Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which affects nearly six million Americans, has no cure. The nature of the disease is so viciously persistent that science cannot keep up with the progression of the affliction. Researchers have exhausted a great deal of time and effort looking for a cure, but every possibility has been met with a greater consequence.
Alzheimer’s works by attacking the hippocampus, or the brain’s memory center. The progression of the disease leads to the release of a brain chemical, called glutamate. The glutamate is activated at such toxic levels that it eventually destroys the brain’s neuron system. Current treatment includes acetylcholine supplements that help stymie the decrease in cognitive function. While they do help the cause, they do not reverse the disease or prevent its eventual destruction of the brain’s neurons.
An early signifier of Alzheimer’s is the build-up of Amyloid-beta (AB-ß) plaques in the brain. Scientists have exhausted tremendous energy exploring how to remove the AB-ß plaques, but their efforts were met with major consequences. Eliminating the plaques is impossible because they also contain properties that are vital to proper brain function.
This challenge is made even more difficult by the fact that research is limited to pre-clinical trials on rodents. So, even though cannabis has been shown to reduce the buildup of AB-ß plaques, it is still a mystery if the same would be true for humans.
Does marijuana prevent Alzheimer’s disease? It has not been proven. However, early evidence suggests that cannabis can counteract some of the painful and confusing symptoms of the disease. The medical community continues to foster a curiosity for marijuana and its supposed healing powers.
Cannabis shows a great deal of promise in relieving pain and discomfort, and this has given hope to sick people and their loved ones. The one major obstacle is the federal government’s classification of the drug, which keeps it off the streets and severely limits the breadth of conducted research. Until the ban is lifted, science will have to rely on rodent trials, consisting of THC and CBD oil for Alzheimer’s.