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Alternative Alzheimer’s Treatment


April 12, 2016

The very term strikes fear: Alzheimer’s disease. Who doesn’t fear the snowballing degradation of memory and lucidity? Causes for Alzheimer’s disease are varied and not always well understood, just as treatments have been slow in coming with none actually able actually reverse the damage caused by the disease. Medical marijuana in Denver offers hope for effective treatment.

A 2006, pre-clinical study by L. M. Eubanks, et. al. projects that cases of Alzheimer’s disease would triple within the next 50 years. Their report, published in 2014 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology, concluded that “Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), competitively inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE) as well as prevents AChE-induced amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta) aggregation, the key pathological marker of Alzheimer's disease.”

They concluded that “THC is a considerably more effective inhibitor of AChE-induced Aβ deposition than the approved drugs for Alzheimer's disease treatment, donepezil and tacrine, which reduced Aβ aggregation by only 22% and 7%, respectively, at twice the concentration used in our studies.”

In their March 21st blog, Alzheimers.net noted another study conducted by researchers at Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands. Researchers studied 50 subjects, including a control group, on the effect, if any, of marijuana to relieve the symptoms of dementia caused by Alzheimer’s: agitation, aggression, apathy and delusions.  They concluded that oral THC of 4.5mg daily showed no benefit in the treatment of dementia-related nueropsy chiatric systems. That means their study found no difference between the treatment group and the control group, except to note that test subjects easily tolerated the doses given. That report was published, in May 2015, by Neurology®.

Another study, conducted by Assaf Shelef, et. al. at the Abaranel Mental Health Center and Department of Psychology, Bar-Ilan University, both in Tel Aviv, Israel, and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology in February 2016, concluded that medical cannabis oil provided significant decreases in “delusions, agitation/aggression, irritability, apathy, sleep and caregiver distress” and offered “a safe and promising treatment option” for Alzheimer’s patients. (Link: http://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad150915)

Personal testimonies provide anecdotal support for the use of medical marijuana in treating Alzheimer’s related dementia. P. Vaugn states that she has been using cannabis oil to treat her own diagnosed onset of the disease: “My [n]eurologist has been very pleased with how I am doing and [I will] continue unless it stops being helpfull (sic).”

Many people discount claims of the addictive properties of cannabis, stating that, although it is not physically addictive, it is mentally addictive. Caregivers for elderly Alzheimer’s patients take a practical view addition. One reader on Alzheimers.net writes of her 80-year old mother’s suffering: “[W]e are not concerned about potential long-term effects or addiction. At her age, the immediate challenges of managing this disease take priority.”

A quick internet search shows that the average life expectancy for an Alzheimer’s patient is eight to 10 years, which is a long time to spend caring for a loved one with decreasing mental capacity and rising dementia.

Research continues to show the promise of medical marijuana as a natural, effective, easily ingested, and well tolerated option that treats Alzheimer’s disease, even though it has not been shown to halt or reverse the brain damage the disease causes. Altitude Dispensary, with three convenient locations in Aurora and Denver, offers a variety of marijuana products available for consumption that may be incorporated into the caring and palliative treatment program for patients suffering from dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
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