VTCNA Health Tip: Alzheimer’s And Cannabis
This week is Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Staff Education Week. With more and more questions surfacing regarding cannabis and memory, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, I want to discuss cannabis use and the 5.7 million Americans who are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.
The Alzheimer’s Society has a simple explanation for the connection between cannabis and Alzheimer’s. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is involved in memory, appetite regulation, and a person’s response to stress. The ECS includes CB1 and CB2 receptors. The CB1 receptor is found throughout the brain, including in the hippocampus, the memory and learning center. The hippocampus is vulnerable to underlying causes of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimers.net says some studies have shown that through the CB1 and CB2 receptors, THC – or THC:CBD combinations – can improve learning and reduce or slow the production of beta-amyloid proteins, “thought to be a hallmark characteristic and key contributor to the progression of Alzheimer’s.”
The few clinical trials we have to date have theorized that cannabis can support management of symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease such as agitation and aggression.
Research confirms brain inflammation is a well-known contributor to Alzheimer’s, and that THC and CBD are potent antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.
PubMeds says that “data strongly suggest that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease throughout multiple functions and pathways.”
Alzheimers.net states that researchers concluded “adding medicinal cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s patients pharmacotherapy is a safe and promising treatment option.”
Forbes published a cannabis-positive article titled Cannabis Could Help Cure Alzheimer’s If Lawmakers Would Chill Out, while NBC specifically highlights how helpful cannabis may be with agitation in Alzheimer’s.
The few clinical trials we have to date have theorized that cannabis can support management of symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease such as agitation and aggression. However, research also shows us that heavy, long-term use of cannabis can negatively affect memory and thinking, regardless of dementia or Alzheimer’s. So, as always, slow consumption and low dosing is the best way to use cannabis medicinally.
Purple Kush is potent, intended for night time use, with a long lasting calm that eases insomnia, depression and mood swings.
What To Use
Marijuana Break has suggestions for what chemovars can be helpful in addressing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Purple Kush is potent, intended for night time use, with a long lasting calm that eases insomnia, depression and mood swings.
- Sour Diesel has a more uplifting, daytime energizing effect that can help with stress while tackling pain.
- Green Crack has citrus and fruity terpenes for a happy boost while stimulating the appetite.
- Acapulco Gold, a very well known recreational and medicinal chemovar, is often recommended by dispensaries – but has recently become more difficult to find.
The Cannabis Advisory also has a top ten hit list:
- Electric Kool Aid uplifts the mind while relaxing the body.
- Dutch Dragon improves mental alertness.
- Acapulco Gold leaves users feeling energetic, and Green Crack helps with depression, anxiety and inflammation.
- Lavender Haze improves mood and focus, with a nice balance of soothing body sensations.
- Inexperienced cannabis users should be cautious with Bio Jesus and LSD, which can be nearly hallucinogenic.
- The OX has a great CBD profile so is helpful to reduce the psychoactive effects and may be better suited for beginners. The OX can also reduce pain from arthritis.
- White Russian is a cross of two classics – AK 47 and White Widow. White Russian has an uplifting high that can help beat depression anxiety and stress.
- Lastly The Cannabis Advisory suggests Blissful Wizard, with a THC content of over 30%, has the potential to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally, Leafly recommends 51 different chemovars you can check out for more suggestions.
We can also look at terpenes, rather than chemovars, for an aromatherapeutic approach:
- Limonene is helpful for increasing mental focus and attention, and also has been marketed to treat depression and anxiety. Any Haze chemovars will have a strong limonene component.
- Linalool (also found in lavender) can be found in Amnesia Haze and Special Kush.
- Terpineol, which gives lapsang souchong tea its smoky aroma, is calming and sedative. Strains that often contain terpineol include Jack Herer, White Widow, Girl Scout Cookies, and OG Kush.
- Pinene, found in Skunk strains, is an anti-inflammatory and can positively affect memory, boost energy and improve concentration.
- Eucalyptol, found in Super Silver Haze, Headband, Bubba Kush, and Girl Scout Cookies, also improves concentration and focus.
As always, please seek professional medical support and guidance if you have a family history of – or any concerns or signs and symptoms of – dementia and or Alzheimer’s.
Jessilyn Dolan, RN, CMT, CLD, ADS is a nurse researcher and educator and founder of The Vermont Cannabis Nurses Association.
She’s a Cannabis Nurse Educator and co-owns HomeGrown Consulting for cannabis cultivation and medication consultations. Jessilyn is a proud Clean Green Certified organic H.E.M.P. (Horticultural Excellence Medicinal Perfection) farmer.