Medical Marijuana and Alzheimer’s Disease

by | Jun 17, 2021 | Conditions, Health & Relief

Updated on November 26, 2021. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Shatha Atiya.

Alzheimer’s disease is a highly incapacitating disease responsible for progressive deterioration of cognitive mental abilities and is the leading cause of dementia.

Unfortunately, conventional medication for Alzheimer’s is expensive, only slightly effective, and causes a host of unwanted side effects. Additionally, symptoms such as apathy, depression, and even aggression are left unchanged by these medicines.

However, medical marijuana may have numerous benefits for Alzheimer’s. For instance, in slowing progression, improving patients’ memories, plus uplifting mood among other benefits. And unlike conventional medicine, with less intrusive side effects.

Successful animal studies may not prove that the same results will happen in humans. However, some promising results can justify further investigation.

In one study, researchers put some young mice in a pool of water that had a floating platform in the center. Almost immediately, all the mice swam straight for the safety of the platform.

Next, the researchers put old mice in the same pool. The results? The mice frantically swam around in circles looking for a way out without noticing the floating platform.

Then, the researchers took the old mice out of the pool and administered THC to the old mice. In simple words, the old mice got stoned.

The researchers then put the now stoned, old mice into the pool once more.

This time things were different. The old mice did not waste time frantically moving in circles and swam straight towards the floating platform instead.

Several studies like these have been conducted to investigate whether marijuana may be a treatment for Alzheimer’s.

Can medical marijuana help patients with Alzheimer’s?

The cannabinoids, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the main components of marijuana that are studied for their medicinal properties.

THC, besides its medicinal value, is also responsible for making one feel high. Contrastingly, CBD doesn’t cause the high and has many medicinal uses.

Ahead, we’ll have look at how each cannabinoid may benefit Alzheimer’s individually.

Before that though, let us take a look at how marijuana can help Alzheimer’s as a whole.

A Holistic approach

Seok Hee Kim et al. reviewed studies on marijuana for Alzheimer’s. And found that both in vivo and in vitro studies suggest that marijuana may hold promise when treating Alzheimer’s in several ways. For example:

  • Reducing cell death in the brain by protecting the brain cells.
  • Stimulating neurogenesis in the hippocampus.
  • Improving memory.

Moreover, the researchers concluded that using both CBD and THC would be more helpful for Alzheimer’s compared to using each cannabinoid individually.

In vivo studies: These studies take place within living organisms. For example, mice.

In vitro studies: These studies happen outside living organisms. For instance, in test tubes or lab dishes.

Alzheimer’s and THC

As mentioned earlier, THC has a ton of medicinal benefits despite being the psychoactive compound in marijuana. Its benefits are evident in the treatment of conditions such as glaucoma, chronic pain, cancer, IBD, and as we’ll see, Alzheimer’s.

According to a preclinical study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease THC may slow the production of beta-amyloid proteins. Why is this significant?

Beta-amyloid proteins are proteins produced in the brain that are toxic to neurons. It’s assumed that beta-amyloid proteins are a fundamental feature and key contributor to the progression of Alzheimer’s.

Other studies also support THC’s ability to inhibit the production of these toxic amyloid plaques.

Additionally, THC inhibits the production of these toxic amyloid plaques and stimulates their removal. As a result, the inflammatory response of these proteins is blocked and cell death is minimized.

Finally, M.E. Sichler and colleagues observed improved memory and lessened neuronal loss after treating Alzheimer’s disease mice with THCsuggesting that the same could happen when treating Alzheimer’s in humans.

In summary, Alzheimer’s and THC could lead to:

  • Reduced production of beta-amyloid proteins toxic to neurons.
  • Removal of toxic amyloid proteins.
  • Reduced inflammation of neurons and therefore reduced cell death.
  • Possible improvement of memory in Alzheimer’s patients.

CBD and Alzheimer’s

Cannabidiol (CBD) is usually preferred for medical use over THC because of its non-intoxicating properties. CBD is especially useful in the treatment of conditions such as epilepsy, PTSD, multiple sclerosis, and yes, Alzheimer’s disease.

Many scientists believe that brain inflammation is a major contributor to Alzheimer’s disease.

Brain inflammation increases the number of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, which spur greater inflammation, microglial activation, and further brain cell death.

CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, therefore, make it a great option when addressing brain inflammation. Additionally, CBD has far less brutal side effects when compared to conventional anti-inflammatory medication or microglial inhibitors.

By addressing brain inflammation, CBD may help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s through:

  • Reducing amyloid plaques.
  • Preventing the development of neurofibrillary tangles.
  • Blocking the activation of microglia and the release of toxic chemicals.
  • Soaking up free radicals.

CBD oil and Alzheimer’s

Cannabis oil or CBD oil can’t be ignored when it comes to treating any debilitating condition with medical marijuana.

Is this the result of aggressive marketing by CBD oil manufacturers? Or is it because of testimonies from patients who’ve experienced relief from CBD oil?

Well, the presence of CBD is an indication that CBD oils may have medicinal value.

Whether the content of a particular CBD oil matches its labeling is another story. And that’s why CBD oils are so difficult to evaluate medically. To clarify, CBD oils aren’t medical products; so their claims shouldn’t be taken as medical advice.

Nonetheless, reputable CBD oil manufacturers such as InstacraftCBD make the case for the use of commercially available CBD oils for medicinal purposes. This is because their products undergo third-party testing to verify that their labeling matches their content.

So how can CBD oil be beneficial for Alzheimer’s patients?

Well, as mentioned earlier, the CBD in cannabis oil could help reduce inflammation, consequently reducing amyloid plaques and the formation of tangles among other benefits.

Can CBD help with dementia?

Dementia is a collective term used to describe various symptoms of cognitive decline such as memory loss, difficulty in communication, and thinking. And, dementia is usually an outcome of Alzheimer’s disease.

CBD may help with dementia because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which prevent brain cell death. This way, cognitive deterioration is stopped and memory may be enhanced.

Indica or Sativa for Alzheimer’s

Marijuana leaf: Indica or Sativa for Alzheimer's

Which is better, Indica or Sativa for Alzheimer’s disease?

Indica strains produce a distinct ‘body high’. An Indica’s body high may manifest as a numbing or tingling sensation throughout the body coupled with feelings of relaxation and sleepiness.

The sedative and body numbing qualities of the Indica make it the strain of choice when quelling conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia.

Sativa on the other hand delivers a mostly cerebral head high. Often, users experience euphoria, increased motivation, and creativity, plus an uptick in energy.

These qualities make Sativa strains suitable when it comes to eliminating annoyances such as fatigue, and chronic pain. Moreover, Sativa strains also work wonders when it comes to improving appetite.

So, to answer the question: Indica or Sativa for Alzheimer’s? Alzheimer’s patients benefit most from the cerebral effects of Sativa strains.

Apart from the Indica and Sativa strains, hybrid strains are another option for Alzheimer’s patients. These strains combine the best of both Sativa and Indica effects to produce more balanced experiences for patients.

Best strains for Alzheimer’s

The best strains for Alzheimer’s come down to those that deliver the most relief to patients. So, the best strains for Alzheimer’s should help patients with their memory, improve their mood, and relax them which may, in turn, reduce their aggression.

Below are five of the best strains for Alzheimer’s:

1. Green Crack Strain

Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid?  The Green Crack strain is a potent Sativa strain whose ancestry is the Skunk #1  strain and a mystery Indica.

Effects: The Green Crack strain makes its presence known by delivering distinct sharp energy and focus while inducing an invigorating mental buzz. This keeps the user going throughout the day.

Additionally, users will experience a boost in their mood while under the influence of Green Crack; bound to brighten any bad day.

Medical value: The Green Crack strain helps users combat stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and pain.

Moreover, cerebral invigoration from the Green Crack strain makes it a suitable choice for Alzheimer’s patients.

Time to use: The Green Crack strain works well during the day.

Bonus Information: Because of its polarizing name, this strain usually goes by Green Cush or Cush.

2. Bio Jesus Strain

Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid?  The Bio Jesus strain is a hybrid strain. Its aroma and appearance spark assumptions that it may have Gumbo and Diesel strain origins.

Effects: The effects of the Bio Jesus strain are felt as an intense body high plus a euphoric wave.

Users will experience happiness, sleepiness, increased appetite, and relaxation at the same time.

Medical value:  The numbing effects of the Bio Jesus strain make it exceptional when it comes to combating pain. Also, insomnia, stress, anxiety, and depression become distant memories.

Some Alzheimer’s patients recommend the Bio Jesus strain when seeking a break from dementia.

Time to use: The sedative qualities of the Bio Jesus strain make it ideal for nighttime use before bed.

Bonus Information: The smoke from the Bio Jesus strain is very harsh even for the most experienced veteran. So, consider vaping the Bio Jesus strain to be kind to your lungs.

3. White Russian Strain

Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid?  The White Russian strain is a mostly Sativa hybrid strain birthed by crossing the White Widow strain with the AK-47 strain.

Effects: An instantaneous head high characterized by euphoria and mental stimulation is how the White Russian strain makes its presence known. 

This mental stimulation is followed by a feeling of physical relaxation. Yet, the user will still feel energized and motivated to take on any mental tasks.

Medical value: The White Russian strain lends its medical powers to patients by reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain.

Moreover, several Alzheimer’s patients praise the strain’s ability to help with memory recall and concentration. This quality makes it the best strain for Alzheimer’s.

Time to use: The White Russian strain works well as a daytime strain.

Bonus Information: The White Russian strain won first place in the ‘Best Overall Category’ at the 1996 High Times Cannabis Cup.

4. Strawberry Lemonade Strain

Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid?  The Strawberry Lemonade strain is a potent Sativa leaning strain whose parents could be the Lemon OG and Strawberry Cough strains.

Effects: The high from the Strawberry Lemon strain starts as an energizing uplifting effect coupled with cerebral focus. 

Soon after, a warming tingly buzz will wash over the user leaving them completely relaxed but still functional.

Medical value: The Strawberry Lemon strain provides relief from depression, pain, fatigue, stress, and anxiety.

Also, the cerebral potency from the Strawberry Lemonade strain may help those with attention problems focus.

Time to use: The late afternoon or evening are the best times for the Strawberry Lemonade strain.

Bonus Information: True to its name, the Strawberry Lemon strain tastes like a glass of sweetened strawberry lemonade.

5. Acapulco Gold Strain

Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid? The Acapulco Gold strain is a Sativa strain whose origin is a mystery.

Effects: The Acapulco Gold strain induces a powerful cerebral high with a soothing body high that lasts longer than most strains do.

Users feel like their mind gets crisp shortly after smoking followed by the urge to get chatty.

However, because of the intense cerebral effects of the Acapulco Gold strain, paranoia is very likely if users overdo it.

Medical value: Stress, anxiety, pain, and fatigue are no match for the Acapulco Gold strain.

Time to use: The Acapulco Gold strain is a great daytime choice.

Bonus Information: The Acapulco Gold strain is one of the rarest strains to find.

Best edibles for Alzheimer’s

Marijuana truffles are a good choice of edibles for Alzheimer's

Administering medical marijuana to Alzheimer’s patients can be an easy process. Methods like smoking may not be suitable for senior patients who have compromised lungs or too repulsive for those that don’t like the smell of cannabis.

Therefore, edibles have become the go-to when it comes to administering medical cannabis to Alzheimer’s patients.

Greg Spier’s account is a real-life example of when edibles proved best for Alzheimer’s.

Greg Spier, son of Alex Spier, administered granola bar marijuana edibles to his father who was battling Alzheimer’s. According to Greg Spier, marijuana was the only drug that seemed to give his father any reprieve.

The appealing nature of cannabis edibles makes them one of the easiest ways to administer medical marijuana to Alzheimer’s patients.

Moreover, cannabis edibles are available in marijuana dispensaries and come prepackaged and marked according to dosage. So they’re an excellent option to keep track of doses.

The best edibles for Alzheimer’s include:

Cannabis Gummies: The combination of their sugary sweetness plus marijuana make them a potent option when it comes to picking edibles. Alzheimer’s patients may be more open to sampling this form of medical marijuana because of their appealing looks and taste.

Cannabis Brownies: Outstandingly delicious and familiar make cannabis brownies appealing when it comes to delivering marijuana edibles.

Weed Chocolates: These are some of the few forms of medical marijuana that provide room for microdosing. Patients can take bites from their tasty infused chocolate bars throughout the day while enjoying the benefits of marijuana.

Cannabis Truffles: These are another visually appealing set of edibles that create a sense of occasion and patients will be eager to bite into them.

Cannabis mints: When it comes to ease of delivery, nothing comes close to cannabis mints. They don’t feel like a meal, are discrete, and deliver medicinal cannabis as effectively as other edibles.

Most importantly, when it comes to taking cannabis edibles going slow is well advised. Edibles are unpredictable, more potent, and last longer than other forms of medical marijuana. So, taking too much could likely overwhelm patients.

Microdosing: this is a method of taking a very low dose of a drug over some time.

Speak to a medical marijuana doctor

When looking into marijuana for medical use, patients need to seek the opinion of an experienced cannabis doctor. Why?

Because proper guidance from a professional cannabis doctor will result in a successful medical marijuana treatment. Moreover, to access medical marijuana, patients need a marijuana doctor’s recommendation. Then, after getting their MMJ recommendation, can they apply for a medical marijuana card.

So if you are seeking medical marijuana for yourself or your loved one with Alzheimer’s, you can book your appointment with QuickMedCards, attend your online marijuana evaluation and get a medical marijuana recommendation.

Patients in the following states can get a medical marijuana card for their Alzheimer’s:

  1. Arizona
  2. Arkansas
  3. Delaware
  4. Louisiana
  5. Maine
  6. Minnesota
  7. Missouri
  8. New Mexico
  9. Ohio
  10. Oklahoma
  11. Pennsylvania
  12. Virginia

Conclusion

In vitro and in vivo studies paint a rosy picture when it comes to marijuana and Alzheimer’s. But, more investigations are required; particularly human trials to draw more concrete conclusions.

Nevertheless, despite the lack of the latter, medical marijuana may still prove useful for Alzheimer’s as evidenced in preclinical studies and patient testimonies.

For a decline in symptoms and an improvement in the quality of life, patients battling Alzheimer’s, and their families should consider medical marijuanait just might be the answer they seek.