Can Cannabis Help Dementia Sufferers?

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Can Cannabis Help Dementia Sufferers?

Stop off at any college dorm or twenty-somethingdiscount apartment across the country and you’ll likely encounter people smoking cannabis; eyes glazed, ribs tickled, likely munching on some brightly-packaged snack food whilst a pseudo documentary blares in the background. It would be quite easy to view this scene and think that cannabis decreases brain function; this may or may not be true; however cannabis has actually been shown to bolster the mind among a completely different demographic- over 65s. Alzheimer’s is the third most prevalent terminal disease in the western world. As our populations have grown older the number of individuals with the disease, and other brain-affecting diseases that operate under the umbrella term of Dementia, have skyrocketed.

Memories are lost, behaviour become erratic, unsociable and grouchy, and often the sufferer has very little knowledge or recollection of the people closest to them. With the population only getting older, the need to bring people back from the brink of mental anguish is paramount, and ameliorative treatments must be found. One of the most promising discoveries of late involves cannabis.

The THC compounds that reside within weed are, anti-drug prosthelytising aside, highly geared towards the human nervous system. The endocannabinoid system is a brain system that deals with processes including appetite, pain, mood and memory, and similar to this group of lipids and receptors is THC.

It has been found, in study after study, that when pills containing THC are given to Dementia sufferers the symptoms abate and subside (at least temporarily). Though the specifics of this effect are not completely understood, it has been posited that the drug may curb inflammation in the brain, in turn helping the brain to produce more cells and receptors, halting the decline that is so often seen in the elderly.

The effect is similar to the game Mahjong, known for centuries to boost the mental acuity of elderly players. Requiring memory, calculation and planning, the game requires the brain to do a fair amount of work, flexing it as if it were a bicep. Mahjong is slowly being introduced to the west; even online gaming sites such as have dedicated Mahjong sections and games- great for aged players who still want to enjoy kicking back and relaxing!

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Cannabis-based treatments have already been utilised to treat a host of other illnesses. Multiple Sclerosis, Cataracts and Epilepsy have all been helped by derivatives produced by the cannabis plant, though thanks to backward legislation, many sufferers cannot get hold of the medicines they know will work, bureaucrats blocking the way. Will Dementia sufferers have to encounter the same obstacles for much longer? With a rapidly aging population, let’s hope not.

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