers
  • Serious memory loss and behavior changes
  • Difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking

The most recent research, however, shows medical cannabis to be a viable treatment option for those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders.

How Can Cannabis Help?

The human brain is lined with endocannabinoid receptors that are responsible for regulating many body systems including mood, memory, pain, and appetite. When these communication pathways become clogged, as seen with amyloid plaques and tangles in Alzheimer’s patients, the ability to regulate these systems deteriorates, resulting in symptoms like memory loss and mood instability. Medical cannabis binds to the same receptors that the endocannabinoids do, some as perfectly as a key fits a lock, working to fill in the missing pieces of the healthy brain puzzle.

As pointed out by Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s “It’s time for a medical marijuana revolution” report, medical cannabis could significantly reduce the demand for pharmaceutical therapies, which often just add to the confusion and irritability of Alzheimer’s patients. Medical cannabinoids help to remove excess amyloid plaques from the brain by escorting them through the blood-brain barrier, thereby reducing the progression of Alzheimer’s and significantly reducing the severity of symptoms.

Medical cannabis research studies are returning hope to those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other neurological disorders and their loved-ones or caretakers with recent findings and conclusions that the benefits of medical cannabis treatments far outweigh any risks. It has been revealed that cannabinoids can slow or even halt the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by improving the condition of communication pathways in the brain. THC, the best-known psychoactive cannabinoid, prevents brain-clogging plaques from growing larger or from even forming in the brain altogether.

What Does The Research Say?

In a 2006 study by Kim Janda, Ph.D., Janda stated that the study shows “that there is a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which THC may directly affect the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.” Janda’s team found that THC limits the progression of the disease by blocking an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. This enzyme speeds the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

In March of 2014, research experts concluded that CBD, the best-known non-psychoactive cannabinoid in medical cannabis, can actually improve the memory loss and mood instability symptoms experienced by those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. CBD works to reverse the neurological damage in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s by establishing new neurons, in a process called neurogenesis. At the same time, CBD helps to strengthen the body’s natural defenses, allowing the immune system to work smarter in the battle against Alzheimer’s disease.

Links to Research

While research has shown cannabis to be effective in providing palliative and therapeutic effects for some patients, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before starting any new treatment utilizing medical cannabis or discontinuing an existing treatment. The content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.