CBD and Alzheimer’s
Every 65 seconds, someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s disease (alz.org). 10% of adults aged 65 and older in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease, and this number is only going up (alz.org). Neurodegenerative Diseases are one of the leading causes of death in the industrialized world, and the death rate attributed to Alzheimer’s disease has risen 55% in the last 15 years (cdc.gov).
Despite care for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia being a multi-billion-dollar industry, with the cost of services exceeding $259 billion in 2017 alone. Alzheimer’s Disease has been shown to have no effective treatments according to two of the leading researchers (Beeri & Sonnen, 2016).
Worse yet, not only have most Alzheimer’s drugs been found to be completely ineffective, one meta-analysis found several classes of Alzheimer’s drugs to actually worsen the cognitive ability of those who take them (Kennedy, Cutter, & Fowler, 2018).
Many researchers and doctors are put into a terrible dilemma because of this. They desperately want to help their patients, but they don’t know if the drugs that they can prescribe will actually do what they’re supposed to…or worse yet, worsen their patients’ symptoms.
However, several recent animal studies show that several aspects involved with Alzheimer’s can be slowed with the use of CBD. All is not as hopeless as we originally thought! An Australian study has shown that a prolonged CBD treatment can inhibit the social recognition decline in those afflicted with Alzheimer’s (Cheng et al., 2014). This study was later successfully replicated by two other researchers in 2017 (Watt & Karl, 2017). Those who have a loved one who suffers from this disease know that social recognition is one of the first things to go (Watt & Karl, 2017).
Several studies found that CBD can reduce inflammation of the nerves and actually help promote nerve growth in Alzheimer’s patients (Briggs, 2018; Hughes & Herron, 2018; Esposito et al., 2014, Vallee, Lecarpentier, Guillevin, & Vallee, 2017). This is a first for any drug or supplement tested at the time of this writing!
However, one should not confuse the medical benefits of CBD with THC. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the component found in marijuana that creates a high. Its medical benefits have been limited to appetite stimulation and pain management so far. According to Dr. David Perlmutter, THC does nothing for Alzheimer’s because the plaque in the brain that is associated with Alzheimer’s is an immune response to infection. All THC does is impede this immune response. However, CBD actually reduces the inflammation that’s ailing the brain and because of this there’s no need for an immune response.
In conclusion, further scientific studies should continue to be conducted and evaluated to see how CBD helps individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. Not only that, but different forms of CBD should be compared, as CBD isolate, full spectrum CBD, and nano-CBD have shown different effects in various studies. Because these differences have been seen when looking at other issues and ailments, the different types of CBD may have different results when combating this debilitating disease.