CBD and Alzheimer's Disease: A Possible Treatment
Alzheimer's disease (AD) accounts for 65% of dementia cases diagnosed globally.
It is an irreversible neurodegenerative disease that mostly affects people from 65 years of age, although there is some incidence in younger people. Could cannabinoids, primarily THC and CBD, be the solution to treat Alzheimer's in the future?
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When we talk about Alzheimer's in Spain, the cases of former Spanish President Adolfo Suárez, Pasqual Maragall, who was Mayor of Barcelona during the 1992 Olympics or Carmen Sevilla come to mind. But we cannot forget the other 800,000 people suffering from this disease in our country. Alzheimer's not only has a great impact on the patient but also on his whole family.
Finding a drug that prevents the progression of the disease is a priority task for some research laboratories. The therapeutic properties of phytocannabinoids such as THC and CBD, both natural and synthetic, point to being a possible treatment to prevent the death of brain neurons. We will explain what Alzheimer's is and what scientists have discovered about the effects of cannabinoids on neuronal protection.
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What is Alzheimer's and what are the symptoms?
Although sometimes we get lost or find it difficult to find the exact word to define something, these are not signs of Alzheimer's. The first symptoms that can make us suspect that we suffer from Alzheimer's disease are the ease of forgetting things we have just learned, important dates in our lives, or how to use things that we used to do unconsciously, such as starting the microwave.
Another suspicious sign is disorientation in time or space: we do not know if we are in summer or winter or we do not know where we are or how we got there. We may also have trouble following a conversation, stopping talking without knowing how to continue, or repeating the same concept several times. Another characteristic sign changes in character for no apparent reason: depression, anxiety, irritability, etc., or making totally wrong decisions, such as giving away money without justification.
All these behavioral alterations are a consequence of the accumulation of a protein (called amyloid-beta protein) in brain tissue. This accumulation forms plaques, called amyloid plaques, which cause inflammation and toxicity in neurons that end up leading to neuronal death, which is the cause of the cognitive deterioration of the patient and the progressive degeneration of their faculties. Life expectancy since diagnosis is usually about 8 to 10 years.
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CBD and Alzheimer's
The drugs that are administered to Alzheimer's patients do not manage to stop the progression of the disease, they only obtain discrete improvements at the cognitive or functional level. Finding a treatment to reverse the formation of amyloid plaques is a priority.
The endocannabinoid system has been shown to be directly involved in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD are shown to be effective in reducing neuroinflammation and oxidative stress that involves neurotoxicity and neuronal death. The antioxidant effects of CBD to fight free radicals to restore the balance of cells are also being studied.
The anxiolytic effect of CBD has also been effective in controlling the anxiety symptoms presented by Alzheimer's patients and, in combination with THC, has improved insomnia and nocturnal agitation. CBD has also improved verbal language, orientation, communication with the environment, and emotional stability.
The results obtained from the studies carried out on the therapeutic potential of CBD edibles and THC in Alzheimer's patients in the early stages of the disease will determine the viability of cannabinoids as a definitive treatment to slow their progression.