CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, has become a pretty popular product in recent years. Cannabidiol is just one of the many compounds found in cannabis. While it’s not a miracle drug, there are many benefits that could potentially be had from using the compound according to scientific research. You may have heard about how CBD could help relieve pain and improve your sleep. However, did you know that CBD can help with dementia?
What is Dementia?
Dementia, according to a review called Medical Cannabis for the Treatment of Dementia: A Review of Clinical Effectiveness and Guidelines is simply a set of “symptoms and signs associated with a progressive deterioration of cognitive functions that affects daily activities”. According to the World Alzheimer Report 2018, 50 million people were living with dementia. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The number of people that will be living with dementia in 2050 was predicted to be 152 million.
Types of Dementia
There are actually multiple types of dementia. Alzheimer’s, the most common form, accounts for two-thirds of all dementia. However, other cases, according to the review are vascular dementia, mixed dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and young-onset dementia.
Source: Live in Carer
Signs and Symptoms of Dementia
There are a variety of signs and symptoms associated with the disease, it’s really not just memory loss.
Source: How to Relief
According to the review, signs and symptoms include:
- difficulties with thinking
- problem-solving or language
- changes in mood, perception, personality, or behavior
Neuropsychiatric symptoms, which are common to all forms of dementia include:
- Sleep disorders
- Eating disorders
Can CBD Help with Dementia?
Although some have posited that CBD reverses dementia, unfortunately, dementia currently has no cure nor can the progression of the disease be altered. However, CBD may help ease some of the uncomfortable signs and symptoms associated with the disease. The review says that the way in which CBD helps dementia is not crystal clear but what they do know is that CBD interacts with the neurotransmitters that are responsible for or involved in the manifestation of neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Alzheimer’s Disease and CBD Treatment
According to Dementia Care Central, fortunately, CBD has been shown to either reduce or remove the impact of inflammation. The inflammation is responsible for a lot of the negative effects of Alzheimer’s. The inflammatory response occurs when the brain’s immune cells are not able to clear disorienting blockages. Oxygen is released and starts building up. According to the article, “Important brain functions such as memory are decreased as more oxygen is released in the brain’s cells. Memory loss and other brain deterioration indirectly leads to increased oxygen in the brain”. CBD acts as an antioxidant and counteracts the effects of oxygen stress on the brain.
A 2011 study by Australian researchers Tim Karl and Carl Group concluded, according to Dementia Care Central, that that CBD promotes the growth and development of brain cells, reducing the decline of memory and other brain functions.
Therefore CBD seems as if it can reduce inflammation, oxygen buildup, and brain cell decline.
CBD for Vascular Dementia
Vascular Dementia is a form of dementia characterized by experiencing thought processes such as reasoning, planning, judgment, memory as a result of brain damage caused by an impairment of blood flow to the brain. CBD may help increase blood flow to the brain. According to Dementia Care Central, “Activating the CB2 receptors with CBD has increased brain cell activity and helped reduce brain cell damage commonly associated with vascular dementia.”
CBD for Lewy Body Dementia
Dementia with Lewy Bodies refers to a disease characterized by an abnormal amount of alpha-synuclein otherwise known as Lewy bodies deposited in the brain. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, these deposits, though microscopic, damage the brain cells. Dementia with Lewy bodies results in a decline in thinking, reasoning and independent function. Fortunately, CBD can be helpful. According to Dementia Care Central, “CBD can be an effective anti-inflammatory agent, reduce motor symptoms (tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia) and maintain circadian (sleep) rhythms”. It was also noted that it doesn’t block acetylcholine which this disease preys on. Acetylcholine is essential for memory and learning. The fact that CBD doesn’t block acetylcholine is great. Traditionally, patients suffering from this disease are given a cholinesterase inhibitor drug which prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine.
CBD for Frontotemporal Dementia / Pick’s Disease
According to Dementia Care Central, Pick’s Disease is a “progressive nerve cell loss in the brain’s frontal lobes (the areas behind one’s forehead) or its temporal lobes (the regions behind one’s ears)”. This disease leads to depression or psychosis and usually requires antipsychotic drugs for treatment. Unfortunately, antipsychotic drugs may increase the risk of death. On the bright side, CBD does not do that and may actually improve your sleep, reduce anxiety, attack inflammation, and reduce motor symptoms such as tremor, rigidity, and bradykinesia.
CBD Dementia Counterclaims & CBD Oil for Dementia
However, not everyone is fully convinced of CBD’s role in treating dementia. According to Alzheimer's Society, the studies done have been small and low quality and so that makes it harder to come to a conclusion. The article also expresses concern about the concentration of CBD oil for dementia used in the studies and its long term effects. The article said, “these studies have used high concentrations of CBD oil that may not be available to buy. These studies have also been short term so we still don’t know what the long term effects of using CBD oil might be.” That said, it is not certain what is the best CBD dosage for dementia.
As for right now, CBD has been labeled as safe to try. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or
dependence potential….” Just be on the lookout for product mislabelling especially if you have drug tests coming up.
CBD and Dementia Conclusion
CBD to treat dementia appears to be a good addition to the plethora of medication used to treat the varying forms of dementia. Of course, more research is always a good thing and so hopefully scientists continue to research and find out more about how CBD works against dementia.