Marijuana and Alzheimer’s Disease Part 2

Photo Credit: MaxPixel (https://bit.ly/2lOZd9V).

Photo Credit: MaxPixel (https://bit.ly/2lOZd9V).

In our previous post, we introduced our discussion surrounding the use of cannabis for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and provided an overview of how its cannabinoids could help patients with the condition. To follow that post, we will look into how specific cannabinoids may be able to help with the condition.

One study from 2012 using a synthetic cannabinoid found the cannabinoid protected brain cells from beta-amyloid plaques and improved memory in a rodent model of Alzheimer’s disease. Although the study involved a synthetic cannabinoid, the cannabinoid interacted with cannabinoid receptors as natural cannabinoids would. Additionally, a study using human nerve cells found THC supported the removal of beta-amyloid from the cells. It also reduced inflammation and prevented nerve damage. Another study found THC blocked acetylcholinesterase (AChE), an enzyme which helps produce beta-amyloid plaques. Aside from memory and cognition impairments, marijuana may be able to help relieve other symptoms like behavioral issues, irritability, and aggression. A study from 1997 found THC reduced behavioral issues and increased appetite in patients with Alzheimer’s. Another trial involving 11 patients and published in 2016 found cannabis oil, when added to treatment regimens, helped Alzheimer’s patients with delusions, aggression, irritability, apathy, and sleep.

CBD, on the other hand, may help patients in ways that THC cannot. CBD may be able to reduce symptoms of psychosis and anxiety, and so may be better at treating psychiatric symptoms than THC which could exacerbate these symptoms. Another study from 2014 which was published in the journal Psychopharmacology found regular administration of CBD could also improve memory deficits, and reversed cognitive deficits in animal models of Alzheimer’s. CBD also reduced proteins contributing to the production of beta-amyloid plaques. A 2011 study found CBD contributed to neurogenesis, or the growth of new brain cells, in the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain which regulates memory and is damaged by Alzheimer’s.

This information has been provided by Leaf Science and approved by our Chief Medical Officer.