Alzheimer's disease doesn't just impact the person that's diagnosed with it - it impacts everyone in that person's circle. It is a debilitating, frustrating and scary disease that progresses as a person ages. The earlier it is detected, the better the chances are of slowing the progression of it. In this guide, we'll explore the question - can CBD or using vape devices for CBD help reduce the effects of Alzheimer's disease?
What is Alzheimer's Disease?
As a person ages, the brain changes. Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia. Some of the areas affected are behavior patterns, thinking/cognitive function and memory.
Roughly 60 to 80 percent of those diagnosed with dementia are experiencing Alzheimer's disease. While it may seem to be a normal part of aging since so many elders are diagnosed with it - it isn't normal. Early onset can also be an issue, which is seen in adults under the age of 65.
The first symptoms include minor memory loss. This disease, however, is progressive and worsens over time. It can affect a person's ability to complete daily tasks, remember faces/names, think clearly, complete sentences and function. It may come to a point where having a conversation with a loved one is impossible.
Alzheimer's disease does not have a known cure. Treatment and slowing the progression of the disease are possible. The cells in the brain just don't work right anymore. The dying brain cells may be creating clutter in the brain that interferes with cognitive clarity and function.
Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease
As mentioned above, one of the first symptoms of this disease is memory loss. In early Alzheimer's disease, retaining information just learned can also be a problem. Confusing words or using the wrong term for something is also common.
It may be difficult for someone with this disease to learn something new. They may become frustrated from not understanding the task or not being able to complete it properly. Changes in mood and behavioral response are also common.
Additional symptoms as Alzheimer's advances include:
Unaware of common surroundings
Developing suspicions about loved ones for no reason
Being wary of caregivers
Disruptions in gate (trouble walking)
Significant memory loss
Severe, abrupt shifts in mood/response
It is difficult to watch a loved one experience these symptoms. It is important to understand that they are likely not aware that their behavior has changed and they likely believe it is someone else's fault they're reacting a specific way. They have no control over these responses, because to them - this is normal behavior.
It can be very hard for an elder to accept the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Many don't think there's anything wrong with them.
How CBD may Help
Several studies have been conducted showing promise for CBD helping with the symptom and progression of Alzheimer's disease. The body has a natural endocannabinoid system - meaning that it produces some cannabinoids/endocannabinoids, naturally. Deficiencies can occur where not enough cannabinoids are produced to maintain balance (homeostasis) through all systems of the body.
Disruptions in the brain can occur if inflammation is present. Neural pressure from inflammation can impact how the neurons are able to respond. This can trigger a chronic inflammation issue or deterioration of the neurons. CBD is an anti-inflammatory that can work to help control and reduce inflammation. In some cases, it can work well enough to eliminate inflammation.
CBD is also a neuroprotectant. What this means is that it helps protect the neurons in the brain and may be able to slow the progression of degeneration. Degeneration may still occur, but CBD may help protect the neurons so that the damage is not as significant.
Receptors in the brain known as CB1 receptors aid in regulating mood, emotion, thinking and memory. CBD, according to recent research, is able to interact with CB1 receptors directly. CBD is not intoxicating, which is why there is no "high" felt when it starts to work. A part of these receptors is known as the allosteric binding site - this is where CBD attaches.
By CBD being able to interact and attach to this receptor, it is able to help regulate the actions controlled by the CB1 receptor. The calming and relaxing properties of CBD, along with reducing inflammation and neurodegeneration, are partly why it may be an ideal aid to slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease. It may also be helpful in improving moods, leveling out emotional responses, improving cognitive function (the thought process) and may help with memory recall.
As mentioned, the calming effects of CBD are important for those with Alzheimer's as well. The symptoms of the disease can be frustrating and hard to deal with. The agitation may lead to outbursts, anger, depression and seclusion. This may further reduce the quality of life of someone with the disease. By helping to reduce the experience of these symptoms, it may help a person feel less stress, agitation and confusion. This may improve social interactions and improve their quality of life.
Ideal CBD Delivery Methods for those with Alzheimer's Disease
CBD products are available in a wide variety of options. The industry has evolved and advanced at a fast pace to ensure that people of all ages, lifestyles and medical ailment have an option that can work for them. For an elder - using a vape pen may not be the best idea.
CBD capsules are measured doses that are easy and convenient to take. Those that are made from dried CBD oil are easier to digest. It may be easier to fit a CBD capsule into daily medication routines when it is in capsule form for this situation.
CBD oil or tincture is also a good option. This works fast, but getting someone with Alzheimer's to remember to hold it under their tongue for a minute before swallowing may be difficult. The oil works fast as it begins to absorb sublingually. It can be added to beverages and other foods if that is easier.
A transdermal patch may be helpful as well. These can stay on for up to 24-hours. The dose of the patch, however, may not be enough.
There is no known unsafe dose of CBD. This means that you can adjust the dose daily, as symptom severity fluctuates, without worry. Only small increases should be made at a time to prevent a high tolerance to the cannabinoid from building too quickly.
Some improvements may be noticed after the first dose. Other symptoms, especially those that are severe, may take more time to notice an improvement with because the CBD needs some time to work with the endocannabinoid system to improve balance and function. CBD may be an option for those with Alzheimer's disease to help regulate symptoms and possibly slow progression in an all-natural, non-toxic manner. Always speak to the doctors before starting a CBD regimen as it may have negative interactions with a few medications.