There are many things you don’t want to forget in life, but forgetting about your family and loved ones is by far the very worst.
Alzheimer’s disease is a serious, chronic, neurodegenerative disease wherein sufferers experience degradation in their brain functions. The condition is responsible for 60-70% of all cases of dementia, and is a serious risk to all elderly people. Its causes are poorly understood, and it completely lacks any kind of known treatment or reversal. For these reasons, its appearance is almost completely random and incomprehensible.
However, doctors do have ways to help mitigate the symptoms, as well as improve the quality of life among those who suffer from the condition. One of the methods that has been popping up increasingly in recent years is cannabidiol, or CBD oil. Before we get looking at CBD oil for Alzheimer’s disease though, and why more and more doctors are recommending it as a potential treatment option, let’s take a look at what Alzheimer’s actually is.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
The singularly awful part of Alzheimer’s disease is that it develops slowly. Its causes are not known, but its progression is extremely slow and difficult to notice.
To start with, the sufferer will begin to experience lapses in memory, problems with speech or language, and perhaps most well known (and usually the point at which a diagnosis is made), occasional confusion and subsequent irritation over seemingly nothing.
The reason Alzheimer’s disease develops is almost completely unknown, but we do at least understand some of the processes that are associated with its initiation.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by a loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex, which causes atrophy of the brain and generally results in diminished brain capacity.
Essentially, the brain undergoes a sharp decline in mental ability due to the slow loss of neurons. We are not yet able to identify a step in the process of the declining Alzheimer’s brain to actually stop the disease from progressing, however.
Brain scans of an Alzheimer’s disease patient reveal that the amyloid plaques are dense, with cellular material coating it thickly outside the neurons. When compared to an image of a healthy brain, the sharp definitions of the brain are thick and muted, betraying the cellular degeneration that occurs within.
Additionally, the existence of Lewy bodies is exceedingly common within Alzheimer’s disease brains, which are generally caused by an oxidation effect on the brain cells. These can also lead to the development of Parkinson’s disease, another serious degenerative disease that results in motor loss.
Overall, Alzheimer’s is a particularly terrifying disease because of its incomprehensibility; we don’t understand why it starts, we don’t understand how to treat it, and worst of all, it keeps getting worse for the remainder of the sufferer’s life.
There are medications to hopefully delay the degeneration, but these usually do nothing to abate the eventuality of continued deterioration – and ultimately death – other than slightly delaying it.
There has been new research that considers the use of CBD oil as a possible option to help treat Alzheimer’s disease, but what is CBD oil exactly, and should you use it as a practical treatment option?
Why CBD Oil for Alzheimer’s Disease?
CBD oil is a cannabinoid extract from the Cannabis sativa plant. Instead of possessing the psychoactive properties of its more rowdy cousin THC, however, CBD acts as a counterpoint to the narcotic element of cannabis, serving as a potential medicinal compound with no psychoactive effects.
While the medicinal properties of THC are also quite apparent, it is of course marred by its association with getting high. CBD creates no intoxicating effects, but rather works with the body to help improve overall health and immune balance.
When consumed, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a health system within the body that’s made up of two primary receptors: CB1 and CB2 receptors, each of which interact with the body in different ways.
CB1 receptors are located primarily within the central nervous system and the brain, whereas CB2 receptors exist more generally throughout the body and are primarily responsible for the instigation of cellular regrowth.
CBD oil is simply extracted cannabidiol that is mixed into inert oil so as to provide an easy method of ingestion. Various studies have shown CBD’s potential for helping with a variety of different diseases and conditions, both in their treatment and in their prevention.
However, one of the most recent discoveries is the use of CBD for Alzheimer’s disease. Let’s see how it works, and what the studies are saying.
CBD Oil, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Neurological Effects
Cannabis has been researched and examined for use with neurological disorders for several years; ever since marijuana was demonstrated to help with epilepsy, researchers have been keen to see what other conditions the drug may be able to help with.
Drs. Georgia Watt and Tim Karl, for example, in their study for the academic journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, explored the potential for CBD to act as a neuroprotective, regenerative medicine in Alzheimer’s patients.
In the study, Watt and Karl focused on CBD’s established anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and what this could mean for Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Research conducted by such as scientists as Carrier et al. in their significant study were some of the first to look at CBD’s remarkable anti-inflammatory properties, but in Watt and Karl’s study, they were more focused on what that it could specifically mean for neurological cells.
The study found that CBD works effectively at reducing reactive gliosis and the neuroinflammatory response within the brain, as well as promote neurogenesis. This essentially means that, while CBD doesn’t necessarily stop Alzheimer’s disease, it may be able to work as an effective medicine to stop the typical neuroinflammatory response.
Additionally, CBD is well known for its ability to encourage healthy cellular growth, so to have Watt and Karl discover that CBD can encourage neurological cells to regrow in a healthy fashion, is immense news for victims of Alzheimer’s that are looking for a safe, natural treatment option.
Perhaps even more importantly, CBD has been shown to reverse and prevent further development of cognitive deficits during animal tests. These cognitive deficits caused by Alzheimer’s disease are some of the chief problems of the early stages of the condition, as the process of gradually losing your mental faculty and intelligence is an utterly terrifying one.
Cellular regeneration is one of the hallmark properties of CBD, famously being used to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis through proper skin cell regeneration. By applying these same properties to the brain, it would appear that CBD could be effective at helping promote healthy brain cell regeneration as well.
Research into the complete potential for CBD to halt Alzheimer’s disease is yet to be properly undertaken, but due to the recent nature in which CBD has entered the public sphere as an acceptable medicine (rather than its association with getting high), our understanding of the compound’s neurological effects are surely primed to increase.
Watt and Karl’s study serves as an excellent demonstration that CBD – as well as combinations of both CBD and THC – require more study and legitimacy as far as treatments for Alzheimer’s disease go.
A great example of this as of yet “unreached potential” is evident in another study, conducted by Lim et al. for the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience. The publication looked at a variety of other studies wherein medicinal cannabis was used to treat mental and neurological conditions, and one of the conditions investigated was Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Lim’s study concluded that, of the 24 reports they investigated, cannabis had a definitive role in reducing agitation and possibly repairing the damage suffered by Alzheimer’s disease patients. However, the reports they investigated were rife with poor methodology and incomplete descriptions, which forced them to report that they were unable to come to an adequate conclusion about the role of cannabis for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
They did, however, focus on the fact that more studies should be carried out on Alzheimer’s disease and cannabis, with better scientific practices so as to properly determine its therapeutic potential.
Finally, in a study by Eubanks et al., researchers for the Journal of Molecular Pharmaceutics looked at the molecular link between marijuana and Alzheimer’s disease. In the study, researchers noted that cannabinoids competitively inhibit some of the metabolic enzymes that are key pathological markers to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Acetylcholinesterase, in particular, is understood to prevent enzyme-induced amyloid peptide aggregation, and it was found that cannabinoids like CBD bind with the site of the enzyme’s creation, thereby impairing its ability to function.
This study was especially significant in terms of validating cannabis as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, as it appeared to note cannabis’s ability to change the molecular onset of Alzheimer’s disease entirely.
Thus, not only does CBD appear to work with great efficacy at reducing the damage done to the brain through Alzheimer’s disease, it could actively work to stop its creation altogether.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a growing health concern throughout the western world; with population groups tending towards older average ages due to increased life expectancies and better medicine, the rate of Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses is expected to triple over the next 50 years.
In light of this horrifying statistic, it is imperative that we undertake as much research and understanding as possible to help diagnose, treat and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Thanks to recent legalization efforts undertaken throughout the western world, cannabis is finally becoming well known as an effective medicine, meaning we can begin to look at its use in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Though there exists comparatively few studies concerning its efficacy, the results so far have reasonably concluded that CBD – as well as cannabinoids in general – can work as an effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease both through its cellular regenerative properties and in its ability to promote healthier brain cells through anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
We still have much to learn about the potential of CBD, but the simple fact is that thousands of people are already using CBD for Alzheimer’s disease with succesful results. With more research and case studies, this amount will hopefully increase to the point where sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease can be more effectively treated and have their quality of life restored to them.
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