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Research Studies: CBD’s Effects on Alzheimer’s Disease

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

AD is a widespread neurodegenerative disorder. It is prevalent among elderly individuals aged 65 to 80 years.

Patients who have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) suffer from short and long-term loss of memory and cognitive impairment. Also, AD patients often suffer difficulties with speech and poor vision. Other characteristics of AD include psychosis, aggressive tendencies, and depression.

Patients who suffer from AD require comprehensive care which is often provided by family members.

Statistics on Alzheimer’s Disease

An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are currently living with Alzheimer’s Disease. And the number of older Americans is growing rapidly.

Here are some statistics of interest related to Alzheimer’s Disease from [1]

  • Someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds. And by 2050 someone will develop the disease every 33 seconds.

  • 5.5 million people age 65 and older have Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

  • One in 10 people age 65 and older has Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • People with Alzheimer’s or other dementias have twice as many hospital stays per year as other older people.

  • Almost two-thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women.

  • Older African-Americans are nearly twice as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.

  • Hispanics are about one and one-half times as likely to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias as older whites.

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

  • Alzheimer’s is the fifth-leading cause of death among those age 65 and older.

  • Alzheimer’s disease is the only top 10 cause of death that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed.

  • Between 2000 and 2015, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease increased 123 percent.

  • 61 percent of Alzheimer’s patients age 70 or over are expected to die before the age of 80.

  • Annual costs for treating Alzheimer’s patients exceeds $250 billion, including $186 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments.

  • in 2050, Alzheimer’s is projected to cost more than $1.1 trillion (in 2018 dollars).

  • The main cause of Alzheimer’s Disease is genetic inheritance.

Pathology Of The Alzheimer’s Disease.

Patients who suffer from AD show a reduction in hyperphosphorylation (a signaling mechanism used by the cell to regulate mitosis) of tau proteins in the brain. These proteins can cause the development of intracellular neurofibrillary connections that disrupt the process of memory retention and inter-neuronal communication. Furthermore, this can lead to the occurrence of oxidative stress and neuroinflammatory disruptions which distorts the normal activities of the brain.

The neurotoxicity triggered by AD is a result of the deposition of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the brain. Furthermore, this results in the activation of the microglial cells by the immune cells. The immune cells release microglial cells in the quest to clear the deposition of the plaque that causes the patient to suffer AD symptoms.

These plaques target the cholinergic neurons, leading to the degradation of cognitive abilities.

The downside to current treatments such as cholinesterase inhibitors or acetylcholinesterase inhibitors is that these drugs can only mitigate the symptoms of the early stages of AD, such as the impairment of cognitive abilities. These drugs do not stop or reverse the condition.

Research Studies On CBD’s Effects On Alzheimer’s Disease

Much of the research and investigation into the potential therapeutic properties for Alzheimer’s Disease offered by CBD reveals that the compound may potentially be effective in treating neurodegenerative disorders.

A research paper published by Frontiers in Pharmacology entitled, “Frontiers In Pharmacology: In vivo Evidence for Therapeutic Properties of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Alzheimer’s Disease,” revealed that CBD, which is a natural and non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, has the ability to mitigate the effects caused by AD. [2]

Researchers from the Tim and Carl Group conducted an extensive review of the antioxidant, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD. The results of the study suggest that treatment with CBD may reduce cognitive impairment attributed to Alzheimer’s disease making the compound a promising alternative to acetylcholine which has no long-term effects on the symptoms of AD.

According to the research carried out by Karl and Group, CBD possesses the ability to stop neuroinflammatory response and reactive gliosis associated with neurodegeneration disease and it is progression.[3]

CBD and Neurogenesis

Reports from this research also show that CBD may promote the growth and development of neurons in a process known as neurogenesis which is beneficial for the central nervous system and inhibits the deterioration of cognitive functions.

Preclinical studies on mice with AD have shown that CBD can inhibit the expansion of cognitive deficits and even reverse the damage caused by AD. According to one study, after one to three weeks of daily CBD treatments, the effects of the cognitive damage caused by the disease stopped. Furthermore, the study showed that eight months of treatment with CBD helped to restore social recognition memory. [4]

A study from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California entitled, “Amyloid proteotoxicity initiates an inflammatory response blocked by cannabinoids,” found that cannabinoids may reduce the amount of beta amyloids in the brain. Researchers believe that beta-amyloid protiens are the cause of the disease. In the study, researchers found that by exposing beta-amyloid proteins to cannabinoids, levels of beta-amyloids were reduced. Additionally, inflammatory response from the nerve cells caused by beta-amyloid was stopped allowing the nerve cells to survive. [5]

While the findings are preliminary, researchers are optimistic. David Schubert, a professor at the Salk Institute and senior author on the study says, “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.”

CBD In the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease

While the findings in the studies mentioned above are preliminary, researchers are optimistic about CBD’s potential as another tool in treating Alzheimer’s Disease patients.

Conventional AD treatments available today (acetylcholinesterase inhibitors) do not provide a cure or stop the growth of the disease. But findings have shown that CBD oil therapy has the potential of halting the progression of the disease, and perhaps potentially even reversing it. Compared to other medications, people have few tolerance issues with CBD.

Every patient reacts differently to CBD. The severity of the disease is the main indicator in deciding upon a dosage. Although it is not possible to overdose cannabidiol, effects taper off over a certain dosage.

Experts recommend starting with 40 or 50 mg per day and double it after 4 days if symptoms such as social recognition deficits and aggression do not noticeably improve. Some Alzheimer’s patients take up to 400 mg daily.

No matter how you take the CBD oil, medical professionals recommend patients stay at the higher dosage for several weeks. And when the patient has returned to normal functioning, go back to a maintenance dosage. This can be anywhere in the range of 25 to 50 mg per day. Just find out by trial and error what the minimum dosage is for avoiding a return of memory loss, agitation etc. [6]

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