Alzheimer’s Disease is a condition that affects so many people in the U.S., whether it’s them personally or a loved one. As the U.S. population ages, Alzheimer’s becomes even more relevant and is commonly discussed.

Researchers are striving to learn more about Alzheimer’s, including potential treatment options.

One specific area of conversation relates to marijuana and Alzheimer’s. People wonder if marijuana could be a potential treatment option for the disease, but on the opposite end of that they also wonder, does marijuana cause Alzheimer’s?

The following provides an overview of the disease, and also key thing to know about marijuana and Alzheimer’s.

What is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain that causes memory loss and cognitive impairment, and it’s the number one cause of dementia in older people. Dementia refers to a loss of cognitive abilities, problems with remembering, and struggles with daily life and activities. Dementia isn’t considered a normal part of aging despite the fact that it’s most common in older adults.

Despite the fact that Alzheimer’s is primarily associated with older adults, there is also the potential for early-onset Alzheimer’s in people younger than 65.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, so the symptoms may begin slowly and may be difficult to identify, but they get worse with time. Alzheimer’s starts out as mild memory loss, and over time as a person progresses through the later stages of Alzheimer’s it can become difficult for them to communicate and function. It’s also the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Currently, there are no approved cures for Alzheimer’s, but there are options to treat the symptoms and research is ongoing.

So, does marijuana cause Alzheimer’s? This and other topics related to marijuana and Alzheimer’s are detailed below.

Does Marijuana Cause Alzheimer’s?

It’s a commonly used recreational drug, but does marijuana cause Alzheimer’s? This is a question a lot of people have, especially since last year there was a study released showing that marijuana can increase susceptibility to Alzheimer’s.

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, and it showed that people with a marijuana use disorder had reduced blood flow in almost every area of the brain, compared to controls who didn’t use marijuana. The research showed the hippocampus area of the brain had the biggest reduction in blood flow because of marijuana. The hippocampus is the part of our brain associated with memory and learning, and in people who have Alzheimer’s, it’s the first area of the brain that’s affected.

When you use marijuana, and it reduces blood flow to the brain, it reduces the amount of oxygen that can reach brain cells, which can result in damage to the tissues and even death.

Researchers believe that marijuana also blocks activity in the brain which prevents the formation of memories.

The results of this study don’t show definitively that marijuana can cause Alzheimer’s, but it should give marijuana users a bit of hesitance.

Medical Marijuana and Alzheimer’s

Despite the potential links between marijuana and Alzheimer’s regarding marijuana being a contributing factor in the development of the disease, the medical community is still looking at possible links between medical marijuana and Alzheimer’s.

Some research over the years has shown that small amounts of the THC component of marijuana may have an effect on the symptoms and progression of Alzheimer’s, but with that being said, there isn’t currently evidence that shows marijuana could prevent the development of the disease.

What is possible in terms of medical marijuana and Alzheimer’s is that it could help manage behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s when someone is already diagnosed with the disease, such as aggression.

With medical marijuana and Alzheimer’s, the results are pretty mixed regarding the use of marijuana as a treatment for the disease.

Summing Up—Marijuana and Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a scary, progressive degenerative disease that affects many elderly people and in some cases younger people as well. Because of recent research, people wonder does marijuana cause Alzheimer’s?

There are two ways to view the relationship between marijuana and Alzheimer’s. The first is the fact that in some ways the use of marijuana may be associated with Alzheimer’s. This is because marijuana affects the hippocampus area of the brain, and this is also the area associated with memories and Alzheimer’s. Of course, there are probably other factors that play a role as well, such as genetics, but people should use caution with marijuana because it may raise their risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Another way to look at marijuana and Alzheimer’s is through the lens of the use of marijuana as a treatment option. While there hasn’t been any promising research showing marijuana could help prevent Alzheimer’s, some studies have shown it may be helpful to address the symptoms of the disease. This research, while offering some interest findings, is still in its very early stages and there’s still a lot of unknown information when it comes to marijuana and Alzheimer’s.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.