While the marijuana research investment made by the government was once near $70 million, it's since dropped off precipitously.
Although research is struggling, it feels like there is a new application for hemp and CBD just about every day. The link between marijuana and Alzheimer's is still being explored with a strong case being made for its ability to help the elderly.
Here is a breakdown of how the link between marijuana and dementia is being explored.
While Alzheimer's and many forms of dementia are often characterized by forgetfulness and confusion, there are symptoms that aren't as obvious as others.
The disease, once it is diagnosed, will develop quickly. It grows from a mild irritation to eventually enveloping the totality of the person suffering with it.
One of the major cognitive declines could be characterized by memory loss. Take note if your loved one is asking an inordinate number of repetitive questions and forgetting the answers over the course of the day. This is one of the surest signs that you may be dealing with Alzheimer's.
It's often more than just misplacing your glasses or forgetting the name of a singer. Alzheimer's will disrupt the normal flow of life. Conversations and appointments will be completely forgotten and the names of even the closest family members can slip away.
Over time, that memory loss develops into the ability to get lost in even the most familiar of places, like a home or a favorite park. After a while, it can even develop into the inability to take part in normal conversations.
Even the simplest cognitive tasks are a struggle for many people with advanced Alzheimer's. This can lead to changes in personality that turn to depression or anxiety. Some people develop serious mood swings or a deeply delusional mindset.
If your loved one seems unnecessarily irritable or aggressive and has changed their sleep habits profoundly, they could be dealing with dementia.
Get to Know the Diagnosis
While Alzheimer's can be detected in some people, it's never technically diagnosed until after your loved one has passed. It requires the examination of brain tissues after death to understand if Alzheimer's was the culprit or not. Alzheimer's will be diagnosed as "possible" or "probable" for older adults dealing with memory loss.
To begin, doctors get a picture of the overall health of the person they're looking at. There will be a series of routine questions about diet, any medications or prescriptions that are taken, over or behind the counter. There could even be some memory tests involved.
At some hospitals, they do a few scans like MRI, PET, and CT to ensure that they can rule out other issues.
If dementia is suspected, doctors will want to see your loved one every 6-12 months to ensure that the memory is still functioning enough for cognition. This also gives doctors the opportunity to see other potential issues like tumors, Parkinson's, or the sign of a stroke. These issues could contribute to memory loss and an accelerated Alzheimers.
The Harms of Alzheimer's
Patients with Alzheimer's don't die because of the disease itself but its effects on the rest of the system. As it develops, it impacts a body's ability to perform basic motor functions, all the way down to breathing and swallowing. Pneumonia is a leading cause of death for people with dementia.
As people lose their motor skills, they can't walk. This lack of mobility can cause people to develop blood clots.
People with Alzheimer's tend to be more susceptible to getting harmful infections. The weight loss that comes concurrently with the disease can weaken your loved one's immune system.
How to Treat It
Sadly, there's no real cure for the disease and nothing that can stop Alzheimer's from developing. There are, however, several treatments that can slow its progression and allow for a better quality of life while patient and their family deal with its effects.
The medications available include Cholinesterase inhibitors. These can increase brain cell communication and lower the impacts of irritability and depression.
Another drug, Memantine, can help intracellular communication in the brain and delay the progress of Alzheimer's.
Exercise has been found to be a great natural solution to keeping people healthy as their other functions deteriorate. Muscular and neurological conditions are abound when people begin dealing with Alzheimer's. Some small daily activities can have a huge impact on the strength of the fight against dementia.
Treating Alzheimer's with CBD
Along with THC, CBD is one of the main components of marijuana. When segregated from THC through the use of specially bred hemp plants, CBD products can give you physiological aids without the feeling of being high. CBD products are being widely used for everything from anti-inflammatories to dealing with more serious issues.
CBD can help maintain certain body functions, rebuild memory, regulate appetite, and manage your loved one's response to pain.
Because the hippocampus is the deeply susceptible to damage as Alzheimer's develops, CBD may be able to help protect it. There is nothing concrete and solid to hold on to as far as research, yet. However, there are studies that suggest there's a positive impact on people with Alzheimer's.
As there is often an increased number of CB2 receptors in people with Alzheimer's, CBD can help your body bring ease those receptors and potentially intervene with the disease.
Marijuana and Dementia Have a Bright Future Ahead
The amount of research that's been done between marijuana and dementia is so promising that it's hard not to get excited about where it'll go.
While it won't be the perfect solution for some time, CBD as a treatment is a welcome development for people dealing with dementia and their families. Talk to your doctor and see what they think about giving some CBD to your loved one.
If you want to know the potential that CBD has for women's health, check out our guide for more helpful tips.