An estimated 5.6 million people in the U.S. suffer from Alzheimer’s, with someone in the U.S. developing the disease every 65 seconds. CBD oil for Alzheimer’s might offer hope.
And if that wasn’t scary enough, statistics show deaths from the disease increased 145% in just the short span of 2000 to 2017, and only continue to rise. [*]
While new medications have made small breakthroughs in managing Alzheimer’s, science has yet to find a definitive cure. This has lead to the rise of exploring natural methods of improving brain health and managing symptoms, such as supplements and herbs.
One of these methods that is now being explored is CBD, which has some promising research behind its benefits that point to it being a potential defense against Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s: What It Is and How It Works
As a primer to how CBD may defend against Alzheimer’s, it helps to know a little of what exactly is going on when someone is diagnosed.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that slowly results in memory loss. Typically, it is diagnosed in later years of life after 60 years of age, but it has been known to affect younger generations.
Memory loss occurs in Alzheimer’s due to the loss of connections between neurons in the brain, which help transmit messages between different parts of the brain and body. This process occurs heavily in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for memory. As more neurons die, the damage spreads to other areas of the brain and it begins to shrink until the damage is too widespread.
Other abnormal changes occur in the brain during Alzheimer’s that play a role, such as deposits of proteins form amyloid plaques that can block or interfere with transmissions.
Scientists also have yet to find a definitive answer as to what causes Alzheimer’s, but it appears to be a combination of genetics and lifestyle. Many researchers in the natural health sphere have also begun looking deeper into the lifestyle causes of Alzheimer’s, since the disease tends to strike older individuals dealing with inflammation and free radical damage from environmental factors like diet and chemical exposure, which can contribute to brain damage. [*]
Studies Point to CBD as a Potential Defense Against Alzheimer’s
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the over 100 compounds derived from the cannabis plant. It is non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t give you a “high,” and has been widely studied for all kinds of major benefits ranging from chronic inflammation to reducing seizure frequency in epilepsy patients.
In the case of Alzheimer’s, research has been extremely positive even though it’s still fairly new. One animal study found that long-term treatment with CBD was able to prevent memory lapses in social recognition in mice with Alzheimer’s (in other words, it prevented memory loss when it comes to recognizing others) and even reverse some cognitive deficits. [*]
Researchers believe this occurred due to CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects. Neuroinflammation plays a large role in Alzheimer’s where it can lead to excess damage of neurons, so CBD’s ability to help regulate inflammation may be one of the reasons we see this effect.
CBD has also demonstrated neuroprotective properties in studies, along with antioxidant properties that can help prevent neuron damage by free radicals. [*] Free radicals are unstable molecules generated by toxins, chemicals in our environment, and even excess stress that, if left unchecked, can damage DNA and result in disease and premature aging. Antioxidant food and molecules that have antioxidant properties or effects like CBD help mop up these excess free radicals before they can cause damage.
Studies also show CBD helps prevent degeneration in the hippocampus, the area responsible for memory in the brain, and can also help reverse object recognition deficits. [*]
Interestingly, the U.S. government has held a patent on CBD since 2003 for the marketing of cannabinoids as antioxidants or neuroprotective agents, stating, “The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV dementia.” [*]
How to Use CBD
If you’re new to CBD, there are many ways to try it if you or a family member are suffering from, or simply want to add a layer of prevention against Alzheimer’s.
- Vaping (inhalation). Vaping involves inhaling CBD oil through a vape pen that you refill as needed.
• Tinctures. CBD tinctures are taken with a dropper under your tongue.
• Edibles and capsules. CBD edibles and capsules are convenient ways to take CBD anywhere you are; however, they may take longer to absorb than other methods.
• Creams and lotions. CBD is infused into creams and lotions you can rub on, which is then absorbed into your bloodstream through your pores.
Spectrum or Isolate?
When shopping for CBD, consider whether you’ll purchase a spectrum oil, which may contain THC alongside CBD, or an isolate, which is pure CBD. THC is the compound in cannabis that can induce a high; however, some researchers suggest the combination of THC and CBD may be more powerful when it comes to Alzheimer’s than CBD alone.
Which version you decide on is completely up to you. Just be sure to check for any additional unwanted ingredients such as flavors or obscure chemicals. Ideally, you want to look for an organically farmed CBD or CBD spectrum product, since this ensures it contains minimal traces of harmful chemicals (the exact thing we want to avoid when considering Alzheimer’s).
While CBD is not a cure for Alzheimer’s and more human studies and direct research is needed, the studies coming out on CBD and preventing Alzheimer’s are worth taking a second look at. CBD oil for Alzheimer’s might help but does need further research.