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Alzheimer’s disease is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the US, with over five million cases being reported every year. Due to increasing life expectancy overall, this number is expected to nearly triple by 2050, affecting over 100 million people worldwide.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disorder characterized by cognitive impairment and dementia due to brain cell death that worsens over time. In most cases, symptoms of Alzheimer’s do not arise until the person is in their mid-sixties or older, known as “late onset.”
The FDA has approved several prescription drugs for the treatment of mild to severe Alzheimer’s, but their levels of effectiveness differ from patient to patient and they have no effect on the underlying disease. Researchers are currently exploring alternative forms of treatment for Alzheimer’s – including cannabinoids such as CBD.
A 2001 patent filed by scientists from the Department of Health and Human Services describes cannabinoids as having “particular application as neuroprotectants” – meaning they can mitigate damage to neurons caused by neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
In a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2015, both THC and CBD were explored as potential treatments for the disease. Researchers demonstrated that both cannabinoids, when administered to mice induced with Alzheimer’s disease, were effective at preserving memory, and when used in conjunction also reduced learning impairment. They also found that CBD and THC-treated mice had reduced levels of Ab peptides – compounds in the brain that contribute to buildup of amyloid plaques, a defining feature of Alzheimer’s that leads to brain cell death.
In what appears to be yet another affirmation of the entourage effect, researchers in that same study also discovered that the anti-inflammatory properties of either THC or CBD were most effective when both cannabinoids were used together rather than separately.
Evidence continues to grow that inflammation – particularly neuroinflammation – plays a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s. Since CBD is known to potentially reduce inflammation by targeting inflammation-regulating CB1 endocannabinoid receptors, it’s no wonder that it’s being considered as a possible treatment for neuroinflammation as well. This was explored in a 2011 study published in the peer-reviewed open access scientific journal PLoS One, whereupon researchers concluded that CBD reduces Ab-induced neuroinflammation and even promotes neurogenesis (neuron cell production) in the hippocampus.
When we think of Alzheimer’s disease, many of us often imagine the tragedy of our parents or grandparents no longer being able to recognize us as family members. As the disease progresses, memory loss – including social recognition memory – worsens. A 2014 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease provides the first evidence ever that CBD may prevent development of social and facial recognition deficiencies as a result of Alzheimer’s.
In exploring the research behind cannabinoid treatments for Alzheimer’s, it’s important to remember that more studies must be conducted to substantiate and strengthen these claims. Cannabis remains federally illegal and unregulated in the U.S., further impeding such research, but that hasn’t stopped Alzheimer’s sufferers from turning to CBD for relief.
If you’re going to try CBD to treat Alzheimer’s, a full spectrum CBD extract is recommended for best results. Click here to explore NuLeaf Naturals’ 100% organic CBD oil.