Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a form of dementia, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease usually affecting people in their old age. In patients with AD, neurons in the outer part of the brain begin to die, initially resulting in short term memory loss. As the disease progresses, deeper areas of the brain are compromised; patients begin to exhibit pronounced loss of memory, a lack of communication skills and problems eating. Late stage AD patients are more susceptible to infectious diseases, such as pneumonia, that often result in death. There are more than 342,800 Australians currently living with dementia and the number is growing with the aging population.
The neuroprotective properties of the endocannabinoid system have been implicated in the reduction of plaque proteins found in Alzheimer’s patients. Additionally, improvement in mood and reduction in anxiety from cannabinoid therapy have been attributed to a better quality of life.
This image is a simplification for website aesthetics only. For more information please refer to the clinical studies referenced below.
Possible benefits of Endocannabinoid Activation with Cannabidiol
The confusion accompanying the loss of memory in a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s can be extremely stressful for the individual. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are proven regulators of mood and cognition. Additionally, CBD has been shown to activate the 5HT1-a receptor, and mimic natural serotonin, leading to improved mood.
One major consequence of Alzheimer’s is the accumulation of extracellular amyloid beta (Aβ) deposits in the brain and indicates the severity of the damage. Endocannabinoid activation has been shown to reduce this build up. Research linking the removal of the plaque to the development of the disease is lacking. CBD has also been shown to stimulate neurogenesis (new cell growth) in the hippocampus, the region in the brain linked to storage of memory.
Esposito, G., Scuderi, C., Valenza, M., Togna, G. I., Latina, V., De Filippis, D., … & Steardo, L. (2011). Cannabidiol reduces Aβ-induced neuroinflammation and promotes hippocampal neurogenesis through PPARγ involvement.
Martín-Moreno, A. M., Reigada, D., Ramírez, B. G., Mechoulam, R., Innamorato, N., Cuadrado, A., & de Ceballos, M. L. (2011). Cannabidiol and other cannabinoids reduce microglial activation in vitro and in vivo: relevance to Alzheimer’s disease. Molecular pharmacology, 79(6), 964-973.