Treating Alzheimer’s with High-THC Cannabis Strains
For millions of people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, daily life can be a struggle. But, as Lindsay Engle explains, cannabis with high THC levels can alleviate some of problems associated with the disease.
Cannabis has been helping many people with different health issues for centuries. Recently, prescriptions including cannabidiol (CBD) have been approved by the FDA that help epilepsy patients. There are many different strains of cannabis; some may benefit you and others may be counterproductive for what your trying to achieve with your health. But, can marijuana help treat ailments from Alzheimer’s disease?
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes issues with memory, thinking, and behavior. The symptoms develop slowly and get more intense over time, eventually becoming severe enough to make daily tasks difficult.
This disease is currently an irreversible brain disorder that destroys brain cells and the neurons connecting brain cells to one another. It takes its time destroying memory and thinking, making simple tasks more difficult than ever before.
Typically, CBD is known for treating epilepsy and other neurological disorders, and Alzheimer's is a neurological disorder. But Alzheimer’s disease is the exception to the rule as the best treatment cannabis strains are high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)and lower in CBD.
One of the biggest signs of Alzheimer’s or dementia is memory loss that disrupts daily life. There are other warning signs and symptoms you can look for. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any of the following:
- Memory loss impacting your daily life.
- Difficulties planning or solving problems.
- Familiar tasks become challenging to complete.
- Time and place confusion.
- Difficulty understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
- Misplacing things and being unable to retrace your steps.
- Difficulties with words, speaking, or writing.
- Loss of interest in work or social activities.
- Poor judgment.
- Mood or personality changes.
When you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s or dementia, the best treatment focuses on creating a better quality of life. Doctors will address the symptoms of Alzheimer’s that can be managed in order to help improve a patient’s quality of life, either with traditional or alternative treatments.
If you have an interest in alternative treatments, talking to your doctor is important. Alternative treatments for the disease are not widely supported in the medical community. For some patients, alternative treatments have been beneficial and other treatments have been debunked by further studies.
Some alternative treatments include:
- Coenzyme Q10
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Coconut oil
- Aromatherapy (Including rosemary, lavender, orange and lemon)
- Bright light therapy
- Herbal medicine
Cannabis and Alzheimer’s
Cannabis is known to help manage some behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as depression, aggression, and irritability. Like many other alternative remedies, more research is still needed. Treating symptoms is the key for dementia patients having an improved quality of life. If you are depressed, irritable, aggressive, or lethargic, then using cannabis could help you live the life you imagined you would. The following cannabis strains can offer some help.
Possibly the highest THC content of any cannabis strain, Godfather OG is an indica-dominant hybrid with more than 34 per cent THC. In 2013, Godfather OG won first place for best indica at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Los Angeles. This strain has been called “The Don of All OG’s” and is recommended for insomnia and since it has sedative indica properties this makes sense. For those with dementia, falling asleep can be challenging — with the Godfather you can expect a great sleep. When you experience agitation and irritability at night, controlling the symptoms can be possible with a strong THC strain like this one. If you’re a lightweight, use this strain with caution. One reviewer noted, “be warned, it kicks like a mule and I love it.”
This strain is a 50/50 hybrid that looks like it was rolled in sugar and bred for potency. Blissful Wizard won first place at the SoCal Cannabis Cup in the Non-Solvent Hash category in 2015. The flavor is described as a smooth lemon-lime ice cream and the THC levels reach an astounding 34 per cent. With such a strong THC content, you can almost guarantee a high that will obliterate depression or lethargy. The THC content even reduces stress and inflammation, but it may be too strong for new cannabis patients. However, there is potential to slow down Alzheimer’s progression.
While in Las Vegas, I stumbled upon the sativa-dominant hybrid called Strawberry Lemonade. The taste is sweet and lemony — perfect for a wake and bake. For those suffering with dementia, this strain could help you combat depression, stress, and the loss of interest in your life passions. The high is energizing and euphoric; it will relax your body and uplift your spirit. Strawberry Lemonade even has a beautifully sweet citrus aroma, which could be great for a morning aromatherapy session. The THC was about 22 per cent. Strawberry Lemonade is a popular choice on the west coast.
Read also: Healing Brain Injuries with Cannabis
Treating Dementia or Alzheimer’s with Cannabis
An excellent natural supplement for a dementia sufferer is cannabis. Many studies detail the medical benefits of cannabis protecting the brain. Early warning signs depend on the person; some people will suffer from memory problems and others from a decline in vision or vocabulary.
Studies done on depression prove the potential of medical cannabis. Then there are compounds like THC and CBD that latch themselves to the endocannabinoid system. The receptors CB1 and CB2 are in the endocannabinoid system and they can be found in your gastrointestinal tract all the way to your nervous system.
Alzheimer’s disease is possibly the result of a beta-amyloid buildup in your brain and some studies conducted on THC show that it can slow down the production of amyloid.
Further studies are needed in the use of medical cannabis treating dementia, however, we should all be optimistic since it has the potential to slow down the growth rate of beta-amyloid plaques.
Alzheimer’s is a deadly disease, if you have a family member or loved one suffering, please don’t pity them or get frustrated with them. They need attention and they need understanding. Talk with a doctor about symptoms as soon as possible and if cannabis seems like a good fit, consider the strain they recommend for treatment.
Written by Lindsay Engle