Using Cannabis Therapy For Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment

July 14, 2020 01:34 pm ET

Cannabis is still a controversial topic in the medical community. With some well-respected doctors advocating for its use, others continue to voice concerns about its addictive properties and long term effects. As researchers continue to explore cannabis as a potential treatment for chronic and terminal illnesses, some studies are focusing their efforts on the effects on Alzheimer’s treatment and symptoms. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia among the elderly, and with the ever-increasing size of this population, cases of Alzheimer’s disease are expected to triple over the next 50 years.

Current Treatment For Alzheimer’s 

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.

Going back through research of preliminary studies from the early 2000s, researchers became optimistic about their findings. Data has shown that THC and other compounds found in cannabis may reduce the amount of beta-amyloid in the brain. Beta-amyloid is a hallmark characteristic of Alzheimer’s and is also commonly thought to cause neurodegenerative disease. While researchers have seen some success in using cannabis to fight the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, studies are showing differing results in using it to treat the disease.

How Does Cannabis Help?

Further review of studies has revealed that a combination of CBD and THC was most effective in memory retention and was more effective than CBD alone or THC alone. These results implied that the CBD components of cannabis might be useful to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s because CBD components could suppress the main causal factors of the disease.

Antonio Currais, Ph.D., 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.

MedPharm, a Colorado-based cannabis research, and formulation development company, has just recently received a Medical Marijuana Research and Development License from the City of Denver. This is the last piece in the licensing puzzle for the company to study how cannabis-based medication might impact Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. MedPharm sought the license to meet the need for better quality cannabis and dosage forms for research purposes, as researchers continually complain about the quality of the cannabis provided by the University of Mississippi.

MedPharm will administer gel capsules that contain both cannabinoids and other natural, non-cannabis-derived compounds that have been shown to have a positive effect on brain health. The company will also distribute a cannabinoid-only formulation, as well as a placebo, to compare how each formulation performs.

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