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Meds Alzheimer's Disease

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
CANNABINOIDS REMOVE PLAQUE-FORMING ALZHEIMER’S PROTEINS FROM BRAIN CELLS
Preliminary lab studies at the Salk Institute find THC reduces beta amyloid proteins in human neurons



LA JOLLA–Salk Institute scientists have found preliminary evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds found in marijuana can promote the cellular removal of amyloid beta, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

While these exploratory studies were conducted in neurons grown in the laboratory, they may offer insight into the role of inflammation in Alzheimer’s disease and could provide clues to developing novel therapeutics for the disorder.

“Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” says Salk Professor David Schubert, the senior author of the paper.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder that leads to memory loss and can seriously impair a person’s ability to carry out daily tasks. It affects more than five million Americans according to the National Institutes of Health, and is a leading cause of death. It is also the most common cause of dementia and its incidence is expected to triple during the next 50 years.

It has long been known that amyloid beta accumulates within the nerve cells of the aging brain well before the appearance of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and plaques. Amyloid beta is a major component of the plaque deposits that are a hallmark of the disease. But the precise role of amyloid beta and the plaques it forms in the disease process remains unclear.


David Schubert, Professor of Salk’s Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory


Click here for a high resolution image

Credit: Salk Institute

In a manuscript published in June 2016’s Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, the Salk team studied nerve cells altered to produce high levels of amyloid beta to mimic aspects of Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers found that high levels of amyloid beta were associated with cellular inflammation and higher rates of neuron death. They demonstrated that exposing the cells to THC reduced amyloid beta protein levels and eliminated the inflammatory response from the nerve cells caused by the protein, thereby allowing the nerve cells to survive.

“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” says Antonio Currais, a postdoctoral researcher in Schubert’s laboratory and first author of the paper. “When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”

Brain cells have switches known as receptors that can be activated by endocannabinoids, a class of lipid molecules made by the body that are used for intercellular signaling in the brain. The psychoactive effects of marijuana are caused by THC, a molecule similar in activity to endocannabinoids that can activate the same receptors. Physical activity results in the production of endocannabinoids and some studies have shown that exercise may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Schubert emphasized that his team’s findings were conducted in exploratory laboratory models, and that the use of THC-like compounds as a therapy would need to be tested in clinical trials.

In separate but related research, his lab found an Alzheimer’s drug candidate called J147 that also removes amyloid beta from nerve cells and reduces the inflammatory response in both nerve cells and the brain. It was the study of J147 that led the scientists to discover that endocannabinoids are involved in the removal of amyloid beta and the reduction of inflammation.

Other authors on the paper include Oswald Quehenberger and Aaron Armando at the University of California, San Diego; and Pamela Maher and Daniel Daughtery at the Salk Institute.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, The Burns Foundation and The Bundy Foundation.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
And here is an article reporting dramatically increased incidents of Alzheimer's so your post is very timely. Diseases don't just pop up out of nowhere. Yeah, Alzheimer's and all other similar diseases were once all lumped together as geriatric dementia so being able to distinguish Alzheimer's from others certainly would contribute to a rise in reported incidents. But the rate of increase is still increasing and, much like diverticulitis which was unknown 50 years ago, I believe its largely due to environmental factors and particularly highly processed food.

U.S. death rate from Alzheimer's rose dramatically over 15 years
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Positive Effects of Medical Marijuana on Alzheimer’s Prevention



A preclinical study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that very small doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), can slow the production of toxic clumps of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain, which are thought to kick start the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

In a healthy brain, these protein fragments are broken down and eliminated. For those with Alzheimer’s disease, the fragments accumulate to form hard, insoluble plaques.

The study supports the results of previous research that found evidence of the protective effects of cannabinoids, including THC, on patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

Back in 2006, Kim Janda, a chemistry professor at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and his colleagues published the first study showing that THC might have a positive effect in fighting Alzheimer’s.

“It was one of first papers that showed there could possibly be a link,” Janda said. “There was huge pushback when we published it.”

Since then, many other studies have been undertaken, and the news keeps getting better.

Researchers from the Abarbanel Mental Health Center, the Medical Faculty at Tel-Aviv University and the Department of Psychology at Bar-Ilan University have also conducted a study to observe the effects of cannabis on Alzheimer’s.

The Israeli study observed the effects of medical marijuana on 11 people living with Alzheimer’s over the course of four weeks. Ten participants finished the trial.

Despite the small size of the study, researchers concluded that: “Adding medical cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s patients’ pharmacotherapy is a safe and promising treatment option.”

More research is obviously needed to support a long-range study with proper control groups.

With the anti-science administration in the White House, funding for such research may be difficult to come by at the moment.

But, if our current leaders could look beyond their preconceived and mostly erroneous views of cannabis, it would be worth it for the government to join the rest of the scientific world.

Especially considering that in the United States there are 76 million baby-boomers, and they are living longer than ever. Studies have warned that as many as 28 million of them could develop Alzheimer’s.

The cost of caring for them could exceed $300 billion—that is unless the Trump administration has its way and cuts all available medical care. But that’s another story.

Those baby boomers who are already disposed to consuming cannabis may be a step ahead of their friends.

So, if you’re reading this, join the folks who are taking the decision into their own hands and warding off Alzheimer’s with a simple and pleasant, remedy.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Alzheimer's Disease - How Cannabinoids Could Slow Progression



Here is how cannabinoids like THC and CBD could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. The next step: a clinical trial.



Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the most significant challenges to the health of our society, especially with an aging population. In Part I, I covered how THC is being tested to treat certain Alzheimer’s symptoms. But a drug that goes beyond treating symptoms and actually slows or prevents Alzheimer’s would be a game changer. Here in Part II, I will review how cannabinoids could potentially slow the rate of disease progression.

Let me state up front that while studies done so far are intriguing, we do not yet have evidence in humans that cannabinoids will work. We also won’t know for a while. Because disease progression happens slowly over years, clinical trials have to follow patients for a long time to see if the drug has an effect. This makes these studies lengthy and very expensive.

Instead what we have are a lot of studies in cells and animals. These models of Alzheimer’s are imperfect and a positive result does not necessarily translate to humans. However, there is good news – one company thought that these results were strong enough to invest in a clinical trial.



The Brain of an Alzheimer’s Patient
Before we get into cannabinoids, let’s review some basics of what happens in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient. For further reading, this website has a good explanation of Alzheimer’s pathogenesis. I will present below the minimum amount you need to know to understand how cannabinoids might work in Alzheimer’s.

There are two proteins that go awry in Alzheimer’s: amyloid beta (Aβ) and tau. Proteins normally fold into a unique 3D shape, but these proteins misfold in a way that causes them to aggregate and cause neural damage.

  • is a fragment of a larger protein that forms clumps deposited outside of neurons, called senile plaques.

Amyloid plaque in the brain of an Alzheimer’s Disease patient [neuropathology-web.org]

  • Tau is an intracellular protein which can become hyperphosphorylated and also clump together, forming neurofibrillary tangles.

Neurofibrillary tangles in brain of Alzheimer’s Disease patient [Wikipedia]

The next component of Alzheimer’s is neuroinflammation. Two types of immune cells are present in the brain: astrocytes and microglia. These cells become activated in Alzheimer’s and produce high levels of inflammation and oxidative stress.


Levels of the cannabinoid CB2 receptor are elevated in Alzheimer’s, predominantly on the immune cells surrounding Aβ plaques.


Blue glial cells in brain of Alzheimer’s Disease patient [neuropathology-web.org]

It is believed that everything described above creates a neurotoxic environment, which eventually leads to neurodegeneration and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.




Cannabinoids Hit Multiple Steps in Alzheimer’s Disease
Now that we know some of the processes that lead to Alzheimer’s Disease, how can cannabinoids affect these mechanisms? Many drug candidates have targeted just a single aspect, for example an antibody against Aβ or against tau. In contrast, components of cannabis seem to inhibit almost every step of Alzheimer’s.

The studies below are not meant to be a comprehensive list, but highlight key examples of different mechanisms.

Amyloid Plaques
What are the different ways to reduce amyloid plaques? You can reduce levels of Aβ, either by reducing its parent protein APP or by inhibiting its processing into Aβ. You can inhibit aggregation of Aβ into plaques. You can also remove existing plaques.

Amazingly, cannabis constituents can do all three of these!

Tau Protein
Tau protein aggregation is driven by hyperphosphorylation. Multiple components of cannabis can inhibit tau hyperphosphorylation.

Neuroinflammation & Oxidative Stress
There are many studies showing anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of cannabinoids. I will just mention a few here that are relevant to Alzheimer’s

Neurotoxicity


Synergistic Activity of Cannabinoids in Alzheimers?

[Wikipedia]

Given the mechanisms of cannabinoids in the prior section, it should be no surprise that they have positive effects in multiple animal models of Alzheimer’s Disease.


I want to highlight one study in particular because it examined whether THC and CBD could perform better together than when either one was given alone. This is yet another example of the entourage effect.

This 2015 study examined 4 different treatments using a mouse model of Alzheimer’s (the transgenic AβPP/PS1 model):

  • Vehicle (no drug)
  • THC alone
  • CBD alone
  • THC+CBD
After 5 weeks of treatment (and a washout period to eliminate any acute effects of the drugs), several things were tested: memory, Aβ levels, plaque-associated immune cells, expression of inflammatory molecules, and others.

Both THC and CBD showed improvements for many of these measures. However, there were several for which the combination of THC+CBD performed numerically better than either cannabinoid alone:

  • Learning performance
  • Total cortex amyloid
  • Soluble Aβ42 levels (this is the most toxic form)
  • Plaque-associated glial cells
  • Expression of certain pro-inflammatory molecules
These results indicate that the combination of THC and CBD may be a better treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease than either cannabinoid alone.

A later 2016 study performed a similar experiment in mice lacking the CB2 receptor. They showed that the THC+CBD treatment did not depend on the CB2 receptor. However, this may indicate that THC+CBD is not optimally activating the CB2 receptor and that the addition of a potent CB2 agonist (such as the terpene β-caryophyllene) may result in additional synergistic activity.



Upcoming Clinical Trials of Cannabinoids in Alzheimer’s

[Flickr/ Myfuturedotcom]

We now have a large amount of evidence from lab experiments showing that cannabinoids could slow progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. However, multiple other drugs that performed well in similar experiments ended up failing in clinical trials.


The million dollar question: will anybody pay for the long and expensive clinical trials necessary to prove that a cannabinoid-based medicine actually works in humans with Alzheimer’s Disease?

Things are looking surprisingly good. A company called India Globalization Capital has become the exclusive licensee of a patent filed by the University of South Florida, entitled “THC as a Potential Therapeutic Agent for Alzheimer’s Disease.”

The company is developing a proprietary product called IGC-AD1, which contains low doses of THC. According to their CEO:

“We are putting the finishing touches on our products, which may include filing additional patents, and we very much expect to start pursuing clinical trials for our Alzheimer’s product and others this year.”

I have not yet seen any details of a clinical study posted in clinicaltrials.gov, but I am keeping my eye out and will let you know when I see something. I am interested in knowing whether their product contains only THC or if it will also contain CBD. (If you are interested in things like new clinical trial startups, you may want to join the weekly medical newsletter).
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
The actual study has also been posted here.

EVIDENCE INDICATES CBD IS BENEFICIAL FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, REVIEW FINDS

A new research review investigating CBD’s potential therapeutic properties for Alzheimer’s disease suggests the compound could be beneficial for treating the neurodegenerative disease.
Cannabidiol (CBD), an all-natural and non-psychoactive cannabinoid derived from cannabis, could be beneficial for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, according to findings in a new research review published in Frontiers in Pharmacology. Australian researchers examined the available articles that have investigated CBD’s effects on the debilitating neurodegenerative disease and concluded that the compound appears to elicit multiple effects that could be therapeutically beneficial.

The researchers – Tim Karl and Carl Group – explain that they were prompted to conduct the review because CBD has shown to possess neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties in vitro. These properties suggest that the compound could be therapeutically beneficial for reducing or even inhibiting the cognitive and functional impairment that occurs with Alzheimer’s disease.

Karl and Group discovered that CBD shows promise for therapeutic application for Alzheimer’s. In vivo studies show that CBD has the ability to reduce reactive gliosis and the neuroinflammatory response, which has been linked to a significant portion of the neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s and the disease’s progression. Findings also indicate that CBD promotes neurogenesis, or the growth and development of neurons, to in turn reduce the deterioration of cognitive functions.

In preclinical animal studies, CBD has shown to reverse and prevent the development of cognitive deficits. In one, three weeks of daily CBD treatments was effective at reversing the cognitive deficits of mice with injection-induced Alzheimer’s disease. Another found that eight months of CBD treatments helped prevent the development of social recognition memory deficits.

Some studies also suggest that CBD’s therapeutic effects for Alzheimer’s disease are even greater when combined with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the well-known psychoactive compound. In one study, a drug containing CBD and THC decreased gliosis and reduced the buildup of alpha beta and tau. Additionally, the researchers discovered, a combined CBD and THC treatment appears to offer greater anti-dementia effects while avoiding the euphoric effects that develop when taking THC alone.

“The studies reviewed in this mini review provide “proof of principle” for the therapeutic benefits CBD and possibly CBD-THC combinations pose for AD therapy,” the review concludes.


An estimated
5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, and as of now there is no cure. The disease takes more lives than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. Karl and Group believe their review’s findings are encouraging and urge for clinical trials so that CBD’s potential benefits for Alzheimer’s disease can be tested for efficacy and safety on human subjects.

“The studies discussed here provide promising preliminary data and the translation of this preclinical work into the clinical setting could be realized relatively quickly: CBD is readily available, appears to only have limited side effects and is safe for human use.”





 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
The Effects of Medical Marijuana on Alzheimer’s Treatment
Marijuana is a controversial topic in the medical community, with some well-respected doctors advocating for its use and others concerned about its addictive properties and long term effects. As researchers continue to explore the drug as a potential treatment to chronic and terminal illnesses, some studies are focusing their efforts on the effects of medical marijuana on Alzheimer’s treatment and symptoms.



Learn more about these studies and why more work needs to be done in evaluating it as a treatment for the disease.

Medical Marijuana Brings Controversy to the Medical Community
Medical marijuana or medical cannabis has been used throughout the world and for thousands of years to treat disease or alleviate symptoms from disease.

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two medical marijuana medications in pill form, “dronabinol” and “nabilone.” These two drugs are being used to treat nausea caused by chemotherapy and increase the appetites of people with AIDS.

However, because of its addictive properties and unknown long term effects, its usage today is controversial in the medical community. While medical marijuana has been shown to reduce nausea in people undergoing chemotherapy and help people living with HIV/AIDS some medical professionals are wary of using it as a treatment method.

Several organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine, have issued statements opposing its usage for medical treatment purposes.

The Effects of Medical Marijuana on Alzheimer’s Prevention
A preclinical study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that very small doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a chemical found in marijuana, can slow the production of beta-amyloid proteins, thought to be a hallmark characteristic and key contributor to the progression of Alzheimer’s.

The study, published in 2014, is among others to support the effectiveness of THC in prohibiting the growth of toxic amyloid plagues.

Co-author of the study, Neel Nabar, cautions against drawing quick conclusions from their study saying:

“It’s important to keep in mind that just because a drug may be effective doesn’t mean it can be safely used by anyone. However, these findings may lead to the development of related compounds that are safe, legal, and useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Another study from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California has also found that tetrahydrocannabinol and other compounds found in marijuana may reduce the amount of beta amyloid in the brain. Beta amyloid is a hallmark characteristic of Alzheimer’s and is commonly thought to cause the neurodegenerative disease.

While the findings are preliminary, researchers are optimistic about their findings. David Schubert, professor at the Salk Institute and senior author on the study says, “Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells.”

In the study, researchers found that by exposing beta amyloid proteins to THC, it reduced the levels of beta amyloid, stopped the inflammatory response from the nerve cells caused by beta amyloid and allowed the nerve sells to survive. Antonio Currais, a postdoctoral researcher and first author on the paper noted:

“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves. When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”

Researchers caution that their findings were conducted in a laboratory model and that further research needs to be done in a clinical trial before any conclusive evidence can be produced.

Using Medical Marijuana to Treat Dementia
While researchers have seen some success in using medical marijuana to fight the formation of beta amyloid plaques, studies are showing differing results in using it to treat the disease.

A research team from Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands, recently investigated the effects of medical marijuana on symptoms of dementia including aggression, anxiety, depression, insomnia and hallucinations, and did not see a statistically significant difference when using medical marijuana to treat symptoms associated with the disease.

The team divided their 50 participants into two groups with one group receiving 1.5 mg of medical marijuana pills and the other receiving a placebo pill. Participants took the pill three times a day for three weeks. After comparing the behavioral symptoms of both groups, researchers found there was no difference in the two groups.

Contrarily, a recent study published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has concluded that cannabis extract containing THC can relieve these symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Researchers from the Abarbanel Mental Health Center and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University along with the Department of Psychology at Bar-Ilan University conducted the study, which was one of the first clinical studies observing the effects of cannabis on Alzheimer’s.

The study observed the effects of medical marijuana on 11 people living with Alzheimer’s over the course of 4 weeks. 10 participants finished the trial. Despite the small size of the study, researchers concluded that:

“Adding medical cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s patients’ pharmacotherapy is a safe and promising treatment option.”
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
How Marijuana’s THC Breaks Down The Toxic Plaques Of Alzheimer’s Disease


In 1906, scientist Alois Alzheimer was the first to describe the toxic plaques he found in the microscopic spaces between nerve cells in the brain. More than a century later, we know his name because over five million Americans suffer from the disease named for him. It is expected to affect three times that many people within 50 years as a new case is identified every 68 seconds.

Two abnormalities found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease, or AD, are the existence of tangles of misfolded proteins and reduced connections between cells, causing diminished function and cell death. In advanced stages, the brain shrinks in affected areas.

A third abnormality is the build up of plaques, especially in the area of the brain regulating memory. Plaques are made up of peptides like amyloid-beta or Abeta. It is not yet known if plaques could be helping to cause Alzheimer’s disease or whether they are one of the results of the condition.

There is no drug currently available that prevents or reverses AD. Some clinicians argue whether the efficacy of available prescription therapies are worth their high price. This opens the door to great hopes from some that cannabis may hold a better answer for these patients.

In a 2006 study published in Molecular Pharmaceutics, researchers concluded “THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of Abeta aggregation” compared to currently available pharmaceuticals.

Another study published July 2014 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease investigated whether THC could slow or halt the well-known symptoms of AD.

“These sets of data strongly suggest that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways,” according to the study.

In 2016, Salk Institute scientist David Schubert announced, “although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells.”

Researchers in the Netherlands studied 50 patients with dementia, which is most often caused by AD. They found no therapeutic effect of cannabinoid therapy. A smaller study of 11 patients in Israel concluded that “delusions, agitation/aggression, irritability, apathy, sleep and caregiver distress” were all reduced with the help of cannabis.

Cannabis will not be a panacea for all that ails us. There is some hope in these early studies of how cannabis may help patients with Alzheimer’s, but it is still too early to make promises. Possible connections between cannabis and AD are turning the heads of some of the finest researchers from Stanford to Tel Aviv University. That may be enough to inspire more studies and continued hope.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Study: Cannabis More Effective Than Pharmaceutical Drugs for Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases Like Alzheimer’s


Singer and song-writer Willie Nelson, a known avid marijuana user, is still going strong at age 85. Image Source.

by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News


The prevailing safety concerns about marijuana from mainstream medicine, mainstream media, and government officials are focused on the brain. Somehow getting “high on pot” is associated with brain damage. And brain damage is the battle cry of marijuana prohibitionists.

This is one factor that has contributed toward cannabidiol’s (CBD) more widespread acceptance for medicinal purposes for children and adults.

CBD is without THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the cannabinoid among over 100 in cannabis that has the psychotropic effect of euphoria for most. The few who get disturbed from this effect are often unable to “go with the flow” and experience confusion, anxiety, fear, or paranoia.

But these negative sensations do not induce physiological brain damage, and it’s possible for some individuals to suffer psychologically from an adverse mental effect with just about any mental or emotional trauma.

An earlier Health Impact News article presented the truth about this myth and how it started. It also provides information that points out the fact that cannabis is a brain health herb.

In fact, full spectrum cannabis with THC included has been reported empirically by individuals and scientific studies to do the opposite of damaging the brain: It apparently heals brain damage.

Study Demonstrates THC’s Ability to Reverse Amyloid Plaque
A June 2016 in-vitro study titled, Amyloid proteotoxicity initiates an inflammatory response blocked by cannabinoids, published in Nature Partner Journal – Aging and Mechanics of Disease, used a cultured brain tissue to better study the biochemical and cellular mechanics involved.

The study was conducted at the Salk Institute of La Jolla, California, and coordinated with the University of California in San Diego. The study was funded by The Burns Foundation, The Bundy Foundation, and, surprisingly, the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

There have been other similar studies prior to 2016, but this one appears to be one of the most compelling and unique studies. It discovered cannabis with THC removes the beta-protein from within brain cells. This protein is toxic and capable of creating an inflammatory response within the cell.

Previous cannabis and pharmaceutical studies and clinical efforts to reverse Alzheimer’s or other neuro-degenerative diseases focused on the amyloid plaque’s activity outside the cells. In other words, the focus was on the outcome of beta-amyloid plaque and symptoms of Alzheimer’s, not its intracellular cause.

From the study’s introduction:

Nerve cell death from the accumulation of aggregated or amyloid-like proteins is a common theme in most age-dependent neurodegenerative diseases. However, there are no drugs that significantly inhibit cell death associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s or Huntington’s diseases. This could be because most interest has been in the late manifestations of the disease, not in the initial changes in cell metabolism that ultimately lead to nerve cell death. (emphasis added) (Source)

Salk Professor David Schubert, senior study report author explained:

Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells. (Source)

From the study’s results:

Cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] stimulate the removal of intraneuronal Aβ [amyloid beta], block the inflammatory response, and are protective. Altogether these data show that there is a complex and likely autocatalytic inflammatory response within nerve cells caused by the accumulation of intracellular Aβ, and that this early form of proteotoxicity can be blocked by the activation of cannabinoid receptors. (Complete study text)

The researchers also tested multiple compounds from pharmaceutical drugs. The results were poor, while cannabinoid results were very promising. You can find complete lists of those compounds at the very bottom of the complete study text under “supplementary lists”.

How This Translates to Real Life Situations
This means that using cannabis for any reason prevents amyloid beta formations and brain cell inflammation significantly, greatly reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases by eliminating the root cause before any symptoms arise, or stated simply, nipping it in the bud.

An excellent real-life example is country singer/songwriter and co-founder of FarmAid, Willie Nelson, who at 85 is still doing concert tours throughout the nation, despite rumors of failing health in his tour bus, in which a journalist once reported his inability to keep up with Willie’s pot puffing. Now he uses a heated vaporizer instead of smoking joints to avoid harming his throat. (Source)

This is not an endorsement of heavy pot smoking for recreational purposes. This is a real-life example of how cannabis does NOT kill brain cells.

Nevertheless, mainstream media journalists who rely on available public medical “experts” repeatedly parrot their concerns about negative long-term effects of cannabis on the brain.

Wherever cannabis has been legalized to any extent, there is a growing trend among seniors who are dropping their prescription medications by replacing them with marijuana. (Source)


Ignoring this study and others while inhibiting unbiased cannabis research due to federal cannabis laws contributes to poor public health, iatrogenic diseases, and earlier deaths

As mentioned in this article’s featured study, there have been other similar tests in the past regarding cannabis’ efficacy and safety for treating or preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Some of them can be accessed in this earlier Health Impact News article.


 

Shredder

Dogs like me
Does anyone know if cannabis helps those in full blown dementia?

We have a neighbor with dementia, but I've been hesitant to say anything. The guy, a former high school principle and a church board member is getting pretty bad. I'm weighing letting everyone on my road know I'm growing herb, including two cops, with the chance I could help the poor guy out. I'm afraid they won't go for my suggestion, and I'll be exposed. Telling the guys wife is pretty much like putting up a billboard. If I know for sure it could help it might be worth it.
 

Baron23

Well-Known Member
Does anyone know if cannabis helps those in full blown dementia?

We have a neighbor with dementia, but I've been hesitant to say anything. The guy, a former high school principle and a church board member is getting pretty bad. I'm weighing letting everyone on my road know I'm growing herb, including two cops, with the chance I could help the poor guy out. I'm afraid they won't go for my suggestion, and I'll be exposed. Telling the guys wife is pretty much like putting up a billboard. If I know for sure it could help it might be worth it.

Researchers in the Netherlands studied 50 patients with dementia, which is most often caused by AD. They found no therapeutic effect of cannabinoid therapy. A smaller study of 11 patients in Israel concluded that “delusions, agitation/aggression, irritability, apathy, sleep and caregiver distress” were all reduced with the help of cannabis.
This is not to say that I think you should advertise your status as a grower and user. I have no idea if that's a good idea or not. However, I believe that the quote above is more related to alleviation of some of the symptoms (e.g. agitation) in people with full blown AD while most of these articles Mom has posted seem to address MJ as preventative of AD's underlying causes when used prior to actually getting the disease.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Alzheimer’s and Cannabis

Alzheimer’s disease can be a challenging diagnosis for both the patient and family. It is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of cases and is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. Alzheimer’s is also a leading cause of disability and poor health as disease progression occurs over time.

In 2020, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $305 billion – by 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion according to the Alzheimer’s Association statistics and facts. The population of Americans age 65 and older is projected to grow from 56 million in 2020 to 88 million by 2050 which is the age range of greatest risk of Alzheimer’s. Baby boomers have already begun to reach age 65 and older.

Alzheimer’s is a Type of Dementia
Dementia is a group of symptoms associated with declining memory, reasoning, or other thinking skills. Many different types of dementia exist such as Lewy Body, Vascular, Frontotemporal (Pick’s disease), Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent of the types and is one of the biggest threats to our 65 and older population.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the buildup in the brain of extracellular plaques (made of a proteinaceous material called amyloid) and intracellular tangles (made up of tau protein). Alzheimer’s impacts the portion of the brain associated with learning, so a common early symptom is “trouble remembering”. As the disease progresses symptoms become more severe including disorientation, confusion, and behavior changes. Speaking, swallowing, and walking become difficult over time. There is no way to prevent, cure or even slow Alzheimer’s disease.

The rate at which Alzheimer’s progresses can vary. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live 20 years, depending on other factors. Changes in the brain related to Alzheimer’s begin years before any signs of the disease are apparent which is also a challenge unless pre-screening becomes more of a standard in our healthcare system.

Current medications utilized today cannot stop the damage that Alzheimer’s causes to brain cells. These medications only lessen or stabilize symptoms for a limited time by affecting the chemicals involved in carrying messages among the brain’s nerve cells.

Can medical cannabis help patients with Alzheimer’s disease?

While research in the United States is still somewhat limited, there are promising results from recent studies in Australia, Spain, Israel, South Korea, and the UK indicating that it may.

There are two areas of inquiry:

  1. Can cannabis be used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementias?
  2. Can cannabis products treat the disease itself, stopping or even reversing the actual disease process?
Alzheimer’s and Symptom Management
It is known that cannabinoids (both THC and CBD) can increase appetite, help with insomnia, and promote restful sleep, and that it can have psychological effects, including anxiety reduction and relaxation. Although research continues to definitively prove cannabis’s benefits with conditions such as depression and anxiety, there is promising preclinical research that it may help reduce agitation, aggression, and irritability in patients with Alzheimer’s as well. The pharmaceuticals currently used to treat these behaviors can have significant side effects, including cardiovascular issues, stroke, and even death. The potential to utilize cannabis as an alternative enhances quality of life.

The Alzheimer’s Society (www.alzheimers.org) references a 2018 study by Krista Lanctot, Ph.D. at Sunnybrook Research Institute which looked specifically at patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s. A 14-week trial used nabilone (a synthetic form of THC which is approved in Canada to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea) compared with a placebo to see if agitation was reduced without major side effects. The results showed that nabilone not only “significantly reduced agitation compared to the placebo, but it also improved behavioral symptoms overall.” The most common side effect seen was increased sedation.


A 2016 study published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has concluded that cannabis extract containing THC can relieve many of the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Researchers from the Abarbanel Mental Health Center and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University, along with the Department of Psychology at Bar-Ilan University conducted the study, which was one of the first clinical studies observing the effects of cannabis on Alzheimer’s. The study observed the effects of medical marijuana on 11 people living with Alzheimer’s over the course of 4 weeks. 10 participants finished the trial. Despite the small size of the study, researchers concluded that, “Adding medical cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s patients’ pharmacotherapy is a safe and promising treatment option.”

Alzheimer’s and Disease Progression/Treatment
There are currently no FDA-approved drugs on the market that change the course of the disease, however there is promising research showing that cannabis can slow the progress of the actual disease itself. One 2014 preclinical study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that small amounts of THC can slow, and in some cases even reverse, the progress and production of beta-amyloid protein. A 2014 study at the University of South Florida and a 2016 preliminary study from the Salk Institute in California also found that THC reduces beta amyloid proteins in the brain.

“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from a meeting like cells in the brain, not the nerves of nerve cells themselves,” states Antonio Currais, PhD, lead author of the 2016 study on THC and Alzheimer’s conducted through the University of California, San Diego. “When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta protein, it became clear that THC -like compounds, that the nerve cells make themselves, may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”

A comprehensive analysis in the February 2017 edition of Frontiers in Pharmacology summarized an Australian study of CBD’s effects on Alzheimer’s. The meta-analysis states that “CBD can affect the progression of Alzheimer’s by reducing cellular harm when the nervous system becomes damaged. CBD can also reduce neuro-inflammatory responses and promote neurogenesis, the growth and development of new nervous system cells.

Results of a 2019 South Korean literature review of studies of marijuana for Alzheimer’s disease focusing on CBD and THC and published in the Journal of Pharmacopuncture revealed the results of the surveyed studies “implied that the CBD components of cannabis might be useful to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s Disease [AD] because CBD components could suppress the main causal factors of AD. Moreover, it was suggested that using CBD and THC together could be more useful than using CBD or THC alone.”

As THC and CBD are also well-known anti-inflammatories, and as inflammation in the brain may cause or contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s, the use of cannabinoids to reduce inflammation could also help slow the progression of the disease. In February 2020, MedPharm holdings, a Denver company, announced plans to apply for an R&D license to test THC, CBD and other cannabinoids’ effects on Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. MedPharm will also study how THC, CBD and other cannabinoids are absorbed and metabolized in the body. They plan to begin the first phase of double-blind testing in mid-2020.

Cannabis Side effects:
The authors of the popular website, United Patients Group, state that, “According to an increasing number of studies, cannabinoid therapy appears to do what common pharmaceutical drugs cannot when it comes to dementia – recover, repair and heal the parts of the brain and nervous system that have been severely affected by the progression of this deadly and heartbreaking disease. And, when used at low doses and under the guidance of a caring professional, can have annoyed therapy appears to be absent of the damaging side effects that inevitably come with hard pharmaceutical therapies.”

“The WHO (World Health Organization) states that, ‘No public health problems have been associated with the use of CBD,’ and there has been no known association with potential for dependence or abuse, unlike most formal alternatives. The most reported potential side effect of CBD usage was diarrhea and bloating, it was some also reporting nausea. About 3% of patients in studies reported liver problems and had to discontinue high-dose CBD use. Specifically, and dementia, some patients reported increased tremor with high doses of CBD. As with any new treatment, patients and caregivers should monitor effects and outcomes closely,” say the authors at www.dementiacarecentral.org.

Conclusion:
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating disorder that can have devastating effects for patients and caregivers. There is no known cure at this time, and the best that allopathic medicine has had to offer up until now is hit-and-miss management of the many debilitating symptoms that are a part of the disease.

Cannabis presents an entirely new way to potentially treat both the symptoms and the cause(s) of Alzheimer’s, and possibly other dementias as well. Not only can cannabinoids relieve many of the unpleasant and life-altering side effects, but it is showing great promise in treating the underlying structural causes and stopping the cellular damage seen in dementias.

Further research is needed, and unfortunately, until the DEA and the federal government stop stonewalling and start facilitating access and approvals to study this plant, reliance on other countries’ research and results is all that is available to U.S. patients.
 

Madri-Gal

Well-Known Member
Alzheimer’s and Cannabis

Alzheimer’s disease can be a challenging diagnosis for both the patient and family. It is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of cases and is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. Alzheimer’s is also a leading cause of disability and poor health as disease progression occurs over time.

In 2020, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $305 billion – by 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion according to the Alzheimer’s Association statistics and facts. The population of Americans age 65 and older is projected to grow from 56 million in 2020 to 88 million by 2050 which is the age range of greatest risk of Alzheimer’s. Baby boomers have already begun to reach age 65 and older.

Alzheimer’s is a Type of Dementia
Dementia is a group of symptoms associated with declining memory, reasoning, or other thinking skills. Many different types of dementia exist such as Lewy Body, Vascular, Frontotemporal (Pick’s disease), Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent of the types and is one of the biggest threats to our 65 and older population.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the buildup in the brain of extracellular plaques (made of a proteinaceous material called amyloid) and intracellular tangles (made up of tau protein). Alzheimer’s impacts the portion of the brain associated with learning, so a common early symptom is “trouble remembering”. As the disease progresses symptoms become more severe including disorientation, confusion, and behavior changes. Speaking, swallowing, and walking become difficult over time. There is no way to prevent, cure or even slow Alzheimer’s disease.

The rate at which Alzheimer’s progresses can vary. On average, a person with Alzheimer’s lives four to eight years after diagnosis, but can live 20 years, depending on other factors. Changes in the brain related to Alzheimer’s begin years before any signs of the disease are apparent which is also a challenge unless pre-screening becomes more of a standard in our healthcare system.

Current medications utilized today cannot stop the damage that Alzheimer’s causes to brain cells. These medications only lessen or stabilize symptoms for a limited time by affecting the chemicals involved in carrying messages among the brain’s nerve cells.

Can medical cannabis help patients with Alzheimer’s disease?

While research in the United States is still somewhat limited, there are promising results from recent studies in Australia, Spain, Israel, South Korea, and the UK indicating that it may.

There are two areas of inquiry:

  1. Can cannabis be used to treat the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and other dementias?
  2. Can cannabis products treat the disease itself, stopping or even reversing the actual disease process?
Alzheimer’s and Symptom Management
It is known that cannabinoids (both THC and CBD) can increase appetite, help with insomnia, and promote restful sleep, and that it can have psychological effects, including anxiety reduction and relaxation. Although research continues to definitively prove cannabis’s benefits with conditions such as depression and anxiety, there is promising preclinical research that it may help reduce agitation, aggression, and irritability in patients with Alzheimer’s as well. The pharmaceuticals currently used to treat these behaviors can have significant side effects, including cardiovascular issues, stroke, and even death. The potential to utilize cannabis as an alternative enhances quality of life.

The Alzheimer’s Society (www.alzheimers.org) references a 2018 study by Krista Lanctot, Ph.D. at Sunnybrook Research Institute which looked specifically at patients with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s. A 14-week trial used nabilone (a synthetic form of THC which is approved in Canada to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea) compared with a placebo to see if agitation was reduced without major side effects. The results showed that nabilone not only “significantly reduced agitation compared to the placebo, but it also improved behavioral symptoms overall.” The most common side effect seen was increased sedation.


A 2016 study published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has concluded that cannabis extract containing THC can relieve many of the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Researchers from the Abarbanel Mental Health Center and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University, along with the Department of Psychology at Bar-Ilan University conducted the study, which was one of the first clinical studies observing the effects of cannabis on Alzheimer’s. The study observed the effects of medical marijuana on 11 people living with Alzheimer’s over the course of 4 weeks. 10 participants finished the trial. Despite the small size of the study, researchers concluded that, “Adding medical cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s patients’ pharmacotherapy is a safe and promising treatment option.”

Alzheimer’s and Disease Progression/Treatment
There are currently no FDA-approved drugs on the market that change the course of the disease, however there is promising research showing that cannabis can slow the progress of the actual disease itself. One 2014 preclinical study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease showed that small amounts of THC can slow, and in some cases even reverse, the progress and production of beta-amyloid protein. A 2014 study at the University of South Florida and a 2016 preliminary study from the Salk Institute in California also found that THC reduces beta amyloid proteins in the brain.

“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from a meeting like cells in the brain, not the nerves of nerve cells themselves,” states Antonio Currais, PhD, lead author of the 2016 study on THC and Alzheimer’s conducted through the University of California, San Diego. “When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta protein, it became clear that THC -like compounds, that the nerve cells make themselves, may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”

A comprehensive analysis in the February 2017 edition of Frontiers in Pharmacology summarized an Australian study of CBD’s effects on Alzheimer’s. The meta-analysis states that “CBD can affect the progression of Alzheimer’s by reducing cellular harm when the nervous system becomes damaged. CBD can also reduce neuro-inflammatory responses and promote neurogenesis, the growth and development of new nervous system cells.

Results of a 2019 South Korean literature review of studies of marijuana for Alzheimer’s disease focusing on CBD and THC and published in the Journal of Pharmacopuncture revealed the results of the surveyed studies “implied that the CBD components of cannabis might be useful to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s Disease [AD] because CBD components could suppress the main causal factors of AD. Moreover, it was suggested that using CBD and THC together could be more useful than using CBD or THC alone.”

As THC and CBD are also well-known anti-inflammatories, and as inflammation in the brain may cause or contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s, the use of cannabinoids to reduce inflammation could also help slow the progression of the disease. In February 2020, MedPharm holdings, a Denver company, announced plans to apply for an R&D license to test THC, CBD and other cannabinoids’ effects on Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. MedPharm will also study how THC, CBD and other cannabinoids are absorbed and metabolized in the body. They plan to begin the first phase of double-blind testing in mid-2020.

Cannabis Side effects:
The authors of the popular website, United Patients Group, state that, “According to an increasing number of studies, cannabinoid therapy appears to do what common pharmaceutical drugs cannot when it comes to dementia – recover, repair and heal the parts of the brain and nervous system that have been severely affected by the progression of this deadly and heartbreaking disease. And, when used at low doses and under the guidance of a caring professional, can have annoyed therapy appears to be absent of the damaging side effects that inevitably come with hard pharmaceutical therapies.”

“The WHO (World Health Organization) states that, ‘No public health problems have been associated with the use of CBD,’ and there has been no known association with potential for dependence or abuse, unlike most formal alternatives. The most reported potential side effect of CBD usage was diarrhea and bloating, it was some also reporting nausea. About 3% of patients in studies reported liver problems and had to discontinue high-dose CBD use. Specifically, and dementia, some patients reported increased tremor with high doses of CBD. As with any new treatment, patients and caregivers should monitor effects and outcomes closely,” say the authors at www.dementiacarecentral.org.

Conclusion:
Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating disorder that can have devastating effects for patients and caregivers. There is no known cure at this time, and the best that allopathic medicine has had to offer up until now is hit-and-miss management of the many debilitating symptoms that are a part of the disease.

Cannabis presents an entirely new way to potentially treat both the symptoms and the cause(s) of Alzheimer’s, and possibly other dementias as well. Not only can cannabinoids relieve many of the unpleasant and life-altering side effects, but it is showing great promise in treating the underlying structural causes and stopping the cellular damage seen in dementias.

Further research is needed, and unfortunately, until the DEA and the federal government stop stonewalling and start facilitating access and approvals to study this plant, reliance on other countries’ research and results is all that is available to U.S. patients.
I'm getting ready by trying to head this one off. Prevention is...something.
 

MinnBobber

Well-Known Member
I'm getting ready by trying to head this one off. Prevention is...something.
..............................
Cannabis is the greatest “prevention “ there is for all manner of ailments , including dementia.
It supplements your Endocannabinoid System to better do its natural job of guiding all your internal systems to homeostasis/ balance.

There is an interesting study out of Europe on dementia. It deals with a special breed of lab mice that get dementia as they become senior mice after several months. The results become much more relevant when you understand that the mice have an ECS system too, and this treatment supplements their ECS.
The memory loss of the senior mice is not only stopped but it is reversed, going back to the better memory of a juvenile mouse.
With research results like this, it is really sad that we are not using cannabis therapy for all forms of dementia currently.
 

momofthegoons

Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Researchers Reveal Cannabis Removes Toxic Alzheimer’s Protein From The Brain

How ineffective are current Alzheimer’s disease treatments? Quite. So much so, in fact, that David Cameron, the Conservative former prime minister of the United Kingdom – a supposed BFF of Big Business and one can only deduce, Big Pharma – called out the pharmaceutical industry for its “failures undermining dementia research and drug development.” A huge multi-billion-dollar industry being called out by a world leader isn’t something that happens every day.

But then again, Cameron’s sentiments have plenty of merits. Per Scientific American, dementia drug research has failed miserably. In a mega-study investigating 244 drugs across 413 clinical trials, researchers found that just one drug was approved. In other words, 99.6 percent of the experiments amounted to nothing. Just this past January, another company discontinued not one but two Alzheimer’s drugs during the final stages of clinical trials.

So, what is going on? Well, it’s one thing for a politician to lambast an industry for their lack of progress and next-to-nil results; it’s quite another to pinpoint and act upon the catalysts of dementia. It certainly doesn’t help that the drug industry is so entrenched into the health care apparatus either, as this discourages looking at alternative methods of care. Mix in public ignorance about natural remedies (yes, including marijuana) and the outlook doesn’t appear favorable.

But researchers may just be edging ever closer to a real solution to the Alzheimer’s problem – and it isn’t in the form of an expensive pill. What is it, then? Well, if studies are to be believed, it’s the use of cannabis.

n this article, we’re going to discuss some interesting findings concerning the use of cannabis and Alzheimer’s disease. We’ll briefly touch on the problem of Alzheimer’s in today’s society as well as the problems posed by conventional dementia treatments.

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE: AN OVERVIEW
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by a gradual loss of memory, learning ability, communication, and judgment. In some cases, these cognitive functions decline to a point where the person becomes entirely dependent on caregivers for daily activities.

Alzheimer’s is typically found in those over the age of 65, of whom approximately 1 in 14 adults are affected. The highest concentration of patients with the disease are those over the age of 80, with 1 in every 6 meeting the criteria for diagnosis. This type of Alzheimer’s, also known as Late-onset Alzheimer’s is the most common, accounting for nearly 90 percent of all cases.

Only 6 to 8 percent of patients develop symptoms before the age of 65 – a condition known as early-onset Alzheimers – with those affected having a family history of the disease.

The rarest form of Alzheimer’s is called Familial Alzheimer’s disease (FAD), which is believed to be wholly inherited. In affected families, members of at least two generations are found to have had Alzheimer’s disease. FAD accounts for less than 1 percent of all Alzheimer’s cases.

Alzheimer’s disease symptoms are classified into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe.

COMMON SYMPTOMS OF MILD ALZHEIMER’S INCLUDE:
  • Difficulty completely once-routine tasks
  • Impaired sense of judgment
  • Impaired sense of direction or getting lost
  • Increased anxiety and aggression
  • Lethargy and lack of purpose
  • Memory loss
  • Monetary difficulties
  • Poor decision making
  • Repeating the same questions
MODERATE SYMPTOMS INCLUDE:
  • All of the symptoms mentioned above
  • Further deterioration of memory
  • Poor judgment and worsening confusion
  • Requiring assistance when doing simple tasks (e.g. bathing, grooming, using the bathroom.)
  • Significant changes in personality and behavior.
SEVERE SYMPTOMS MAY INCLUDE:
  • All of the signs mentioned above
  • Losing the ability to converse or speak
  • Complete dependence on others for many tasks
  • Declining physical abilities (e.g. inability to walk or sit up straight, rigid muscles, etc.)
PROBLEMS ABOUND WITH DEMENTIA DRUGS
It’s not just that so few drugs are approved for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia; the problem is also that they are ineffective and downright counterproductive in just about every conceivable way. Let us briefly discuss the problems with current dementia treatment.

  1. THEY’RE EXPENSIVE
First, Alzheimer’s prescription drugs are costly. While Medicaid covers much of the costs, prescription drugs for dementia can add up to hundreds of dollars per month. For seniors who live on a fixed income, this amount may be unattainable, forcing them to choose drugs over other necessities like food, or vice-versa.

  1. THEY CARRY NASTY SIDE EFFECTS
Among the pervasive side effects of dementia medicines are abdominal cramps, bruising, confusion, constipation diarrhea, insomnia, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weight loss.

  1. THEY’RE INEFFECTIVE (EXCEPT FOR ONE)
While the statistics may vary, they seem to agree on this point: Alzheimer’s prescription medications aren’t very effective at doing what they say they’ll do. In a meta-analysis of 41 randomized control trials published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, the research team concludes that there is not one drug that reduces neuropsychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Memantine is the sole dementia medication that carries significant benefits. In both the previous meta-analysis, and the second analysis of 30 studies published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, memantine (brand name “Namenda”) significantly improved learning, cognition, and memory. (Furthermore, compared with the other type of dementia medications – acetylcholinesterase inhibitors [e.g. donepezil] – memantine has relatively few and less severe side effects.)

CANNABIS AS AN ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA TREATMENT
“When we investigated the power of THC … we found that [it] was a very effective inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase. [We] also found that THC was considerably more effective than two of the approved drugs…” – Kim Janda, Ph.D. (source)
It’s a good thing that marijuana use is becoming less and less taboo – especially for those with medical conditions. To give you an idea of just how widespread cannabis is as either a primary or secondary treatment option, consider what it’s been thought to help treat:

  • Alzheimer’s disease (of course!)
  • Anxiety
  • Cancer (by killing cancer cells and slowing tumor growth)
  • Chron’s disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Eating disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Excessive weight loss (in people with AIDS and cancer)
  • Glaucoma
  • Inflammation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Nausea and vomiting (from chemotherapy)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Muscle spasms
UNDERSTANDING ALZHEIMER’S
To understand how cannabis may help treat Alzheimer’s, we must first understand the underlying neurophysiology of the disease. To this point, researchers attribute the onset and progression of the disease to the buildup of a sticky plaque protein called beta-amyloid. It is thought that the protein disrupts communication between neurons in the brain and causes cellular death. It is these effects of the beta-amyloid, neuroscientists say, that causes both the cognitive and neuropsychiatric problems seen in Alzheimer’s patients.

An active compound in marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may help to remove the toxic buildup of beta-amyloid, say researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. Moreover, THC may also help to reduce inflammation in nerve cells. Dave Schubert, the leading neurobiologist at the institute, believes that his team’s study is the first of its kind to demonstrate these dual properties of THC.

Schubert’s team may have made another novel finding: the inflammation produced in the brain may stem from beta-amyloid buildup within the neurons – not immune-like cells within the brain as thought previously. Moreover, “THC-like compounds (within) the nerve cells themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying,” says Antonio Currais, a researcher in Shubert’s lab.

Schubert’s team attributes these the anti-inflammatory, beta-amyloid reduction properties to THC to activation of the brain’s “switches,” or receptors. Research has shown that endocannabinoids activate these receptors, causing intracellular signaling within the brain. As THC has similar molecular activity as endocannabinoids, they have similar effects of the brain’s receptors.

FINAL THOUGHTS
In related research, Schubert’s lab discovered that a potential drug known as J147 produces similar effects of beta-amyloid proteins and reduces the inflammatory response in the brain. Schubert’s team has found that the J147 drug works by manipulating a mitochondrial protein called ATP, which performs the role of providing cellular energy to neurons. As of this writing, J147 is said to be nearing clinical trials – the first step, albeit a long one, in gaining approval for mass manufacturing and distribution.

As of this writing, the Salk Institute is advancing its research on THC and endocannabinoids as a potential Alzheimer’s treatment.
 

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