Let’s be clear about this from the outset; there is currently no conclusive research available that suggests that CBD can halt or cure any form of dementia, least of all Alzheimer’s disease. However, what we are seeing emerge from the scientific community is a healthy desire to understand how CBD can help with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and if there is any merit in the idea that it can help limit the brain’s degeneration under the weight of dementia. With this in mind, our CBD101 guide aims to walk you through what we do know at this early stage of discovery around the use of CBD for Alzheimer’s disease.
Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by the steady loss of function and structure of neurons in the brain. Alzheimer’s starts characteristically slowly and gets much worse over time. Early symptoms tend to include having trouble recalling recent events. As the disease progresses, symptoms become more pronounced and noticeable, disorientation (and easily getting lost), difficulty with using and understanding language, lack of motivation, mood swings, neglect of the self, and absence of self-care. As the condition worsens and, with it, a person’s quality of life, the individual can typically withdraw from society and family. Life expectancy after diagnosis is generally low, at no more than three to nine years.
As yet, we don’t fully understand Alzheimer’s disease or its origins, one of the principal reasons the research on CBD for Alzheimer’s remains at such an early, exploratory stage.
Is there any data on using CBD for Alzheimer’s?
With the bleak picture above out of the way, there are some studies that show promise for CBD and Alzheimer’s. However, the research is either mostly theoretical and speculative, only at the animal study stage, or focuses on specific symptoms and whether CBD can assist with their relief.
One promising 2019 review of the scientific literature did identify some benefits of using CBD for Alzheimer’s, although the researchers indicated that for the most pronounced results, a cocktail of CBD + THC (the two best-understood cannabinoids from Cannabis) seemed to have the most effect. Most of the other recent research has focused on animal models using mice.
A German study found that it was not CBD but THC which seemed to improve the memory of treated mice when compared to untreated mice. The treated mice did not lose neurons in the same way that the untreated mice did. However, the researchers found that the same experiment conducted with healthy mice led to learning difficulties. As you can probably see, “early stages” is perhaps the best description of the scientific inquiry into CBD for Alzheimer’s.
One use for CBD in Alzheimer’s treatment could be in helping to manage poor mood and aggression from the AD patient. One study on the effects of CBD on agitation in Alzheimer’s is currently underway at the University of Eastern Virginia Medical School Researchers are hoping to establish a connection between THC-free CBD and a reduction in the symptoms of agitation in Alzheimer’s patients which may relieve some of the burdens on AD patient caregivers.
With scientific research still very much in its infancy, we can only hope that we start to see results emerge from this particular field of inquiry. Things being what they are, Alzheimer’s seems destined to remain a disease that is difficult to treat and manage. With a few small glimmers of hope emerging from the current body of knowledge, we can remain hopeful that we will soon have more solid evidence about the connection between CBD and Alzheimer’s disease.