When it comes to using marijuana to treat the effects of Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, which affects more than 24.3 million people around the world, the jury is still out.
Benefits of Cannabinoids
Among the benefits of cannabis-based treatments, which are chiefly defended by scientists in Spain and Israel, is a possible improvement in memory loss.
In 2008, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) hosted a symposium of cannabis experts, where it was revealed that one of the compounds present in cannabis significantly slows memory loss. This is just one of the results from research protocols launched twelve years ago by the RPSGB designed specifically for the exploration of cannabis as a treatment option for patients with severe pain, or multiple sclerosis.
The use of cannabis to treat memory loss was tested successfully in laboratory mice, and scientists want to continue the trials with human subjects, in spite of the fact that there is some concern about possible harmful mind-altering effects caused by the compound in question, cannabidiol, although researchers stress that this compound is not a hallucinogen.
Risks of Cannabis Use by Alzheimer's Disease Patients
The problem with recommending cannabis for Alzheimer's disease patients is that cannabidiol is not the only compound found in marijuana. There is another -THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol - which is the source of cannabis's psychoactivity.
While THC has been proven to be beneficial in increasing the appetites of AIDS and cancer chemotherapy patients who tend to literally waste away, it is also suspected to have damaging effects on memory, and therefore should not be used on patients who already have memory disorders.
Pro-cannabis researchers point out that clinical trials would use only the non-psynhoactive components of cannabis, and that such treatments are not at all similar to recreational use of marijuana.