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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.

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