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Dr. Kevin McLaughlin,
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The Surprising Link Between Marijuana and Alzheimer’s Disease

The Surprising Link Between Marijuana and Alzheimers Disease_1Not many people associate marijuana with improved mental abilities—probably the opposite, actually—but the scientific community is changing their perception of this herbal drug, thanks to more research showing that it does have anti-aging properties. Specifically, marijuana may actually be an effective treatment option for Alzheimer’s sufferers because of its ability to help maintain brain health.

Alzheimer’s disease is a condition marked by cognitive decline and memory loss caused by malformed proteins, damaged cells, and disrupted neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Several studies have shown that the components in marijuana can help to alleviate some of these symptoms of Alzheimer’s, reversing or even preventing the development of this age-related disease.

One of the chemical compounds in marijuana is THC, which is what’s responsible for making you feel high. Researchers from the University of Connecticut set out to uncover how this active component in marijuana can help treat Alzheimer’s, since, without a cure, the disease is expected to triple over the next five decades. The results of the study found that THC could effectively treat both the progression and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s because it inhibits the production of a natural enzyme (AChE), which in turn reduces the formation of dangerous protein deposits seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Long story short, THC was shown to protect the brain from neurotransmitter degradation, which means that it can help to maintain cognitive function, thereby preventing the development of Alzheimer’s.

The Surprising Link Between Marijuana and Alzheimers Disease_2Marijuana also contains an active chemical compound called cannabinoids, which have been shown to function as antioxidants in the brain, clearing out damaged cells and triggering the production of new ones. On top of that, cannabinoids can improve the performance of the mitochondria, the part of your brain that is responsible for maintaining cell function. Improved cell function in the brain quells the inflammation that can lead to cognitive decline, allowing older adults to overcome Alzheimer’s and other such age-related diseases that relate to the brain.

More recently, a study out of Australia found that cannabidiol, one of the types of cannabinoids found in marijuana, had a positive effect on mice that were bred to have symptoms that are similar to those seen in Alzheimer’s patients. After being injected with cannabidiol, the mice showed improvements in memory and recognition, which are two of the biggest problems that Alzheimer’s sufferers face. Although the study was done on mice, it shows great promise for human patients.

It’s important to note that these researchers are not suggesting that you go out and spark a joint in an attempt to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. What they’re saying is that marijuana does, in fact, have specific components that can be harbored into safe treatment options for Alzheimer’s and perhaps prevent the progression of this disease from the onset.


Corderoy, A., “Cannabis may help reverse dementia: study,” The Sydney Morning Herald web site, February 6, 2013;
Eubanks, L.M., et al., “A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer’s Disease Pathology,” Molecular Pharmaceutics 2006; 3(6): 773-777.
Huff, E.A., “Marijuana cannabinoids slow brain degradation and aging, reverse dementia: here’s how,” web site, May 23, 2013;
Lawrence, R.G., “Can Marijuana Prevent Alzheimer’s?” Next Avenue web site, October 3, 2012;

  • Marilyn Kunz

    I am all for it. There needs to be more studies done. I am sure it can cure many things that conventional med’s can not.

  • 39CentStamp

    So marijuana can reverse Alzheimer’s and this is important because its expected to triple over the next 5 decades? Who makes this stuff up? 50 years? Why not just say 500 years if you are going to throw BS out there. Whats that 50 years based on? Increase in population? Or more blog posts from “natural” websites.

    • Whooty

      Do you work for the government, or just ignorant?

    • mawdy

      Do your own research, if you think this is BS. Every seminar I’ve attended regarding Alzheimers has stated this exact statistic. Someone must know SOMETHING.

    • PointlessPessimists

      That’s the One thing you choose to focus on out of that whole article? Not the interesting subject at hand? Does it really matter if the disease increases? In other words, sir, what is your point?

    • Daniel Johnson

      I’m guessing 39CentStamp, you’re skeptical about this because you feel that marijuana is a detriment to our society or something to that effect. I find that most people who don’t believe in the restorative properties of marijuana tend to be ignorant and think that it is an elaborate rouse to make it legal in the US so that potheads get can high. Yet if you actually do your research you’ll find that Alzheimer’s disease is just one of many things that this amazing “drug” can help diffuse or even cure.
      Who cares about the BS numbers and statistics because the importance does not lay in the expected rise of diagnosis but in the people it effects right now. I have a grandmother suffering from this Alzheimer’s and I am angered that I cannot help her though this horrible disease because of ignorant skeptics such as yourself. So take ten minutes out of your day to familiarize yourself with other situations that THC has helped people though some of the most gruesome of diseases. I also implore you stop putting it down because of the common misconceptions that circulate the internet and other social medias.
      I would also like to add that this is not an attack but a passionate response to an otherwise ignorant comment.

      • Christian Olsen

        I keep hearing from people who believed the Regan administration’s drug test on marijuana and brain damage which was a critically flawed study. No one had died from cancer or killed anybody or killed them selves. But there is a billion dollar pharmaceutical industry that doesn’t want it legalized. There’s also a huge illegal drug industry that doesn’t want to see it legalized either.

  • Whooty

    I’m so sick of the answer to why they don’t test cannabis more! How can the government say it has no medicinal qualities, when they own the patent on them? This country is so retarded! NOT #1 at all anymore!! If I had a medical condition that cannabis could probably help, even a slight chance, I’d spend all my money to get the F out of here! Land of the free, my ass!!

  • Bob Currie


  • kerry

    more weed oil please

  • linda

    I spent 24yrs around two old hippies and I can assure you that Marijuana DOES NOT improve memory,

    • DudleyDooright

      ALZHEIMER’S is not all about memory, it is about brain function. I am sure they are talking about the effects on the brain after the effect of the high has worn off. I know it used to make me stupid when under the influence (decades ago), but I am not going to disavow any benefits it has for the good of mankind. Let’s give it the study it needs and utilize it where it can help. Powers that be seem to be hung up on the fact that they don;t want to admit they are wrong.

    • kerribug

      Street Cannabis would be the problem here. If grown with natural pesticides and nutrients and no “additives” is the answer. Just as it is in our food!

  • Eugene Sedletsky

    Well, no. There are many AChE inhibitors both available and already being used for decades now – this is absolutely not news, and unfortunately, even the natural sources (like Galantamine) of such substances are not at all enough to help or TREAT any aspect of the ‘disease’. (That said, surely, cannabis has certain protective elements to it that don’t necessarily hurt, either!) Next.. : P

  • Say what?

    So ridiculous that they neglect to discuss the difference of street cannibias & medicinally grown. Street cannibias is more likely to cause brain degeneration, historically correlates with mental health conditions such a schizophrenia, bipolor & clinical depression. It is irresponsible to not note that dealer grown cannibias is so chemically off balance & inter grown or laces with other stimulants that your brain can be effected similar to a individual with a brain injury. It’s not new info THC when isolated has positive effects on Brian chemistry & the nervous system.

  • lucky in life

    having suffered server brain damage after meningitis 5years ago I can say that marijunan has improved my quality of life allowing my brain to function better even under stress. without the use of it, my brain stops my body from being able to function properly and without it I would be living in a nursing home as I would need 24hr personal care! I would say however that more research needs to be done on this drug as I have seen many people,take it and have a bad reaction which has caused alot of other mental problems for these people. Not ALL drugs work for everyone!!!

    • Christian Olsen

      Great for you. It has helped 100 of thousand of people with bad diseases that conventional meds couldn’t. Yet the US government stops it. This is all apart of the hypocrisy that is starting to crumble.

    • cassandra

      Just wondering did you ever get vaccinated for meningitis before contracting it? Im doing a study on this.

  • Bruce Dean

    Do some research to alleviate your ignorance and temper;

    “A new government-funded report confirms what advocacy groups have been warning for years: The number of people in the USA with Alzheimer’s disease will almost triple by 2050, straining the health care system and taxing the health of caregivers.” – USA Today

  • Caroline

    More a Question than a comment! How would we use the marijuana, Buy smoking it, or by actually using the bud and leaves Green, Like in smoothies for instance…Would it be the same effect?

  • Merlot

    This may or may not be true. There is definetly other issues to consider, for example the following story:

    Question: Does Smoking Marijuana Cause Lung Cancer?


    The link between smoking tobacco and lung cancer is undeniable, but does smoking marijuana cause lung cancer, too? The short answer — probably.

    In 2006, many of us in medicine were shocked when a review of research to date did not show an increase in lung cancer related to marijuana use. There was even a suggestion that marijuana had a protective effect against lung cancer. More recent studies, in contrast, do appear to link smoking marijuana with lung cancer.

    One study demonstrated a doubling in lung cancer for male marijuana smokers who also used tobacco (i.e. for men who smoked the same amount, the risk of lung cancer was twice as high for men who also used marijuana.) Another study found that long-term use of marijuana increased the risk of lung cancer in young adults (55 and under), with the risk increasing in proportion to the amount of marijuana smoked.

    Why the controversy?

    Since marijuana is illegal, it is hard to do the controlled studies that have been done with tobacco. Because of this, it helps to look at what we do know about marijuana:

    Many of the carcinogens and co-carcinogens present in tobacco smoke are also present in smoke from marijuana.

    Marijuana smoking does cause inflammation and cell damage, and it has been associated with pre-cancerous changes in lung tissue.

    Marijuana has been shown to cause immune system dysfunction, possibly predisposing individuals to cancer.

    Bottom line: Though marijuana most likely pales in cancer risk when compared to cigarette smoking, it’s better to play it safe. There are reasons in addition to lung cancer risk (and the fact that it is illegal in most states) to avoid marijuana. Marijuana likely increases the risk of testicular cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, a type of brain tumor, and the risk of leukemia in the offspring of women who use it during pregnancy.

    Given this, I would make the point that THC is available in pill form, may not get you high though. Would all the advocates for marijuana use the pill as a safer alternative? I would guess that most would pass, despite the associated risks of smoking.

    • wateryfingers

      Uhhhh….how bout using a vaporizer wise guy?

  • gordonsoderberg

    When the flowers are juiced and ingested without being heated, you receive all the benefits of the oils in the plant and you don’t get stoned.

  • Michael Thomas

    The view that most have about marijuana is based on what they have been taught by uneducated persons on the subject. By uneducated I mean accepting an understanding of a specific matter or substance and interpreting it as your own beliefs without doing your own due diligence of study on the matter or substance. The word has gotten out and the cover up is over. People are beginning to do their own investigating instead of taking someone else word for it. Wake up America; stop being lazy and do some digging for yourself! The persona we have about someone who smokes weed is as far from reality as planet earth is from the sun. Why do we not categorize everyone who drinks alcohol as being a sloppy drunk who beats his wife and abuses his children? Not everyone who enjoys a toke is not a “heeey duuude” kinda person. Wake up America!

  • Amy

    Would adding hemp seeds into your diet have the same effect?

  • chronic the hemp hog

    it helps with a bunch of things like depression

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