Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a range of debilitating symptoms that can affect memory, language, mood, and behavior. It impacts over 7 million Americans every year, and while commonly misunderstood to be a condition in itself, dementia is merely the term used to represent many different common symptoms. The most well-known form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, with a massive 5.7 million people suffering from the condition in the U.S.
As it stands, the symptoms of dementia can only be treated with medications and therapies, but unfortunately, there is no current cure. With the recent uprising of CBD as a potential treatment for a range of conditions, could it be that CBD may offer relief to those suffering from something as debilitating as dementia?
We have taken a look at all you need to know about the symptoms of dementia, and how cannabidiol could offer support to those suffering from it.
What is Dementia… And How Might CBD Help?
Considered to be a chronic disorder, dementia occurs when damage is done to brain cells, typically through the natural processes of aging. The condition presents itself in many different ways, and can progress at different rates from one sufferer to the next.
What are the Symptoms of Dementia?
Symptoms of dementia are broad and can affect our cognitive abilities, from the way we think and remember things to our ability to concentrate, plan, and even formulate language. For some, dementia means that details such as the day of the week, knowledge of how to eat and dress, and even how to go to the toilet can be forgotten, meaning that day-to-day life becomes incredibly difficult.
Dementia in its most severe form affects not only those suffering, but also the friends and family that are closest to them. A high percentage of those who have dementia will eventually experience a change in mood and behavior, with many sufferers becoming aggressive and completely changing in temperament.
In many cases, families will eventually seek professional help, and often sufferers will live in care homes where specialist care can be provided around the clock.
Different Types of Dementia
There are many types of dementia, and all may manifest slightly differently and alter in severity. Below are some of the most well-known forms of dementia:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Vascular Dementia
- Mixed Dementia
- Dementia with Lewy Bodies
- Frontotemporal Dementia
What Causes Dementia?
As we touched upon earlier, dementia is caused when brain cells become damaged, which can occur as a result of numerous strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, or other conditions which affect the brain. When brain cells become damaged, it has a direct impact on the way the cells communicate with each other, which leads to the loss of ability to function normally.
As a result of the disruption in thought patterns and things not working as they should, there is inflammation that occurs within the brain, which then leads to an increase in oxygen in the brain cells. This knock-on effect means that the area is inflamed and excess oxygen is released as a result, so the worse the inflammation, the worse the outcome. The essential functions of the brain such as memory are lessened as a result of the oxygen that is released into brain cells.
CBD Oil for Dementia: How Might it Work?
Cannabidiol, or CBD as it is better known, is the non-psychoactive compound found within the cannabis plant. Over recent years, there has been a vast amount of research done into how CBD interacts with our body, and the results have been incredibly promising.
CBD has a range of benefits that can be applied to numerous conditions, which has led to it being one of the most sought-after cannabinoids out there, even rivaling THC. CBD is accessible to a range of people, being legal in the U.S. and coming with very few side effects; children, the elderly and everyone in between can take CBD to aid in the relief of symptoms, as it won’t get you high.
With such a successful catalog of potential benefits, some of which are listed just below, could CBD oil have the potential to work with those who have dementia? Here are just some of the critical benefits of CBD:
Given what we know about the way dementia is brought about in the brain, it stands to reason that CBD may be beneficial in easing inflammation, and as a government-patented neuroprotectant, it could even go so far as protecting the damaged brain cells that cause the condition to settle in in the first place.
What the Research Says About CBD for Dementia
Thanks to extensive research into cannabidiol, we know now that the compound works with our endocannabinoid system, or ECS, which is found within the body. The ECS is responsible for regulating a host of bodily functions, from ensuring our core temperature is as it should be, to controlling things like mood, appetite, and even the way we feel pain. When something is going on within our body that is not as it should be, the ECS releases natural cannabinoids to help combat the issue.
When consumed, CBD promotes an increase in natural cannabinoids, meaning that it has the potential to help with many different conditions without leaving behind any debilitating side effects.
As a result of the research done on CBD, we have been able to come a long way regarding understanding how the cannabinoid can be useful for those suffering from various forms of dementia.
Back in 2003, the U.S. put a patent on cannabidiol as a neuroprotectant, meaning that it can provide antioxidant properties, which can be incredibly beneficial in a range of conditions.
Concerning what we know about dementia, CBD’s neuroprotectant properties could help repair damaged brain cells, as well as prevent further damage being done.
We also know from extensive research that CBD has strong anti-inflammatory properties. This is promising for those who have dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease, where we see that the inflammation within the brain causes an increase in oxygen, leading to the loss of some of the core functions of the brain such as memory.
CBD is not only a potent anti-inflammatory, but also an antioxidant, meaning that the three main areas of the problem for those who have dementia could all be targeted to prevent the condition becoming worse, or they could at least have the ability to slow down progress.
A study published in 2004 by the Department of Experimental Pharmacology of the University of Naples Federico in Italy looked at how the neuroprotective effects of CBD affected the brain cells damaged by Alzheimer’s disease, and revealed that CBD exerted a combination of neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, and anti-apoptotic properties.
A similar study published in 2015 by the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Toronto looked at how cannabinoids could be used to treat agitation and aggression associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Perhaps one of the most upsetting symptoms of dementia is the decline in mental health and altering of someone’s mood and behavior, which often leads to an increase in aggression in many patients. While the study was only done on a small scale, looking at a small sample over a short time-frame, it did show improvement in those who were given synthetic cannabinoids. More research into this specific area is certainly needed, but this is a promising start.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil for Dementia
There is still a lot of research that needs to be done on CBD for dementia, with the majority of research currently centered around Alzheimer’s disease. However, from the studies done, we know that CBD has excellent potential to ease some of the most severe symptoms of dementia, as well as having some potential in treating the condition itself in order to prevent rapid decline.
We look forward to seeing more in the future about CBD for dementia, and how this 100% natural plant compound may be able to help the millions of people that suffer from the condition worldwide.
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