The growth of medical marijuana has seen a huge rise in beneficial researches into the use of the medicinal herb. These researches are serving as the basis for which the public is getting to accept marijuana as a medicinal herb. Cannabis has been found to be effective in dealing with pain, inflammation, and seizures through the work of its cannabinoids. One medical application where medical marijuana researchers are placing much emphasis on is in the area of Alzheimer’s disease.
Could cannabis beat big pharma to an Alzheimer’s cure, let’s see what the research says.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that involves the shrinking of brain cells and ultimately leads to the death of the cells. This death of brain cells tends to cause dementia in such patients. Such patients suffer from a reduction in thinking ability and their behavioral and social skills begin to diminish. The US population has 5.8 million people that are over 65 suffering from Alzheimer’s and 80% of these people are aged 75 and above. Another staggering statistic is that among 50 million people suffering from dementia worldwide, about 70% have Alzheimer’s disease.
The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease majorly applies to memory loss. Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s tend to have difficulty remembering recent events. This eventually leads to memory impairment and difficulty with thinking and reasoning. Patients also suffer from changes in personality and behavior which promotes mood swings and social withdrawal. The major cause of Alzheimer’s disease is not well understood. The process of degeneration occurs long before the symptoms start to occur in the patients which makes it hard. To determine when it starts. Researches show that plaques are to blame for the development of toxic material in the brain.
There is presently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and big pharma are working endlessly to find a breakthrough. The major measures adopted right now are to limit the risk factors that can be modulated such as air pollution, alcohol use, poor sleep, and cognitive impairment. The use of cannabis is actively being researched for effectiveness in dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and its symptoms. Some of those researches are showing early signs of positivity.
What does the researchers say?
Many of the people currently suffering from Alzheimer’s disease lived in an era when reefer madness marketing campaigns were ripe. The war on drugs made it hard for most to associate with cannabis but current studies show that the use of cannabis might have helped in reducing the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. Studies done on mice show that CBD doses and a combination of CBD and THC doses have the chance of helping to deal with Alzheimer’s. The doses of the cannabinoids target the main issue that causes dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.
A buildup of beta-amyloid plaques is known to create inflammation that promotes Alzheimer’s disease in the brain. Studies have shown that CBD has the ability to reduce the plaque’s effect of causing inflammation in the brain. This reduces the toxic effects of the plaque in the brain and reduces the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Other studies also show the effectiveness of CBD in reducing the concentration of A-beta plaques in the brain over time. This points to the fact that early usage of cannabis could be effective in reducing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Although this is not yet backed up scientifically, but hypothetically speaking the stats are there. This means that those suffering from Alzheimer’s diseases could have benefited if marijuana was not criminalized during the war on drugs era.
Still on the works of research
Dr. Ethan Russo is a neuroscientist and the director of Research and Development at the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute. Dr. Ethan has been working extensively on the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids on Alzheimer’s disease. His research is also based on THC and CBD being effective to interfere with the production of toxic materials in patient’s brains. He is confident that the study should be taken into the clinical phase where it’s effectiveness can be some with clinical studies.
This move will be a step further than big pharma has gotten in recent years with cannabis. Most of the synthetic drugs available by big pharmaceutical companies are yet to reach the clinical stage. Most are directed towards attending to the underlying symptoms of cannabis such as memory impairment and sleep disturbance. This shows the possibility of cannabis beating big pharma to getting a cure for Alzheimer’s if researchers like Dr. Ethan get to go forward with their research.
THC and CBD are known to have a neuroprotective activity that can help to slow down the degenerative process. Dr. Russo explains that THC on its own is effective in dealing with night agitation. This action is also present in CBD as it helps to get rid of sleep disturbances. This means that both cannabinoids are effective in promoting sleep and improving the quality of life of the patients. These are some of the major aspects of the life of patients of Alzheimer’s that are greatly affected.
The FDA has approved the use of some pharmaceutical drugs to treat memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease patients. These drugs have mild benefits as they offer temporary effects to remedy memory loss in such patients. The drugs work by increasing the amount of acetylcholine in the brain which helps to improve the storage of information. This activity is also present in a terpene in cannabis. Alpha-pinene is a terpenoid in cannabis that boosts acetylcholine concentration by inhibiting its breakdown. It does this with fewer side effects which makes cannabis more beneficial for treating the symptoms as opposed to synthetic drugs.
Though the works of research are gathering pace, we are still a long way from significant clinical studies of cannabis for Alzheimer’s disease. When that eventually happens, there are chances that medical marijuana can beat big pharma to the elusive cure for Alzheimer’s disease.