The disease was discovered in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer. One of his elderly patients displayed what was then described as “curious” symptoms. Curious enough that the doctor performed a detailed autopsy upon his patient’s passing and discovered extensive damage to the brain. Upon further examination, he discovered strange buildups which were specific to the pathology of the newly discovered Alzheimer’s.
The exact pathology of the disease remains unknown but the cause is thought to be build-ups of plaque along neuronal pathways. Accumulation of amyloid-beta and tau proteins can choke off the signals to portions of the brain triggering the death of nerve cells. Further research needs to be done to identify not only the mechanisms through which these build-ups arise but also to understand what conditions in the body prime the nervous system for this heinous disease. We still don’t know if the disease has a genetic component like some cancers or if it is, in fact, a preventable disease. A recent study by the Salk Institute shows that cannabis has the ability to remove amyloid-beta plaque buildups. Other studies have shown cannabis to be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s but the Salk Institute’s study is the first to show not only those qualities but also that cannabis reduces cellular inflammation which is a precursor to the development of amyloid beta plaques and the disease itself.
While one study is not a cure, it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. A clinical trial needs to be performed to verify the abundance of anecdotal evidence already amassing in favor of a cannabis-based cure for Alzheimer’s. Hopefully with heavy hitters like Bill Gates stepping into the fight against Alzheimer’s with a $100M budget a cure is not far off in the horizon.
The cure can’t come fast enough with more and more cases of Alzheimer’s being diagnosed each year caring for the patients is becoming expensive. Our country won’t be able to afford the economic burden of all those sick people. Especially a disease like this one that is a slow and wicked decline. All in all, my dad had it for more than 15 years. Caring for him became expensive and his quality of life at the end was non-existent. Trust me, you all want a cure. You don’t want your mom or your dad to forget who you are like mine did.
The bottom line is that cannabis has been shown to help with neurological disorders in ways that almost no other substance has. If rescheduling it so that it can be studied can save so much as one family from going through what my family did then it needs to happen yesterday. We don’t want a generation of people being economically and emotionally drained as they helplessly watch their loved ones fade into blackness.
Let’s begin with the stages of the disease itself. Firstly, there is a precursor phase called the preclinical stage where the damage to the brain which allows the disease to take hold occurs. This period can last for years. Once the disease itself sets in, generally, it’s broken down into three stages; mild, moderate and severe. The stages can overlap and the symptoms are not confined to one stage or the other.
The mild or early stage symptoms are vague. They can be hard for even close friends and family to notice. It can be something as simple as forgetting a name or something that the patient has just read. Other signs include trouble organizing and planning, misplacing valuable objects and difficulty in social settings. The vagueness of these early symptoms is what often leads to a delay in diagnosis. For instance, my dad has the disease for somewhere between 5-10 years before even his neurologist noticed.
The moderate stage is where things begin to get inconvenient and truly uncomfortable. This is where the symptoms become obvious. The patient will begin confusing words or refusing to do things that were once part of their routine like brushing their teeth. At this stage the patient begins to feel his or herself slipping and during this moderate phase adverse emotions can begin. Unpleasantly, this is actually the longest phase of the disease. So, once the patient becomes irate they can often times stay that way for years.
Watching my dad scream at my mom day in and day out for years was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through. He would get set off when she would ask him things that he no longer remembered how to do. It could be as simple as opening a word document on his computer. The person that he was began to slip away in front of our family and all we could do was watch helplessly. If we would have known that cannabis could both prevent and in some cases reverse these symptoms we would have been treating him with it for years.
The answer is, that it’s truly never too early to start preventative care. CBD and THC are unusual compounds and they can not only reverse some of the effects of Alzheimer’s but they can also help keep your nervous system healthy so the conditions that allow the disease to take hold, So, whether you’re 25 or 75 it can’t be a bad idea to start adding cannabis into your health regimen. As always, consult a physician before altering an Alzheimer’s patient’s treatment but anecdotal evidence and scientific studies thus far suggest that cannabis is a valuable tool for families.
Terpenes are a very broad class of plant derived chemical compounds. They’re found in most plants and cannabis is no exception. Terpenoids are the source of some of the unique smells that plants give off be it cinnamon, cannabis or black pepper. These compounds evaporate easily, hence their fragrant properties. They’ve long been used medicinally for aromatherapy and now scientists are just beginning to study whether or not they have a synergistic effect in conjunction with other beneficial cannabinoids.
In cannabis plants these compounds all working synergistically is called the ‘entourage effect.’ This is one of the principal differences between pharmaceutically distilled CBD and THC isolates versus whole plant extract. The two are fundamentally extract and early scientific forays into the space are suggesting that the entourage effect is indeed potent and that whole plant extract is superior medicinally. Differences in terpenes are predominantly what give various strains of cannabis their distinct smells. These include terpenoids such as beta-caryophyllene which has been shown to heal stomach ulcers and be protective within the human gastrointestinal system.
This same terpene is the lone terpenoid which actually binds to a cannabinoid receptor in the body, the CB2 receptor. This receptor can help the body to fight autoimmune conditions and reduce inflammation. So, you’re wondering how exactly terpenes fit into the Alzheimer’s battle. The answer is that we don’t know exactly at this point. However, if we look at existing science it suggests that terpenes help to amplify the effects of cannabis and its compounds on the human body.
The bottom line is that further studies need to be done and that hasn’t been possible with the US government classifying cannabis as a schedule 1 drug. This classification puts it in in the same breath as things like heroine that have no medical use whatsoever and that simply isn’t the case. Study after study has shown that cannabis has a multitude of medicinal effects. The compound being descheduled so clinical trials can be performed would be a huge step for the pharmaceutical industry. We need to understand what exactly the entourage effect is.
We need to understand how CBD works with THC. We need to understand how CBG works with CBC and how all four compounds function in unison. Then we need to understand if a certain terpene makes all those compounds more effective to treat gastrointestinal issues or neurological disorders. There are so many more questions than answers. The beauty is that, when we have the answers we’ll also have the power in our hands to relieve more pain, cure more diseases and improve the health of more people.
Anxiety disorders are now the United States most common diagnosis for mental health issues. It affects millions of people each year ranging from as young as 18 years old to over 50 years old.
However due to the common global inefficiencies when it comes to mental health care and research many people do not understand their conditions or get diagnosed for effective treatment. This leads to a mental health issue across the united states and the world. Luckily, many who self diagnose or prefer natural treatments have turned to the cannabis industry (USA) for help and they are listening, with many products being developed for both medical and recreational use to deal with anxiety disorders.
This turn towards a cannabis positive mind set has started to educate the wider population that cannabis is not all about getting high and treating glaucoma. Cannabis and its 180 currently discovered cannabinoids have much more potential, with CBD and THC being the main ingredients in most treatments and the focus of most medical studies. This is due to their benefits which have been studied to a certain degree in animals but have also been witnessed through anecdotal witness testimonies. Some treatments have apparently stopped the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, Epilepsy, ADHD as well as many other major and minor illnesses.
Another potential benefit of using cannabis based treatments is that they are better than using modern medications such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) which come with serious side effects i.e. increased use of benzos can lead to Alzheimer’s. Also, it should be mentioned that that cannabis treatments can also be used successfully along side modern treatments to help aid against side effects such chemotherapy for cancer treatment.
A 2016 Time article suggests that there could be numerous other mental health applications for cannabis as a whole, not just the CBD. Cannabis can be used a substitute for opiates and that’s particularly powerful because our country is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. The pros by far outweigh the cons. Yet, cannabis is still considered by our government to have no medical applications whatsoever. Thankfully there is a landmark lawsuit to legalize ‘marihuana’ as the archaic drug laws spell it. Cannabis users and advocates alike should keep their eyes peeled, 2018 might just be the year that the paradigm shifts.