How to Solve the Alzheimer’s Puzzle: Marijuana?

Marijuana Alzheimer's Disease

Cannabis Displays Surprising Results for Alzheimer’s Patients

The increase in attention given to marijuana in the medical field has led to all sorts of controversies, myths, and legitimate reports of beneficial qualities. Sorting out the hype from the facts is hardly ever easy, but you can find a few sufferers from nearly every disease imaginable claiming that marijuana has had a miraculous healing effect on them. When analyzing such reports, it is always safest to confine your attention to official, scientific studies rather than anecdotal stories. With a healthy dose of “wait-and-see,” one recent study report indicates that marijuana may be able to have some kind of effect on Alzheimer’s disease.

Effects on Cognitive Health

It’s a good idea to begin by stating that no one is suggesting the smoking of marijuana as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. The unpredictable effects of the drug on the brain in normal doses could be disastrous, especially for someone who is already suffering cognitive decline! Rather, the study focused on the effects of a tiny extracted amount of THC, the primary acting element of marijuana.

In many medical contexts, patients value marijuana for its ability to dull physical pain and provide a welcome relief. Patients with incurable, painful diseases often prefer the idea of using a natural product like marijuana rather than synthetic painkillers with unpredictable side effects. That’s not the quality under scrutiny when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease, however. As they tested using very small amounts of marijuana, researchers found that the drug performed another, much more surprising function.

Focus on Beta-Amyloid Protein

One of the breakthroughs of recent Alzheimer’s research has been the realization that the abnormal accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brains apparently slows cognitive function—manifested as the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Since that realization, the search for a cure has focused on finding a substance that safely and effectively stops those protein deposits from forming. That’s exactly the effect that scientists found when they experimented with low doses of marijuana.

The Big Picture

Looking ahead, we should not expect Alzheimer’s disease patients to begin seeking medical marijuana licenses in order to self-treat their condition. It seems that the concentration of marijuana necessary to achieve the reduction of beta-amyloid deposits is so small that it could be used as part of a legal treatment without the many complications involved in encouraging seniors to take up marijuana.

It is very exciting for those of us in the in-home caregiving profession to anticipate the development of a safe, effective cure for Alzheimer’s disease in our lifetime. With experts predicting that 14 million people could suffer from the disease by the year 2050, a cure would change not only those lives, but the lives of their families and loved ones as well.

Photo by toehk

Originally posted 2014-09-11 10:30:14.