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CBD and Alzheimer’s Disease

Evidence is mounting of CBD’s efficacy in treating Alzheimer’s. The connection between the endocannabinoid system and Alzheimer’s has been investigated in several preclinical studies, and in recent years, CBD has been looked at specifically. Its general neuroprotective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory benefits make it a natural fit for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.1

Preclinical research suggests that CBD can reduce overall damage to the central nervous system and curb the neuroinflammatory response associated with Alzheimer’s.2 CBD has been shown to protect against memory loss and even help restore memory.3 CBD also promotes neurogenesis. Research is also looking at how CBD and other phytochemicals can help treat and even reverse symptoms of the dementia associated with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.4

This story is from Janet, whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/dementia in 2016. She worked with Elisabeth Mack, a registered nurse, to treat her mother:

“Mom began to show signs of paranoia, anxiety, fear, and isolation. Her agitation caused doctors to use prescription medications for depression, anxiety, and psychosis. But Mom got worse, lethargic; she was lying in bed instead of walking, talking, and loving others. Our ‘sweet Lorraine’ was gone.

In November of 2017, Mom got pneumonia and almost died. By January of the next year she was released from skilled nursing with many, many drugs and no ability to talk, walk, or feed herself. Upon return to her facility, no one recognized her; she couldn’t smile, was over-medicated, and was a skeleton from weight loss. In February, a miracle happened when a hospice social worker gave me Elisabeth’s phone number!

Elisabeth met my Mom right away at her facility. She advised me to start Mom on a 3:1 (THC:CBD) dose two times a day for the first week…After 24 hours, Mom was willing to eat! A few days later her anxiety started to decrease to the point that people at the facility were asking, what’s going on? After one week of two doses a day, Elisabeth recommended the bump up to three doses a day. We started right away, and what a difference! Another week of three doses a day and Mom was actually smiling, eating, and seeming to enjoy her day. The third week, Elisabeth recommended Mom’s dose change to a 1:1 (CBD:THC) tincture three to four times a day and two more times if needed. Well, we are now entering week 3 of the 1:1 tincture (a total of six weeks in treatment). Mom is a different person! She is smiling all the time, hugging whoever will stop long enough to get a hug, feeding herself, and trying to stand up. All her anxiety and fears have faded. She still has the severe memory loss, but even with the decreasing memory, Mom is thinking more clearly and responding better to her environment. The tincture with Elisabeth’s careful attention to dosing and encouragement has made 100% improvement in my mother’s quality of life! Everyone at the facility asks me, “How can this be?” Mom is also off all but two of her pharmaceuticals, and by the time you hear this story it will be down to one!”

This story is from Eloise Thiesen, an adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, who treated Lena for dementia.

“Lena was 89 at the time her daughter approached me. She was diagnosed with advanced-stage dementia and was close to being placed in memory care. Her history included MS, migraines, high blood pressure, and dementia. When I met with Lena’s daughter, she informed me that her mother had been on opiates for 40 years and never had adequate pain control. At the time, she was using hydromorphone to control the pain, quetiapine for sleep, and lorazepam for mood. Not only did Lena still complain of pain, she was falling frequently, not sleeping, and having a difficult time expressing her words. The facility was giving her daughter one last attempt to control her behaviors before requiring her to move to a locked memory care environment.

I met with the daughter and we talked about how cannabis may help her mom. After reviewing her health history, we decided to focus on Lena’s pain and sleep. Lena had never used cannabis before. I started her on a low dose of THC and CBD during the day for pain control and a larger dose at night for sleep. Within three months, we had weaned Lena off her opiates and sleep medication. Shortly after, her memory started to return, she stopped slurring her words, she lost 25 pounds, and she no longer complained of pain. Her sleep improved and she was no longer falling down. Lena had such a remarkable response. She continues to do well after three years on cannabis and has maintained the same dosages since she started.”

  1. Georgia Watt and Tim Karl, “In vivo Evidence for Therapeutic Properties of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Alzheimers Disease,” Frontiers in Pharmacology 8 (February 2017): 20, doi:10.3389/fphar.2017.00020.
  2. A. M. Martín-Moreno et al., “Cannabidiol and Other Cannabinoids Reduce Microglial Activation In Vitro and In Vivo: Relevance to Alzheimers Disease,” Molecular Pharmacology 79, no. 6 (2011): 964–73, doi:10.1124/mol.111.071290.
  3. David Cheng et al., “Long-Term Cannabidiol Treatment Prevents the Development of Social Recognition Memory Deficits in Alzheimers Disease Transgenic Mice,” Journal of Alzheimers Disease 42, no. 4 (2014): 1383–96, doi:10.3233/jad-140921.
  4. Melanie-Jayne R. Howes and Elaine Perry, “The Role of Phytochemicals in the Treatment and Prevention of Dementia,” Drugs & Aging 28, no. 6 (2011): 439–68, doi:10.2165/11591310-000000000-00000.