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Alzheimer’s disease is a critical, chronic, neurodegenerative disease whereby sufferers experience deterioration in their brain function. The disease is the causative agent for 60-70% of all cases of dementia, which is a significant risk in old age. The causes of Alzheimer’s are not well understood and the disease doesn’t currently have any form of known reversal or treatment.
Medical science has therefore placed a lot of focus on alleviating the symptoms of the disease to enhance the quality of life among sufferers, and a lot of attention is now turning towards CBD for some answers.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease tends to be slow to develop, with the sufferer beginning to experience lapses in memory, having problems with language or speech, and the point at which diagnosis is most commonly made irrational irritation and confusion.
For Alzheimer’s disease, loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex is often one of its characteristics, which causes atrophy of the brain and universally results in diminished brain capacity. The brain undergoes a sharp decrease in mental ability because of the gradual loss of neurons.
New research has evolved that considers the use of CBD oil as a potential option in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Before we move further, what exactly is CBD oil, and should you use it as a treatment option?
What is CBD?
CBD oil is derived from the plant, Cannabis Sativa. In contrast to its psychoactive cousin THC, CBD serves as a counterpoint to the narcotic element of cannabis, acting without the psychoactive effects.
Unlike THC, CBD has no intoxicating effects but instead works with the body to help enhance the overall health and immune balance.
When administered, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is a system within the body that is composed of two central receptors; CB1 and CB2 receptors, which singly interact with the body in several ways. For more information on cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system see our recent blog: What are cannabinoids.
CBD Oil for Alzheimer’s Disease
Cannabis has been examined for use with neurological disorders for many years; since the time marijuana was said to help with epilepsy, many researchers have worked exhaustively to know what other health conditions the drug may help with.
For example, Drs. Georgia Watt and Tim Karl, in their study for the academic journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, examined the potential for CBD to serve as a neuro-protective, which is a regenerative medicine in Alzheimer’s patients. In the study, Watt and Karl concentrated on CBD’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and the effects it could have on Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Another research carried out by scientist like Carrier et al. in their study were some of the first to examine CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties. Still, in Karl and Watt’s research, they concentrated on what it could mean for neurological cells. The study revealed that CBD works efficiently in lowering reactive gliosis and neuroinflammatory response within the brain, thereby promoting neurogenesis. This basically means that, although CBD doesn’t stop Alzheimer’s disease, it may be able to serve as an efficient agent to stop the typical neuro-inflammatory response.
Karl and Watt also hypothesize that CBD can help neurological cells to regrow healthily, thus replacing any cells damaged via inflammation, and helping slow down the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
In another study conducted by Lim et al. for the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience, medicinal cannabis was used in treating mental and neurological conditions, and Alzheimer’s disease was one of the investigated conditions.
The study by Dr. Lim concluded that, among the 24 reports investigated, cannabis played an active role in reducing agitation and repairing the damage suffered by patients with Alzheimer’s disease. However, the reports they investigated were wrought with poor methodology and deficient descriptions. So while not finding conclusive proof, they did feel that further pursuit of the positive aspects of CBD on Alzheimer’s was worthwhile.
Lastly, in a study by Eubanks et al., researchers for the Journal of Molecular Pharmaceutics examined the molecular link existing between Alzheimer’s disease and marijuana. In the study, researchers pointed out that cannabinoids competitively inhibit certain metabolic enzymes that are significant pathological markers to the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease. While this doesn’t mean that Alzheimer’s can be reversed, it does suggest that it could have an impact on inhibiting its creation in the first place.
It is fair to say that these studies are in the early stages, but it does feel that there is room for hope, that CBD can have a positive effect in protecting against the development of Alzheimer’s, while also supporting the body’s ability to cope with the symptoms.