Photo by MARESA SMITH

Learn | 08.15.2022

Cannabis & Dementia: Does Weed Cause, Help, Or Prevent This Neurodegenerative Disorder?

Discussing the paradox that is cannabis and dementia.

Watching your relatives grow old isn’t easy. When you first start noticing signs that someone is having trouble with their memory, it can be a slippery slope from there.

What’s even worse is the emotional pain that comes with watching someone’s mind function deteriorate. This includes repeating questions, misplacing things, continuous confusion, and other symptoms that are linked to brain function.

But with an increasingly legal healing plant like cannabis, can patients with dementia live a more peaceful and normal life? And then there’s an entirely different question, what if cannabis causes dementia?

Welcome to the paradox that is cannabis and dementia. Some researchers say that weed can cause this brain disorder, whereas other studies claim that patients with dementia can benefit from using cannabis.

Let’s dive deeper into this complicated answer.

What Is Dementia?

Photo by MARESA SMITH

Dementia is a broad term that’s used to describe various neurodegenerative disorders. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s.

Dementia isn’t so much of disease itself, but it’s made up of symptoms that occur when our cognitive function begins to deteriorate.

The scientific explanation of dementia is an increasing number of dead brain cells, which can be caused by;

  • Brain injury
  • HIV
  • Lack of oxygen and blood in the brain
  • Depression
  • Nutrient and vitamin deficiencies
  • Other diseases that affect oxygen and blood flow to the brain

Does Cannabis Cause Dementia?

As mentioned earlier, cannabis and dementia fall into some kind of paradox. Researchers have claimed that cannabis can cause dementia, whereas it can also treat it in current patients.

Let’s discuss how weed can cause dementia and what’s going on inside the body.

For starters, there’s a handful of scientific claims about how chronic cannabis users experience a reduction in blood and oxygen flow to the brain. When our brains lack blood and oxygen, our hippocampus doesn’t function to its best abilities.

Over time, this can lead to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s. This is because the hippocampus is responsible for memory function, so it’s likely that frequent cannabis users are more at risk of developing dementia due to reduced blood flow to the brain.

Other factors also tie in, like;

  • How frequent do you exercise
  •  What is your diet like
  • If you’re a regular cigarette smoker

Does Cannabis Treat Dementia?

Photo by GRANT SPANIER

On the other hand, studies have claimed that individuals with dementia could benefit from using low doses of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis.

That said, the study looked at how THC could possibly restore memory and learning functions in mice. The researchers gave the mice low doses of THC and found that it could reverse age-related cognitive decline and performance.

This is due to THC’s positive effect on the hippocampus, promoting the sensation of memories and mental ease. The researchers suggested that cannabis could help treat cognitive decline in older individuals with dementia but called for more research on the subject.

There is still a lack of research on how cannabis could potentially help humans with dementia. Still, the findings are quite interesting.

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