For many years, people lived with the enduring and heartwarming image of retirement being ‘the best of days’ when people can finally ‘live their life’ after decades of hard work. 

In reality, an ever-increasing number of people are finding that the enjoyment of their later years is being cruelly taken from them due to an increasing prevalence of ill health. More than any other illnesses, the rise of so-called ‘senile diseases’ has become a phenomenon of our increased life expectancy combined with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles.


In essence, it is becoming more common for people to be affected by conditions that cause deteriorations of the brain and key neurological processes. Many of us will have elderly relatives, who may be in care homes, assisted living facilities or still living at home, and the numbers seem to indicate that around 1 in 10 people will eventually be directly affected by Alzheimer’s, Dementia or Parkinson’s disease over the coming decades. While this figure relates to those suffering themselves, many more of us will suffer as we witness the demise of someone close to us.


These conditions are usually recognized as a result of their key characteristics including memory loss, behavioral disorders and cognitive decline and the impact it can have on the individual and their loved ones is immeasurable. To see someone you love dearly feeling disorientated, lost and afraid, often in combination with ‘age regression’ which can lead to personality shifts and aggressive outbursts, is a heartbreaking experience, so any form of treatment that provides therapy, respite and a sense of wellbeing is absolutely essential.


Perhaps the most relevant application for THC and CBD currently in relation to these conditions is in the day-to-day treatment of symptoms and the potential for them to be used as a method of reducing the stress and confusion that often plagues those who suffer.Over the past few years, sources indicate that a growing number of families are turning to CBD as a health supplement for those suffering from dementia.


Although there is no ‘cure’ for this range of conditions, a number of pharmaceuticals and holistic treatments seem to reduce the intensity of some of the most common traits. For many, regular doses of CBD have been found to enhance a sense of calm in patients who previously exhibited high levels of stress and disorientation, especially during family visits.


From personal experience, anything which helps to bring peace to those suffering at the hands of these cruel conditions is a blessing and many people report that the impact CBD can have is nothing less than incredible. As with all aspects of cannabis consumption, results may vary, but the legality of CBD products has provided many people with the confidence to try something different when traditional treatments have proven ineffective or too intrusive.


To a lesser extent, especially in the UK where anything other than specific licensed THC compounds are completely illegal, THC oil and other extracts have also been used to offer respite. Obviously, due to its psychoactive properties, there is a need to exercise much more caution during any initial uses of THC to ensure that the dosage is relevant to the individual, but some people suggest that the improvement to a patient’s cognitive ability, even in the short term, can be tremendous.


One of the major benefits for patients, in terms of their quality of life day-to-day, is that both CBD and THC usually deliver a more positive mindset and sense of focus coupled with the ability to sleep more comfortably and for longer. Rest and recovery is essential for maintaining and repairing our complex brain, so this is never a bad thing.


Research into combined CBD and THC treatments was carried out using laboratory mice and there were promising results in relation to improving memory/recall.  Notably, this study identified data which indicates that the two key cannabinoids in combination showed more efficiency and efficacy than CBD or THC used in isolation.


However, it is also noted that CBD seems to offer a solid route of treatment for Alzheimer’s but may also be a strong preventative due to its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to reduce the rate of neurological decay. Results such as this could potentially pave the way for a greater understanding of how aspects of neurological conditions can be related to an under-activated endocannabinoid system (ECS) which will hopefully see much more funding for research into this field.


Furthermore, studies have previously identified a causal link between high doses of THC and the ability of the brain to develop new brain cells. This process, known as neurogenesis, occurs naturally in younger individuals but this process weakens, slows and ultimately ceases to function over time.


As we get older, a number of functions within the body become less effective or stop functioning altogether and any type of activity that inhibits or impacts on homeostasis can potentially increase the onset of neurological disorders. While some cannabinoids have been found to have little-to-no-effect on neurogenesis, Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆9-THC) was seen to enhance all aspects of the neurogenesis mechanism and even seemed to improve the overall cognitive ability of the subjects.


It is worth noting that there was a need for a very high dose of THC (roughly 7 times the common levels used in such studies) in these experiments. It was seen that the animals in the test responded to stimuli much more quickly and were able to ‘recall’ key aspects of the test sequence with increased efficiency after receiving the higher doses.


Neurogenesis was most prevalent in the hippocampus and the most notable results were found at the highest doses. While this is not a totally defined and proved result at this time, it could be suggested that the levels of THC required to significantly reduce, and potentially reverse, the onset of neurogenesis are much higher than may have been expected.


While this in no way suggests that cannabis can ‘cure’ these conditions, it is a huge positive to see that this deterioration is not necessarily a ‘one-way ticket’ towards permanent cognitive decline.Over the coming years we can only hope that research of this kind continues to deliver such positive news.

Continued efforts from both the ‘official’ channels of the scientific community and the incredible cannabis community worldwide have the potential to help so many more people in so many ways, and if cannabis can help anyone in any way then that’s just another big plus in my book

Written and Published By Psy-23 in Weed World Magazine issue 152