Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia among the elderly population in Canada. According to Stats Canada “Dementia is the most common type of neurodegenerative disorder. In 2010 an estimated 35.6 million people worldwide were living with dementia, a number that is expected to double in 20 years!”
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias have a deep impact not only those who are diagnosed, but also on the people who are closest to them. Family members have to take on different responsibilities when a relative is diagnosed with dementia. Sons and daughters of a parent with dementia may become caregivers and husbands and wives of the person with dementia see their roles change. They often find themselves in the role of primary caregiver.
At present this is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, nor are there any medications that can stop the progression of this disease. While there are several drugs available that may help with some symptoms, they are not all that effective and can have negative side effects… But there may be an alternative treatment that may give those who are suffering from this debilitating disease and their families some hope, and that treatment may be medicinal cannabis.
Although there has not been much research available on using medicinal cannabis as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, one of the first clinical studies was conducted by a team of researchers from the Abarbanel Mental Health Center and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University along with the Department of Psychology at Bar-Ilan University. The researchers observed the effects of medicinal cannabis on 11 Alzheimer’s patients over a four week period. At the end of the study 10 of the 11 subjects completed that trial and even though the study was quite small the results were very optimistic… The researchers observed and recorded a “significant reduction” in behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. The researchers conclusion was … “Adding medical cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s disease patients’ pharmacotherapy is a safe and promising treatment option.”
Another promising study published in The Journal of Alzheimers Disease demonstrated that THC tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical responsible for the psychoactive properties in cannabis when given in very small doses slowed the formulation of the beta-amyloid protein, which strongly implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, begins destroying synapses before it clumps into plaques that lead to nerve cell death. According to the study… “These sets of data strongly suggest that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways.”
Also preliminary lab studies from the Salk Institute also demonstrated that THC and other compounds found in cannabis reduced beta amyloid proteins in human neurons. As quoted by David Schubert Senior author from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California….“Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells.”
In the study… researchers found that by exposing beta amyloid proteins to THC, it reduced the levels of beta amyloid, stopped the inflammatory response from the nerve cells caused by beta amyloid and allowed the nerve sells to survive. Antonio Currais, a postdoctoral researcher and first author on the paper noted: “Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves. When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.” See Aging and Mechanisms of Disease
Watch video featuring Clint Warner author of Marijuana Gateway to Health: How Cannabis Protects Us from Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease
More abstracts British Journal of Pharmacology