According to the Mayo Clinic, Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes called senile dementia, is a very common disease with over 3 million cases per year. No cure exists, but medications and management strategies may temporarily improve symptoms. CBD (aka Cannabidiol) is a compound derived from the Cannabis plant that has positive medicinal effects. Recent scientific studies have shown that CBD is an exciting new compound for people whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease.
In this article, we will discuss, “What is quality of life (QOL)?”, “How do we measure it?”, and “Is CBD a valid therapeutic treatment for Alzheimer’s disease?”
CBD, Alzheimer’s Disease, And Your Quality Of Life (QOL)
With a growing body of scientific support and more anecdotal evidence, it’s easy to understand the interest that Alzheimer’s disease patients and their families have in CBD.
About Alzheimer’s Disease
According to the Mayo Clinic, Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes called senile dementia, is a very common disease with over 3 million cases per year. The National Institute of Health ranks Alzheimer’s disease as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, but recent estimates indicate that the disorder may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death for older people. No cure exists, but medications and management strategies may temporarily improve symptoms.
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.
Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 percent to 80 percent of dementia cases.
For people whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease, CBD is an exciting new compound.
CBD (aka Cannabidiol) is a compound derived from the Cannabis plant that has positive medicinal effects but does not make people feel “high,” or anxious.
CBD should not be confused with Marijuana or the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) compound which is known for generating a “high” with users. CBD is derived from Cannabis plants, similar to how caffeine is derived from the coffee bean, or aspirin from the bark of a Willow tree.
Quality Of Life (QOL)
According to Wikipedia, “quality of life” (QOL) refers to “the perceived quality of an individual’s daily life, that is, an assessment of their well-being or lack thereof. This includes all emotional, social and physical aspects of the individual’s life.”
Quality of life for Alzheimer’s disease patients is an important concern.
Quality of life (QOL) in dementing illness comprises the same areas as in people in general. Domains of QOL in patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) include competent cognitive functioning, the ability to perform activities of daily living and to engage in meaningful time use and social behavior, and a favorable balance between positive emotion and absence of negative emotion. Dementing illness can strip the person of normal indicators of personhood.
Measuring Quality Of Life (QOL)
A common way to measure an individuals quality of life is the Quality of Life Scale (QOLS).
The QOLS was originally a 15-item instrument that measured five conceptual domains of quality of life: material and physical well-being, relationships with other people, social, community and civic activities, personal development and fulfillment, and recreation. After descriptive research that queried persons with chronic illness on their perceptions of quality of life, the instrument was expanded to include one more item: Independence, the ability to do for yourself.
CBD, Alzheimer’s Patients, And QOL
Can CBD positively impact the quality of life of Alzheimer’s patients?
For Alzheimer’s patients, CBD is one treatment option that is slowing the progression of this disease. CBD works directly within the endocannabinoid system (ECS) within the brain in some of the key neurotransmitter reactions that control the cognitive skills relative to AD. Since it was discovered in the 1960s, the chemicals in this all natural product have been widely explored and researched for its wide-reaching impacts on the neurotransmission system within the brain, with positive results.
Recently, scientists discovered a direct link between ECS and the progression of Alzheimer’s. Cannabiniods (CBD) possess the ability to protect the neurotransmitters within the brain against toxicity. They serve as signaling molecules which regulate downstream events implicated in Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
Science also shows that CBD has anti-emetic, anti-convulsive, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Because all of these come into play with Alzheimer’s, particularly brain inflammation, CBD is a viable option for minimizing these effects within the brain. The agitation activities, and even violence and anger outbursts, that are often associated with AD can often be minimized because of calming effect CBD has on how rapidly the neurons fire within the brain.
Treating Alzheimer’s Disease With CBD
While limited still limited, there is some scientific support for CBD as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. In 2016:
The brains of Alzheimer’s patients experience an over-activation of microglia (cells that form myelin), which contributes to excessive tau buildup and eventually tangles. However, CBD has been shown to modulate microglial function and control neuroinflammation. 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. 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.
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, suggesting that cannabis could be beneficial for treating Alzheimer’s disease through multiple methods.
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).
Then in 2017:
Australian researchers examined the available articles that have investigated CBD’s effects on the debilitating neurodegenerative disease and concluded that the compound appears to elicit multiple effects that could be therapeutically beneficial.
The researchers – Tim Karl and Carl Group – explain that they were prompted to conduct the review because CBD has shown to possess neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties in vitro. These properties suggest that the compound could be therapeutically beneficial for reducing or even inhibiting the cognitive and functional impairment that occurs with Alzheimer’s disease.
Karl and Group discovered that CBD shows promise for therapeutic application for Alzheimer’s. In vivo studies show that CBD has the ability to reduce reactive gliosis and the neuroinflammatory response, which has been linked to a significant portion of the neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s and the disease’s progression. Findings also indicate that CBD promotes neurogenesis, or the growth and development of neurons, to in turn reduce the deterioration of cognitive functions.
Considering the body of scientific support and anecdotal evidence, it’s easy to understand why people whose lives have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease are already using CBD.
However, it’s important to always do your research and make sure you purchase the highest quality CBD product available. At TheraJoy, we’ve been focused on developing CBD products for three years, and all of our products are proudly made in the United States, using 99% pure CBD from Switzerland. When you need an all-natural, organic, vegan, gluten-free, and kosher CBD product, you need TheraJoy.
Remember, always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine. This blog post is not intended to be medical advice, but it is information you can use as a conversation-starter with your doctor at your next appointment. You may also be interested in reading more CBD and senior health articles.