CBD for Alzheimer’s disease: Research on its potential benefits

On the occasion of World Alzheimer’s Day, we have prepared a post about the latest research on CBD for the treatment of this disease. This post is informational and is not intended to prevent, diagnose or treat any disease. Consult your doctor before using CBD. Cannactiva products are not medicines.

Introduction to Alzheimer’s disease and cannabis research

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder in which the patient develops dementia and gradually loses memory. It is a disease whose prevalence has been increasing due to different risk factors such as stress, pollution and genetic predisposition.

The cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. Although the use of CBD for Alzheimer’s is still under debate, it can be used as an adjuvant in the treatment of this disease.

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that affects approximately 50 million people worldwide (1). The main symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are cognitive impairment, behavioral disorders and memory loss.

It develops due to alterations in the metabolism of two brain proteins, APP (amyloid precursor protein) and Tau (2). These alterations will lead to the presence of small neurofibrillary tangles or intertwined fibrils within neurons, which are formed by the aggregation of Tau; and to the accumulation of amyloid plaques (senile plaques) between neurons, which are the result of the accumulation of APP (3).

Studies on cannabis in Alzheimer’s disease

In general, cannabinoids have shown promise in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, having been found to reduce the deposition of senile plaques and help with dementia-related symptoms (4).

In the laboratory, the chronic and early use of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) with CBD (cannabidiol) improved memory impairment in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease (5). But CBD alone (without THC) has also reported favorable results.

CBD in Alzheimer’s disease

How might CBD work for Alzheimer’s disease?

The exact mechanism by which CBD may help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease is not fully understood. However, some studies have shown that CBD has neuroprotective properties (6, 7) that could help delay disease progression.

Cannabidiol may also reduce inflammation (8) in the brain, which is a feature of Alzheimer’s disease.

In addition, it can improve symptoms of anxiety and depression (9, 10) that are common in people with this disease.

Relevant findings from CBD research for Alzheimer’s disease.

The use of CBD to treat Alzheimer’s is still under investigation, but here we explain some of the most relevant scientific findings known so far:

  • CBD used long-term helps in the improvement of social recognition in a rodent study. This means that it could improve short-term memory by demonstrating an improvement in the familiarity of Alzheimer’s patients with other individuals (11).
  • Also in mice, CBD prevents the expression of proteins that promote inflammation in the brain induced by the neurotoxicity of the amyloid protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease (12).
  • CBD administration has been linked to lower expression of genes related to Alzheimer’s disease (13). This seems promising for preventing the onset of the disease in people whose relatives have had Alzheimer’s disease.
  • In cellular experiments, CBD can indirectly inhibit the formation of fibrillar networks present in the neurons of an Alzheimer’s patient (14).

It is important to note that all of these studies were conducted in cells or animals, therefore, the use of CBD as a treatment for Alzheimer’s is still considered experimental.

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Use of CBD in patients with Alzheimer’s disease

Human use has mostly been reported empirically, as studies that have evaluated the effectiveness of CBD for Alzheimer’s have largely been conducted with cell cultures and laboratory animals.

Cannabidiol for Alzheimer’s could be effective as it has been shown that it can help attenuate or slow the development of various neurodegenerative diseases. In Alzheimer’s disease we can only assume that the results obtained in animals can be translational or similar in humans.

How is CBD taken for Alzheimer’s disease?

CBD is not currently a drug for Alzheimer’s disease. The studies are in early stages and therefore a precise dose is not yet available.

Because it can mostly help improve the patient’s quality of life , it is only possible to mention possible doses of cannabidiol for Alzheimer’s from a neuropsychiatric perspective. CBD in Alzheimer’s could help lift the patients’ mood and even decrease the patient’s anxiety.

CBD dosage in Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s patients may experience different mood disorders. The effectiveness of CBD on depression, insomnia, and chronic pain has only been documented through the report of CBD users (10). Being an empirical use survey, the doses are very different and its results cannot be standardized since they are based on personal perception.

The treatment of anxiety with CBD has been evaluated in preclinical and clinical studies, perhaps not precisely for Alzheimer’s disease, but the reported doses could be useful for this disease, always under the essential criteria of the specialist physician and his supervision. It has been seen that cannabidiol can help in the treatment of anxiety at doses of 300 mg in single doses (15) of purified CBD. It is worth mentioning that other studies have reported the effectiveness of cannabidiol for anxiety at doses of up to 600 mg in single doses (16) of purified oil-based CBD. Single or acute doses should be used when considered necessary. For chronic use, 25 to 75 mg/day are used (17).

The optimal dose of cannabidiol oil for each person should always be prescribed and supervised by the specialist. In general, it is usual to start with lower doses than those reported in the literature, and then increase or modify the concentration depending on the results obtained. Remember that everyone is different and that is why results are so variable, but starting with low doses provides a large margin with which to adjust the necessary dosage of CBD oil drops for Alzheimer’s. For example, it could be used at one-fourth of the lowest dose reported here for acute cases, i.e., 75 mg per day. Or the lowest dose for chronic use of 25 mg/day could be used, and from there, the dose can be increased weekly or biweekly depending on the effect obtained.

Can CBD interact with medications taken by the Alzheimer’s patient?

Alzheimer’s is a disease that triggers a wide variety of symptoms, therefore, the medication used is diverse. The interactions depend on the nature of the metabolism of the therapy prescribed to the person with Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it is strictly necessary to consult with a specialist before using CBD.

CBD is a compound that is metabolized via the liver, therefore, caution should be exercised when consumed in conjunction with other therapies that are similarly metabolized. To understand this a little better, we invite you to visit our post on CBD interactions with medications.

In conclusion…

There is still much to be discovered about the mechanisms used by cannabidiol in this disease. At the moment we know that it can help elevate quality of life and we hope that in the future we will have more relevant information about CBD in Alzheimer’s disease.

Remember that the dosage of CBD oil should be titrated and reevaluated constantly. We suggest you consult with a health care professional for more information before starting to use cannabidiol oil.

We remind you that this is an informative article that is not intended to prevent, diagnose or treat any disease. Consult your doctor before using CBD. Cannactiva products are not medicines. Its content can complement, but never replace, the diagnosis or treatment of any disease or symptom.

Remember that if you want to receive more information about CBD, we share interesting content and unique offers in our newsletter:

  1. GBD 2016 Neurology Collaborators (2019). Global, regional, and national burden of neurological disorders, 1990-2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. The Lancet. Neurology, 18(5), 459-480. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(18)30499-X
  2. Knapskog, A. B., Engedal, K., Selbæk, G., & Øksengård, A. R. (2021). Alzheimers sykdom – diagnostikk og behandling [Alzheimer’s disease – diagnosis and treatment]. Tidsskrift for den Norske legeforening : tidsskrift for praktisk medicin, ny raekke, 141(7), 10.4045/tidsskr.20.0919. https://doi.org/10.4045/tidsskr.20.0919
  3. Duyckaerts, C., Potier, M. C., & Delatour, B. (2008). Alzheimer disease models and human neuropathology: similarities and differences. Acta neuropathologica, 115(1), 5-38. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00401-007-0312-8
  4. Abate, G., Uberti, D., & Tambaro, S. (2021). Potential and Limits of Cannabinoids in Alzheimer’s Disease Therapy. Biology, 10(6), 542. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology10060542
  5. Aso, E., Andrés-Benito, P., & Ferrer, I. (2016). Delineating the Efficacy of a Cannabis-Based Medicine at Advanced Stages of Dementia in a Murine Model. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD, 54(3), 903-912. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-160533
  6. Hampson, A. J., Grimaldi, M., Axelrod, J., & Wink, D. (1998). Cannabidiol and (-)Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 95(14), 8268-8273. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.95.14.8268
  7. Iuvone, T., Esposito, G., Esposito, R., Santamaria, R., Di Rosa, M., & Izzo, A. A. (2004). Neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component from Cannabis sativa, on beta-amyloid-induced toxicity in PC12 cells. Journal of neurochemistry, 89(1), 134-141. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2003.02327.x
  8. Burstein S. (2015). Cannabidiol (CBD) and its analogs: a review of their effects on inflammation. Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry, 23(7), 1377-1385. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2015.01.059
  9. Garcia-Gutierrez, M. S., Navarrete, F., Gasparyan, A., Austrich-Olivares, A., Sala, F., & Manzanares, J. (2020). Cannabidiol: A Potential New Alternative for the Treatment of Anxiety, Depression, and Psychotic Disorders. Biomolecules, 10(11), 1575. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10111575
  10. Corroon, J., & Phillips, J. A. (2018). A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users. Cannabis and cannabinoid research, 3(1), 152-161. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0006
  11. Cheng, D., Spiro, A. S., Jenner, A. M., Garner, B., & Karl, T. (2014). Long-term cannabidiol treatment prevents the development of social recognition memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease : JAD, 42(4), 1383-1396. https://doi.org/10.3233/JAD-140921
  12. Esposito, G., Scuderi, C., Savani, C., Steardo, L., Jr, De Filippis, D., Cottone, P., Iuvone, T., Cuomo, V., & Steardo, L. (2007). Cannabidiol in vivo blunts beta-amyloid induced neuroinflammation by suppressing IL-1beta and iNOS expression. British journal of pharmacology, 151(8), 1272-1279. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.bjp.0707337
  13. Libro, R., Diomede, F., Scionti, D., Piattelli, A., Grassi, G., Pollastro, F., Bramanti, P., Mazzon, E., & Trubiani, O. (2016). Cannabidiol Modulates the Expression of Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Genes in Mesenchymal Stem Cells. International journal of molecular sciences, 18(1), 26. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18010026
  14. Esposito, G., De Filippis, D., Maiuri, M. C., De Stefano, D., Carnuccio, R., & Iuvone, T. (2006). Cannabidiol inhibits inducible nitric oxide synthase protein expression and nitric oxide production in beta-amyloid stimulated PC12 neurons through p38 MAP kinase and NF-kappaB involvement. Neuroscience letters, 399(1-2), 91-95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2006.01.047
  15. Zuardi, A. W., Cosme, R. A., Graeff, F. G., & Guimarães, F. S. (1993). Effects of ipsapirone and cannabidiol on human experimental anxiety. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 7(1 Suppl), 82-88. https://doi.org/10.1177/026988119300700112
  16. Bergamaschi, M. M. M., Queiroz, R. H., Chagas, M. H., de Oliveira, D. C., De Martinis, B. S., Kapczinski, F., Quevedo, J., Roesler, R., Schröder, N., Nardi, A. E., Martín-Santos, R., Hallak, J. E., Zuardi, A. W., & Crippa, J. A. (2011). Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 36(6), 1219-1226. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2011.6
  17. Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal, 23, 18-041. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041

Masha Burelo
Investigadora en cannabinoides | Doctoranda en Neurociencia

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