CBD Oil and the Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
~ from the May, 2019 issue of the Alzheimer’s Association Newsletter, Caregiver Tips & Tools
Cannabidiol (or CBD) is one of over a hundred cannabinoids (or compounds) found in the cannabis plant, commonly known as marijuana. CBD is a non-intoxicating compound that has some therapeutic attributes, including relief for chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation, depression and other conditions. Earlier this month the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent letters to manufacturers of CBD products who it says are making claims their products prevent, treat, or cure serious diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders and diabetes.
The Alzheimer’s Association does not take a position for or against the legalization of marijuana for medical or personal use. It is not currently an issue in our mission. The Alzheimer’s Association’s mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. The chemical components of marijuana have been studied in relationship to Alzheimer’s/dementia for many years. Research findings to date have been inconclusive, and sometimes contradictory.
The Alzheimer’s Association welcomes the commitment of the FDA in cracking down on unlawful marketing of cannabidiol products. There is no credible research that supports the claim that a CBD product or other cannabinoids help prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Furthermore, these products and compounds are not approved by the FDA for the treatment, cure or prevention of Alzheimer’s or other dementias.
The Alzheimer’s Association supports all legitimate avenues of research – from basic research through clinical trials. This includes investigating the chemical components of marijuana and many other plants; plants have historically been an important source for medicines. In the last several years, the Alzheimer’s Association funded two clinical trials in this area. Some preliminary studies have identified:
- possible anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects,
- possible reduced production and increased clearance of beta amyloid from the brain,
- possible protection of brain cells and
- suggestions of benefits for age-related memory loss in animal models of Alzheimer’s.
There is some research to suggest certain cannabinoids are useful in treating the noncognitive symptoms in dementia, including agitation, depression and anxiety. Research reported at the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference in 2018 included the results of a randomized, double-blind clinical trial of nabilone – a synthetic cannabinoid – that may be effective in treating agitation in people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s.
Neither nabilone nor marijuana is approved by the FDA for the treatment or management of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. The Alzheimer’s Association believes that more research in this area is needed. # # #