Alzheimer’s disease, an illness that causes large numbers of nerve cells in the brain to die, is a type of dementia and causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. The disease typically takes onset after age 60 and nearly half of people age 85 and older may have Alzheimer’s.
The most common early symptoms of Alzheimer’s are difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; increasingly more serious memory loss and behavior changes and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.
Alzheimer’s worsens over time as it is a progressive disease where symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late stage Alzheimer’s, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Those with Alzheimer’s live an average of eight years after their symptoms become noticeable to others but survival can range from four to twenty years, depending on age and other health conditions.
How Cannabis Can Help Relieve Symptoms
THC and other components in cannabis may provide an improved therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease by simultaneously treating both the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Journal of Neuroscience indicated that cannabinoid receptors are important in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease and that cannabinoids succeed in preventing the neurodegenerative process occurring in the disease.