“Does Medical Marijuana Help Dementia?”
We have been asked many times “does medical marijuana help dementia?”
Dementia — is it confusing or am I just confused? How is it that so many characteristics can all be “Dementia”?
So many questions and different names for this or that. No wonder our families are coming to us with angst, anxiety themselves regarding this word dementia.
Maybe I need to adjust my thinking. I’m definitely old-school, so I tend to expect to have a pretty well-defined list of symptoms when the scientific world names a specific disease. So before we answer the popular question “does medical marijuana help dementia” and please say yes per Richard the son desperate to help his father, let’s discuss Dementia.
Dementia is actually an overall term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severely enough to limit a person’s ability to perform daily activities. (Alzheimer’s Association)
In addition, I have learned that we’re not correct in referring to persons with dementia as “senile”; this term “reflects the formerly widespread but incorrect belief that serious mental decline is a normal part of aging “ (Alz. Assoc.)
I knew a married couple of 50-odd years who each developed dementia. And, bless their family, both were at their worst at the same time! For the sake of this brief anecdote let’s call them “Jack” and “Jill.”
Jill was first to show the signs of her illness. When she was in her late 70’s she had trouble remembering things. At one point she had difficulty sleeping and would go into her daughters’ room ( this daughter was her primary caregiver) and sit beside her bed crying inconsolably.
During the day she was better, but restless and lonely at times. Jill was found to have Alzheimer’s. She eventually became too difficult for her family to care for so she spent her final months in a nursing home.
Her memory continued to decline as well as her ability to recognize her own family. Her physical abilities rapidly declined, too, and one day she simply didn’t wake up.
Jack experienced a very different kind of dementia. Also, when in his late 70’s his memory became noticeably spotty; his physical abilities began to decline. But he was, by all appearances happy.
During the last year or so of Jack’s life, he required nearly total care; he could walk himself to the bathroom with a little assistance, but he didn’t always know when he needed to go.
He could still feed himself but abandoned the use of utensils. Most of his time he just sat quietly watching the television. This sedentary existence finally caught up with him, and in his early 80’s he developed pneumonia.
The strain on his very weakened system was too much; Jack had a heart attack and died.
Both Jack and Jill were under the care of competent medical professionals throughout the courses of their disease.
Jill was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Jack’s dementia, doctors said, was not Alzheimer’s.
Many variations exist, but the Alzheimer’s Association says that Alzheimer’s disease represents as much as 80 percent of all dementia.
As with most progressive dementias, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s — no treatment that slows or stops the progression — only treatments that may temporarily improve the symptoms.
Prescription drugs are available for mild to severe dementia that has been found to lessen the severity of symptoms. The popular drugs Aricept and Cognex block an enzyme that promotes the development of plaque in the brain.
THC, the active psychoactive chemical found in marijuana, also appears to be a preventative; as with the conventional drugs, THC will not undo damage already present (agingcare.com).
Marinol, also derived from marijuana, has also been studied on a limited basis. During clinical trials of Marinol for the FDA-approved applications, for example, 1/3 of subjects reported adverse effects involving the central nervous system, including abnormal thinking, confusion, amnesia, depersonalization, hallucinations, paranoid reaction, anxiety/nervousness, ataxia, dizziness, euphoria & somnolence (whew!) Please note: these test subjects were all non-demented patients (alzheimersweekly.com).
New and ongoing genetic research may help going forward. Today, Alzheimer’s disease is 100% fatal. However, experts have said that the first person to beat Alzheimer’s disease is already among us. Let’s hope they’re right.
Back to the question, “does medical marijuana help dementia?”
The answer is yes, an overwhelmingly yes.
California Salk Institute reports the following “ their study has found evidence that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD could help remove dangerous proteins from brain cells. Professor David Schubert led the study and in early 2017, he spoke of his frustration about the existing anti-marijuana laws that are preventing the plant from being studied in depth” Fortunately progress IS being made.
Often times, one with dementia will have anxiety, crying spells, restless, and sometimes can be combative.
If one’s behavior can be treated without medicines great. For example, too much stimulus can cause anxiety for a lot of us, wouldn’t you say?
Maybe having your loved one removed from the stimuli, and playing their favorite music is helpful to some. Having a routine is also beneficial to managing one’s behavior.
We all know certain medicines present with their own bag of demons. While it may calm someone briefly, some can cause one to have hallucinations, make one unsteady on their feet and make them a fall risk, to strokes and even death.
However, CBD, also known as marijuana, or Cannabinoids interact differently. They have been proven to be safer and more effective.
Thank goodness research continues to move forward. It is mine and Scarlett’s passion to research, teach, educate as many as possible regarding choices. To be informed and inform others. We are talking about our bodies, our life and better quality of life.
We encourage you to look at our website regarding education and products. Do consult with your physician/health team.
A lot of our patients are educating their medical team. Some physicians are partaking in CBD as well. So you guys please have this discussion and decide which is best for you/ your loved one’s needs.
Elaine and I being in Hospice for over 70 years combined.
We’ve seen first-hand patients who have been helped by different medicines. Some conventional some not. We are advocates of
Medical Marijuana because it does work. And for CBD oil which is readily available and legal for everyone. If you are interested in checking it out.
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