The folklore about marijuana has typically been: youthful users won’t recall their experimentation later in life, because cannabis usage impairs memory.
Yet new research reveals that’s not necessarily the case: it depends on what active constituents of the plant someone is using.
CBD — cannabidiol, a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant — has significant therapeutic effects on the brain. And because CBD is not mood altering like its close cousin, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the compound in cannabis responsible for that famous high), someone who uses CBD is not going to feel “stoned”.
In fact, CBD has been shown to improve cognition: welcome news for seniors with memory loss, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and other forms of dementia.
CBD is currently legal in 47 states, including California, which makes it a viable option for many residents in assisted living and memory care communities.
How Does Marijuana Affect A Person’s Memory?
Smoking marijuana disrupts working memory, also known as short-term memory. Occasional marijuana users will not experience permanent negative effects on their memory.
On the other hand, someone who uses marijuana regularly will have difficulty processing new information, even when they aren’t high, which directly affects comprehension and learning.
There is an upside to this form of memory loss, however: studies have shown that marijuana helps people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) obliterate traumatic memories.
Does CBD Help with Dementia?
While CBD has been gaining popularity as a potential treatment for memory loss, it is intriguing to note that the U.S. federal government has held a medical patent on the marketing of cannabinoids as both antioxidants and neuroprotective agents since 2003.
The patent states that “cannabinoids are found to have particular application in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and HIV dementia.”
CBD helps improve brain health for people with dementia in three important ways. Cannabidiol:
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces oxygen buildup
- Acts as a brain stimulant and neuroprotectant.
CBD may also help reduce stress and anxiety in an individual with dementia, and slow brain cell decline.
CBD As a Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting nearly six million Americans today. By 2050, this number is projected to reach 14 million. Someone develops Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds — yet only 16 percent of seniors receive regular cognitive assessments during routine health check-ups.
CBD holds out great promise against this brain-battering scourge. In a 2006 study, researchers reported that CBD could suppress the formation of amyloid plaque, the abnormal proteins that are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, “better than any currently approved prescription.”
In 2017, the Salk Institute similarly found that compounds in cannabis, such as CBD, reduce amyloid beta in people with Alzheimer’s disease. This type of plaque is also found in the brains of some people with Parkinson’s disease dementia.
Inflammation, another core cause of Alzheimer’s symptoms, can also often be reduced using CBD oil.
Perhaps the most exciting benefit of CBD is brain cell stimulation. A 2011 Australian study found that CBD promotes the growth and development of brain cells, helping to reduce memory decline and arrest the loss of cognitive capacity overall.
CBD As A Treatment for Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a neurological disorder caused by the loss of brain cells that produce dopamine, a molecule critical for proper brain function. The characteristic symptoms of PD include tremors, muscle rigidity, balance issues, depression and anxiety, and the gradual onset of dementia in approximately 50-80 percent of people with PD.
Cannabidiol may represent a healthy, natural alternative to pharmaceutical medications, which can have adverse side effects that are as damaging to someone’s quality of life as the PD symptoms themselves.
In fact, some animal studies suggest CBD might even function as preventive medicine, protecting the brain against developing neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease in the first place.
So far, CBD has demonstrated relief for many of the major Parkinson’s symptoms, including tremors, difficulty sleeping, and cognitive impairment. CBD may also reduce depression and anxiety, and relieve pain.
An additional promising result on the horizon: CBD studies are showing it to be effective in treating the psychosis that comes with PDD (Parkinson’s disease dementia).
Our Commitment to Residents with Memory Impairment
At Glen Park Healthy Living, we’re dedicated to the unique needs of our residents with Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory impairment. Our professional staff includes experts in geriatric care for those with cognitive conditions that require a loving, knowledgeable approach.
We also advocate using cutting edge health protocols that help our residents enjoy the highest quality of life possible.
We look forward to welcoming you and your loved one to Glen Park.