Research supports the claim that cannabis can help patients with depression, PTSD, ADHD, and the like. But what about dementia? The question poses somewhat of a paradoxical answer. Regular cannabis use may inhibit blood’s ability to reach your brain, thus causing concern for dementia. But at the same time, cannabis can also help patients who have already been diagnosed with dementia. Keep reading to find out more.
Does Cannabis Help or Hinder Dementia?
As always when it comes to research, the answer is never black and white or straightforward. “A recent study showed that marijuana users had low blood flow in the hippocampus. The belief is that chronic marijuana use may block activity in this part of the brain, and it may damage areas of the brain that are pivotal to learning and memory. Other lifestyle factors can affect blood flow as well, such as exercise and cigarette smoking.” Reduced blood flow to the brain isn’t a guarantee for dementia but it certainly is worrisome to doctors.
Looking at the other side of the coin, patients who have already been diagnosed with dementia may benefit from cannabis use. Some research has shown that low doses of THC can restore memory and learning levels in mice—yes, mice. Not the same as the human brain but it’s a positive finding, nonetheless. The changes that resulted from administering low doses of THC occurred because they affected the hippocampus. However, there is currently no research that studies this possible link between marijuana and dementia in humans. We strongly urge doctors to continue studying the effects of cannabis on the brain, as there’s much to still discover.
Natural Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Among the myriad articles on how to handle and help someone who is dealing with dementia are the articles explaining the best ways to avoid developing this heartbreaking disease yourself. And while it’s important to be realistic and recognize that genes and unavoidable environmental factors do play a role in your future health, it’s never a bad idea to strive for healthier habits that just might sway the odds in your favor.
So, with our health in mind, let’s take a look at the scientific basis for some of these brain-preserving recommendations.
Try The Mediterranean Diet
Have you heard the claims that consuming a Mediterranean diet rich in lean protein, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of dementia? A systematic review of existing evidence indicated there is some apparent connection between these types of food and brain health. The number of antioxidants you’re ingesting through all that produce likely plays a large role in this relationship. Both these and protein can help protect brain cells from damage. The Mediterranean diet can also reduce inflammation, and dementia has been attributed to inflammation in the brain. There are other studies that don’t show the same link between this diet and dementia. But since eating foods high in protein and healthy fats, and lots of produce, is known to be good for you in countless other ways – where’s the harm?
Break a Sweat
The study does note, however, that most of the participants were healthy, educated, and had access to preventative healthcare. But, much like the diet discussed above, there are numerous benefits to being physically active, and if one more happens to be memory retention, then that’s just icing on the cake! A study undertaken in 2013 explored the link between cardiovascular health and dementia. The results showed that participants in the highest percentile of fitness had a “lower hazard of all-cause dementia” than those in the lowest percentile.
Research has shown that taking part in social events, interacting on a regular basis with other people, can help keep your brain on the right track. There was a study that looked at men and women over the age of 75. Those who were more involved in social activities had a lower risk of developing dementia. Like anything, a good balance of various factors will always yield the best result. The study also found that participants who combined social interaction with physical activity were even better off. Toss in a diet high in lean protein, fruits, and veggies, and you might find yourself tearing up the mental dance floor well into the triple digits of old age.
The Final Takeaway
Did you know medical cannabis could decrease your risk of developing dementia, or even slow its progression after it begins? There is evidence suggesting cannabis’ neuroprotective properties could reduce inflammation and the number of harmful toxins in the brain, both of which can cause or exacerbate dementia. If you want to try treating or preventing dementia or any other condition with medical cannabis, browse our extensive selection of cannabis seeds!