A Short Documentary – Cannabis and Alzheimer's Disease | cannabisMD

A Short Documentary – Cannabis and Alzheimer’s Disease

Cannabis and Alzheimers Disease

By: Michael James Kugel

Alzheimer’s Disease

The above “short documentary” begins tragically, with an elderly lady who no longer recognizes her living room or even her own son. The elderly mother says, “I don’t know much about how the relations work.” Her son asks, “you don’t know you’re related to me?” She responds, “yeah.” She then says “I want to go home.” Her son replies, “we are home, ma.” Alzheimer’s disease has begin to take away her precious memories.

Alzheimer’s disease is a condition with the symptoms of dementia. Not all dementia is Alzheimer’s. Some dementia is actually temporary. Alzheimer’s is only common amongst those past age 50. Dementia includes a loss of cognitive abilities like memory, speech, and motor skills.

The elderly woman in the video is having her memories erased. Alzheimer’s disease is “causing her brain to physically wither away and die.” In a typical healthy human brain, there are cells that pass signals from one area of the brain to another. According to the video:

When grandparents speak about ‘the good old days,’ it is thanks to these cells connecting their memory hub with their centers of speech.

There two primary features of Alzheimer’s Disease: amyloid beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Brain signals, like those described above, must pass a small space between each cells. In brains inflicted with Alzheimer’s, this space becomes clogged, causing neuro communication to stop. These clogs are made of amyloid beta protein. The formation of protein clusters are called plaques.

The signals must also cross the long thin part of the cell. In Alzheimer’s patients, this long thin part of the cell is destroyed due to a change in tau protein. The protein causes the cell to then shrivel and die, leaving behind neurofibrillary tangles.

Marijuana and Alzheimer’s Disease

There no currently effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. There is “one promising frontier” however. Cannabis may be a novel solution to treating Alzheimer’s. Cannabinoids are currently at the forefront of Alzheimer’s research. This is because cannabinoids have the potential to reduce and prevent plaque formation.

Phytocannabinoids are the active compounds from the cannabis plant. The most famous cannabinoids in medicine are Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Despite the long-held belief that marijuana kills brain cells, it has actually been shown to induce and help activate the adult hippocampal neurogenesis which produces new brain cells.

CBD had been found effective in treating Alzheimer’s in mouse models. It was concluded after that the next step should be clinical trials, since CBD is well-tolerated by humans. Animal-based preclinical studies do not offer enough assurance, as not all drugs impact species in the same manner.

Shown in a documented peer reviewed journal, marijuana actually has stimulating effects on the brain. Data shows a correlation between marijuana use and a reduction in alzheimer’s symptoms. A study in 1996 showed that marijuana is the best substance to prevent the buildup of plaque in the brain. If patients are diagnosed early enough and plaque formation is slowed or halted (with cannabis), there is a potential “to prevent debilitating and lethal forms of Alzheimer’s.

The video ends with the woman’s son saying, “It’s just such a difference from half an hour ago. You were pacing back and forth, not believing this was your house.” The mother, having just taken medical cannabis looks stunned. “A half an hour ago?” she asks puzzled. “Yes ma’am” says her son, with a sound of happiness in his voice. He gets to once more speak to the woman who raised him while she is in sound mind.

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