Benefits of CBD Oil in Alzheimers Disease

CBD oil is a substance extracted from the marijuana or industrial hemp plant.

CBD oil is generally a yellow liquid with many beneficial properties.

Due to the absence of THC, CBD oil does not have any intoxicating effect. It does not result in ‘high’ and therefore it is suitable for people of all age groups.

Beneficial properties of CBD are due to its potent interactions with many receptors in the body such as the serotonin receptors, GPR555, TRPV-1 receptor, etc.

It also interacts with the endocannabinoid system and the biochemical associated with it.

CBD oil has been reported to be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of many disorders including PTSD, fibromyalgia, migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, anxiety, back pain, epilepsy, psoriasis, nausea, etc.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is a disorder characterized by loss of memory, a problem with thinking and behavior, etc. It is the most common form of dementia (loss of memory and cognition).

The symptoms keep worsening with time, as it is a progressive disease and gradually start interfering with the normal tasks of life.

Early symptoms of the disease include difficulty remembering things, confusion, poor judgment, disorientation, difficulty walking, writing, etc.

It usually occurs in people above the age of 60-65. Early-onset Alzheimer’s has also been observed in people under the age of 65. Genetics and age are common risk factors. The disease currently has no cure.

Benefits of CBD Oil in Alzheimer’s

CBD oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anxiolytic, anti-insomnia, anti-depressant, anti-emetic properties. This can help alleviate several symptoms of Alzheimer’s including stress, insomnia, distress, and nausea due to use of medication, etc.

1. CBD has neuroprotective, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by severe changes in the brain. There is a loss of neurons, formation of amyloid plaques, protein misfolding, etc.

The beta-amyloid plaques, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s, are toxic to the neurons and cause them to die.

This further aggravates the problem of Alzheimer’s. Preventing the formation of these beta-amyloid plaques is very central to the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s.

A study published in Journal of Neurochemistry reported that CBD exhibits neuroprotective, anti-apoptotic and anti-oxidant properties, which could help protect from the brain cells from beta-amyloid plaque toxicity.

The neuroprotective property of CBD is enhanced by its effect on the pro-caspase 3 and caspase 3 signaling pathway.

In the study, the cells were exposed to beta-amyloid, which led to increased cell death. This was followed by the exposure of the cells to CBD, which resulted in increased cell survival.

Reduction in levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), lipid peroxidation, etc. was also observed indicating the involvement of anti-oxidant effects.

Endocannabinoid system has been shown to have potential therapeutic properties in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The CB-2 receptors have been reported to be a potential target for Alzheimer’s drug development.

The endocannabinoid system and its receptors also exhibit anti-oxidant, immunosuppressive, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory properties, which could provide benefit in prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s.

CBD is known to shown indirect interaction with the endocannabinoid system. It enhances the concentration of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid, in the serum by inhibiting the pathways, which cause its degradation.

CBD exhibits potent anti-inflammatory properties by modulating the immune cells and decreasing the release of pro-inflammatory mediators like tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interferon-gamma, etc.

This anti-inflammatory property also results in reduced neuroinflammation. This explains the neuroprotective property of CBD.

In in-vitro studies of models of neurodegeneration, CBD has been shown to prevent the apoptosis (death) of the cells by the virtue of its anti-oxidant properties. It was shown to reduce neurotoxicity induced by reactive oxygen species (ROS-induced neurotoxicity).

Another study in rodent models of Alzheimer’s disease reported that CBD could reverse and prevent the development of cognitive deficit in the animal models. This was because CBD reduced reactive gliosis and neuroinflammation.

Therefore the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, neuroprotective properties of CBD arising directly or indirectly (due to interaction with endocannabinoid system) can have preventive and therapeutic values in many neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s.

Summary

CBD has been shown to possess neuroprotective properties, which can help prevent neurons from damage and death mediated by oxidative stress, beta-amyloid plaque formation, neuroinflammation, etc.

2. CBD could provide relief from behavioural changes of Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by changes in the behavior and mood. These changes are often very prominent and result in a lot of distress for both the patients and the family members.

The common behavioral changes include depression, anxiety, irritability, aggression, hallucinations, anger, restlessness, etc.

Anti-depressants, anxiolytics, and antipsychotics are sometimes prescribed to the patients with major symptoms to alleviate behavioral changes as it starts to interfere with everyday life.

CBD oil has anxiolytic and anti-depressant properties and therefore it could be useful in alleviating these symptoms.

Many studies conducted in animal models of anxiety and depression have reported that CBD has certain beneficial roles to play in anxiety disorder and depression.

Studies have used Vogel conflict test, elevated plus maze test, etc. to show that CBD exhibits anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties.

The researchers attribute this to the interaction between the 5-HT1A neuro-receptor and CBD.

CBD administration to animals subjected to stress showed that use of CBD for 21 days could attenuate stress and associated anxiety. This also involves the 5-HT1A receptor.

People experiencing social anxiety and panic disorders have reported that use of CBD allows them to feel more relaxed.

Increased activity of the adenosine receptor on its interaction with CBD contributes to its anxiolytic property.

Studies conducted on ‘depressive-like’ animal models have yielded positive results. Animals who received CBD showed increased locomotion and this was an indication for improved motivation in these depressive rats.

This led to the conclusion that CBD could have therapeutic potential in the treatment of clinical depression (with anhedonia).

Another study in the mouse model of depression exhibited that CBD administration could improve both behavioral and neurochemical aspects of depression in the animals.

It exerted a long-lasting anti-depressant like effect, which was brought on quickly.

It was reported in the study that this was due to an increase in the concentration of serotonin and glutamate, which led to an improvement in the cortical signaling and thus resulted in alleviation of depressive symptoms.

Activation of 5-HT(1A) receptors by CBD is another mechanism by which it exerts an anti-depressant property. This makes the effect of CBD comparable to the effect of a drug called imipramine.

Summary

Behavioral changes such as aggression, depression, etc. are common in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. They are often prescribed anxiolytics and anti-depressants. CBD oil has potent anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties, which makes it a good option for patients with Alzheimer’s facing behavioral changes.

3. CBD can provide relief from sleep changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease often suffer from disturbed sleep patterns. Changes in memory, mood, behavior, etc. can contribute to these sleep disturbances.

Since the disease affects the brain, many circuitries involved in everyday functioning are impacted.

Patients also tend to feel drowsy during the day due to the use of prescribed medications.

Research has shown that patients of Alzheimer’s tend to wake up at night and then continue to remain awake for long. Many patients take naps during the day and then stay awake during the night.

The sleep disturbances happen due to depression, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, etc.

Lack of sleep at nighttime can result in distress, bad mood, increased anxiety, etc. It also slows down the recovery of the body, as sleep is important for rejuvenating the body.

CBD can be useful in restoring the normal sleep schedule by improving the quality and amount of sleep.

It has been shown to increase wakefulness during the day and decrease drowsiness at the lower dose. At higher doses, it has been shown to improve the quality of sleep and promote sleepiness.

In a study conducted in young adults, 15mg of CBD was shown to have an alerting effect. It could also counteract the sedative activity of THC. This could be helpful to reduce the daytime napping.

Thus patients who tend to nap during the day and then stay awake during the night could use low doses of CBD to stay awake during the day.

Another study showed that CBD could help induce alertness and thus treat sleep disorders such as excessive somnolence.

In a case study, CBD oil was shown to alleviate anxiety and allow the subject to get better and less disrupted sleep during the night. Researchers reported a steady improvement in both the quality and quantity of sleep.

Endocannabinoid system is involved in regulating sleep schedule and quality. CBD has an impact on the components of the endocannabinoid system and thus it can affect the sleep-wake cycle.

Summary

Many patients with Alzheimer’s suffer from a disturbed sleep-wake schedule. This often results in increased stress and bad mood. CBD oil can help prevent daytime napping in the patients and improve the quality of sleep during the night.

4. CBD oil can provide relief from nausea and vomiting

Many commonly used medications for managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s such as donepezil, rivastigmine, etc. have been shown to have certain minor side effects.

The most commonly occurring ones are nausea, vomiting, change in bowel movement, etc. This can add to the distress of the patients and make them feel more at discomfort.

It is important to mitigate these side effects so that the patients can use the medication without having to worry about discomfort.

CBD oil has potent anti-emetic properties. It has been shown to help reduce nausea and vomiting in many different cases including pregnancy, cancer, anxiety, etc.

Dopamine D2 and Serotonin 5-HT3 receptors are involved in the onset of nausea and vomiting. Many studies and reviews have reported that CBD interacts with the Serotonin 5-HT3 receptor.

This interaction between serotonin and 5-HT3 receptor prevents serotonin from binding to the 5-HT3 receptor. This helps in attenuating nausea.

CBD also shows indirect inactivation of the biochemical 5-hydroxytryptamine-1A (5-HT1A).

The anti-emetic property of CBD can also be attributed to this inactivation since this monoamine neurotransmitter has been shown to be involved in mechanisms of nausea.

High levels of the endocannabinoid anandamide have been shown to enhance the activity of CB-1 receptors in the brain.

This is associated with an anti-nausea effect. CBD inactivates the enzyme that degraded anandamide and thus increases its concentration in the serum, which can eventually result in an overall anti-nausea effect.

Therefore the anti-emetic property of CBD oil can be helpful in mitigating any nausea and vomiting related side effects occurring from the prescription medicines for Alzheimer’s.

This combined with other beneficial properties of CBD oil makes it a good choice for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Summary

Nausea and vomiting can occur as side effects of various prescribed medication for Alzheimer’s disease. This can be mitigated by the use of CBD oil as it exhibits anti-emetic properties owing to its interaction with the Dopamine D2 receptor, Serotonin 5-HT3 receptor, anandamide, etc.

5. CBD Promotes Adult Neurogenesis

A neuron (nerve cell) is the basic unit of the nervous system. It is typically an electrically excitable cell which is capable of processing and transmitting information.

According to the findings of neuroscience, humans have around 100 billion neurons and several neighboring cells referred to as the neuroglia which is involved in providing nourishment and protection to the neurons. [4]

The neurons allocate and store memories and any kind of damage to their structural and functional integrities might result in the loss of memory or amnesia.

The process of memory allocation defines which specific neurons and synapses (nerve cell junctions) will store a particular memory. [5]

Neurogenesis denotes the process of formation of neurons from neural stem cells (NSCs) which have the ability to differentiate into any neural or glial cell.

This process is most active during the development of the embryo and can occur even after birth, for a few months.

It should be noted that neurons do not undergo division, proliferation, and regeneration throughout life. [6]

As a result, humans naturally become increasingly absent-minded and forgetful with age.

However, in the case of Alzheimer’s, there is accelerated damage of the neural networks as was revealed by an examination of brain tissue which found abnormal aggregates of amyloid and tau proteins. [7]

AD also breaks the connections between the nerve cells which further disrupts the neural networks involved in allocating and retrieving memory.

The degenerative damage originally occurs in the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in memory formation. With more neuronal death, additional parts get affected and the brain tissue shrinks considerably. [8]

Now while adult neurogenesis is rare, it can be initiated in the hippocampus plays a significant role in memory allocation and storage.

Therefore, in order to counter the nerve damage caused by Alzheimer’s, it is necessary to stimulate adult neurogenesis.

Research has shown that certain cannabinoids can initiate this process in the adult brain to prevent memory loss. [9]

A 2015 study at the Trinity College has shown that phytocannabinoids such as CBD and THC play a role in adult neurogenesis probably by mediating the CB1 and CB2 which are receptors of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). [10]

Summary – As CBD helps in promoting adult neurogenesis, it helps in strengthening neuronal memory allocation thereby managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

6. CBD Improves Cognition

Cognition is the mechanism of gaining knowledge and understanding via thoughts and everyday experiences. One of the most important cognitive abilities is a memory as it plays a major role in performing daily activities.

It helps in recollecting personal information as well as common knowledge throughout life. [11]

The memory is crucial in developing our personalities which are often shaped according to our life experiences (episodic memory) as well as on general knowledge (semantic memory).

Along with memory, proper functioning of other cognitive abilities such as perception, attention, problem-solving, decision-making, and critical thinking are required to execute any kind of task. [12]

Cognitive skills are physically maintained by specific neural networks which are specialized to support a particular subset of cognition.

For e.g., memory-related skills depend on certain parts of the temporal (near the temples of the skull) lobe as well as the frontal lobes of the brain. [13]

Cognitive impairments can be caused by any disease, injury, or trauma to these specialized networks.

Neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s often disrupt the neuronal networks involved in cognition leading to dementia i.e., the complete loss of mental faculties. [14]

Alzheimer’s research has shown that higher amyloid protein deposits in the brain correlate with loss of episodic memory and other cognitive abilities.

Hippocampal volume (size) was also a significant predictor of memory loss and cognitive impairments in patients with the AD. [15]

In order to manage AD, therapeutic strategies must aim at improving overall cognition and other brain-based skills.

Several studies have shown that phytocannabinoids, having receptors in the nervous system, can be consumed to improved cognitive skills like memory. [16]

A 2013 review by the King’s College London evaluated the effect of cannabis and its components on cognitive functions.

It established that while the psychoactive THC does affect memory, CBD improves cognition and reduces any form of impairments. [17]

Summary – It can be said that CBD helps in improving cognition and, thereby, helps patients suffering from the AD in performing their daily activities on their own.

Dosage and Usage

The dose varies from person to person and also from condition to condition. It also depends on the strength of the oil tincture.

CBD oil is available in different strengths ranging from 100mg-600mg. Most users have reported using 600mg of CBD oil every day.

Studies have shown that 1500mg of oil is also tolerated in humans but might have minor side effects in the long run. Since good quality CBD oil is expensive and difficult to get, it is best to stick to lower and optimum doses.

The optimum dose can be found by starting out with low doses such as 200-300mg of CBD per day.

The users can then monitor their symptoms and increase the dose gradually to 500-600mg. 600mg has been reported to work in cases of anxiety, insomnia, etc.

Sublingual method of consumption is the most common. It is characterized by directly dropping the oil in the mouth and holding it under the tongue for some time before swallowing. This allows faster and better absorption of the oil.

CBD infused creams are also available for topical use. Some users have reported that vaping of CBD oil is also very effective for pain reduction. Edibles (candy and gummies) containing CBD oil are also available in some places.

Precaution

Pure and high-quality CBD oil is free of major side effects. Its use for extended periods of time is well tolerated by the body.

Some common and minor side effects include a drop in blood pressure, dry mouth, faintness, drowsiness, change in appetite, etc. Long-term use of more than 1500mg per day can cause other major side effects.

CBD oil is known to interfere with liver enzymes, which causes degradation of drugs. Therefore the drugs taken while consuming CBD tend to stay in the body for longer.

It can show some interactions with beta-blockers, anti-depressants, anesthetics, antibiotics, anti-anxiety, anti-epileptics/anti-seizure, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), etc.

Therefore the users taking these medications should be careful.

It is essential to get oil from reputed sources. Reading the labels for more information on extraction, strength, and dose is also important. Low-quality products can cause side effects as they might contain toxic adulterants/contaminants.

Consultation with a doctor is also important before incorporating CBD oil in lifestyle as it could have drug interactions and related side effects. Older people might be more sensitive to it and therefore discussion with a health care provider is of absolute importance.

The effect of CBD on fetus/infants is not known and therefore pregnant and breastfeeding females should not consume CBD oil unless recommended by the physician.

Getting the expert opinion on the dose, drug interaction and strength could be useful for the new users to avoid any unnecessary side effects.

Summary

Alzheimer’s disease is a major neurodegenerative disease characterized by damage to the neurons. It currently has no cure.

The symptoms can be managed in order to improve the quality of life of the patients by use of several different kinds of medications.

CBD oil possesses anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective properties. This could help prevent neuroinflammation and neuronal damage associated with Alzheimer’s.

It also exhibits anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties, which help alleviate the behavioral symptoms associated with the disease.

The use of CBD should not be started without proper consultation with a doctor as it can show drug interactions and worsen the symptoms. Pure and high-quality CBD oil should be procured and used.

F Patel (B.Sc, M.Sc. & M.S.)
All our posts are written by experienced writers with relevant degrees. These extremely well researched and comprehensive articles take 10s of hours to write. For each article, all the sources of information are provided as reference links for anyone to check.

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