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Cannabis, CBD oil and dementia

Currently there is no evidence to show that cannabis or cannabis oil (CBD oil) can stop, reverse or prevent dementia.

Can cannabis or CBD oil treat dementia or its symptoms?

There are no research studies that prove cannabis, or products such as cannabis oil (CBD oil), can stop, slow, reverse or prevent the diseases that cause dementia.

Some studies suggest cannabis could help to manage a few behavioural symptoms of dementia, such as agitation and aggression.

But more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of taking cannabis, and whether it is an effective and safe way to tackle dementia symptoms.

If you have any questions or concerns about cannabis use and the risk of dementia or other brain disorders, please talk to your GP.

Read our advice to help reduce your risk of developing dementia.

What is cannabis?

Coconut oil and dementia

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a plant. The dried leaves, flowering parts or resin extracted from the plant is taken recreationally.

Cannabis is made up for two main components – Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol.

What is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?

THC is the main component of cannabis that invokes feelings of sociability, happiness or relaxation.

Products containing more than 0.2% THC are not legally available in the UK.

What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?

Cannabidiol or CBD does not cause any psychoactive or intoxicating effects.

Products that contain CBD are legal and can be bought on the high street or online.

Is there any evidence behind the cannabis and CBD oil claims?

There have been no clinical trials on the effects of cannabis or CBD oil in people living with dementia.

In the lab

A key hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is the build up of clumps of a protein, called amyloid, in the brain. Some studies have shown that components of cannabis, including THC, appear to remove this protein from nerve cells grown in the lab.

Another study that gave both THC and CBD oil to mice with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease showed an improved in learning and had less evidence of amyloid clumps in their bodies.

Research continues to better understand the effects of CBD oil on the brain. Some early evidence suggests that CBD oil may reduce inflammation in the brain, although this has yet to be proven in people.

The truth about clinical trials: 5 big myth busters

Dementia researchers Jason and Harri from UCL

Tackling the symptoms of dementia

Research does suggest that high concentrations of CBD oil could be useful for managing some of the symptoms of dementia such as agitation and anxiety.

A few small clinical trials have assessed the effects of cannabinoids (including THC and synthetic cannabinoids, such as nabilone) on behavioural symptoms of dementia. However, trials and studies so far have generally been small or low quality making it difficult to come to a conclusion.

It is also important to note that the researchers in these studies have used high concentrations of CBD oil that may not be available to buy. These studies have also been short term so we still don’t know what the long term effects of using CBD oil might be.

A study is currently underway at King’s College London that will look at whether a mouth spray containing cannabinoids could be used to reduce symptoms of agitation and aggression in a small group of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Treating and preventing dementia

The jury is still out on whether cannabis or its by-products could be used to treat dementia. A lack of strong research studies mean that dubious and anecdotal reports have taken the place of hard evidence.

No studies or trials have looked into the effects of cannabis or its components on the underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease in people.

Whilst the studies in the laboratory show some promise, we need to understand the wider effects that these components have before we can know whether they have any effect – positive or negative – on the development of Alzheimer’s in people.

There is some evidence that heavy, long-term use of cannabis could have a negative effect on our memory and thinking. Much more research needs to be done to tease apart any potential benefits and drawbacks.

It is also worth noting that many of these studies have involved a particular component of cannabis in isolation. Even if one component is found to influence dementia risk, it doesn’t necessarily mean that taking cannabis would have the same effect.

There is also a large amount of variation in the levels of THC and CBD oil in different strains of the plant so the effects could depend on the type of cannabis used.

Has Alzheimer’s Society ever funded research into cannabis and dementia?

Alzheimer’s Society has never funded research into cannabis and dementia risk, or into cannabis as a potential treatment for dementia symptoms.

This is because we have not received any high-quality applications from researchers intending to investigate these issues.

If we received a high-quality application into cannabis and dementia from a researcher based at a UK university, research institute or NHS trust, then we would certainly consider this for funding.

Currently there is no evidence to show that cannabis or cannabis oil (CBD oil) can stop, reverse or prevent dementia.

CBD Oil for Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is currently the most commonly developed form of dementia and it currently affects over five million individuals in the United States. It is possibly the worst type of dementia as it affects one’s thinking, memory loss, and also behavior. The negative symptoms of this treacherous disease creep up on you slowly and then progressively worsen as time passes, until you reach the point where you are no longer able to cope with daily life.

Alzheimer’s is very sadly a progressive disease that seems to have no end and, in the final stages of the disease, the patient will have lost the ability to have a conversation or react to their environment. It is one of the major causes of death in the elderly and the expected lifespan after diagnosis is between four and eight years, although this figure can increase up to 20 years, in some cases.
There is currently no proven cure for Alzheimer’s disease, yet there are some treatments available that can help manage the symptoms and with ongoing research being conducted, medical professionals are hopeful that a cure will be discovered in the near future.

Traditional Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease

The commonly used treatments for Alzheimer’s are only capable of temporarily slowing the symptoms of dementia from getting worse. The progression of the disease cannot be stopped entirely and, more than anything, it is a way to improve the quality of lives of patients and their family. Recently, there has been some hope given to members of the Alzheimer community and their caregivers as it is thought that cannabinoids play a large part in reducing the harmful symptoms of the degenerative disease.

How Is CBD Oil Used to Treat Alzheimer’s?

Cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors affect a particular part of the brain known as the endocannabinoid system. This intricate internal piece of equipment comprises two receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 is present in each part of the brain, including the hippocampus, which is responsible for our memory function and learning ability. CB2 receptors live in certain immune cells in our brain called microglia. The endocannabinoid system that responds to the signals sent by CBD products is largely responsible for memory and the hippocampus is the first major part of the body to be destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease.

What Is the Latest News with Regards to Treating Alzheimer’s with CBD?

Like with helping with the relief of multiple sclerosis, inflammation, cognitive impairment, and chronic pain, a recent study was conducted focusing on the use of CBD to treat Alzheimer’s disease and it found that the effects of CBD from the plant Cannabis sativa are, indeed, capable of effectively treating disorders in the nervous system, to include Alzheimer’s. Its efficacy comes as a result of cannabinoids ability to protect nerve cells against damage and deteriorating further as well as its antioxidant properties.
The same research contains new findings that CBD oil can significantly reduce the negative effects that Alzheimer’s has on a patient’s overall health as well as improving cognitive ability. It seems that cannabidiol might actually hold the key to treating and slowing the progression of the fatal disease.

CBD Can Reverse Brain Aging

Other studies like this one have also demonstrated how CBD works to reverse the aging process of the brain, which is accelerated by Alzheimer’s. It was found that CBD could reverse dementia, as well as THC, although this is the element found in cannabis responsible for getting you high. CBD is currently legal in many states and is widely used to treat many kinds of medical conditions.

It Reduces Oxidative Stress

It seems that the beneficial qualities of CBD with regards to treating dementia are never-ending. It has also been found to protect against neurotoxicity and help to minimize oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s patients. And while the need for more factual evidence is apparent, the future looks incredibly bright for CBD as a treatment for dementia.

Final Thoughts

CBD oil is making the headlines on a weekly basis as more testimonials emerge from people who have had success using cannabis-based products to treat severe medical conditions. While more research needs to be done on the specific effect of CBD on dementia, there is more than enough evidence to suggest that it could have serious potential as being the sought-after cure for this cruel disease. While there will always be skeptics opposing certain aspects of the efficacy of medical marijuana, the facts don’t lie. Neither do the thousands of people across the world that have found that their own symptoms of dementia have drastically improved since they started using CBD oil to alleviate the mental fog that is so prevalent in Alzheimer’s. 2019 is set to be a promising year for the medical marijuana industry, with more states legalizing the herb as well as more medical facilities opting to prescribe natural remedies as opposed to potentially harmful pharmaceuticals..

This article by Madeleine Taylor originally appeared in SundayScaries.

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Research indicates that cannabidiol (CBD) oil been found to protect against neurotoxicity and help to minimize oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s patients