Alzheimer’s Revisited: How Cannabis is Changing the State of Alzheimer’s Medication

Late Onset Alzheimer’s Disease (LOAD) is what most people think of when they think of Alzheimer’s. Accounting for roughly 70% of dementia cases, it’s characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive ability in individuals over the age of 65. This decline affects memory, language, motor skills, and general ability to live and take care of oneself. However, while these symptoms are troubling enough, LOAD also frequently includes behavior and personality changes. Coordinating healthcare is already difficult enough for a relative with a myriad of age-related health issues, but when that relative is unable to remember basic instructions or able to have a coherent conversation, the situation is exponentially more difficult. Taken together, all of these changes put significant stress on the individuals suffering from the disease as well as the family members and healthcare workers taking care of those individuals. Unfortunately, not much is understood about the cause of Alzheimer’s. Instead, we have a fragmented understanding of processes that seem to be related. For instance, research currently indicates that neuroinflammation and oxidative stress play a vital role in the development of the disease. Specifically, the build up of cell waste related to aging can turn toxic, forcing the brain to initiate a sequence of processes, known as a “cascade”, in an attempt to surround and isolate the toxicity. Unfortunately, this process alone can release even more cytokines, chemokines, and proteins, which eventually leads to more inflammation, resulting in neuron death. As with many diseases, treating LOAD means preventing the body…

Avoiding Alzheimer’s

As people age their brains perform common tasks more efficiently, but also lose the opportunity for new growth and expansion. This is a normal and healthy part of brain development and is thought of as the “maturation” of the brain. In older age, brains continue to lose mass, which may be the medical basis behind becoming more forgetful or showing personality change (think of the stereotype of an ornery, older gentleman). However, when brain shrinkage is too rapid, the result is dementia. Dementia is a term that refers to a broad category of diseases that can impair an individual’s ability to think and reason clearly, to the point that it interferes with daily life and basic functioning. Since everyone’s brains naturally have different abilities and cognitive patterns, the diagnosis of this type of disease is based upon previous healthy functioning. One particular form of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, is especially common, affecting roughly 26 million people worldwide. Unfortunately, as common as the disease is, there is no cure for it. Symptoms also gradually progress to be more and more debilitating, ultimately leading to early death despite otherwise normal health. Some of the earliest symptoms, such as memory loss and inability to recognize loved ones, can be especially heart-breaking, although the truly life-threatening symptoms develop in end stages as the brain loses ability to regulate the body. As patients become less and less able to take care of themselves, with even basic matters such as using the restroom, they require increasing levels…