Dementia is one of the most common and detrimental series of symptoms caused by brain damage.
Most people think of it as a disease that targets an older person’s memory. It is this, but dementia also has many other characteristics.
Along with memory lapse, dementia can also cause serious behavioral changes in those who have it, including anxiety and aggression.
Although dementia symptoms remain mostly incurable, there are certain courses of action people can take to lessen its effects on their wellbeing and livelihood. This includes cannabis.
Even though long-term research is still needed, many studies have shown the positive ways cannabis use impacts dementia.
1. Removes Dangerous Protein Buildup in the Brain
A key physical indicator that points to dementia is the buildup of protein, known as amyloid, in brain matter.
Amyloid is not a naturally-occurring protein, and actually disrupts brain function. In other words, it can make the symptoms of dementia even worse in patients.
Several lab studies have shown that different cannabis components may actually remove amyloid buildup. If proven, cannabis can become a serious weapon in the battle against dementia-related memory loss.
2. Relieves Anxiety
You may be surprised that Cannabis is a well-known anxiety reducer. But it’s true! That is, as long as you use the correct type.
THC, the cannabis component that produces its hallmark psychoactive “high” feeling, is more likely to produce a feeling of anxiety than to relieve it. So anyone with anxiety disorders, especially if they have dementia, should steer clear of cannabis strains with high levels of THC.
However, cannabis’s CBD compound actually reduces feelings of anxiety in people with social disorders. It increases blood flow to specific brain regions normally deprived when anxiety strikes.
For those who have dementia, anxiety is a very common symptom. Adding CBD oil to a doctor-prescribed medicinal regimen can prove beneficial.
3. Prevents Short-Term Memory Loss
Terpenes are chemical compounds found in cannabis that are responsible for its aroma and flavor profile. They also play a direct role in how specific cannabis strains affect the mind and body.
Just as terpenes are ubiquitous to cannabis, so is memory loss to dementia.
Specific cannabis terpenes actually improve short-term memory loss.
The cannabis terpene Pinene, which produces a peppery, citrusy, and earthy aroma, counters short-term memory loss. It also reduces inflammation and improves mental focus, other dementia symptoms that cannabis impacts.
4. Can Help Cure Insomnia
Insomnia is another common and unpleasant side effect of dementia. In general, sleep disturbances disrupt as many as 25% of people with mild to moderate dementia and 50% of people with severe dementia.
Several causes relating to dementia seem to cause issues like insomnia and other serious sleep disorders, like sundowning and sleep apnea. This can be attributed to the
In a lab study of mice, medical cannabis successfully repaired the neuron structure in older mice, curing their fits of sleeplessness.
Though studies are needed with human participants, this is another exciting possibility in the ongoing research into dementia neuropsychiatric treatments.
5. May Relieve Feelings of Agitation
Another behavioral byproduct of dementia is agitation, most notably experienced by people with Alzheimer’s Disease.
Agitation that takes the form of physical aggression is another unfortunate side effect of the neurological damage associated with dementia.
When someone with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease feels overwhelmed, they may lash out physically or verbally in an aggressive manner. This is dangerous in many ways, resulting in the Alzheimer’s patient hurting themself or those around them.
Cannabis may relieve agitation in those with dementia, which can result in fewer aggressive episodes.
It is thought to do so by reducing symptoms that cause agitation in the first place, such as eliminating pain, depression, and stress, and allowing for better sleep.
Dementia is a set of symptoms that have both mental and physical consequences. And while it is often associated with memory loss in older adults, it can affect adults in their 30s and 40s.
There is also no straightforward medical treatment for people who have dementia. But early studies tell us cannabis can have meaningful impact on dementia and its myriad symptoms.