Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia affecting 5.2 million American, two thirds of whom are women. The progressive brain disorder leads to memory loss, seriously impairing a person's ability to carry out even the most simple daily tasks. If you or someone you know is suffering from the symptoms of Alzheimer's, please know that there is hope.

In a recently published study, scientists with the Salk Institute found preliminary evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds found in marijuana can promote the cellular removal of amyloid beta, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer's disease.

"Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer's, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells," said Professor David Schubert, the senior author of the paper.

Alzheimer's is also getting attention in congress, thanks in part, to actor Seth Rogen who appealed to the U.S. Senate for funding for AD research back in 2014.

He continues to advocate for awareness now with Hilarity for Charity. Rogen reports that their organization has raised over 5 million dollars towards research, support, and care for what is ranked as the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Rogen hopes to lift the stigma surrounding AD.

Sara Abbott is a co-conceiver of the Alzheimer's Association powder puff fundraising event known as RivALZ.

Sara shared her personal story with MERRY JANE in encountering a stigma surrounding AD.

“My parents chose to wait to tell us that my father was sick. It was still a taboo conversation despite the fact that both parents served on local boards of the Alzheimer's association.”

At the time, talk about Alzheimer's was not an open conversation.

“We started the games as a fundraising event to create a community, to feel like someone else relates. We also wanted to engage a younger audience through non-traditional fundraising methods. It has since raised more than five million.”

In regards to research, one will benefit from understanding that not all types of dementia or Alzheimer's are the same, and that the cause of Alzheimer's is unknown. Inflammation appears to be a major contributor. Scientists have also identified that there is a beta-amyloid (Aβ) plaque buildup in the brain associated with Alzheimer's.

A study in 2013 indicated that the Aβ plaque blocks communication between neurons. However, scientists believe that this is the result of what is called impaired Aβ clearance in the brain and is not the source of the condition. Researchers found that cannabinoids allowed the plaque to pass through what is referred to as the blood brain barrier (BBB), two-fold.

Of interest, a study in 2006 shows that the cannabinoid THC specifically, inhibits Aβ aggregation. And a 2007 study stated that “cannabinoids can reduce the oxidative stress, neuroinflammation and apoptosis that is evoked by Aβ, while promoting the brain's intrinsic repair mechanisms.”

If you are concerned about the safety of cannabis oil or medical cannabis oil (MCO), a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease concludes that “adding MCO to AD patients’ pharmacotherapy is safe and a promising treatment option.” If you are a caregiver, it may be worth a try. Dementia can contribute to irritability in the patient, and cannabis has been shown to improve mood in these individuals.

In an Israeli study involving a nursing home, 19 patients between the ages of 69 and 101 were administered medical cannabis, in various methods, three times daily for a year. The results were profound. 17 of the 19 patients reached a healthy weight. Sensations of pain, spasms, and stiffness were all greatly reduced; the patients slept longer hours with less nightmares; and 72% of participants reduced pharmaceutical intake (antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and pain relievers) to just 1.7 medications per day.

To help maintain your healthy brain, consider modifying environmental factors to create a more beneficial lifestyle, referencing the action list below. If you are investigating cannabis oil, look for a product with a coconut oil base to harness the added benefit of ketones.

Brain Health Action List

  • Get regular exercise
  • Mega-dose on fresh cannabis juice – this is very healthy and won't get you high.
  • Add more virgin coconut oil to your diet.
  • Reduce inflammation through diet, cannabis consumption, and exercise.
  • Avoid this long list anti-cholinergic drugs.
  • Consider cannabis as an alternative to anti-spasmodic pharmaceuticals
  •      Eliminate processed sugar intake and keep triglycerides low.
  • Contribute a donation to a non-profit working to help Alzheimer's patients
  • Wear purple – the official color of brain health awareness in June.
  • Share this article with your social media networks with the hashtag #EndAlz.

As is always prudent, consult your doctor before starting any regimen or ending a pharmaceutical regimen. If you are caregiver, please be sure to take good care of yourself too.