Dementia Care Central, a resource for those who care for people with Dementia writes that, “According to researchers at California’s Salk Institute, their 2017 study has found evidence that cannabinoids such as CBD could help remove dementia from, and increase connections between, brain cells. Those results were validated by other laboratories.” They go on to emphasize that there are three ways CBD can work to improve health outcomes for persons with dementia: by reducing inflammation, by reducing oxygen buildup, and by working as a brain stimulant and neuroprotectant. From a user’s perspective, CBD may reduce stress and anxiety in the individual with dementia as well as reduce the decline of memory and other brain functions.
There is still a lack of research in this area, but it’s growing tremendously. For example,
A study published in the journal Molecular Pharmacology in 2006, found that cannabis contains a compound with two therapeutic properties that are perfect for addressing the symptom (memory problems) as well as root cause (brain plaque) of Alzheimer’s disease. This is another finding that completely destroys the prevailing stereotype is that using marijuana “fries” the brain, leading to debilitating memory issues.
Researchers found that that the psychoactive component of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), both “competitively inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) as well as prevents AChE-induced amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) aggregation.”
“Today’s findings lend new understanding of the complex effects that cannabis has on the brain,” said press conference moderator Michael Taffe, PhD, of Scripps Research Institute and an expert in substance abuse research. “While it may have therapeutic potential in some situations, it is important to get a better understanding of the negative aspects as well, particularly for pregnant women, teens, and chronic users.” (source)
The study also outlined the dangers of cannabis use for the developing brain, outlining that it’s only safe for adult use.
“Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells.” – David Schubert from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. (source)
Another investigation of the long-term effects of cannabis on brain health came to pretty much the same conclusions. Staci Gruber led the study, “The Grass Might Be Greener: Medical Marijuana Patients Exhibit Altered Brain Activity and Improved Executive Function after 3 Months of Treatment“. This study explored long term effects on brain health for medical cannabis patients.
After three months of treatment, participants in the study showed better task performance in conjunction with better activation within the frontal cortex and an area of the brain called cingulate cortex. The cingulate cortex is in charge of aspects of emotion and memory. Study participants had measurably better results than their baseline data before they started cannabis therapy.
Gruber highlighted that participants’ brain activation patterns also returned to normal activity patterns, which were similar to the patterns recorded in people not using medicinal cannabis.
A recent study from the University of Kentucky and the University of Maryland concluded that a chemical in marijuana called cannabidiol (CBD) could be used to prevent alcohol-induced brain damage. The study was published in September of 2013 in the journal Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. (source)
The results of a new pilot study study from Harvard University suggests that smoking medical cannabis may actually be beneficial to brain function.
The list goes on and on,
Cannabis and its ability to treat and perhaps slightly reverse dementia will be tested on actual dementia patients. This is the first ever study of its kind, as fifty participants, aged 65 or older and suffering from the disease will be given cannabis via a mouth spray. All patients will be closely monitored and observed over a period of 14 months.
“We think cannabis is going to help ameliorate behavioural signs and symptoms we see from dementia,” researcher Dr Amanda Timler told Seven News.“It’s one of those medications that will treat a number of symptoms compared with typically being diagnosed with dementia and taking a number of different drugs.”
This particular trial is still underway.