How CBD Works - How does CBD work for Dementia and Alzheimer’s
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We better get a handle on this soon.
The populations around the world are aging quickly.
That’s not good news for Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
For the 5.5M Americans who are diagnosed per year, 5.3M are over age 65!
Interestingly, 2/3rds are women.
This may be a function of women living longer or something else (very interesting…we’ll touch on that below).
We’ll see what the research says.
That may sound surprising but won’t be after what you read below on the immune system, inflammation, and dementia.
The landscape has shifted significantly on how we view these diseases.
In case you haven’t read any other articles on this site, inflammation and autoimmune are right in CBD’s wheelhouse.
In fact, the system that’s tasked with maintaining homeostasis (balance) of the immune system is the endocannabinoid system in our bodies!
We’ll get into that specifically but if you want to jump right to the safety screened CBD here:
Otherwise, you can jump to any section here:
Lot’s to cover…let’s get started.
Let’s first look at the aspects of the disease that might be affected by the endocannabinoid system and CBD specifically.
Let’s acquaint ourselves with the actors first.
All of these actors are integral to Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
With Dementia and Alzheimer’s, they all share one thing in common…
We’ll look at that later but important new research is pointing to our brain’s inflammatory response system as tied to the disease.
A very quick summary of the disease progression since we want to jump to the endocannabinoid system’s role.
The symptoms generally show the following:
Inside the brain, microglia are responsible for warding off intruders.
They look for foreign entities and if need be, attack and destroy them.
As with the immune system in the body, they should then settle back down from attack mode.
In the brain, this tissue would be our neurons, astrocytes, and other important cells.
The plaques appear to be a residual artifact from this process.
The body and brain use these same microglia to “eat” up bad or dead tissue and dispose of it.
The ultimate effect of this is that brain cells stop communicating with each other and die off.
Okay…we know the bad news.
Let’s look at forward motion on our understanding of the disease.
Let’s first introduce the endocannabinoid system.
You have a natural system in the body that spans most tissue including the brain.
Here’s a quick look at it
This system is generally in charge of balancing these systems:
CBD appears to aid this system when it gets overworked.
You could say that this is the weak chain in our body’s ability to deal with the modern, very chemical world that we live in.
We’re swimming in it.
Our immune system is tasked with protecting the brain from this onslaught.
Can you really fault it for flipping out!
Let’s now jump into actual research.
First, one housekeeping question.
Are Alzheimer’s and Dementia different?
Dementia is a wide umbrella of diseases that reflect cognitive decline.
There can be different causes.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of Dementia and generally makes up 50-70% of all cases.
Research has long shown a connection between these diseases and inflammation.
They just found signs of gum bacteria in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s which would cause an inflammatory response:
There is some debate on when inflammation is detrimental or beneficial, however.
When looking at anti-inflammatories…
That being said, there is a documented tie between anti-inflammatory use earlier in life and reduced risk for Dementia:
New evidence ties in with genetic research showing that genes linked to Dementia risk function in the microglia cells responsible for inflammatory response:
Here, genes which affect microglia cells get implicated:
That may explain why some people are untouched by the ravishes of Dementia.
Earlier, researchers were not sure if inflammation was a result of the disease or a cause.
New studies are shedding a light on this:
It appears that microglia cells get stuck “on” and actually create more harm than good
If you really want to dive into the weeds of Dementia and inflammation, here’s a good summary (not lite reading but very interesting)
Keep in mind that inflammation is just a process that’s carried out by the immune system in our body.
Let’s look at that piece now.
We might need to add Dementia and Alzheimer’s to the growing list.
They just found that a certain protein triggers off an immune response which is critical to the disease:
We discussed what the research above says about inflammation and diseases.
Inflammation is just a response by our immune system.
There are important chemicals in that inflammatory response which must be delivered to sites for the attack, repair, and healing!
Inflammation isn’t bad.
Chronic inflammation is!
Inflammation is important but it can be tricky in the brain which such complicated chemistry and process.
It needs to turn on in response to a threat but also turn off when completed.
New studies on genes tied to the disease are pointing to issues with this “resolution” – the wrap-up process of inflammation.
The important word there…” immune factors”.
The TREM2 gene is mainly expressed in microglial cells!
Speaking of the resolving effect, from the same article…
This is very similar to the T1 to T2 transition we’ve seen directly with CBD in the rest of the body and the gut!
The first hints at Dementia and Alzheimer’s potential as an autoimmune disease came from detecting higher levels of immune response actors in the brains of sufferers.
What about the direct tie between people with other immune diseases and Dementia and Alzheimer’s:
They go on to say…
Keep in mind that the TREM2 gene above (and others) operates in the brain microglia so it might be distinct from how autoimmune affects other areas of the body where T-cells are king (hence the T1 and T2).
You also have an interesting correlation between autoimmune and Dementia based on gender.
Women are harder hit by both at comparable ratios:
What about the tie between prior experience and DNA expression?
This is very exciting (and new).
They are called epigenetic tags.
Little pieces of info from a prior immune response that get added to our microglia cells.
There is even the study where symptoms were reversed in mice by blocking a specific part of the immune system with a common anti-inflammatory, mefenamic acid.
Brand new research shows a link between Herpes I and dementia now:
Inflammation and Autoimmune are intimately tied. One is the response of the other.
Let’s look at another important factor…especially for women.
As we mentioned, there’s a powerful correlation between gender and risk for autoimmune diseases and Dementia/Alzheimer’s.
How about the interesting connection between hysterectomies and Dementia risk.
Estrogen and progesterone are incredibly important to a woman’s body and brain!
They also decline with age and significantly so after perimenopause.
But the decline starts much earlier than that.
Evidence is pointing to this tie with more clarity:
The age of surgical menopause also plays into risk which shows the protective role of hormones over a lifetime:
This is pointing to hormone replacement therapy.
Make sure to look at bio-identical and get your Dutch test to see all the estrogens (yes, there are three different types and one of them is very protective!) and how they are metabolizing.
It’s a shame women are not offered this test annually!
The synthetic hormones can actually carry risk so make sure to research this whole point and be your own advocate!
Many doctors are still recycling old information tied to synthetic and horse hormones!
Lot’s of great information here:
What about CBD?
Isn’t this article about CBD and Dementia/Alzheimer’s?
Let’s get into it!
The interest started with some early research into the components of Dementia disease progression.
We’ve seen many of the main actors in above.
First, there was a study which showed cannabinoids as a blocker of amyloid plaque buildup:
This was for THC but as a cannabinoid, it was an interesting find since the endocannabinoid system is at play!
More on this cannabinoid’s effect here:
Keep in mind that these amyloid plaques are toxic to brain cells.
That’s a primary way the disease causes the symptoms associated with Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
It destroys surrounding tissue and eventually brain mass disappears.
CBD was shown to offset this toxic effect:
Those are all nasty results of toxicity in the brain.
CBD reduced them!
Researchers are investigating the role of the endocannabinoid system itself in moderating the disease:
Some of the earliest research looked to see if CBD could reduce the inflammation that is associated with the diseases progression.
Okay, so now we’re seeing CBD itself as a way to bring down inflammatory agents associated with the disease in living organisms.
There’s a pretty extensive review of CBD and neuroprotection here:
It’s getting more interesting than that.
When researchers disrupted a CB1 receptor (the place where CBD and other cannabinoids do their work whether natural or from outside), the symptoms of Alzheimer’s worsened EVEN though the amyloid plaques were the same!
This is in a mouse model but it did two things:
These data argue against a direct correlation of amyloid plaque load with cognitive abilities in this AD mouse model lacking CB1.
The plot thickens!
We’re looking at the components of the disease because most of the research has been done there.
Keep in mind that endocannabinoids are only recently open for study.
We didn’t even understand the endocannabinoid system until very recently!
For a good review of all this data, go here:
We’re still early in the process of studying its effects in people with the disease.
Let’s get to a question that comes up often.
Most studies have investigated CBD’s effects on the pathways of Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Follow up studies have looked at mice models which offered some promising results.
There are dozens of studies on CBD’s effect with mice genetically altered to get Dementia/Alzheimer’s here:
What about people?
Look…we’re too early in the process to give answers on CBD in people.
Much less a cure.
The pathways that contribute towards Dementia are very much affected positively by CBD (inflammation, autoimmune, homeostasis, etc).
Here’s what is available and we’ll add to it as we get new research.
CBD is showing the ability to down-regulate genes tied to Dementia and Alzheimer’s progression:
An analysis of studies on the effectiveness of CBD shows benefit:
The increase of activity into CBD’s ability to potentially reverse the symptoms of Dementia can be found here:
Here an early example of many studies yet to come:
That one is for THC but the endocannabinoid system is shared by CBD.
There are many studies being conducted right now for CBD’s effect on people.
If any of the relationships and aspects of the disease reflected above bear out, we expect to see some good news.
Of course, we’ll update that here.
There are a few key concerns when choosing a CBD product for Dementia and Alzheimer’s.
We want to screen CBD products for the following:
We screen for these requirements here:
The oil is the most popular.
Start with a CBD isolate to test your response.
Many people have histamine issues (and don’t know about it).
The other plant material in full-spectrum might cause a histamine response (an immune-inflammatory response) which is the opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish!
Start with isolate and get up to a strong dose before looking at full spectrum if at all.
We may need fairly high doses depending on the severity of the issue.
Let’s look at that now.
Most of the research for more serious issues test dosages of 300-600mg of CBD.
This is a larger dose.
Start at 25-30mg of CBD per dosage to see how your body responds.
This is good for general maintenance and even Dementia and Alzheimer’s prevention (see anti-inflammatory tie above).
If well tolerated (which is to be expected), slowly increase the dosage up to 300mgs.
If you see help with this level, we then need to look at how to afford CBD!
Our goal is simple.
The total mg in the bottle (1500, 2500, etc) doesn’t matter.
We want the cost per milligram of CBD.
That’s why we created the CBD comparison here.
You can also find the best priced CBD oils for Dementia and Alzheimer’s here
Let us know what works, at what dosage, and with what results.
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