The number of people living with Alzheimer’s is growing rapidly—in fact, every 65 seconds someone in the U.S. develops Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Many are familiar with the symptoms of this disease, which include memory loss and confusion. However, the limited effectiveness of current therapies against AD has spurred further research into developing new agents for preventing and slowing the disease process.

In this section, we’ll analyze the latest research to see if CBD provides a viable alternative to traditional treatments for AD and dementia. These studies evaluated CBD’s medical efficacy in treating those who suffer from AD and dementia.

Study Results

A 2004 study highlighted the neuroprotective effects of CBD they relate to AD. Alzheimer’s disease is widely held to be associated with oxidative stress due, in part, to the membrane action of beta-amyloid peptide aggregates. The results indicate that cannabidiol exerts a combination of neuroprotective, anti-oxidative and anti-apoptotic effects against beta-amyloid peptide toxicity.

In other words, CBD helps prevent the onset of AD by limiting the effects of betaamyloid peptide toxicity, the major cause of the disease.

A 2012 study evaluated the therapeutic potential of the endocannabinoid system for Alzheimers disease. Based on the complex pathology of AD, a preventative, multimodal drug approach targeting a combination of pathological AD symptoms appears ideal. Importantly, cannabinoids show anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antioxidant properties and have immunosuppressive effects. Thus, the cannabinoid system should be a prime target for AD therapy. Furthermore, the phytocannabinoid cannabidiol is of particular interest as it lacks the psychoactive and cognition-impairing properties of other cannabinoids.

A 2014 study found that long-term CBD treatment prevents the development of social recognition memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice. Control and AD transgenic mice were treated orally from 2.5 months of age with CBD (20 mg/kg) daily for 8 months…This study is the first to demonstrate CBD’s ability to prevent the development of a social recognition deficit in AD
transgenic mice. Our findings provide the first evidence that CBD may have potential as a preventative treatment for AD with a particular relevance for symptoms of social withdrawal and facial recognition.

A 2017 study looked at the evidence for therapeutic properties of CBD for Alzheimers Disease. The studies demonstrate the ability of CBD to reduce reactive gliosis and the neuroinflammatory response as well as to promote neurogenesis. Importantly, CBD also reverses and prevents the development of cognitive deficits in AD rodent models. Interestingly, combination therapies of CBD and THC, the main active ingredient of cannabis sativa, show that CBD can antagonize the psychoactive effects associated with THC and possibly mediate greater therapeutic benefits than either phytocannabinoid alone. The studies provide “proof of principle” that CBD and possibly CBD-THC combinations are valid candidates for novel AD therapies. Further investigations should address the long-term potential of CBD and evaluate mechanisms involved in the therapeutic effects described.

Another 2017 study evaluated CBD’s effect on the expression of Alzheimer’s Diseaserelated genes in stem cells. CBD pre-treatment in GMSCs [mesenchymal stem cells derived from gingival]
modulated the transcriptional profile of these cells by attenuating the expression of genes implicated in the etiopathogenesis of AD. In conclusion, this preliminary in vitro study has demonstrated that GMSCs preconditioned with CBD have better therapeutic potential compared to CTR-GMSCs cells, and we believe that their transplantation in the early stage of AD may play a role in preventing or attenuating the disease onset.

A 2018 study demonstrates for the first time that “cannabidiol (CBD) acts to protect synaptic plasticity in an in vitro model of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)…Our data suggests that this major component of Cannabis sativa, which lacks psychoactivity may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of AD.

As indicated by the studies above, CBD has neuroprotective properties that are effective in preventing and treating AD and dementia.

Studies

Iuvone, T., Esposito, G., Esposito, R., Santamaria, R., Di, M., & Izzo, A. A. (2004, April). Neuroprotective effect of cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component from Cannabis sativa, on beta-amyloid-induced toxicity in PC12 cells. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15030397

Karl, T., Cheng, D., Garner, B., & Arnold, J. C. (2012, April). The therapeutic potential of the endocannabinoid system for Alzheimer’s disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22448595

Cheng, D., Spiro, A. S., Jenner, A. M., Garner, B., & Karl, T. (n.d.). Long-term cannabidiol treatment prevents the development of social recognition memory deficits in Alzheimer’s disease transgenic mice. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25024347

Watt, G., & Karl, T. (2017, February). In vivo Evidence for Therapeutic Properties of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Alzheimer’s Disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5289988/

Libro, R., Diomede, F., Scionti, D., Piattelli, A., Grassi, G., Pollastro, F., . . . Trubiani, O. (2017, January). Cannabidiol Modulates the Expression of Alzheimer’s Disease Related Genes in Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5297661/

Hughes, B., & Herron, C. E. (2018, March). Cannabidiol Reverses Deficits in Hippocampal LTP in a Model of Alzheimer’s Disease. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29574668