Using CBD to Help With Alzheimer’s Care

by | Jun 7, 2023 | Latest News | 0 comments

According to the American Alzheimer’s Association, more than six million Americans over the age of 65 years will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2022. Of the patients diagnosed, approximately 73% are age 75 or older, and about 1 in 9 people over 65 have been diagnosed with the chronic disease.

There are exciting new developments in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, including new medications that may slow the progression of symptoms of dementia and other physical effects. Because Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition linked to inflammation, there have been many clinical trials to explore whether cannabidiol (CBD) may offer benefits for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

In this article, we’ll talk about Alzheimer’s disease and what it means for both patients and caregivers. And take a look at some of the promising treatments and clinical studies that suggest CBD may help patients with Alzheimer’s disease in many ways.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

A neurological disorder that originates in and affects the brain, Alzheimer’s disease leads to progressive cognitive decline, memory loss, and degeneration of bodily functions as the condition worsens. Alzheimer’s disease develops slowly, with worsening symptoms over time.

Right now, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. However, research studies suggest many different types of therapy that can slow the progression of symptoms for patients. Some new medications are showing great promise, but other therapies, including diet modification, cognitive stimulation treatments, exercise, and social engagement, may also be part of treatment planning.

Alzheimers Treatment

Alzheimer’s is Caused by Neuron Dysfunction

There are many different factors that contribute to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. While clinical studies have identified some causes and risk factors, researchers are still trying to understand how and why it develops.

What we know is that inside the brain, there are small cells called neurons. The neurons are messengers, delivering orders or directions throughout the body, traveling through the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS).

Neurons that travel along the central nervous system are an intricate pattern of codes that regulate body functions and how we process information, and they transmit signals helping us to coordinate body functions, think and process (cognition), and organ and motor functioning (including body and muscle movement).

In the peripheral nervous system (PNS), the neurons are responsible for feeling and movement control. They connect and communicate with nerves throughout the body to help feel sensations (hot, cold, pain, etc.) and also assist with movement control.

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease develop a problem with both sets of neurons. Some studies have shown that plaques or small clumps of proteins called beta-amyloid develop on the neurons and impair healthy messaging throughout the body. The brain acts to clear away the plaque, but for some reason, that cleaning system doesn’t work for people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Tau Proteins and Neuron Tangles

The second thing that disrupts healthy neuron functioning for patients with Alzheimer’s disease is called “tangles.” Neurons have long strains of hair-like structures called tau proteins. Patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease have different structures. Instead of being straight, they are entangled and disrupt the functioning (ability to carry messages through neurological pathways),

Disruption of the healthy functioning of neurons for people with Alzheimer’s disease causes behavioral and psychological symptoms and changes. The neuropsychiatric symptoms vary but can include symptoms similar to Lewy body dementia. However, memory loss for patients with Alzheimer’s disease is more rapid than LBD.

Dementia Patient

What Factors May Increase Your Risk?

Researchers have not identified all the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. But in global clinical studies, there are trends among patients that have been diagnosed with the condition. Internationally, there has been a rapid growth in the number of people diagnosed with it. The current estimate is about 45 million people worldwide, who may be living with Alzheimer’s disease.

There are seven main factors that main increase your risk:

1. Advanced Age

Age is one of the biggest risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. While patients can be diagnosed at any age with the condition, it happens more often after the age of 65 years. That is because advancing age causes molecular changes in the brain that make the human brain more susceptible to damage.

Another reason why age is a prominent risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is the decline of immune system functioning. As we age, our immune systems become less effective, and it becomes more difficult for the body to repair neurons damaged by plaque or “tangles” in neuron structures.

2. Heredity (Family History and Genetics)

Family history and diagnosis are closely linked with Alzheimer’s disease. Families may pass on the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene from one generation to the next. The other variants of the gene, including APOE2, APOE3, and APOE4, can also indicate a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

People who do not have the APOE genes can still develop Alzheimer’s disease, but those with it face a higher statistical risk of being diagnosed. If both parents have the APOE4 gene, the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease is much higher than if only one parent carries that gene.

Scientists also think that there are environmental factors that also contribute to the diagnosis. That can include everything from home environment, diet, exercise, and other lifestyle habits. Families that have hereditary evidence of Alzheimer’s disease should get tested and seek out medical guidance to help lower their risk factors.

3. Diagnosis of Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a disorder that is hereditary, and it is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. People with Down syndrome have decreased levels of the amyloid precursor protein intracellular domain (AICD). The extra amyloid-beta protein builds up in the brain and increases the production of plaques that attach (and damage) neuron messaging and functions.

4. Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)

A diagnosis of MCI can mean an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Many of the shared pathologies increase the likelihood of MCI progressing to Alzheimer’s disease for patients. Symptoms associated with MCI are considered early warning or marks of increased risk of dementia and other neurological problems.

One of the symptoms of MCI is increased levels of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain, as well as abnormal tau protein levels. Researchers know that those biomarkers can be early indications of the development of Alzheimer’s disease. As well as episodic memory impairment.

Using Clinical-Grade CBD to Help With Alzheimer's Care

5. Lifestyle Factors

Individuals diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. That is because the causes of diabetes are very similar to the lifestyle risk factors associated with AD. But there are many different lifestyle factors that may also contribute, such as lack of exercise or a sedentary lifestyle.

The primary lifestyle factors that may increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Poor nutrition and diets high in saturated and trans fats, as well as high carbohydrate (sugar) diets.
  • Tobacco use.
  • Obesity.
  • Hypertension.
  • Chronic stress.

These lifestyle factors do not mean you will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the future. But they provide a good list of wellness changes you can work on with your physician to help lower your risk factors. With a healthy diet, regular exercise, and a treatment plan for glucose and stress control, people may significantly reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

When a traumatic brain injury occurs, it can lead to more production and the accumulation of amyloid beta protein in the brain. This forms plaques that attach to neurons, which can cause Alzheimer’s disease to occur.

Traumatic brain injury can also cause an abnormal accumulation of tau protein in the brain. That is the protein that makes neurons stable. Alzheimer’s disease causes the tau protein to become hyperphosphorylated, which leads to neurofibrillary tangles.

Both vascular damage and neuroinflammation can be side effects of traumatic brain injury. This can cause blood vessels in the brain to be damaged and impair normal blood flow. This can also lead to the development of vascular dementia or mixed dementia (a combination of vascular and Alzheimer’s disease).

7. Cardiovascular Problems

Patients who have pre-existing cardiovascular problems may be predisposed to Alzheimer disease. Clinical studies have shown that there is a significant link between the two conditions. The first connection between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer disease is reduced blood flow to the brain due to the hardening and narrowing of blood vessels, which also causes damage to vital neurons. Damaged neurons can be the precursor to Alzheimer’s.

Inflammation and oxidative stress present in patients with cardiovascular diseases have been clinically shown to progress the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Oxidative stress is a leading cause of neurofibrillary tangles and can lead to cognitive impairment and severe dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease is More Than Dementia Symptoms

Approximately 80% of dementia symptoms and diagnoses in the United States are caused by Alzheimer’s disease pathology. For that reason, many people think that Alzheimer disease leads to dementia alone. When in fact, it is a complex cognitive and progressive physically degenerating disease.

Approximately 1 in 3 senior Americans die from Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Patients with dementia who have died from complications of AD doubled between 2000 to 2019. Those living with Alzheimer’s disease are twice as likely to die before they reach the age of eighty (80) compared to other seniors who do not have the disease.

Increased Risk of Developing Other Chronic Diseases

Data from Medicare beneficiaries show that people living with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia are more likely to have multiple chronic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease.

Because the body relies on healthy neurons to send messages through the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS), Alzheimer’s disease causes disruption to normal bodily functions. Inflicting not only cognitive decline but also problems with digestion, respiration (breathing), and major organ functioning.

Memory Care

What Are the Progressive Stages of Alzheimer’s?

Alzheimer’s or AD may be undetectable in the earliest stages of the disease; however, as it progresses, the symptoms become more pronounced and disruptive to the life of the individual. Cognitive abilities and communication skills are the first areas of decline before the patient begins to experience physiological symptoms.

The three stages of progression for Alzheimer’s disease are as follows:

Early Stage

The first stage of Alzheimer’s disease is known as the early stage. This is when the first sign of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) first appears. But the effects of MCI may not be recognized as an early warning sign of AD. They may be attributed instead to normal forgetfulness associated with advanced aging, which is one of the challenges that make diagnosing AD early more difficult.

In stage 1 of Alzheimer’s disease, common symptoms can include:

Problems with Memory

Loved ones may notice problems with memory before the individual realizes they are having difficulties. The patient may forget recent interactions, conversations, or events. And may start to experience difficulty remembering names or the correct word or phrase to use while talking.

Difficulty Planning and Problem Solving

Organizing a schedule and making plans is very easy for most people. For individuals in stage 1 of Alzheimer’s disease, suddenly, these tasks can become more difficult. This can include following recipes, financial management (paying or organizing bills), or completing work-related assignments.

Decreased Attention and Ability to Focus

Conversational skills that change suddenly, where an individual may have more difficulty following or contributing to a conversation, can also be an early symptom of stage 1 Alzheimer’s. They may “forget what they were doing” in the middle of a task or have difficulty paying attention to television shows or activities they enjoy.

Changes in Mood or Personality

The patient may display behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia, which include abnormal expressions of irritability or impatience. They may also present as depressed or anxious more often than normal. Because certain activities become more difficult with cognitive impairment, the person with stage 1 Alzheimer’s may withdraw from activities they previously enjoyed.

Challenges with Spatial Orientation

Judging distance requires spatial awareness and acuity. Someone in stage 1 of Alzheimer’s disease may bump into things more often or injure themselves because they misjudge distance. They may also be prone to getting lost in familiar places.

Difficulty with Language

The individual experiencing mild cognitive problems may say they cannot “find the right words” to express what they are thinking on a frequent basis. They may have a hard time naming familiar objects or joining conversations with latent speech. Or struggle when following complex instructions.

CBD for Alzheimers

Middle Stage

In stage 2, or the middle stage of Alzheimer’s disease progression, the difficulties that patients face become very apparent to themselves and those around them. This is when activities of daily living, such as driving, self-care, and hygiene, and social, and behavioral symptoms of dementia become disruptive for the individual.

Some of the worsening symptoms of stage 2 or middle-stage Alzheimer’s disease include:

  • Severe memory loss.
  • Disorientation and confusion.
  • Disrupted communication and concentrated focus skills.
  • Marked personality and mood changes.
  • Wandering and becoming lost.
  • Struggle with daily tasks, such as washing, dressing, and food preparation.

It is in stage 2 of Alzheimer’s disease that the majority of patients are diagnosed. This is because the symptoms are very pronounced, and the person’s ability to care for themself becomes compromised. Middle stage Alzheimer’s patients with dementia require assistive care, which is usually provided by family members or other caregivers at home, for as long as it is safe for the patient to live independently.

Alzheimers disease and CBD DocCBD

Late Stage

When a patient enters the late stage or stage 3 of Alzheimer’s disease, the full impact of damaged neurons causes cognitive decline, physically disabling symptoms, and potentially life-threatening health complications.

The progression of severe dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can be broken down into two categories, indicating cognitive/psychological symptoms of dementia and physical impairments:

Communication and Psychological Impairment

  • Severe memory loss, including the inability to recognize spouse or other loved ones, and problems remembering personal history or events.
  • Deterioration of language skills and more reliance on nonverbal communication or gestures.
  • Personality changes with increased agitation, aggression, or nervous behaviors such as fidgeting, pacing, or hand-wringing.

Physical Impairments

  • Impaired independent mobility and motor skills. Muscle rigidity and tremors may appear, further complicating movement and coordination.
  • Incontinence or loss of bowel and bladder control.
  • Weight loss due to loss of appetite and problems with eating or swallowing. Nausea and indigestion may also occur for the patient due to disrupted neuron messaging to the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Chronic insomnia.

While caregivers often provide supervision and support in an at-home setting during the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, patients in late stage Alzheimer’s usually require long-term care at a nursing home specialized for dementia patients.

Is CBD Safe to Use for Alzheimer’s Care?

More research is needed to determine the best dose and potency of cannabidiol, depending on specific symptoms and health conditions. However, right now, CBD is considered to have a good safety profile. That means it is well tolerated by most people without adverse events or effects.

It is important to talk to the primary care physician before starting any herbal supplements and to check for any possible drug interactions or conflicts. Cannabidiol can reduce the efficacy of certain types of prescription medications.

DocCBD CBD Alzheimers Disease

Does CBD Conflict With Alzheimer’s Medications?

Cannabidiol may conflict with anticonvulsant medications like diazepam, lamotrigine, and phenytoin. Other types of sedatives or barbituates like phenobarbital and hexobarbital, codeine, and morphine may also be contraindicated.

If you are caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease, consult with your physician before administering cannabidiol (CBD) to a patient or loved one. Notwithstanding optimal conventional treatment, cannabidiol can provide many antianxiety and anti-inflammatory benefits.

What Are the Best Types of CBD for Alzheimer’s?

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, multiple oral doses may not be a problem for the patient. However, as the disease progresses, CBD capsules may not be the best method if the individual has problems swallowing or experiences frequent vomiting or nausea.

Tinctures are easy to administer and measure precision doses according to the treatment plan approved by the physician. Cannabidiol provided in tinctures can also be added to beverages, such as juice or tea, to make it more palatable for patients with dementia.

Choose a broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD tincture with a certificate of analysis (COA). Review the third-party testing data to ensure that you are getting the highest quality cannabidiol product for therapeutic benefits.







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