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Can Cannabis Help Patients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?

Recent research suggests that cannabis may have potential benefits in the treatment of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A systematic review conducted by a reputable research institute delved into the effects of both regular cannabis use and synthetic cannabinoids on older adults with neurodegenerative diseases.

The study found that cannabis, particularly synthetic cannabinoid compounds, could have a positive impact on dementia symptoms. A pilot study exploring marijuana administration in older adults demonstrated that cannabis users exhibited the same effect on hippocampal volume as healthy controls, indicating a potential link between cannabis use and hippocampal health.

In this brief exploration, we discuss the scientific landscape to uncover the potential role of cannabis in providing relief and support for those affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Can Cannabis Treat Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease?

Research on the potential use of cannabis in treating dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is still in its early stages, and findings are mixed. The interest in affordable cannabis options, such as those marketed as the cheapest weed online, reflects a growing accessibility for patients exploring alternative treatments. Some studies have suggested that certain compounds in cannabis, like cannabinoids, may have therapeutic effects for neurodegenerative disorders.

A systematic review of studies examining the treatment of dementia found that cannabinoids, both natural and synthetic, could potentially alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life in some cases. Some pilot studies have shown significant improvements in neuropsychiatric symptoms.

However, the evidence is not yet strong enough to establish cannabis as a standard treatment for dementia. Moreover, long-term cannabis use may pose risks, and factors like the type of dementia (e.g., Alzheimer’s, vascular, frontotemporal, young onset), severity of symptoms, and individual responses need consideration.

Research on Cannabis and Alzheimer’s Disease

Research on Cannabis and Alzheimer’s Disease

Research on cannabis and Alzheimer’s disease is a dynamic area of study, with investigations spanning various aspects of the potential benefits and risks associated with cannabis use. In a systematic review of observational studies, researchers explored the impact of cannabis on dementia symptoms, including those associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Some small clinical trials indicated significant improvements in neuropsychiatric symptoms among individuals with severe dementia, suggesting potential benefits. Synthetic cannabinoids, studied in pilot studies, demonstrated the potential to treat dementia symptoms, offering a glimpse into medical cannabinoids’ therapeutic potential.

However, more research, particularly in the form of well-funded clinical trials, is needed to establish the safety, efficacy, and long-term effects of cannabis in addressing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Cannabis and Cognitive Function

Cannabis and its impact on cognitive function have been subjects of interest, with research exploring various dimensions of this relationship.

A systematic review of observational studies has examined the cognitive effects of cannabis use, particularly in older adults. Small clinical trials and pilot studies have delved into the potential therapeutic effects of synthetic cannabinoids on cognitive function, presenting intriguing possibilities for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and symptoms associated with severe dementia.

However, the research landscape indicates a need for more extensive studies and clinical trials to fully understand the long-term impact, especially in the context of chronic marijuana use.

Clinical Effectiveness of Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Dementia

The clinical effectiveness of medical cannabis in the treatment of dementia, including various forms such as young onset dementia and vascular dementia, is a topic under intense scrutiny. Various studies, including systematic reviews and small clinical trials, have explored the potential benefits of cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in cannabis.

These compounds, whether natural or synthetic, interact with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, influencing brain structure, blood flow, and nerve cells.

Some research suggests that medical cannabis may alleviate symptoms of dementia, from psychological and behavioural symptoms to the risk of developing dementia.

Potential Benefits of Cannabis for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients

Potential Benefits of Cannabis for Dementia and Alzheimer's Patients

There are five Benefits of Cannabis for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients are given below:

1. Treatment of Dementia Symptoms

A systematic review of research on cannabis and dementia suggests that cannabinoids, the chemical compounds found in cannabis, may hold promise in the treatment of dementia symptoms. Some studies indicate that cannabinoids could have neuroprotective effects on nerve cells, potentially slowing down the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

2. Alleviating Behavioural Symptoms

Research funded by health organizations, including Health Canada, has explored the impact of cannabis on behavioural symptoms associated with dementia. Pilot studies have shown that medical cannabis may help in managing psychological symptoms and reducing caregiver burden in Alzheimer’s disease patients.

3. Neuroprotective Effects

Synthetic cannabinoids and compounds found in cannabis may have neuroprotective properties, safeguarding nerve cells from damage. It could potentially mitigate the progression of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, though more research is needed to fully understand the extent of these effects.

4. Impact on Brain Structure

Studies have explored the impact of cannabis on brain structure, including hippocampal volume. While chronic marijuana use may be associated with hippocampal atrophy, research suggests that cannabinoids might influence blood flow, potentially mitigating hippocampal hypoperfusion observed in dementia patients.

5. Potential in Frontotemporal Dementia

Frontotemporal dementia presents unique challenges, and cannabis research offers insights into its potential benefits. Studies have investigated the impact of cannabinoids on behavioural symptoms associated with this form of dementia, hinting at potential avenues for future treatment.

How to Approach Cannabis Use for Dementia and Alzheimer’s

Recent studies, including a systematic review funded by the Alzheimer Society, have explored the potential impact of cannabis on symptoms of dementia. The research indicates that certain chemical compounds called cannabinoids found in cannabis may influence factors such as inflammation, nerve cell protection, and behavioural symptoms associated with dementia.

Factors like the type of cannabinoids (synthetic or natural) and administration methods may play a role. Individuals, especially older adults, should consult with healthcare professionals before considering cannabis use for dementia, taking into account risk factors, potential benefits, and the overall lack of long-term data.

Final Thoughts

Various research suggests that cannabis may offer potential benefits for patients dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies indicate that certain compounds in cannabis, such as THC and CBD, could have neuroprotective properties, potentially slowing the progression of cognitive decline.

While some patients report symptom relief, the medical community emphasizes the importance of cautious exploration, given the complexity of these neurodegenerative disorders.

As regulations evolve and more scientific evidence surfaces, cannabis’s role in managing dementia and Alzheimer’s will become clearer, offering hope for improved therapeutic options in the future.

Source

  • Seok Hee Kim, Jin Won Yang, Kyung Han Kim, Jong Uk Kim, and Tae Han Yook1, (December 31, 2019) A Review on Studies of Marijuana for Alzheimer’s Disease – Focusing on CBD, THC
  • Kwakye Peprah, and Suzanne McCormack (July 17, 2019) Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Dementia: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines
  • Rebecca D. Crean, Natania A. Crane,and Barbara J. Mason (March 1, 2011) An Evidence Based Review of Acute and Long-Term Effects of Cannabis Use on Executive Cognitive Functions
  • Amresh Shrivastava, Megan Johnston, and Ming Tsuang (July – September) Cannabis use and cognitive dysfunction
  • Tahereh Farkhondeh, Haroon Khan, Michael Aschner, Fariborz Samini, Ali M Pourbagher-Shahri, Hamed Aramjoo (May 19, 2020) Impact of Cannabis-Based Medicine on Alzheimer’s Disease by Focusing on the Amyloid β-Modifications: A Systematic Study
  • Genevieve Z. Steiner-Lim, Madilyn Coles, Kayla Jaye, Najwa-Joelle Metri, Ali S. Butt (2nd February 2011) Medicinal Cannabis for Alzheimer’s Disease

I’m Zoey Roy, a Cannabis Compliance Specialist and Cannabis Activist. I am experienced in guiding individuals and businesses through complex cannabis regulations. With a Bachelor’s degree in Research from McGill University, I’ve worked at Neptune Wellness for 4 years as a senior researcher. Now I serve as a Cannabis Industry Analyst at Tilray Brands, Inc. I provide essential support in ensuring compliance, educating clients, and facilitating legal requirements. My expertise extends to marketing and laboratory skills, making me a well-rounded professional in the field.