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Friday, September 28, 2018

What Happened To Our Summer?

"If you are not barefoot, you are overdressed." - Unknown (but it could easily be Cindy)

In May we took a vacation to Kentucky. We dragged our
refurbished 1967 Fan camper to the National Forest, and found a wonderful campsite. It was
A small sign was
the only way to find it.
secluded, and about 50 feet from a creek. There were almost no mosquitoes, but plenty of frogs and other wildlife. The weather was hot, and humid, but our campsite was shady and cool. Most of the time the rest of the campground was vacant because it was not on most maps, and we had to drive a half hour to get cell phone service. It should have been a great trip, but it was not. Cindy had a pinched nerve or something in her leg, and could
I think if we had been feeling better
we would have stayed another week.
barely walk. She was in pain sitting, standing, or laying down. So there we were camped in an area called "Thousand Trails", and we couldn't walk. We explored by car a little, but there was not much to see or do except for hiking.

A couple days before the end of our vacation, Cindy woke up and her leg was all better. No pain. Not sure why, but she is still OK. Just about the same day as she got better, I started feeling sick with gastrointestinal distress. Looking back it is likely I ate some of those contaminated vegetables that were recalled back then. I was snacking on them a few days before we left. We made the best of it. In spite of not feeling well we had some great meals around the campfire. We even went shooting at the National Forest shooting range. We shot a couple hundred rounds using both the rifles and pistols. Instead of
Lil'Bit was my spotter.
She didn't even flinch.
boring targets we used pages from a coloring book. Cindy and I both hit what we aim at. It was great fun.

Once we got home things got worse for me. I was still having gastrointestinal distress, and at the time just figured I ate something bad on the trip. As I was unhooking the trailer, after burning some clutch getting it parked in the backyard, my foot caught in a hole as I bent down. I sprained the toe joint on my left foot. The common name for the injury is Turf-Toe. It is VERY painful. My foot swelled up, and I was unable to walk, or put any weight on it for several weeks. I took Ibuprofen and other stuff for inflammation and pain. That pretty much sums up the month of June. I spent it on the couch trying to manage the pain in my foot. Luckily after a couple weeks my stomach felt better, but I had lost almost 10 pounds. That was a good thing, so I decided to lose a few more pounds while I was at it. As of today I have lost about 20 pounds, and am trying to stay at this weight of around 180-185 pounds. (closer to 185)

The week after we returned home from vacation, I took the Jeep in for an oil change and check-up, It needed new brakes. New brakes and rotors. Though they did not make any noise, or feel different, they had been grinding metal on metal. Probably all through vacation towing the trailer. On the way
Clear Creek next to our campsite.
home from getting the brake job, the clutch went out again. While the Jeep was back in the shop getting fixed, Lil'Bit cut her paw on something in the back yard. We are still not sure exactly what she did, but it was a deep cut across her pad that required surgery and several stitches to fix. She is fine now. All in all that week after our vacation cost us a little over $2000. Did I mention how bad this summer sucked? With our tight finances, the only way we could mange was to refinance a loan that was almost paid off. We paid for the Jeep repairs, and also paid off a few big credit cards. Overall we will save on interest, but I still dislike borrowing money. I had a pretty good day, and was able to limp into the loan office under my own power without crutches. YAY!

I was feeling pretty good by July 4th, so we had a small party at our house. The weather was hot, and we spent most of the day in the pool. We played Bocce Ball in the pool for hours, and had a great time.

Of course I overdid it, and the next day my feet were both sore. It felt like tendinitis from all the bouncing around in the pool. I really had not been on my feet much for a month so I was out of shape. The tendinitis got much worse, and within a couple of days I was unable to walk again. This time it was a burning pain in my ankles, and up the front and top of both feet. I was taking NSAIDS for the pain and inflammation. After a few weeks, August was fast approaching. Suddenly the pain in
Lil'Bit's first time in the pool.
my feet got worse, and though I had sprained my left foot, my right foot was now even worse. So much for the month of July. We cancelled 2 more vacations because I couldn't walk. I was a shut-in.

Cindy finally nagged me into going to the doctor because the inflammation was not getting any better.  After some unnecessary X-rays and blood tests I was referred to a specialist. Well, the blood tests showed that I was in Stage 3b kidney failure, and just about ready to need dialysis. No more NSAIDS for me. I guess I cannot tolerate taking ibuprofen for such an extended period of time. That is probably related to the reaction I had to the Meloxicam I wrote about in a previous post. After a short examination the podiatrist determined I had Gout. Gout! That explained the severe pain I was in.

Because of my diabetes I was unable to take any steroids for the inflammation. I was prescribed Allopurinol to bring down my uric acid levels (they were 9.5, and anything over 6.8 can cause gout), and Colcrys to alleviate the inflammation. Within a couple weeks I was up and walking. YAY! I have had a couple flare-ups as My uric acid levels slowly come back to normal, but I am doing much better. Unfortunately, that was August. I was still pretty much a shut-in. Three months of doing mostly nothing.

That brings us to September. I am doing much better. I still have to be careful what I eat or I have a
Poor Baby! She did not let it
slow her down any.
gout flare-up and have to take the Colcrys for a few days. That means to me that my uric acid levels are down around 6.8 or so. I am sure they will continue to come down, and will be in the normal range in a few weeks when I get my blood tested again. My last blood test also showed that my kidney function was recovering nicely.

Three weeks into September I am feeling much better. But wait! The last couple of days I have been on crutches! Stupid me! I was feeling better. All I did was vacuum the house, and clean up the kitchen preparing for some company. I wore a different pair of shoes. That was apparently all it took to aggravate the bone spur on my Achilles tendon, and cause tendinitis. After icing it down well this morning it is much better, and I no longer need the crutch to get around, but I am not yet up to hiking anywhere. ...and now it is Hay-fever season. One thing after another. (The heel pain flared up again, and I took some Colcrys. It helped, so it might be gout-related.)

So- June! July! August! Most of September! Gone! We did NOTHING! What an awful summer!

The chain of events suggests I should avoid going to the doctor, and avoid taking their prescribed medications. It all started when my blood sugar levels were elevated. (Actually my glucose meter was broken, and reading high!) My doctor prescribed Jenuvia as an adjunct to control my diabetes. After a few months I had a reaction to the medication. It caused severe arthritis inflammation in my fingers and toes. The pain got so severe I was unable to sleep. It was worse at night. The medication was discontinued.

The pain in my fingers and toes did not go away. I was prescribed Meloxicam, an NSAID, to relieve the pain and inflammation. I also got Actos to replace the Junevia, and am still taking it with no apparent side effects. The Meloxicam worked like a miracle. I was pain free. Everything was fine until a routine blood test indicated my kidneys were not functioning well around January of this year. NSAIDS cause kidney damage!

I was taken off the meloxicam. The good part is that the pain in my fingers and toes did not return. YAY! My blood work showed that my kidney function was back to just about normal after a few weeks. Then I sprained my foot, got tendinitis, took NSAIDS again, and got gout because the NSAIDS damaged my kidneys, and totally ruined my whole summer. At the rate I am going I should be fully recovered by Halloween.

All the constant pain has been a trial. I know it has been very difficult for Cindy. Being in constant pain makes me short-tempered, and just plain miserable to be around. Maybe it is a symptom of my bvFTD, but I fluctuated between frustration, and anger, and sleep. I mostly locked myself in my room, and avoided people. Sometimes I let the dog in. Cindy tried to take care of me, but I am too independent and stubborn to let anyone do anything for me unless I am desperate. Like I said, it was a very difficult summer for poor Cindy.

I tried several different pain killers, without much success. I already mentioned the NSAIDS, but I also tried Vicoden, and Gabapentin. When my feet were really hurting I took vicoden, and even doubled the dosage. It did not work. It didn't even seem to reduce the pain at all, but it did make me sick to my stomach about 12 hours after I took it. So much for that. The Gabapentin worked a little bit better, but it had some unpleasant side effects. I finally tried some edible cannabis, medicinal marijuana. That worked a little, and didn't have any unpleasant side effects. Smoking was much more effective, and alleviated the pain. It allowed me to finally get some decent sleep. I was never an advocate for using marijuana, but I am now convinced it is a viable alternative to manage severe pain.

That brings us to today. I am no longer taking any painkillers, but am still taking the allopurinol and occasionally colcrys to control the gout. Other than that, and not taking any NSAIDS, I have not changed my medications.

What did I do when I was sequestered in my room? Ha! Not much! I read. I love my Kindle! I probably read 2-3 books a week. I am a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, so I have lots and lots of book choices. I bounced between some military science fiction, and some sappy mystery romance and humor. I also re-read Time Enough For Love and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. (TANSTAAFL!) also watched some TV. I also purchased a Firestick for the TV in my room. I have access to Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Sling, HBOnow, and a few of the free access channels. We can't afford the pay ones, but I have wonderful children who share. That gave me plenty of choices, but even that gets old after a while. Right now I am working my way through the TV show Bones. I binge watched several shows, and also watched a bunch of mostly-lousy movies.

My substitute for actual social contact was to spend way too much time on social media. A little bit on Twitter, mostly reading news and comments, but not posting much, and of course Facebook. I drastically limit the number of people who can see my posts. Basically, if I have never met you in person you are not my "friend" on social media. Works for me!

Commenting on political sites is always public, and can be lots of fun as long as you do not take it seriously. As a true Independent I have fun trolling both conservatives and liberals. My political affiliation has always been as a Rational Anarchist. In looking back at my voting history, I have voted almost 50-50 between the parties. Recently I am leaning away from the Democratic Party because it no longer represents my views. I am in no way a Socialist. I believe people should make the best of themselves, and be responsible for their own actions.

My reading buddy.
Couch-bound, and down!
Social media helped pass the time. I found it is not as much fun to troll conservatives. If you disagree with them, they will explain in great pedantic length exactly why your viewpoint is wrong, or just tell you to fuck-off! No fun at all. Liberals, on the other hand, seem to harbor a lot of anger. If I disagree with a liberal, they usually start right off by calling me names. Usually on social media if you disagree with a liberal they will automatically call you a racist, and then get really nasty, even if you are talking about not liking Kale in your salad.Well, here is a word of advice: Don't go calling someone with bvFTD nasty names. Especially not someone who cut their teeth in flame-wars on the bulletin boards of ARPNET. Ha! Poor amateurs!

Anyway, it got me through some long days, and I only had to block a few people. I think a bunch more blocked me. Every time that happened, I knew I had won the game. ...and to me a game is all it is because I do not care what anyone else thinks. Mostly it is just plain fun. Now I usually just read the jokes, and funny memes, and keep in touch with family and friends.

That brings me up to the present. We are planning another vacation, and hopefully we will both be healthy enough to enjoy it. October should be a very interesting month - thanks again to my children..

Please click on an ad before you leave. Those pennies add up, and do make a difference. I think it amounted to nearly 62 cents so far this week! Lil'Bit needs her Scoobie Snacks. She has had a rough summer, too.

Thank you for your time. As my Grandmother used to say, "Better times are coming." And as I always say, "Some days are better than others."

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Effects of Medical Marijuana on Alzheimer’s and Dementia Revisited (again)

The bottom line on the results of current research is that marijuana may be detrimental to teenagers and children, and may be beneficial for older individuals especially regarding treatment for symptoms associated with dementia. Risk of addiction is relatively low, and detrimental side effects are mild in comparison to other drugs used to treat dementia.

Below are copies of some research articles, and summaries of recent findings. Medical Marijuana is now legal in Ohio, and has been legal in Michigan for a while. Of course it has always been available and easily obtainable illegally. I personally have never been an advocate of Marijuana use, however I would certainly include it in my treatment if it helped. It may be the only dementia drug with a pleasant side effect. There are also many studies concluding that cannabis is effective as a pain reliever.

There is some mention in the press recently being given to CBD oil, but research suggests that smoking or consuming the entire plant, with both THC and CBD is more effective. There are currently extracts (oils, waxes, and the like) as well as hybrid plant strains available with varying amounts of CBD and THC, so some experimentation would be necessary until more research is completed.

Anyway, here is some information I found. There is lots more out there. Just google Marijuana and dementia to find it.

(Note: I have had a difficult time copying these articles into my blog because it keeps changing the font, and spacing. I have changed the font to Times, and Blogger keeps changing it to something else and all caps. I am just going to post it as-is. Sorry if it is hard to read.)

The Effects of Medical Marijuana on Alzheimer’s Prevention
A preclinical study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that very small doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a chemical found in marijuana, can slow the production of beta-amyloid proteins, thought to be a hallmark characteristic and key contributor to the progression of Alzheimer’s.

The study, published in 2014, is among others to support the effectiveness of THC in prohibiting the growth of toxic amyloid plagues.

Co-author of the study, Neel Nabar, cautions against drawing quick conclusions from their study saying:
“It’s important to keep in mind that just because a drug may be effective doesn’t mean it can be safely used by anyone. However, these findings may lead to the development of related compounds that are safe, legal, and useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Another study from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California has also found that tetrahydrocannabinol and other compounds found in marijuana may reduce the amount of beta amyloid in the brain. Beta amyloid is a hallmark characteristic of Alzheimer’s and is commonly thought to cause the neurodegenerative disease.
From a couple years ago at a licensed medical grower in Michigan.
While the findings are preliminary, researchers are optimistic about their findings. David Schubert, professor at the Salk Institute and senior author on the study says, “Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells.”

In the study, researchers found that by exposing beta amyloid proteins to THC, it reduced the levels of beta amyloid, stopped the inflammatory response from the nerve cells caused by beta amyloid and allowed the nerve sells to survive. Antonio Currais, a postdoctoral researcher and first author on the paper noted:
“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves. When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”

Researchers caution that their findings were conducted in a laboratory model and that further research needs to be done in a clinical trial before any conclusive evidence can be produced.

Using Medical Marijuana to Treat Dementia
While researchers have seen some success in using medical marijuana to fight the formation of beta amyloid plaques, studies are showing differing results in using it to treat the disease.

A research team from Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands, recently investigated the effects of medical marijuana on symptoms of dementia including aggression, anxiety, depression, insomnia and hallucinations, and did not see a statistically significant difference when using medical marijuana to treat symptoms associated with the disease.

Contrarily, a recent study published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has concluded that cannabis extract containing THC can relieve these symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Researchers from the Abarbanel Mental Health Center and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University along with the Department of Psychology at Bar-Ilan University conducted the study, which was one of the first clinical studies observing the effects of cannabis on Alzheimer’s.

The study observed the effects of medical marijuana on 11 people living with Alzheimer’s over the course of 4 weeks. 10 participants finished the trial. Despite the small size of the study, researchers concluded that:
“Adding medical cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s patients’ pharmacotherapy is a safe and promising treatment option.”

UCSD Researchers Study the Mechanisms of Dementia – And How Cannabinoids Can Help
Alzheimer’s, as a form of dementia, is a progressively debilitating neurological condition. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. One in three seniors will pass away with some form of dementia and there are currently about 5 million individuals who are suffering from the disease.

Yet according to the American Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is not be considered a “normal aspect” of the aging process.

A complete rundown of all the modern-day factors that contribute to a deterioration in brain health as we age would have to take into account the many ways in which we are exposed to environmental toxins in our air, water and food. That discussion, of course, is beyond the scope of this article.

Thank goodness, however, that a growing number of researchers are helping us understand this disease better, and how natural therapies can help. What is really becoming apparent is that targeted cannabinoid therapy is rising to the top as one of the most powerful protocols for both treating and preventing Alzheimer’s.

One of the most exciting movements over the last five years has been a shift in perspective as to how (and where) Alzheimer’s starts in the first place, and how cannabinoid therapy fits into this picture. Very recent evidence points to Alzheimer’s as a condition that effects the nervous system overall, not just the brain.

And this is where strengthening the endocannabinoid system plays a very important role. THC in particular can help to boost deficiencies in nervous system function. For example, a 2014 University of South Florida study as well as others have found that THC can lessen the production of beta-amyloid protein, which can create an accumulation of plaque in the brain.

“Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves,” states Antonio Currais, PhD, lead author of a 2016 study on THC and Alzheimer’s conducted through 

the University of California, San Diego. “When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta [protein], it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying.”

A prior study conducted at UCSD’s Scripps Institute also found that THC was able to “block the aggression of plague completely”—and apparently more effectively than most known pharmaceutical drugs. This study also focused on THC’s effect on plaque-building proteins, but also how it fit in to the overall “cholinergic system,” a network of nerve cells and neurotransmitters often effected by Alzheimer’s disease progression.
“We found that THC was a very effective inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase [an enzyme that helps to create neurotransmitters],” said Dr. Kim Janda in reference to the Scripps research. Janda is Professor of Chemistry at Scripps and director of the Worm Institute of Research and Medicine.  “In addition to propidium, we also found that THC was considerably more effective than two of the approved drugs for Alzheimer’s disease treatment, donepezil (Aricept ®) and tacrine (Cognex ®), which reduced amyloid aggregation by only 22 percent and 7 percent, respectively, at twice the concentration used in our studies. Our results are conclusive enough to warrant further investigation.”
CBD Also Inhibits Alzheimer’s Progression

In addition to THC, a comprehensive analysis just published in the February 2017 edition of the medical journal Frontiers in Pharmacology summarized CBD’s effect on Alzheimer’s as well. The Australian meta-analysis states that CBD can affect the progression of Alzheimer’s by reducing “reactive gliosis,” which happens when the nervous system becomes damaged. CBD can also reduce neuro-inflammatory responses and promote neurogenesis, i.e. the development of nervous system tissue.

Perhaps the most important finding brought to light by the 2017 report was the fact that past studies have proven again and again that CBD can prevent and even reverse “the development of cognitive deficits” that have already occurred.

Side Effects of Common Alzheimer’s Drugs vs. Natural Healing with Cannabis
The mounting scientific evidence as to the ways in which THC and CBD work together with the endocannabinoid system and the nervous system to repair damage, encourage neurotransmitter growth and lessen the production of plague in the brain is very encouraging for those who are considering alternatives to pharmaceutic drug therapy.
The particular course of treatment for Alzheimer’s is a personal one that often loved ones must make for an aging family member. However, it is important to know all the facts before setting forth on a course of action. Drugs like Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne and Namenda are also Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors and will help with symptoms such as memory loss and confusion to a certain extent. But they also come with harsh side effects that may affect the body as a whole.

For example, many of these drugs share a common foundation with nerve agents and insecticides. Side effects of these drugs may include digestive complications, bruising,

 dizziness and increased confusion.
Image result for marijuana images
A pipe is probably better because of the smoke from the paper.

The Australian report states that “current AD treatments do not stop or reverse the disease progression.” In light of this, the researchers call for “new, more effective therapeutics.”

According to an increasing number of studies, cannabinoid therapy now appears to do what common pharmaceutical drugs cannot when it comes to dementia- recover, repair and heal the parts of the brain and nervous system that have been severely effected by the progression of this deadly and heart-breaking disease. And, when used at low-doses and under the guidance of a caring professional, cannabinoid therapy appears to be absent of the damaging side effects that inevitably come with hard pharmaceutical therapies.

Make Sure You Have a Safe and CLEAN Cannabis Source
A recent UPG article talked about a California report which found that roughly 90% of all cannabis grown in Northern California has some pesticide residue, in particular Myclobutanil, which turns to Hydrogen Cyanide when exposed to heat.
The side effects for low-level, consistent exposure to Hydrogen Cyanideinclude shortness of breath/trouble breathing, complications with the liver and kidney and hormonal changes in the thyroid. High levels of exposure, even one time, can lead to death. Exposure to Mychobutanil (a common environmental pesticide) over time could also result in changes in the spleen, skin, liver and brain, according to recent studies.
Especially if you are using medical cannabis for any type of brain-related condition, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, PTSD or epilepsy, it is important that you trust the source of your cannabis weed, oil, vape or cream and make sure that it is grown as organically as possible without the use of harmful chemical sprays to fight fungus and bacteria. While it appears that tougher safety regulations are around the corner in California, there are currently other states, such as Oregon, Washington and Colorado, that have toughened their regulations in recent years.

After all, what good is it to ingest marijuana for its brain-healing effects when it is riddled with pesticides that may make the problem worse?

A small open-label trial conducted by Israeli researchers found that THC helps relieve symptoms of dementia in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Findings in a new study published in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggest that cannabis extracts containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are beneficial at relieving symptoms in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

THC is the most abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis. The psychoactive compound activates the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the body’s endocannabinoid system to elicit chemical responses designed to regulate various processes and keep them balanced.
A team of Israeli researchers from the Israel and Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv University examined the effects of THC on 11 Alzheimer’s patients over the course of four weeks. After the cannabis treatments, the researchers recorded a significant reduction in the Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scale, a well-established research rating tool designed to track the progression of the disease.

The researchers also recorded a significant reduction in behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, including agitation, aggression, irritability, apathy, delusions, and sleep. Those who care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease commonly are affected by physical and emotional burdens, but the study found that giving patients cannabis oil with THC also significantly reduced caregiver stress.

“Adding [medical cannabis oil] to [Alzheimer’s disease] patients’ pharmacotherapy is safe and a promising treatment option,” the researchers concluded.
The investigation was an open-label trial, meaning both the researchers and patients were aware that they were being given the medical cannabis oil with THC with no chance of placebo.

Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable and progressive type of dementia that destroys memory, behavior and thinking. The buildup of amyloid-beta protein fragments and twisted fibers of tau in the brain inhibit cell-to-cell communication and the transport of nutrients, eventually causing brain cell death. Those with the disease gradually lose their memory, and frustrations over the loss of cognitive function often leads to depression, anxiety, mood swings, and irritability. It’s the most common type of dementia, affecting an estimated 5.5 million Americans.

This trial’s findings are just the latest in a growing body of evidence suggesting cannabis’ efficacy for Alzheimer’s disease. Previous studies have found THC to be effective at lowering levels of amyloid-beta peptide, the hallmark characteristic and key contributor to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Long-term inflammation encourages the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, but cannabinoids have also shown to provide neuroprotective effects by helping stimulate the removal of amyloid-beta and blocking the inflammatory response.

Marijuana Compound Removes Toxic Alzheimer's Protein From The Brain
This could be huge.
An active compound in marijuana called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has been found to promote the removal of toxic clumps of amyloid beta protein in the brain, which are thought to kickstart the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

The finding supports the results of previous studies that found evidence of the protective effects of cannabinoids, including THC, on patients with neurodegenerative disease.
"Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer's, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells," says one of the team, David Schubert from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. 

Schubert and his colleagues tested the effects of THC on human neurons grown in the lab that mimic the effects of Alzheimer's disease.
If you're not familiar with this special little compound, it's not only responsible for the majority of marijuana's psychological effects - including the high - thanks to its natural pain-relieving properties, it's also been touted as an effective treatment for the symptoms of everything from HIV and chemotherapy to chronic pain, post traumatic stress disorder, and stroke.

In fact, THC appears to be such an amazing medical agent, researchers are working on breeding genetically modified yeast that can produce it way more efficiently than it would be to make synthetic versions.

The compound works by passing from the lungs to the bloodstream, where it attaches to two types of receptors, cannabinoid receptor (CB) 1 and 2, which are found on cell surfaces all over the body.

In the brain, these receptors are most concentrated in neurons associated with pleasure, memory, thinking, coordination and time perception, and usually bind with a class of lipid molecules called endocannabinoids that are produced by the body during physical activity to promote cell-to-cell signalling in the brain. 

But THC can also bind to them in much the same way, and when they do, they start messing with your brain's ability to communicate with itself.
They can be a good and a bad thing, because while you might forget something important or suddenly be incapable of swinging a baseball bat, you'll probably feel amazing, and want to eat all the snacks:
Over the years, research has suggested that by binding to these receptors, THC could be having another effect on ageing brains, because it appears to helps the body clear out the toxic accumulations - or 'plaques' - of amyloid beta.

No one's entirely sure what causes Alzheimer's disease, but it's thought to result from a build-up of two types of lesions: amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. 

Amyloid plaques sit between the neurons as dense clusters of beta-amyloid molecules - a sticky type of protein that easily clumps together - and neurofibrillary tangles are caused by defective tau proteins that clump up into a thick, insoluble mass in the neurons. 

It's not clear why these lesions begin to appear in the brain, but studies have linked inflammation in the brain tissue to the proliferation of plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. So if we can find something that eases brain inflammation while at the same time encourages the body to clear out these lesions, we could be on the way to finding the first effective treatment for Alzheimer's ever.

Back in 2006, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute found that THC inhibits the formation of amyloid plaques by blocking the enzyme in the brain that produces them, and now Schubert and his team have demonstrated that it can also eliminate a dangerous inflammatory response from the nerve cells, ensuring their survival.
"Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer's disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves," says one of the team, Antonio Currais. 

"When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying."
It's exciting stuff, but it's so far only been demonstrated in neurons in the lab, so the next step will be for Schubert and his team to observe the link between THC and reduced inflammation and plaque build-up in a clinical trial.

They've reportedly already found a drug candidate called J147 that appears to have the same effects as THC, so this might be the way they can test the effects of THC without the government getting in the way.
Though it's worth adding that more recent legal changes since the time of this research around marijuana use in the USA may be making further research in this area a lot easier.

The results have been published in Aging and Mechanisms of Disease.
This story was originally published in June 2016

The team divided their 50 participants into two groups with one group receiving 1.5 mg of medical marijuana pills and the other receiving a placebo pill. Participants took the pill three times a day for three weeks. After comparing the behavioral symptoms of both groups, researchers found there was no difference in the two groups.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Spring 2018 Update. Eight Years With bvFTD, and Still Kickin' !

"Life is a great big canvas. Throw all the paint you can at it!" ~Danny Kaye

I make this shirt look good! Go Tribe!
It is that time of year again when I try to write a progress report of sorts on the progression of my bvFTD. It has been 8 years since my diagnosis. The average life expectancy of someone with bvFTD just happens to be about 5 years after diagnosis ...well, actually, as more people are being diagnosed earlier this average has been increasing. I have seen estimates as high as 12 years, and even 20. I like the sounds of 20! With that in mind, I am still doing very well. If that looks familiar, it is because I copied it from 2015 (I copied it about 8 times cuz I'm lazy!) with a few changes. I am having a very difficult time getting myself motivated to write (or to do anything else!), so I cheated. Call it a work around. Besides, most of what I wrote then applies now in 2018, only more so. For some reason last year I didn't want to write anything. Maybe I was too busy doing stuff to write about it.
Of course I am worse-off now than I was 8 years ago. My disease is progressing, but so far it is still progressing slowly. My dysexecutive syndrome and cognitive problems have not progressed very much if at all since 2016, either that or I just don't notice anymore. I always use my ability to do mental arithmetic as a way to measure. I simply cannot do much mental math any more - more precisely I don't bother because it is so difficult. So, if it got worse I might not notice. My arithmetic skills seem to be a little better. Maybe I have adjusted somehow. When I try anything at all complicated, it is still like wrestling with tangled thoughts like wet spaghetti - numbers slip away because I can't hold a number in my working memory long enough to manipulate it. I have come up with a few work arounds for really simple arithmetic, but anything complex is no longer possible. Generally, I think I still think OK, but I think that is due to the medications I take. I still have the ability to evaluate very complex problems, and can process large amounts of data, but only if I can fully concentrate, and am not interrupted.
I have sporadic problems with sequencing. I can usually tell when I am having a more challenging day, and try to adjust accordingly. By "adjusting" I mean canceling any ambitious plans, and staying close to home if at all possible. Since I rarely have any ambitious plans this usually does not pose much of a problem. I have been reading a lot. When I say a lot, I mean several books a week. Kindle Unlimited is the best! I have no difficulty reading, and remembering what I am reading. Back 8 years ago I had trouble remembering what was at the start of the page I was reading, and sometimes the start of the paragraph I was reading. I forced myself to keep at it, and it got better. Again, I think I have adjusted.

Little things I enjoy doing
to keep me occupied.
I keep myself as busy as I can with small projects. I have not tackled anything big since remodeling the camper. I still have not installed the stove, but after camping most of last summer we didn't really miss it. We just cooked outside. Speaking of “small” projects ...I did not mention it at the time for various reasons, but last Spring we raised a baby squirrel. That kept me occupied for a few weeks, in the best way. He is now happy, and healthy, and roaming all over the neighborhood. We see him almost every day, but though he always stops when we talk to him, he no longer comes close. I guess that means we did a good job as squirrel-parents!

Late last Fall one of those “small” projects got the best of me. The basement sink that the washer drains into got a clogged drain. Probably lint (or a sock!). When I was unclogging it I managed to sprain my lower back. I mean severely sprained and strained. I was just fine right after I did it, then 2 days later I could hardly move. It hurt to sit. It hurt to stand. It hurt to lay down. I couldn't sleep. My Doctor prescribed all the usual stuff for a lower back sprain, and some pills for the pain. The pills didn't work at all. Eventually I got better, but it took weeks and weeks. I was fine for about a month, and strained it again. I knew it was weak, but that mattress and box spring needed to go down that flight of stairs. It is getting better again, but I keep re-straining it. I haven't lifted anything heavy (Like 20 boxes of books!) in a week! The reason I mention it is that the pain pills, including Ibuprofen and Vicodin really played havoc with my short term memory. I took very little because I could barely function. I think they interacted with my other medications. Whatever it was, wasn't pleasant. The only thing that relieved the pain without side effects was some occasional cannibinoid infused candy. At least that helped me sleep. It also gave me some interesting dreams.

Other than that, the holidays went well. We had a dozen or so people over for Thanksgiving dinner. I did not get overwhelmed, but took a few days off afterwards to recover. I love cooking for a bunch of people. Christmas was not at our house since we hosted for Thanksgiving. That made it easy. I think I am doing better around a bunch of people. I had fun, and was able to cope well. Maybe I have adjusted to dealing with that, too, but it still takes some preparation. Cindy also helps keep the stress low. Though I enjoyed the holidays, I am glad they are over.

Old Mixmaster works better
 than the Kitchenaid!
My son got us an Echo Dot. I liked it so much I got another for the upstairs. We both use them all the time to play music. For Christmas he got us a set of smart light bulbs. I took my time, and got them all set up, synced, and linked to the Echo Dot. This is not exactly easy, and I am happy to say I had little difficulty keeping all the necessary steps in order. At first I thought they would just be a novelty, but they are very convenient in the middle of the night. My sleep patterns are a mess, so I am often awake in the middle of the night. Added a firestick. Now the damn house is smarter than I am! It only feels a little silly to be talking to “Alexa” all the time. Har!

I have mentioned I like to cook. I have wanted to make my own sausage for a long time. I collect old stand mixers, and have several with grinder attachments. The
Dormeyers are my favorites, but I used one of the Sunbeam Mixmasters from the early 1950's to grind up a pork shoulder. I had a little hassle finding a sausage stuffer, and finally bought a manual one for under $10. The nozzels (Snouts?) fit perfectly on the grinder, so I was in business. I stuffed about 12 pounds of sausage. I made spicy and sweet Italian, and Apple and Maple breakfast sausage. I am not overly fond of the breakfast sausage, but love all the rest. I can't wait to make some more. Not only did it come out delicious, it is really fun to make. Several people have had it, and agree it is some of the best sausage they have ever tasted. Following recipes, or more precisely making up my own as I go, does not give me any problems. If I get a step or two out of order it rarely makes any difference. Learning to make sausage was a fun way to keep active.

Making food from scratch, and using some of the vintage kitchen appliances I collect is not only fun, but keeps my mind active. Though sometimes it may take me a while – sometimes a long while – to get started, it is worth it. A few years ago we found a pasta maker with several different cutting dies at a thrift store for $5. I love a bargain! Though kneading the dough always bothers the arthritis in my hands, it is fun to make all sorts of different pasta. It is even better getting to eat it! I really think keeping active, and challenging my mind is a help.

I told Cindy I wanted to take some of my photographs, and make paintings from them. For my Birthday she got me a really fancy easel. I slowly accumulated some quality paints, canvases, and brushes. Cindy signed us up for a basic acrylic painting
"Kissing Fish" from the class. My first acrylic painting.
Cindy's is on the left, mine is right.
class. It was difficult to make myself go (Cindy basically led me by the hand) , but I really enjoyed it once I was there. We had a lot of fun, and our very first paintings are proudly hanging on the wall. I have done things in other mediums, but I have never painted with acrylics before. I really like them. Easy clean up, and fast drying. I am impatient, so that is a big plus.

So, that is what I have been doing the last few months of 2017 after our vacations, and the first part of 2018. We are both fairly active on FaceBook, and I occasionally
Fancy easel Cindy got me.
 My 2nd painting is of LilBit.
post on Twitter also. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends, and family. It also helps me keep track, and stay in the moment. We are still both playing Pokemon Go. What stupid fun! Cindy and I have both been playing ever since about a month after it came out. As of today I have walked a little over 840 Km, reached level 36, and caught over 15000 Pokemon since we started playing! Yes! This game does help get my butt out the door! (More so when it is warmer)

I was going to add the final details,
but decided I liked it like this.
In the Fall of 2016, we rescued a little boxer dog from the pound in Toledo. She is very smart, adaptable, and full of mischief! She was just what I needed. She loves to go camping! Actually she just loves to be with us no matter what we are doing.  It only took a couple days to teach her how to answer yes or no. A short bark for a “yes”, and she “freezes”, and is quiet for a “no”. Unlike my dog years ago, she doesn't bark twice for a “no”. She has a wicked sense of humor, which I guess is typical of Boxers. She is cuddled up next to me on the couch as I am writing this.

I am still driving. In fact, I drove almost 2500 miles, lots of it towing the camper, on vacation last Summer. Camping lets us take long vacations to interesting places, and we all enjoy it. I plan to do it again this coming Summer, too. I am very careful, but so far have not had any issues. I only drive a few hours a day because it tires me out, and I get sore. I still drive an 11 year old 6-speed manual Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (4-door) Rubicon. Years ago my neurologist said I would probably start having difficulty with the manual transmission before I had difficulty driving since with low range it has 12 speeds forward, and 2 reverse, with a couple of neutrals thrown in. So far – so good! Except for an occasional vacation, most of my driving is local on streets I am very familiar with. I have not noticed any changes in my driving, other than being more vigilant, and maybe just not getting out as much.

I wrote the basics of following paragraph 3 ½ years ago, and it is still true, with a few modifications this year. The only thing I could add is that everything mentioned is a little worse. The biggest changes I have noticed are in my motivation, and in my speech. One of my most debilitating symptoms is not being able to make myself do anything. Thinking about doing something is just as good, if not better, than actually doing it. I just cannot get started, and this has definitely gotten worse in the past year. It seems to run in spurts. A few weeks in a row  I can't seem to get myself to do anything, then all of a sudden I am doing stuff easily. There is no pattern I can see. I am also a lot more anti-social, but I think that is related somehow. I fumble around for a word, or cannot remember a name or title much more often than before. This is still not debilitating, but it is now becoming more noticeable as it is an almost daily occurrence. My emotions are damped. I still have them, but less amplified.
Whatever I do, LilBit is right there
"helping" me. She wears a size 4T.
Thrift store kids clothes. Ha!

I am still taking Aricept at 20mg/day, and Namenda at 20 mg/day, and Ritalin at 20 mg/day. I have been taking these 3 drugs for 8 years and some change. Yes! They have some side effects, but in my opinion the benefits are well worth it for me. I have had to add glyburide/metformin 5/500 (2 pills twice a day for a daily dose of 10/2000 - if my arithmetic is right.), and Actos because my blood sugar was elevated.  I probably forget to take my medications at least one or two days a month, but I do not use any reminders other than keeping them in plain sight in the kitchen. I also take Lion's Mane Extract. I seem to take it about 3-4 months out of each year. I also take losartan for blood pressure, and levothyroxin for thyroid. I drink pomegranate juice when it is on sale. I have posted before about why I take the Lion's Mane, and Pom juice. At certain times of the year I also must take some antihistamines. Lately I have been taking dyphenhydramine, and a generic chlortrimaton. They both have side effects, especially with short term memory, but they seem to be better than some of the others I have tried. The worst one for affecting my memory seems to be Zyrtec, which I try to avoid now that I figured it out. Zyrtec just does not agree with me, so I use it very sparingly. I am still here, and doing well, so something is working. If I had to guess I would say it is the stupid mushroom extract in combination with the Aricept and Namenda.

I have recently stopped taking Meloxicam for arthritis pain in my hands. It seemed to work well for the pain, but I had some acute kidney problems which cleared up as soon as I quit taking it. So far my arthritis pain is manageable with an occasional Tylenol, which is better than it was before. When I had to stop taking Jenuvia because of the severe joint pain, the pain did not go away when I stopped taking the drug. I think I have finally recovered from the side effects of that nasty drug.
I hate taking medications, but something
is working, so I am not changing it up.
Basically it caused arthritis in my finger joints.

I frequently say that “Some days are better than others.” Recently someone asked about what my bad days are like. I rarely write about my bad days. Partly because I don't dwell on them, and partly because I often don't remember much about them. It just so happens that I had a few weeks worth of bad days in a row at the end of last year. On bad days I have no motivation whatsoever. I just want to lay around all day. Everything makes me feel stressed. Just doing the little things like meals, and taking care of the dog, are an accomplishment. I did not want to go anywhere or see anyone. On these bad days I am most comfortable curled up with a good book in a dark room, or watching an old movie. I just want to be a hermit. I left this paragraph in because again I had some difficulties near the end of the year. Between antihistamines for fall allergies, and my back problems I was a mess for a while. But I got better!

Sometimes just an afternoon snooze
on the couch is in order.
Most days are still pretty good, and even the bad days are tolerable. Last year I was working hard on the camper, and really didn't notice many, if any, bad days. Same with the vacations, with a couple notable exceptions, but we delt with it. So far this year I have been keeping myself busy with smaller fun projects. I still want to get the stove intalled in the camper if I can get myself motivated. That will not be fun because the previous owner ripped out all the tubing, and cabinets where it originally went. I also want to add solar power. We like to camp pretty far off the grid.

Some days are better than others, and after 8 years most days are still pretty damn good. After 8 years with bvFTD it is good to have any days at all, and be looking forward to having more..

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