The effects of Alzheimer's and dementia can be hugely traumatic for sufferers, and anyone who cares for them. So there's a lot of interest as a new study looks at CBD for early onset familial Alzheimer's.
It's important to note that the research is still in the very early stages, and that legally available non-prescription CBD products are provided purely as a food supplement in the UK.
But with the number of dementia sufferers steadily increasing, and more than 850,000 people in the UK already affected, it could prompt a lot more interest in the area. Familial Alzheimer's is the inherited version of dementia, with symptoms starting to appear in your 30s and 40s.
CBD reduces plaque and improves cognition in a model of familial Alzheimer's
The study at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta Univeristy administered a two week course of high doses of CBD in mouse models. They found that it normalises the levels of two proteins, TREM2 and IL-33, which are normally decreased in Alzheimers's, along with reducing the level of the immune protein IL-6.
Low levels of TREM2 and IL-33 are associated with Alzheimer's as they help the immune system in the brain to tackle the build-up of dead cells and beta-amyloid plaque. Along with normalising these functions, CBD also reduced the levels of IL-6 which resulted in improved cognition. And while mice with Alzheimer's typically display issues with movement, running in tight circles, this stopped once CBD was administered.
It's important to remember that this study was limited to two weeks, and involved giving high doses of CBD directly into the bellies of mice every 48 hours. So a lot more research and studies will be needed.
Should you start taking CBD now to prevent Alzheimer's?
A lot more medical research is needed into the potential benefits of CBD in reducing the symptoms of Alzheimer's and dementia. The study in mice looked at the later stages of the condition, so the next steps include earlier interventions and more work on deciding the optimal dose. And also looking at CBD for the more common non-inherited type Alzheimer's.
If you're concerned about the risk or potential symptoms of Alzheimer's you should speak to your doctor, or find support from organisations like the Alzheimer's Society.
If you want to start taking CBD as a general food supplement which is part of your general health and wellbeing regime, then it's a safe choice with relatively few people experiencing minimal side effects. We'd always recommend avoiding CBD during pregnancy, checking with your doctor if you're taking existing medication, and making sure you buy from a reputable shop which demonstrates products are regularly lab tested.