Most of us are aware of dozens of health conditions that are traditionally considered incurable by allopathic medicine practitioners even now, in the 21st century. Thanks to the current, heated interest of the scientific community in the healing properties of the cannabis plant, however, this list might just finally begin to grow shorter.
Among the conditions with the most promising results for new and more effective treatments is Alzheimer’s Disease, a serious health concern characterized by the slow and steady degeneration of the nervous system that leads to dementia and the shortening of one’s life expectancy. With the progression of the disease, beyond memory loss and changes in personality, even basic, daily tasks may become difficult to accomplish for those affected, often requiring round-the-clock care, especially during the latter stages.
Despite extensive research, the exact causes of Alzheimer’s Disease are still not fully understood. Genetics, the natural aging process, and unhealthy lifestyle-related problems, such as obesity, high blood pressure or stroke are all likely to worsen brain health, leading to the shrinkage of its tissues, inflammation, production of free radicals, and the ultimate breakdown between the communication of the brain cells.
So, how exactly can cannabis fight the slow deterioration of the brain? Can it reverse disease progression altogether, or does it effectively slow down the inevitable, offering new hope to over 40 million Alzheimer’s sufferers worldwide? Is there a chance that regular cannabis use can prevent the development of dementia altogether?
Science is in the process of finding rather promising answers. Let’s take a look below in detail at what we know so far about the importance of cannabis for Alzheimer’s patients.
Can Cannabis Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
In the recent years, some evidence is slowly beginning to emerge about cannabis, in fact, being able to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s Disease, if used correctly, following strict guidelines. As Dr. Gary Wenk, professor of psychology, neuroscience, and molecular virology, immunology, and medical genetics explains in an article posted by Psychology Today, smoking cannabis between the ages 30 and 60 can reduce the beginning signs of normal, aging-related inflammation, which stands behinds the decreasing neuron production of our brains.
Dr. Wenk also suggests that modern, genetically altered cannabis strains are not as effective as the natural concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol -THC- and cannabidiol -CBD- found in natural marijuana. However, if using the right type of old-fashioned cannabis, one puff each day is enough to experience its anti-inflammatory benefits, over a long period of time.
Can Cannabis Completely Reverse or Slow the Damage Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease?
In a 2014 scientific study, researchers have discovered strong evidence of the therapeutic effects of THC found in cannabis, in regards to reversing the brain damage associated with Alzheimer’s Disease. The results clearly are in favor of low-dose, monitored use of cannabis to lower the levels of amyloid-beta precursor proteins, characteristic of this health problem.
Amyloid-beta precursor proteins are large membrane proteins that support neural health, growth, and repair. Due to the natural aging process and the presence of inflammation, a corrupted version of these proteins may begin to produce, destroying neurons and consequently, the memories, thinking process, and even the personality of the Alzheimer’s patient.
If THC successfully lowers the level of the corrupted amyloid-beta precursor proteins, does this mean that Alzheimer’s Disease can be completely reversed? Scientists do not yet have clear-cut and straightforward answers to this important question. Even though the political and scientific climate around cannabis is rapidly changing, funding is still somewhat limited for the further research this topic to discover conclusive findings.
At this time, it is highly likely that the Alzheimer’s-related brain tissue atrophy due to the death of neurons cannot be completely reversed simply by the medicinal use of cannabis alone; a lifestyle supporting the overall health of an individual will always be an important factor that must not be ignored, especially in the preceding years or decades before the appearance of the disease. Unlocking the genetic components of Alzheimer’s will, eventually, also provide more in-depth answers whether certain individuals have a greater chance for a full recovery with the regular use of cannabis.
In the meantime, science is beginning to ask the right questions and making headway with giving Alzheimer’s patients newfound hope. Thanks to the recent years’ evidence, it’s a strong possibility that cannabis will be an important component in preventing or reversing Alzheimer’s Disease in the near future.