Many people know Alzheimer's Disease as a form of dementia that develops in old age and takes away one's ability to maintain memories or function cognitively, but many people don't know just how common Alzheimer's actually is. Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia, and about five million Americans suffer from the condition. To put this into perspective, that is equivalent to about one in three senior citizens. While Alzheimer's is associated with old age, Whaxy points out "Alzheimer's actually begins damaging the brain up to a decade prior to the onset of any form of short-term memory loss - the first symptom of the disease."
The development of Alzheimer's begins with the brain undergoing changes in which unusual amounts of proteins are deposited, creating damaging plaques that interfere with healthy brain neuron function. When damaged neurons stop communicating with other neurons, a person suffers severe memory loss and other cognitive disorders. As Alzheimer's progresses, the brain eventually shrinks which results in debilitation and death.
Now, there is hope that cannabis can help treat Alzheimer's in many ways. One way is through the cannabinoids' ability to carry damaging plaques through the blood-brain barrier. Whaxy says, "Depending on the progression of the disease in a particular patient, this may either reduce the progression of the disease, halt its progression, or even begin restoring memories and improving neurological function in the brain." Cannabis' anti-inflammatory properties may also serve as an early preventative against Alzheimer's Disease, which some theorize results from a lifetime of brain inflammation. Cannabis can also treat other symptoms of Alzheimer's (like depression, insomnia, or anxiety), and reduce the negative side effects associated with pharmaceutical medications currently used to treat the condition.
There are multiple studies that suggest THC blocks the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, and therefore prevents the formation of amyloid plaque in Alzheimer's patients. THC is more effective in blocking acetylcholinesterase than the pharmaceuticals, like Aricept and Cognex, currently prescribed to patients. Another study published in Neuron found the endocannabinoid system not only inhibits amyloid effects, but also improves neuroplasticity which allows brain cells to form new connections and handle new types of communications.
Check out the full Whaxy article to learn more about Alzheimer's disease, the studies supporting the use of cannabis for treating the condition, and to read powerful anecdotal testimony provided by Jack Herer. Find it here.