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Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
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Inc. and none should be inferred.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting over 4.5
million Americans. Studies have shown cannabis can limit the progression of
Overview of Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive type of dementia that destroys memory,
behavior and thinking. In the disease, brain cells degenerate and die, which
causes a steady decline in memory and intellectual and social skills. As
brain cells die, the brain shrinks.
According to Mayo Clinic, scientists believe Alzheimer’s disease is caused
by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. Age seems
to play a role, as risk increases significantly at and beyond the age of 65
and the disease affects nearly half of people over the age of 85.
Hallmarks of the disease include plaques, which are clumps of protein
fragments called amyloid-beta, and tangles, which are twisted fibers of the
protein tau. Plaques and tangles build up in the brain and interfere with
cell communication and nutrient transport, thus contributing to brain cell
Alzheimer’s typically begins with mild confusion or forgetfulness, but
progresses over time at a rate that varies person to person. Memory loss
persists and worsens, causing individuals to repeat statements or questions,
forget conversations or appointments, routinely misplace possessions and
eventually forget names of family members, friends, and everyday objects.
Alzheimer’s will also cause a person to lose their sense of day, have
difficulty finding the right words, have problems concentrating and
thinking, and to experience depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, mood
swings and irritability.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and medications and other
management strategies may only temporarily improve symptoms.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Alzheimer’s Disease
Studies have determined that two of the major cannabinoids found in
cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), reduce the
buildup of plaques and tangles, and therefore show viable potential as
treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease.
THC has been shown to be effective at lowering amyloid-beta levels and
enhancing mitochondrial function, therefore causing the researchers to
conclude “that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for
Alzheimer’s through multiple functions and pathways” (Cao, et al., 2014) (Currais,
et al., 2016). An earlier study also found THC to be effective at preventing
amyloid beta aggregation, suggesting it could impact the progression of the
disease (Eubanks, et al., 2006).
The brains of Alzheimer’s patients experience an over activation of
microglia (cells that form myelin), which contributes to the excessive tau
buildup and therefore tangles. However, CBD has been shown to modulate
microglial function and control neuroinflammation (Martin-Moreno, et al.,
2011). In addition, CBD has been shown to improve the survival rate of cells
through a combination of neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory
and anti-apoptotic effects against the toxicity caused by beta-amyloid,
therefore showing potential as a therapeutic option for Alzheimer’s (Iuvone,
et al., 2004). One study that found CBD’s neuroprotective effects and its
ability to promote the regeneration of brain cells was effective for
reversing the cognitive deficits caused by Alzheimer’s (Cheng, et al.,
A lack of glucose uptake has been linked to a worsening of brain diseases
like Alzheimer’s disease, and findings in a 2016 animal trial suggest that
cannabis could promote an increased glucose uptake in the brain, thereby
potentially being beneficial for treating Alzheimer’s disease (Köfalvi, et
Cannabinoids provide a multi-faceted approach in the treatment of
Alzheimer’s. In addition to reducing amyloid-beta levels, modulating
microglial function and increasing glucose uptake, they protect brain cells
from the deleterious effects of amyloid-beta, reduce inflammation, and
support the brain’s repair process by enhancing neurogenesis (birth of new
cells) (Campbell & Gowran, 2007).
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Alzheimer’s Disease
Currently, 11 states have approved medical marijuana specifically for the
treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. These states include Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, New
Dakota, Oregon, Ohio and Rhode
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment.
Four other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used for
the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with the recommendation from a
physician. These states include: California (any
debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended
by a physician), Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection), Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other
conditions subject to approval), and Washington (any
“terminal or debilitating condition”).
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Alzheimer’s Disease
THC found to reduce amyloid-beta levels and enhance mitochondria
function, thus demonstrating potential as an Alzheimer’s disease
The potential therapeutic effects of THC on Alzheimer’s disease.
THC prevented amyloid-beta aggregation, the key pathological
marker of Alzheimer’s disease.
A molecular link between the active component of marijuana and
Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
CBD provided neuroprotective, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory
effects and promoted the regeneration of brain cells in mice
with Alzheimer’s disease.
Chronic cannabidiol treatment improves social and object
recognition in double transgenic APPswe/PS1∆E9 mice.
Cannabinoids stimulate the removal of beta amyloid, block the
inflammatory response, and provide neuroprotective effects.
Amyloid proteotoxicity initiates an inflammatory response
blocked by cannabinoids.
Alzheimer’s disease. (2014, June 17). Mayo
Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/basics/definition/con-20023871.
Campbell, V. A., & Gowran, A. (2007). Alzheimer’s disease; taking the edge
off with cannabinoids? British
Journal of Pharmacology, 152(5),
Cao, C., Li, Y., Liu, H., Bai, G., Mayl, J., Lin, X., Sutherland, K., Nabar,
N., and Cai, J. (2014). The potential therapeutic effects of THC on
Alzheimer’s disease. Journal
of Alzheimer’s Disease,
Cheng, D., Low, J.K., Logge, W., Garner, B., and Karl, T. (2014, August).
Chronic cannabidiol treatment improves social and object recognition in
double transgenic APPswe/PS1∆E9 mice. Psychopharmacology,
Currais, A., Quehenberger, O., Armando, A.M., Daugherty, D., Maher, P., and
Schubert, D. (2016, June 23). Amyloid proteotoxicity initiates an
inflammatory response blocked by cannabinoids. Aging
and Mechanisms of Disease, doi:10.1038/npjamd.2016.12.
Eubanks, L.M., Rogers, C.J., Beuscher, A.E. 4th, Koob, G.F., Olson, A.J.,
Dickerson, T.J., and Janda, K.D. (2006, November-December). A molecular link
between the active component of marijuana and Alzheimer’s disease pathology. Molecular
Iuvone, T., Esposito, G., Esposito, R., Santamaria, R., Di Rosa, M., and
Izzo, A.A. (2004, April). Neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol, a
non-psychoactive component from Cannabis sativa, on beta-amyloid-induced
toxicity in PC12 cells. Journal
of Neurochemistry, 89(1), 134-41.
Köfalvi, A., Lemos, C., Martin-Moreno, A.M., Pinheiro, B.S., García-García,
L, Poso, M.A., Valerio-Fernandes, A., Beleza, R.O., Agostinho, P., Rodrigues,
R.J., Pasquare, S.J., Cunha, R.A., and de Ceballos, M. (2016, March 11).
Stimulation of brain glucose uptake by cannabinoid CB2 receptors and its
therapeutic potential in Alzheimer’s disease. Neuropharmacology,
Martín-Moreno, A.M., Reigada, D., Ramírez, B.G., Mechoulam, R., Innamorato,
N., Cuadrado, A., & de Ceballos, M.L. (2011). Cannabidiol and Other
Cannabinoids Reduce Microglial Activation In Vitro and In Vivo: Relevance to
Alzheimer’s Disease. Molecular
What Is Alzheimer’s? (n.d.). Alzheimer’s
Association. Retrieved from
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