Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia in the United States, affecting 5.4 million Americans. Dementia, while not a disease itself, causes a group of symptoms by various diseases and conditions. Alzheimer’s typically appears after the age of 60. It is a genetic disease; research has turned up evidence of a link between Alzheimer's disease and genes on four chromosomes, labeled numerically as 1, 14, 19, and 21.
In Alzheimer’s patients, nerve cells in the brain die gradually. It is more difficult for messages to be sent from the brain. Therefore, the most common symptom is short-term memory loss in the early stage. This is accompanied by difficulty performing familiar tasks, disorientation, problems with planning and managing your day to day life, forgetting words, rapid mood swings, lack of motivation, and changes in sleep. At this point, a patient may need help from others, but is able to still function more or less without much supervision.
Once a patient enters the middle stage of the disease, he or she needs constant care. Getting dressed, going to the bathroom, or preparing meals becomes more difficult. A patient may experience hallucinations, strong feelings of paranoia and anger, and he or she may wander aimlessly within the home or even outside.
In the later stages, a person with Alzheimer’s cannot care for him or herself at all. He or she cannot communicate with people and often does not recognize family members or close friends. They develop the inability to walk or smile and have difficulty swallowing.
In a study entitled "Alzheimer’s disease; taking the edge off with cannabinoids?" at Department of Physiology and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience in Dublin, Ireland, it’s reported that "In brains obtained from Alzheimer’s patients, alterations in components of the cannabinoid system have been reported, suggesting that the cannabinoid system either contributes to, or is altered by, the pathophysiology of the disease." The study goes on to say, "cannabinoids offer a multi-faceted approach for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease by providing neuroprotection and reducing neuroinflammation, whilst simultaneously supporting the brain’s intrinsic repair mechanisms by augmenting neurotrophin expression and enhancing neurogenesis."
Another study entitled "A Molecular Link Between the Active Component of Marijuana and Alzheimer's Disease Pathology" at the Department of Chemistry and Immunology, The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology in California, claimed, "Compared to currently approved drugs prescribed for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, THC is a considerably superior inhibitor of Abeta aggregation, and this study provides a previously unrecognized molecular mechanism through which cannabinoid molecules may directly impact the progression of this debilitating disease."