Q&A | CBD for Alzheimer's | Florida Dispensaries

CBD for Alzheimer's Q&A

The Question:

“My mother is 80 yrs old and has Alzheimer’s, and I have heard about CBD oil being beneficial to slowing disease progression. I don’t need medical marijuana services or a card but would like to understand how CBD is used dosed and benefit/risk. I would rather speak to clinicians than dealers or enthusiasts. If you can advise or even send me where I can get safe advise please let me know.

Thank you for your time.
Mary E.” 

The Answer:

Dear Mary, thanks for your question. We’ll do our best to provide you with actionable answers.

Before we delve into this, we’d like to say that we have readers in a similar situation who are also interested in the potential of medical cannabis to treat Alzheimer’s disease, so we’re not only going to talk about clinical and lab studies related to CBD but to THC as well. Some of the studies mentioned herein involved a combination of THC and CBD.

First off, we’d like to start with a caveat. There are no research studies that actually prove that either CBD or THC can cure Alzheimer’s Disease. Furthermore, more research needs to be done to determine the long-term effects of cannabis.

That being said, however, studies on the use of cannabis to treat the symptoms of the disease such as agitation and rigidity have shown promise. Moreover, there is some evidence — but again, no actual proof — that the use of cannabis might prevent or delay the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Today, more than 30 states have approved the use of either THC or CBD to treat a variety of medical conditions. At least 13 of those states have looked at the body of evidence and decided that it is strong enough to add Alzheimer’s Disease to their list of qualifying conditions. This fact alone speaks volumes as to the efficacy of medical cannabis in reducing these symptoms.

LABORATORY STUDIES on the use of THC and CBD in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

In one in vivo study, researchers administered a formula containing both THC and CBD to mice with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. In some cases, the subjects showed improved learning and exhibited a reduction in amyloid plaques in their brains.

Researchers in another study concluded that treatment with CBD provided neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, and anti-inflammatory properties and actually reversed cognitive deficits resulting from Alzheimer’s Disease. Moreover, this study was the first to demonstrate CBD’s ability to prevent the development of a social recognition deficit in mice with Alzheimer’s Disease. According to researchers their findings ”provide the first evidence that CBD may have potential as a preventative treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease with particular relevance for symptoms of social withdrawal and facial recognition.”

CLINICAL STUDIES on the use of THC and CBD in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease

In terms of actual clinical studies attempting to determine the efficacy of cannabinoids in treating Alzheimer’s Disease, there have been very few. And the few that have taken place were small.

One study that took place in a healthcare facility in Geneva, Switzerland, involved ten women in their late 70s suffering from severe dementia-related behavioral problems. The patients were given a measured dose of cannabis oil containing a formula with a CBD-to-THC ratio of 2 to 1. To be exact, the formula averaged 9 mg of THC and 18 mg of CBD per day.

When the study was complete, researchers concluded that the treatment was not only well tolerated by the patients, it also greatly improved behavior problems and reduced rigidity.

According to the report, behavioral issues were reduced by 40 percent. Moreover, the use of other psychotropic medications was eliminated in half of the patients. Also, the staff at the facility reported that the patients became far easier to manage. The report also claims that the effects persisted after 2 months.

It’s important to note that three of the patients “seemed to have pain when swallowing, even worse with the (alcoholic) tincture, and had mouths ulcers.” However, when cannabis tincture was changed to cannabis oil, “the ulcers disappeared.”

Here is part of the conclusion reached by researchers in the study:

They [nurses] described the patients as calmer, more relaxed, less irritable, and smiling more. Two women with persistent screaming almost stopped doing so, which was a major relief for other patients and the staff. One patient stopped frequent vomiting. Two patients could stop all morphine within 3 months and 1 patient decreased by two-thirds in 2 months. These 3 patients had no more constipation, which was noted as an important time gain for the staff, beyond the benefit for the patients. One patient decreased benzodiazepine use by three-fourths after 3 months and 1 patient stopped two antipsychotic medications after 1 month.

Furthermore, the feedback from the families overall was positive.

How cannabinoids might work to reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

There are three ways that CBD and other cannabinoids might reduce symptoms improve the quality of life for dementia patients.

Cannabinoids Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation of the brain has been implicated in a worsening of Alzheimer’s disease symptoms. When the brain produces an inflammatory response, immune cells fail to clear blockages and amyloid plaques tend to build up. The use of CBD has been shown to modulate this inflammatory response.

Cannabinoids Act As Antioxidants

When inflammation appears in the brain, the added stress causes oxygen to be released. As oxygen levels increase in the brain, symptoms such as memory loss also increase. Known to be a powerful antioxidant, CBD helps reduce oxygen stress.

Cannabinoids Protect And Repair Brain Cells

The brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients often show rapid decline and destruction. In clinical trials, CBD has been shown to prevent and even reverse the damage caused by Alzheimer’s Disease. In fact, a study performed in 2011 found that CBD promotes the growth and development of brain cells and reduces the decline of memory and other brain functions.


Although the number of actual clinical studies into the effects of CBD and other cannabinoids on Alzheimer’s Disease patients is small, numerous in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that cannabinoids might protect and repair damage to brain cells caused by the condition as well as to reduce amyloid plaques, inflammation, and oxidation in the brain.

Although the use of cannabinoids, including CBD, seems to be well tolerated in Alzheimer’s patients and has the potential to provide relief from symptoms such as agitation, rigidity and memory loss, we highly recommend that anyone interested in treating these conditions with cannabinoids consult with a medical professional experienced in the use of cannabinoids, including CBD, before undertaking any treatment program involving these compounds.

Moreover, we recommend that you become familiar with the laws in your state as some states still consider not only THC but CBD, to be a controlled substance.

States in which Alzheimer’s Disease is a qualifying medical condition for the use of cannabis

As we mentioned, more than a dozen U.S. states with medical cannabis programs list Alzheimer’s Disease among the conditions which qualify residents for the use of medical cannabis, either CBD only, or both CBD and THC. Furthermore, some states not on this list such as New York and Florida put the decision in the hands of the attending physician.

These are the states that specifically consider Alzheimer’s Disease or symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease to be a qualifying medical condition:

* Only cases involving agitation may qualify.

A list of research studies on the effects of cannabinoids on Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia

For those who would like to delve deeper into this topic, we have compiled this list of research studies into the efficacy of cannabinoids in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

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