Could Marijuana Be the Answer to Alzheimer’s Disease?

A new study from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies implies that THC, a chemical found in marijuana, may stop the production of beta amyloid and stop nerve cells in the brain from being destroyed.Could Marijuana Be the Answer to Alzheimer's Disease?

Learn more about this new study and the federal obstacles that may prevent medical marijuana for being used as a treatment method for Alzheimer’s.

New Marijuana Study Reinvigorates Hope for Alzheimer’s Treatment

A new study from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies suggests that marijuana may be the answer to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers created cellular conditions to mimic Alzheimer’s, modifying nerve cells to produce beta-amyloid, the production of which is a hallmark of the disease and related forms of dementia. As the beta-amyloid production continued, it eventually caused the death of nerve cells, ultimately progressing Alzheimer’s.

During this process, researchers noted the receptors in the nerve cells that are responsible for sending signal for appetite, memory and pain. These molecules in nerve cells are known as endocannabinoids. Researchers hypothesized that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a chemical found in marijuana that is similar to endocannabinoids, is able to activate the same receptors could potentially block the receptors that lead to beta amyloid production and prevent the death of nerve cells and stop the progression of Alzheimer’s.

To test their theory, researchers applied THC to the cells that were producing beta amyloid and found that the application of THC reduced beta-amyloid production, stopping the inflammatory response, saving the nerve cells.

The Long Road to Approval

While the results of the study are promising and can bring new hope for people suffering from Alzheimer’s, the truth is that a path to approval for medical marijuana to treat the disease is not in the immediate future.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently issued a ruling keeping cannabis on the list as an illicit substance. The FDA has also said that there is still so much more they need to learn about marijuana before allowing it to be used as a medical treatment, also saying there are no recognized medical benefits to the drug. There are also struggles for marijuana production businesses receiving loans from banks and tax issues because marijuana is still a federally illegal substance.

Although the drug has been shown to have some medicinal benefits for a number of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, without government backing, the ability to conduct FDA approved clinical studies and actual implementation of the drug for Alzheimer’s treatments will have to wait.

Would you consider using marijuana to treat or alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s? Why or why not?

Related Articles:

Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Gourmando

    I have a friend — his wife (71) is slipping merrily into dementia, ever carefree. Another friend — husband (74) also slipping, resigned to the inevitable but nonetheless fearful. These are two bright and accomplished people. If this were happening to me, and if medical marijuana were available, no doubt about it I’d be puffing away!

    • BellaTerra66

      Where do you live (just what state)? A lot of states have medical MJ now, and it’s fairly easy to obtain a permit.

  • Black Feather

    Its the Christmas season. My Mom (88yrs) is so depressed because she can’t go home to her parents in Germany. It happens since she started suffering from Alzheimer’s and it is getting worse each year. Now I know why people put their parents in nursing home during this time. I can’t bring myself to do that but I sure as Hell would share a laced brownie and laugh a lot than watch her possibly have a heart attack from grief. Or worse. Big Pharm is behind the slow legalization its all about the money.
    I’d try to get some myself but I’m her caregiver can’t risk getting caught, going to jail.

    • Fran

      Maybe you would consider moving to a state that has it legalized for medical use.
      I certainly would. My mother spent 36 months with severe Alzheimers. The last 20 months in Skilled care Nursing Home. Although she received excellent care for $5,000 plus a month. If I had known about this THC oil I would have done something different. She kept asking to go home , like your Mum. And home was
      Frome, Somerset , England. Now I will only get to take her home in a smal box and place her ashes next to her Grandfather . I feel your pain and something needs to change to make this available to patients in need. Unless the pharmicutical companies get their greedy hands on a piece of this it will not happen like it needs too. Stay strong.

  • Black Feather

    We live in Texas. I have to barricade the doors tonight to prevent her from slipping out to walk “home”. Maybe we should march on Washington bring our parents with us if possible. I’m so tired of Medicare Tricare not being helpful at all.

    • BBMex

      I hear you, Black Feather. My Mom, too. Breaks my heart. Things aren’t exactly looking up with the “incoming” either.

  • robininseoul

    Even if you live in a state where medical use is legal, you won’t get a license for this use because it hasn’t been proven yet. You’d have to conspire with your doctor and get it for some other reason. Worth a try, I guess.

  • ElderCareFirst

    Yes, I would consider using medical M. as a treatment option for my patients. The number one reason why would be the benefits to risk ratio is much more favorable than what is currently available. In SNF’s or ALF’s are plenty of patients who are in desperate need of medicine that can alleviate symptoms of dementia without the horrific side effects of what’s currently available. Falls are a primary concern with this demographic and the use of benzodiazepines are some of the biggest contributors, as well as antipsychotics when it comes to falls and potential head injuries or fractured hips. If medical M. can aid in prevention that would be fantastic, however if it can even just alleviate symptoms it would be equally fantastic simply because the side effects can actually be beneficial for appetite stimulation, as well as diminish pain.

  • Pat

    It works very well for me. I have Mild Cognitive Impairment and come from a huge family history, including my Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother…..It is now my turn. I tried the recommended drugs and they did nothing. So I started doing research and came across articles on Cannabis. I live in a medical marijuana state and have been using CBD capsules (the non psychoactive part of cannabis) in the late morning and late afternoon. At bedtime I take a THC capsule. I like that the dispensary that I go to because they have capsules, since I do not want to smoke it. I just read that dementia treatment drugs could be available by 2025, but I can’t wait that long.

About The Author

Profile photo of Alissa Sauer