Alzheimer’s and Medical Marijuana Treatment

May 11, 2022
Alzheimers and medical marijuana

Alzheimer’s is a brain disorder that very slowly destroys memory and thinking skills. In its latter stages, patients are unable to perform the simplest of tasks. 

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Alzheimer’s is a “progressive, neurodegenerative disease that occurs when nerve cells in the brain die.”

Alzheimer’s gets its name from Dr. Alois Alzheimer, who back in 1906, upon examining the brain tissue of a woman who died of an unusual mental illness, noticed the abnormal findings – yet telltale signs of the disease – amyloid plaques and tangled bundles of fibers. 

The disease is known to cause impaired memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms include: confusion, personality and behavior changes, impaired judgment and communication, an inability and/or unwillingness to follow directions, language deterioration and aggression. 

According to the CDC, as many as 5.8 million Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s and the number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65. In fact, Alzheimer’s is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States,

Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease though there are treatments to slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life. 

Amyloid plaques are deposits of a protein fragment that build up in the spaces between nerve cells. Meanwhile, tangles are twisted fibers of another protein that build up inside cells. It’s the destruction of the nerve cells that leads to loss of memory, changes in personality, and other symptoms. Nighttime agitation or aggression is a major symptom of disease progression. 

A recent study treated 6 patients with severe dementia with Dronabinol, a pure isomer of THC, for 2 weeks.

Medical marijuana contains cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and alkaloids. The major psychoactive chemical of cannabis is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol – commonly known as THC. 

Cannabinoid (CB) receptors in the brain, mainly CB1 and CB2, are what allow for the interaction with cannabis – specifically MMJ. CB1, in particular, is known to have an effect on motor coordination and short-term memory processing. 

It’s been shown that medical cannabis oil containing THC may help to significantly decrease neurobehavioral symptoms such as agitation/aggression and irritability. It can also aid in delusions and lead to better sleep. Many believe that MMJ can actually help slow disease progression. 

THC is able to repress the compound known as “acetylcholinesterase” which can prevent acetylcholinesterase-actuated amyloid β-peptide aggregation. Compared to the few medications available for Alzheimer’s disease, THC may be a prime inhibitor of amyloid β-peptide aggregation 

Another Canadian study has shown that the synthetic cannabinoid, called Nabilone, has been able to reduce agitation and/or aggression in Alzheimer’s patients without causing the major side effects common to other medications. It had the additional effect of improving pain and appetite in trial participants.

In summary, THC may slow the buildup of amyloid plaques. A combination of THC and CBD may also stimulate cell growth. The use of MMJ helps with aggression and agitation and, lastly, may also help with appetite stimulation, sleep, and motor function.  

In the state of Florida, Alzheimer’s is a qualifying condition to obtain a medical marijuana card. Navigating the process of being evaluated and ultimately obtaining the card can be tricky. However,  Dr. Fernando Fandino-Sende and his team at Miami’s LifeCannMD are there every step of the way. Dr. Fandino-Sende is also able to consult for just the right type of cannabis product to help Alzheimer’s patients in whatever stage of their journey they may be. 
Florida’s top-rated Medical Marijuana referral clinic has served over 5,000 satisfied patients. For more information, please visit, email or call (833) 543-3226.