Marijuana vs Alzheimer's


As early as 2006, studies were being conducted on viability of the link between the endocannabinoid system in the brain and Alzheimer’s disease. In 2014, an article published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that THC “could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways.” In layman’s terms, this means that THC is able to slow or halt certain “hallmark characteristics” of the disease. The presence of the protein Amyloid-β has been linked to Alzheimer’s symptoms, but THC dosing at regular intervals inhibits aggregation in the protein with no observable toxicity or other side effects – it also enhances the function of the body’s mitochondria, known as the “cell’s energy factories”, according to David Downs of SFGate. Aggregation refers to changes in secondary and tertiary protein structure, or plaque formation in the brain, which is common in patients with dementia, according to the University of Berlin. (Think of the plaque that forms in the arteries prior to a heart attack, plaque can also form in the brain.) Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the University of South Florida’s College of Pharmacy and Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute, observed that “THC is known to be a potent antioxidant with neuroprotective properties” but this study is the first of its kind – the discovery of the enhancement of Alzheimer’s patients by the cannabis derivative is a key to unlocking a mystery that has plagued medical science for generations.

Dr. Cao stated in a University of South Florida article that “this study indicates that THC and THC-related compounds may be of therapeutic value in Alzheimer’s disease.” The Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute is investigating the effects of a “drug cocktail” including THC, caffeine, and other natural compounds, and will begin testing on a genetically-engineered mouse model soon. In a similar study conducted last year, a team of scientific researchers obtained similar results, finding that THC and CBD botanical extracts, both alone and in combination, preserve mouse memory when given during early stages of symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease. The study noted that the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids may also have a positive effect on the Alzheimer’s brain – and both THC and CBD used together had the best effect overall.

We’ve reviewed the opinions of scientists and medical experts on the “possible” effects of cannabis THC and cannabidiols on Alzheimer’s patients, but what about the patients themselves and their families? The creator and author of the Skunk Pharm Research, LLC, known as Graywolf, noted that when her mother’s Alzheimer’s symptoms could no longer be regulated by western medicines, and she became “combative and personal hygiene became an issue,” she was forced to quit her job to care for her mother for the rest of her life. Her regular western medicines included five over-the-counter drugs, three inhalers, pills to control her asthma, blood pressure and allergy medications, anti-psychotics, anti-seizure medication, and three other medications that Graywolf did not know the purpose of. Graywolf’s mother had smoked cannabis recreationally with her daughter for over thirty years, and Graywolf worked with her mother’s doctor to obtain a medical marijuana license for her, and “systematically” remove as many pharmaceutical drugs from her schedule as possible. Graywolf stated that “cannabis was my only means of mitigating [my mother’s] despicable behavior.” Her mother did not like the taste of the cannabis essential oils in any food stuffs, so Graywolf used hash oil in combination with other essential oils, and her mother became happier and less combative over time. Her behavior changed so markedly that Graywolf was able to “get her off of most of the original drug regiment,” and help her into “cognitive changes [that] were unmistakably positive.” Graywolf’s mother began to interact with her family and friends appropriately, and her cognitive thinking seemed to have improved – she even began to play jokes on them. Graywolf claims her mother’s doctor said, “I wish all my Alzheimer’s patients were on cannabis. Look at her quality of life!”

More by Julie Godard of Mass Roots

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