Can you use CBD oil for dementia? With CBD storming the market as a potential support to a long list of ailments, many people whose lives are affected by dementia are wondering if it’s a viable option.
There are over 9.9 million new cases of dementia each year worldwide, which means a person is diagnosed with dementia every 3.2 seconds. In the U.S. alone, more than five million Americans are living with some form of dementia, out of 47 million worldwide. And according to the World Health Organization, that number is expected to almost triple by 2050.
Dementia is a progressive syndrome that is caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform everyday activities. For those who have a loved one living with the disease, it can be difficult to cope. There is no cure for dementia and treatment is still limited to symptoms, but promising research has shown that CBD oil, the non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, could lessen some symptoms of dementia.
Dementia is not a specific disease, but a general term for the progressive decline in cognitive abilities due to many causes. Dementia usually occurs in the elderly but is not a normal part of aging. It causes symptoms like memory loss, language impairment, attention deﬁcits, and impaired judgment, among others.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. Dementia can be degenerative, which usually involves abnormal protein production, and non-degenerative, which is linked to vascular, endocrine and other central and systemic diseases. Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases are some of the types of degenerative dementia.
There is currently no cure for dementia and no treatment that slows or stops the progression of Alzheimer’s. Doctors around the world are desperately trying to figure out how to treat the disease through research and clinical trials. But the use of CBD in Alzheimer’s-prone mice has been shown promising.
CBD Oil for Dementia
Cannabidiol had an effect on dementia-prone mice because of CBD’s effects on the endogenous cannabinoid system. The human body, as well as other animals, have what is called an endocannabinoid system. This system plays an important role in our central nervous system and affects things like pain, mood, appetite, and memory.
The endogenous cannabinoid system has cannabinoid receptors, called endocannabinoids. This is how cannabis and its THC and CBD compounds affect our brains, by connecting with these receptors. The study of the endogenous cannabinoid system has taken prominence in the last 25 years in the research about Alzheimer-type dementia.
CBD oil is being used to help with a multitude of ailments, such as anxiety, depression, pain management and much more. It is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, then diluting it in another oil like coconut or hemp seed. It’s non-psychoactive and has neuroprotective, anti-inﬂammatory, and anti-oxidative properties which can counter a number of dementia symptoms, according to Cheng et al.’s research.
“These biological functions of CBD promise therapeutic value for the neurodegenerative and neurotoxic components of AD,” reads Cheng et al.’s study. “Indeed, in vivo studies reported that CBD reduced neuroinﬂammation in rats and mice.” In short, it may be possible to use CBD oil for dementia.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that long-term cannabidiol treatment prevents the development of social recognition memory deﬁcits in a type of mouse predisposed to have Alzheimer’s disease and commonly used in Alzheimer’s studies.
The authors of the study noted, “Our ﬁndings provide the ﬁrst evidence that CBD may have potential as a preventative treatment for AD with
A more recent study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2016, found that natural cannabinoids reduced memory impairment in Alzheimer’s-prone mice at advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.
The research showed that the THC and CBD combination modiﬁed the levels of several synaptic and neurotransmission markers. Meaning, synaptic function, the connections neurons make to create memories, were improved.
The results showed that treatment with THC and CBD at non-psychoactive doses reduced memory impairment in the mice that had the progression of the disease at an advanced stage.
These early studies about using CBD oil for dementia are promising, however more research is needed to determine whether it is effective in humans.
CBD is non-psychoactive, unlike THC, which is what causes the “high” from smoking marijuana. CBD oil has been used for a variety of ailments, such as pain management, anxiety, insomnia and even epilepsy.
Though CBD oil is considered safe, some side effects that can occur are diarrhea, changes in appetite, and fatigue. In one study on epilepsy, patients experienced convulsions, fever, and diarrhea.
Studies are Promising
What’s the verdict on using CBD oil for dementia? The bottom line is that studies on CBD are relatively new but show much promise. Research on CBD oil’s effects on dementia has so far only been done in mice and not in humans. However, the FDA has already approved a drug based on CBD that treats a rare form of epilepsy, which confirms the effects CBD has on the human brain.
With 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and millions more with other types of dementia, research is critical to come up with new drugs to not just treat symptoms but slow the progression of, or even cure the disease. For now, CBD is showing great promise in helping people cope with a multitude of illnesses. Research is showing that CBD oil could one day be used to ease dementia symptoms not only in mice, but in humans.