Cannabis and Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is another neuro-degenerative condition for which cannabis and cannabinoid therapies show promise, both for treating the symptoms and the underlying disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is widely held to be associated with oxidative stress due, in part, to the membrane action of beta-amyloid peptide aggregates. A laboratory study published in 2004 indicates that one of the cannabis plant’s primary components, cannabidiol (CBD), exerts a combination of neuroprotective, anti-oxidative and anti-apoptotic effects by inhibiting the release of the toxic beta-amyloid peptide.
Another cannabinoid, THC, has also has been shown to reduce the agitation common to Alzheimer’s sufferers, according to findings presented in 2003 at the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists’ 34th annual meeting. Agitation is the most common behavioral management problem in patients with Alzheimer’s and affects an estimated 75 percent of people with the disease. It may lead to a variety of symptoms ranging from physical and/or verbal abusive postures, physically non-aggressive conduct including pacing and restlessness, as well as verbally disturbed behaviors such as screaming and repetitive requests for attention.
This study and the Institutes of Medicine report also show THC to be effective in combating the anorexia or wasting syndrome common to Alzheimer’s sufferers, since food refusal is a common problem in patients who suffer from Alzheimer’s-type dementia. The appetite-stimulation properties of cannabis are some of the most well established in clinical research.
This new research on cannabis and Alzheimer’s disease, coupled with the extensive work done on other neuroprotective qualities of cannabis and its components, indicates that cannabis may become the source of the most effective treatments for battling the Central Nervous System diseases that afflict millions of elderly Americans.
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