Laura Banner

Laura Banner

Family Nurse Practitioner, Dementia Trainer & Advocate,
Keynote Speaker (Available for speaking engagements on Dementia)

CBD and Dementia

It’s hard not to find CBD advertisements everywhere you go; it is supposedly the miracle for whatever ails you if it’s pain, if it’s arthritis, if it’s mood, if it’s sleep disturbance, and even if your concern is dementia. So let’s take a little bit of time, and talk about whether or not CBD is a viable option when you are facing dementia, whether it be for yourself or for someone that you are caring for.

Let’s first start with a conversation about what CBD is and what it is not, So, to understand CBD. Let me first say, I am not an expert, I’m not endorsing it, nor am I telling you that it is the wrong decision to go ahead and try it, my purpose is just to go ahead and give you some information about it.

So CBD comes from the plant called cannabis; a lot of people are familiar with cannabis, but, I would say the majority of people who think about cannabis, think about the type of cannabis that produces the THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis that gives you the high that results in you having the munchies. But there’s another part of this plant and when they go ahead, and they are genetically modifying the plant, at least that’s how I understand it, they can make a decision to go one of two ways.

One way is to go ahead and to develop the plant in the form of high THC, it’s the beautiful little flowers that when ingested inhaled does cause you to have this high if you will.

But there’s another avenue that they can take with this plant, and what they can do is they can go ahead, and they can focus more on the CBD.
A cannabinoid component, the non THC version of cannabis is actually extracted from the plant in the form of an oil. And what they do is they take the soil, and they go ahead and infuse it into edibles, into tinctures, or they can purify it and leave it in its oil form. This is non-psychoactive.

And typically, from what I can tell, they report that it has 0.3% THC or less; that’s very important that you are aware of this, and the reason I say this is if you consider using CBD, the non THC type and if you are subject to drug screening, there are trace amounts of THC, and it probably fluctuates from batch to batch, but they can’t guarantee that you will not come up positive on a THC screening. So again, very important that you were aware because many people who are using CBD are working in jobs that require random drug testing, and again, even though it’s not marketed as the THC or psychoactive version of the plant, you still can come up positive on a drug screen.

Now interestingly, at least to me, because CBD or cannabis even, is derived from the plant, it’s natural. And we, as humans, actually have receptors in our body that are able to interact with this and respond to this chemical these two receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system. We have CB1 and CB2 receptors, and they are different.

The CB1 receptor is found primarily in the central nervous system, which is what makes up your brain, and your spinal cord and your nerves. CB2 is mostly found in your GI tract, as well as your brainstem, and your hippocampus, and the hippocampus, is part of the brain, where we convert short term memory to long term memory. Now, three of the claims about CBD, as it relates to dementia, are decreased brain inflammation, decreased oxygen buildup, also known as an antioxidant, and improved brain stimulation, not to be confused with a stimulant.

Now, although the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration has not yet approved the use of CBD for Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, I can tell you that anecdotally, there are benefits, And what I mean by that is, you can go ahead and Google it and you can read people’s stories, and I can tell you as a clinician, I have had family members, and actually patients in the early stages, who do use CBD, again the non THC enriched CBD, that it’s helpful, what they tell me is that it improves their mood. They feel less stressed, and as you can imagine, as you are losing memory, stress, and anxiety tends to increase. They feel that there is some benefit in terms of memory recall; they also sleep better. I will tell you that you can get CBD in the form of melatonin enriched CBD.
Melatonin is a natural component that our body naturally makes, that helps us with our sleep cycle, and sometimes when people have dementia, they get confused that circadian rhythm, what tells our body instinctually day versus night, sleep versus wake time, that can get thrown off. And with melatonin, whether infused into CBD, or isolated, or alone, It can help your sleep, and as we know, better sleep improves cognition for everybody regardless of whether or not they have memory impairment or dementia, some of the concerns that some people express are, will I develop an addiction, is there any type of dependency that I will have on it?

I can tell you this CBD, again the non-psychoactive is not addicting. There is no dependency that is created by using this medication, what I’ve found is the best forms tend to be the oils, and the tinctures, It tends to require a twice a day dosing. Unlike a pain pill where you take it, and 20 or 30 minutes later, you can appreciate the result or the benefit of the medication, CBD is not the same.

From what I can tell, it seems to take several weeks to become therapeutic to have a level in your system, so it typically is three to four weeks that I’ve noticed my patients seem to see some benefits.

Now with all types of medications prescribed or over the counter, you do need to be concerned about drug interactions, So I recommend that you either discuss starting CBD with your healthcare provider and or your pharmacist because what you don’t want to have happened is that by starting CBD, you actually cause some type of drug interaction that makes the medications you’re on more toxic, or less therapeutic.

So again, it’s very important that you do have this conversation with whoever is managing your health, you don’t need a prescription for CBD, as long as it’s not THC enriched. You can find it just about anywhere these days; you can find it at the corner drugstore, a gas station, and certainly online. But be aware, you do get what you pay for, and CBD is not inexpensive, typically, what I found is you’re looking at spending somewhere in the range of about $60 per month to get good quality CBD.

I don’t know how you can tell good from bad, do you need to wait the three weeks to four weeks to find out if there’s a change? I’m really not sure what I like to recommend to people is, if you can shake it, And there’s a lot of sediment in it, it’s probably not that pure.

If it’s only $10 $15 $20, I would really be concerned about the quality of the CBD. Go ahead and ask people you’d be amazed at how many people are using CBD. A lot of people just aren’t talking about it. It’s helpful for so many things for arthritis like I said for pain, for sleep, for mood, for anxiety. And, a lot of people believe it’s good for memory as well.

So I’m not going to say don’t try it, I’m just going to say consider it as with anything do your research, and ask your healthcare provider what their thoughts are, whether it would be helpful for you.

But what I know is this, sometimes we need to think outside the box, Sometimes we need to challenge and question conventional medicine. Maybe conventional medicine is the best for a particular situation, Or maybe we just don’t have enough information to go ahead and make a decision and go out and endorse it. Again it is not FDA approved yet.
If I had to guess, it’s just around the corner, but we’ll see about that.

Anyway, I hope this cleared up any questions you might have about CBD, again, do your research, ask questions, and I guarantee, if you start putting it out there and asking your friends and family, you’ll be very surprised at how many people are actually using it.

Please feel free to go ahead and send me any questions or comments, or if there’s a particular topic you’d like me to discuss.

I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me on Instagram my handle is compassionate_education, or you can go to my website, which is compassionateeducation.com, feel free to contact me through either platform. Every Tuesday, I do release more episodes.
I hope you decide to subscribe. Thanks so much and I’ll see you soon!

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