Dementia is a term used to describe changes in the brain that may cause severe memory loss and an overall deterioration in mental functions.
Dementia commonly appears in people over 65 years of age, often in its most common form, Alzheimer’s disease, but it can also affect younger people.
To receive a dementia diagnosis, a person needs to have at least two impairment types that severely affect their everyday life. Symptoms can vary and include:
- short-term memory changes
- difficulty communicating thoughts
- apathy or changes in mood.
In addition to memory, dementia can affect language, focus, and behavior.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid, a chemical naturally occurring in Cannabis plants, marijuana, and hemp. Not to be confused with the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not get you high.
For some conditions, such as anxiety and depression, research suggests that CBD can help alleviate mental symptoms and physical pain.
CBD interacts with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, found in the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. While it’s still a bit unclear how CBD affects these receptors, we do know that it alters serotonin levels.
CBD could also be worth considering as a treatment option for pain management. Studies have shown that topical use of CBD oil may help with inflammation and overall discomfort.
Although CBD oil may help alleviate symptoms of certain conditions, it’s important to note that it should not be treated as a cure-all. Since there’s an overall lack of research, we don’t recommend taking CBD for dementia.
So far, there haven’t been large clinical trials among humans to study whether CBD can help with dementia.
However, there are studies and reviews that suggest CBD may help treat some symptoms associated with dementia, such as:
- difficulty sleeping
- disrupted motor function
This guide offers CBD oil options for you to consider, as well as additional insight into the uses of CBD in helping with symptoms of dementia.
According to a 2010 review, there’s no sufficient evidence that CBD can treat, prevent, or reverse symptoms of dementia. Still, early results have been promising, resulting in researchers calling for more human clinical trials to better understand CBD’s potential for symptoms of dementia.
The 2010 review noted that, in small-sized human trials, CBD helped improve behavioral problems associated with dementia and other degenerative neurological conditions. It suggested that CBD has the potential as an alternative for other medications in some forms of dementia.
Additionally, in a 2016 study, scientists found that cannabinoids, such as CBD, could help remove dementia from brain cells. Cannabinoids found in cannabis react with the endocannabinoid system, which has been linked to dementia.
However, researchers are using this idea to better understand the relationship between CBD as a treatment and dementia, and there is still much that needs to be uncovered and understood. This means that there have been no concrete conclusions linking CBD as a way to prevent or help stop the progression of dementia.
Though CBD does not help with slowing down the effects of dementia, some people may still want to take it to help relieve physical and mental symptoms.
A 2019 review noted common mental and behavioral symptoms of dementia, such as:
People also tend to develop physical symptoms, like:
- difficulty completing everyday tasks
- memory loss
- general confusion, particularly as the condition progresses
This can manifest itself as an increase in apathy and forgetfulness and a reduction in mobility, which makes it harder to enjoy daily life. The review also offered evidence that CBD may be effective for helping with symptoms, such as agitation and disruptions in motor function caused by dementia, but CBD oil hasn’t been found to help with memory loss or other cognitive ailments.
CBD has been found to help with mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression.
In a 2015 study, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that CBD oil was shown to reduce levels of stress in animals, such as rats.
In an earlier review, scientists noted that a daily oral dosage of 400 mg of CBD had reduced anxiety levels.
So far, research findings are limited, and additional research in humans is needed for more definitive answers.
CBD has been certified as safe to use by the World Health Organization. However, many over-the-counter CBD oils are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means that the quality and ingredients in the product may vary based on the company.
Some common side effects of CBD include:
- weight changes
- appetite changes
If you still want to take CBD, you should consult with a medical professional prior to introducing it to your body. It has been found to interact with certain medications.
Dosing CBD accurately, whether for dementia or another condition, is important. Otherwise, it might not be entirely effective.
The amount of CBD you should take varies from person to person, depending on your own body weight and chemistry, the concentration of CBD in your product, and the condition being treated. Additionally, dosing recommendations have not been established with CBD for any condition yet.
Before introducing CBD oil into your diet, you should talk with a healthcare professional. You should also follow their recommendation if they offer one. If they do not offer a recommendation, it’s typically best to start with a low dose and slowly increase.
Be aware that different products vary in actual CBD content, so you should use caution when starting a new package or product form.
There are many ways to take CBD, so people can choose a method that works best for them. The most common CBD forms are:
- Tinctures. CBD-infused tinctures are liquids, typically oils, taken orally by using a dropper to place the liquid under the tongue. Tinctures are absorbed quickly and are an option for people who cannot take CBD pills.
- Topicals. CBD topicals include creams and lotions that are used to treat muscle and joint pain. They are best for localized pain.
- Pills. Pills are easy to take and contain an equal dose of CBD throughout. They take longer than other forms to take effect.
- Edibles. CBD gummies are one of the most common and popular ways to take CBD. Each gummy contains the same amount of CBD per package, making it easier to know what dose you’re taking.
Dementia causes deterioration of mental and physical function. CBD might be able to help with some of the symptoms of the condition, though more research is needed to determine how effective the compound can be.
It might be helpful to take CBD to deal with conditions associated with dementia, as CBD has been noted to offer some relief from conditions, like anxiety and depression.
Be sure to talk with a healthcare professional before starting CBD.
Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
Courtesy of the author
Tunika Onnekikami is a freelance writer and editor who is interested in thinking about culture, digital technology, and health. For more of her work, follow along on Twitter and her website.