Approximately 7% of older adults aged 60 years and above suffer from dementia. Dementia is a decline in mental abilities and memory loss and involves symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and irritability. It is a prevalent disease among the elderly and influences the quality of life.
Doctors use occupational and rehabilitation therapies with medications to treat this condition. Some adverse effects of these medications cause people to look for alternative treatments. Medical marijuana proves to be an alternative method to help aging parents that have dementia. Compounds like CBD and THC found in medical marijuana come with medical benefits but CBD doesn’t make you high.
Brief History of Medical Marijuana
Although people have used marijuana for medical purposes for over 5000 years, it was not until 1941 that the United States removed it from the pharmacopeia. Other nations have recently begun allowing medical marijuana to treat specific conditions, such as cancer and chronic pain. The success of medical marijuana in such conditions has helped to increase its popularity in addressing other issues such as mental illnesses. It can contain a high percentage of CBD, which is responsible for many of the purported therapeutic effects. If you are looking for the best CBD products, there are many reputable CBD oil stores in Canada offering high-quality products.
Medical Marijuana for Dementia
Medical marijuana may help patients with dementia in the following proven ways:
Anxiety and Agitation
Research shows that CBD can be useful in managing some symptoms of dementia, such as anxiety and agitation. Agitated behavior is the most common symptom in dementia patients. The human body produces its own endocannabinoids that help to regulate various processes, including memory, pain, sleep, mood, and appetite, among others. Medical marijuana also contains cannabinoids that act similar to the endocannabinoids in your body. As such, they interact with the receptors in this system to regulate anxiety and stress, potentially helping dementia patients.
Insomnia affects about one-third of dementia patients due to behaviors, mood issues, and medication associated with the disorder. If you have a parent who has dementia, you may notice that their condition gets worse in the evening and at night compared to during the day. Therefore, nighttime wandering and increased daytime sleepiness is a common thing among such patients. Lack of sleep impairs the quality of life and leaves you feeling tired and without focus.
Currently, sleep-inducing drugs are popular, but they can be addictive. Medical marijuana can help to reduce or eliminate insomnia among these patients. CB1 receptors modulate sleep induction, and since CBD reacts with these receptors, it may help patients to get quality sleep. It may help control the wake/sleep cycle in the brain and body, and this in turn may allow dementia patients to treat their insomnia.
There is a close relationship between dementia and eating problems. In fact, eating is one of the main priorities for nurses in managing such patients. A person who has dementia may forget to chew and swallow. Insufficient physical activity and ill-fitting dentures or feeling embarrassed due to difficulties in eating may also lead to eating disturbances.
Medical marijuana can influence body receptors which regulate appetite and help patients to eat and possibly gain weight. Cannabis enhances the production of dopamine to give patients a positive reinforcement when they eat and can stimulate the digestive system, increasing appetite. Besides, it can also increases the smell and taste, which in turn encourages you to eat. Medical marijuana can boost ghrelin hormone in dementia patients which can make them feel more hungry and eat frequently.
Improved Blood Flow
Patients suffering from a type of dementia called vascular dementia experience impaired blood flow to the brain. Poor flow of blood affects their memory, judgment, and reasoning. Studies show that activating cannabinoid receptors in the brains can help to improve the flow of blood to that region. It increases brain activity and reduces any cell damage. CBD can interact with these CB2 receptors, which evidence shows are responsible for regulating various body processes to produce neuroprotective effects.
People with dementia may also experience physical pain. Due to their issues with memory and other brain functions, they may be less able to communicate. The good news is that medical marijuana can provide comprehensive benefits. Patients can use it to manage pain, sleep, appetite, mood, along with other symptoms of dementia.
The bottom line is that findings from various studies show the possible link between marijuana and treating symptons of dementia. Dementia is a devastating condition that can affect all aspects of a patient’s life. Medical marijuana can help to manage most symptoms presented by patients with this condition. Unlike prescription drugs, it is not physically addictive and has minimal, non-toxic side effects.
Since its legalization, it is easy to access medical marijuana from various stores. Besides, doctors have begun recommending cannabis to their patients. But make sure you get your edibles, concentrates, flowers, and many more from an established online dispensary (in Canada) or reach out to Ezra for help on working with CBD and other cannabinoids to combat the symptoms of dementia.