Can medical marijuana help with symptoms of dementia? Read on to learn more below.
What is Dementia?
Dementia isn’t a specific condition; instead, it describes symptoms affecting memory, thinking, and social functions severely enough to interfere with everyday life. Dementia typically involves memory loss. Memory loss alone doesn’t mean you have dementia, although it’s one of the early signs. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia, but several other reasons exist. Depending on the cause, some dementia symptoms are reversible.
Dementia symptoms vary depending on the cause, but symptoms often include the following:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty communicating or finding words
- Problems with visual and spatial abilities
- Difficulty reasoning or problem-solving
- Difficulty with complex tasks
- Problem with planning and organizing
- Problem with coordination
- Loss of motor functions
- Confusion or disorientation
- Personality changes
- Anxiety or Depression
- Inappropriate behavior
Dementia is caused by damage to or loss of nerve cells and their connections in the brain. Depending on the damaged area of the brain, dementia can affect people differently and cause different symptoms.
Some types of dementia are brought on by treatable causes and can successfully be reversed. These dementia-like symptoms are caused by the following:
- Interaction with medications
- Removable Tumors
- Subdural hematoma
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- vitamin B12 deficiency.
- Low blood sugar
The causes of Alzheimer’s are thought by scientists to include a combination of the following:
- Changes in the brain related to aging that may harm neurons and brain cells include: shrinking, inflammation, blood vessel damage, and breakdown of cell energy.
- A family member may pass down genetic changes or mutations. It’s common among those with Down syndrome to develop Alzheimer’s as they age. They may even begin showing symptoms in their early 40s.
- Health, environmental, and lifestyle factors potentially play a role in developing Alzheimer’s Disease. These factors include exposure to pollutants/toxins, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
Disorders Linked to Dementia
Alzheimer’s is a neurologic disorder that causes the brain to atrophy and cells to die gradually. Alzheimer’s disease is the predominant cause of dementia, a progressive decline in cognitive, behavioral, and social skills that affect a person’s ability to function in their daily lives alone.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s can occur between 30 and mid-60, but it is infrequent. Late-onset symptoms typically occur in the mid-60s. It is a progressive disease that starts with memory loss and eventually leads to losing the ability to converse or respond to the environment.
Parkinson’s is the second-most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s disease. Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that harms the dopamine-producing neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain. It is a brain disorder that causes uncontrollable movements, such as shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with balance and coordination. The symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time.
Parkinson’s Disease is a common qualifying condition for patients in states that have legalized medicinal cannabis. Medical marijuana commonly possesses significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can quickly help with chronic pain management. The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabinoids for Movement Disorders: Clinical observations and trials of cannabinoid-based therapies suggest a possible benefit to tics and possible relief for tremors in dyskinesias or PD motor symptoms. Cannabinoids Reduce Levodopa-induced Dyskinesia in Parkinson’s Disease: A Pilot Study: The researchers show that nabilone, the cannabinoid receptor agonist, significantly reduces levodopa-induced dyskinesia in Parkinson’s.
Prescription medications can be utilized to improve the quality of life for patients living with Dementia. There is not currently a cure.
Treatments typically target the following:
- Helping to maintain vital brain health and function.
- Learning to cope with a manage behavioral symptoms.
- Delaying the onset of dementia symptoms.
Can medical cannabis help?
Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia are common qualifying conditions for patients in states that have legalized medicinal cannabis. Medical marijuana is commonly found to possess significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help with chronic condition management.
Cannabinoid receptors bind to the brain and peripheral nerve cells and help regulate how you see and feel the pain to reduce symptoms. Medical cannabis, therefore, as opposed to other drugs, appears to be an excellent alternative to treat Parkinson’s patients and manage pain due to nerve damage.
CBD has anti-inflammatory qualities, can reduce pain, and even fully treat pain in some patients. It is also an antioxidant and can help reduce long-term inflammation. CBD contains cannabinoid receptors that can block chronic pain signals in the brain that trigger an increased immune response.
Finding a way to cope with Dementia symptoms can be challenging for many patients. It’s not easy finding conventional medications that are effective or that our bodies respond to correctly. Many prescription drugs have side effects that aren’t manageable, so medical marijuana can be a life-changing alternative for patients in these situations. Remember, marijuana doesn’t cure dementia but helps manage adverse symptoms. Discuss medical cannabis use with your physician and follow their advice according to your treatment plan.
Last Updated: February 16, 2023
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