Alzheimer’s Disease and the Brain

       Alzheimer’s disease changes the brain significantly, leading to nerve cell death and tissue loss throughout the brain. Plaques and tangles are the two primary culprits when it comes to cell death and tissue loss in Alzheimer’s patients.

  • Plaques—Plaques are abnormal clusters of protein that build up between nerve cells. These plaques form from beta-amyloid, part of a protein that tends to clump together. As they clump, they stop communication between cells, and they may also activate the immune system in ways that trigger inflammation.
  • Tangles—Tangles destroy the cell transport system. This system is typically comprised of orderly, parallel strands, and a protein called tau helps keep things in line. With Alzheimer’s disease, tau collapses and the strands tangle. Cells no longer receive essential nutrients, and they die.

       Alzheimer’s disease, like many brain disorders, progresses slowly over time. The rate of progression varies by individual and whether there are any other health conditions present.

Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
How Medical Cannabis Helps With Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms

       Medical marijuana is a powerful tool for alleviating many Alzheimer’s symptoms. Marijuana can:

  • Stimulate appetite.
  • Improve insomnia.
  • Alleviate depression and anxiety.

       There is also promising preclinical research showing that medical marijuana may help reduce agitation, aggression and irritability.

       As with any medication, each person will react differently to marijuana, so it is critical to work closely with an experienced medical marijuana physician such as Dr. Daniel P. Stein at Neurology of Cannabis.

Can Medical Cannabis Slow the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease?

       There is ample research to support medical marijuana’s ability to alleviate many common Alzheimer’s disease symptoms, but can it slow the progress of the disease itself? Initial research in this area is promising.

       One preclinical study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s disease showed that THC, one of the main compounds in marijuana, can slow the production of beta-amyloid, which contributes to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

       THC and CBD, another primary chemical compound in marijuana, are also known anti-inflammatories. As brain inflammation may contribute to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, reducing inflammation could help slow the progression of the disease.
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