Treating Dementia with Cannabis


#1

I have been tasked to help a 78 year old female friend who has dementia. I’m looking for articles and best ways for her to use and CBD/ THC, strains etc.

Any help or thoughts appreciated.

Medical Adviser Extraordinaire @AnneBonny

@Hogmaster @Countryboyjvd1971 @SmoknGranny


Thoughts From the Morning Garden - Continued
#2

Since I’m now at the age of my brother when he was diagnosed with dementia I am VERY interested in this topic. I’m sorry about your friend and hopefully someone here has some actual experience to tell :hugs:


#3

From the Leafly Medical MJ Wheel

CBC, CBD, CBG, THC, THCa


#4

One of the things I enjoy about MMJ / Cannabis is actually providing relief to people who need it. I mean who doesn’t like a good buzz now and then? But it really goes way beyond that. I don’t know if there is an exact answer?

It might be more along the lines of what works best in this situation?

Thanks for your input @SmoknGranny I for some reason knew you had an interest. Had you mentioned your brother before?


#5

I think only about him passing on last December. It was hard being so far away and not knowing “will he know it’s me on the phone today?” I’m afraid of it for me now.


#6

What a nice guy you are @bob31. :star_struck:

It’s not a topic I have researched or thought much about but am happy to lend a hand. What are the symptoms that you initially want to target? Is it specifically the memory loss and forgetfulness that you want to curb or are there other symptoms as well as just getting her off pharmaceuticals and their side effects?

Right out of the gate I came across this great article. The woman passed away in 2012 but her daughter did not give up on cannabis helping her mom’s alzheimers. It’s long but I didn’t think I could post the link. I will keep looking to see if I can find strain specific suggestions ~ AB


It is Skunk PharmResearch’s policy to let patients tell their own story, but in the case of mom, as her daughter and 24/7 caregiver, I will speak for her. She is in the late seventh and final stage of Alzheimer’s and would want her story told.

Mom was diagnosed as late stage six when she came to me from Seattle four years ago. She was given six more months to live. She began displaying symptoms before 1998, but she wasn’t diagnosed until 2001, following her first husband’s death. It took that long to resolve other health issues and get her to a neurologist.

Just the thought of Alzheimer’s frightened her so, that we eventually had to trick her, to get her to a doctor for testing. Once tested and diagnosed, they put her on Aricept, which brought back cognitive skills, with slow decline for the next seven years while my step brother cared for her in her own home. Along with other western meds, this was her medical course.

When Mom’s Alzheimer’s progressed to the point that she became combative and personal hygiene became an issue, my brother planned to put her in a nursing home, but I quit my job to look after her. I moved her to Portland with me and took over her care, to focus on the quality of her remaining life.

For five months prior to her arrival, I immersed myself into learning as much about Alzheimer’s as possible, researching and joining The Alzheimer’s Association, as well as the Online Alzheimer’s Support Group, spending as much time as possible conversing with patients and caregivers alike, to prepare myself for the task.

When Mom arrived, besides being on five over the counter drugs, she was on three inhalers and a pill for asthma, blood pressure meds, allergy meds, anti psychotics that made her angry, anti seizure meds that made her delusional, plus three others I have no idea what they were used to combat.

We got her an OMMP card immediately upon her arrival. She had smoked cannabis recreationally with me for over thirty years, but never medically until she came to Oregon. Cannabis was my only means of mitigating her despicable behavior (psychotic).

Her physical health was also poor, so I changed her diet, eliminated dairy, wheat and gluten. I prepared and fed her home cooked meals, using whole organic ingredients, supplemented with quality vitamins and minerals.

I’ve continued to work with her doctor to straighten out her mishmash of meds. He started with large doses of anti psychotics to combat the behavioral issues (with potential seizure/death side effect), and we systematically took her off as many of the other drugs as possible. Meanwhile, I started trying the different forms of cannabis concentrates.

The first extractions were cannabis essential oils using hot grape seed oil, but she didn’t like the flavor and refused to ingest it.

Given that unused meds are 100% ineffective, I next tried honey elixir, thinking she might go for the sweetness of the honey, but no luck.

No luck with fudge either, even though she loves chocolate.

I quickly determined that the only way to get substantial doses into mom would be via concentrates, so after experimenting with bubble hash combined with coconut oil as a menstruum, I focused on hash oil in an effort to improve consistency and homogeneity for consistency in dosing.

More specifically I began to experiment on my version of the Holy Anointing Oil from Exodus, using coconut oil instead of olive oil, and brewed from essential oils, as opposed to using the biblical perfumer’s extraction practices.

More on that medication at:

/holy-anointing-oil-and-holy-shit/

It worked beautifully! The flavor of the cannabis was concealed by the remaining essential oils in the ingredients. She loved it, and to my delight, she became happier and less combative.

Mom transformed from aggressive and angry to the cheerful woman I knew from childhood. Instead of slapping my cheeks, she caressed them tenderly and moved my hair from my face as she told me she loved me. From her isolation came the interaction and humor required to joke with us. From frantic shuffling and hiding of objects she began offering them for my use. Rather then kicking, biting and hitting, she became happily compliant, even cooperative. She literally became a social butterfly!

Mom also suffered extensively from muscle spasms, particularly in her legs, typically relieved by dancing the night away together. But one night I thinned some HAO oral with coconut oil, to reduce the cinnamon oil below topical TLV as an irritant and to improve penetration. After slathering her leg with the modified HAO, the cramps went away, allowing her to go back to sleep. She woke 20 minutes later complaining of the other leg. Again, HAO topical and back to sleep! HAOT was born.

It took nearly two years working with her doctor to get her medical care stabilized and a permanent “Primary Care Practitioner" (PCP) established. We were able to get her off of most of the original drug regiment, and determined that her psychotic episodes were directly related to urinary tract infections, for which she is susceptible.

With cultures and medications, we were able to get the UTIs in check which eliminated the need for the anti psychotic, Seroquil. We determined that it was medicating the behavioral issues related to UTI’s, rather than psychotic behavior associated with dementia. Since Seroquil has black box warnings (death) for the elderly, I was more than pleased to eliminate it.

She had begun having seizures after starting seroquil. a potential side effect even with anti seizure meds. The pharmaceutical consultation revealed anti seizure meds also cause seizures if doses are missed, late or low dose was taken. Once on anti seizure meds, one must stay on them. He warns that it permanently lowers the resistance to seizures, although other pharmacists suggested a slow taper is possible.

The delusional side effects of Dilantin, her original medication, are ill advised for a demented patient. It took me nearly two and a half years to talk the doctors into letting me try a slow wean off the Dilantin, hoping the fact she had not taken Seroquil for over six months and that her cancer doses of cannabis might stop potential seizures. Although her cognitive capabilities were notably and significantly improved, she still seized, even with using a slow taper and cannabis.

We next went to Depekote, which gave her diarrhea. We weaned her slowly, as it is also an antidepressant. That took nearly three weeks. The diarrhea kept her in constant battles with UTIs, which tend to promote seizures in demented patients, a vicious downward spiral. We began feeding her Metamucil cookies. It seemed like that was all she ate.

We then put her on Lamotragine. When she seized, the dose was increased……which gave her diarrhea. Back to that vicious cycle. More cookies and holy root balm to rescue her poor little raw butt! I used MU’s recipe with my twist (thanks MU!).

Next we tried Gabapentin, hoping that she would acclimate to the initial drowsiness. Again she seized on the dose, so we increased the night dose to compensate. The results were diarrhea….more cookies.

Keppra is well accepted for seizures, but it too gives Mom diarrhea. Opium tincture is the last choice drug for its control. Dosing is easier and we have more time and room for nutritious/delicious food. It was time for closer supervision; she was placed on in home hospice care. Weekly she gets visits from health care, social and spiritual sectors.

I don’t know what we will try next; perhaps, if Mom had never gone on anti seizure meds (off label for muscle spasms), she would only be on cannabis today. She has never had seizures until now, nor have there been any record of seizures in our family…ever! She was given Dilantin for muscle spasms, when western medicine quit prescribing Quinine, deeming it damaging to the body, and seizures are not? But, perhaps the seizures are caused by Alzheimer’s itself, an unusual but occasional occurrence.

The good and interesting news is, with all of what has been happening to mom, I began a mega dose (two plus grams/day) to try and alter her mood. We dose her every two hours (or our life is hell). During that period of time, I increased her dose to between .3 and .5 grams. That is six or seven doses a day or on the light side, 62 grams per month…more then a cancer cure…in one month.

The results were quite unexpected. The cognitive changes were unmistakably positive. She began to interact appropriately, become more animated and loving, and appropriately reactive, choosing short phrases. In short, her cognitive thinking had improved! She even played jokes on us. When Dino came to visit; she hugged him and kissed him and said “it’s been so long since I seen you.” Then demanded another round of hugs and kisses!

Even her doctor, whom does not normally sign for medical cannabis cards, noticed the dramatic improvement, saying, "I wish all my Alzheimer’s patients were on cannabis. Look at her quality of life!” She signs Mom’s renewals no questions asked.

Where everyone I know (even those with huge tolerances) would be stupid, asleep or puking on two plus grams of cannabis oil in ten hours; mom has gained cognitive capacity! Who’d of thought?

I read that CBD’s are the anti seizure cannabinoid, so I grew some plants with balanced THC/CBD to see if they can save Mom from seizures and I can add mitigation of seizures, to the list of ailments for which she no longer takes western medication. To date, those include asthma, arthritic pain, agitation and anxiety of Alzheimer’s, sleeplessness, blood pressure, and muscle spasms.

Mom lost another ten pounds from diarrhea trying the different western meds, but I have Hippie Chicken hanging and will be extracting her soon. Hopefully, mom will eat then. (It has become obvious that high CBD strains induce appetite. She eats well after anti seizure cannabis medication. Hopefully others can watch that tendency to see if this is an isolated response.)

After getting Mom on the high CBD medications, we took our time weaning her off anti seizure meds, ten days on each reduction, with four total reductions. She did fine during the reduction, but the balanced CBD cannabis did not give her the needed behavioral change of psychotic effects of THC, so we backed her off to .1 mg per dose in balanced CBD/THC oil and the rest of her cannabis dose in high THC strains.

Once off western anti seizure meds, she faired well for nearly three weeks before she seized, at which time we adjusted the dosing to try and compensate for the lowered level of CBD in her system. Just prior to bed we gave her a full gram of balanced CBD/THC oil, then again as she slept in the morning such that it would wear off by the time she woke. Six days later she seized again, so we put her on immediate doses of Lorazapam, then back on Keppra, with liquid Opium to combat the diarrhea.

Next I’d like to try Betane Hydrochloride to aid in digestion for the diarrhea. Although Mom’s life is limited in length, it would be nice if she did not have to take the opiates. Updates will follow.

For now, she is on anti seizure meds, opiates for diarrhea, cannabis for asthma, blood pressure, muscle spasms, arthritic pain and sleeplessness, anxiety, aggression of Alzheimer’s. She weighs 86 pounds at 5’4” now. She eats and drinks but not enough to sustain. (Even hippie chicken didn’t work as well as i had hoped.) But, fourteen years after initial symptoms, she is mostly happy and loving….as long as she gets her cannabis dose!


#7

That is a very interesting article. @AnneBonny

I will tell you that this woman has chronic insomnia and takes Lorazapam and Gabapentin but still complains of having trouble sleeping. She is somewhat over weight so I don’t want to increase her appetite at this point.

So for now the goals would be balanced thc/ cbd or maybe some slightly higher thc/ cbd. I think getting her to sleep without increasing her appetite would be the first goal.

The second concern would be that all I have for CBD is oil and all I have for THC is in bud. What is going to be the best delivery method? Canna-caps? A pen vape?

I also have some bud, I acquired locally called Cannatonic. It is a Sativa Hybrid and the local numbers look like this [TAC: 22.5%] THCA: 0.6%, THC: 0.1%, CBGA: 0.5%, CBD: 0.6%, CBDV: 1.1%, CBDA: 19.6%

I’m a little concerned about matches or lighters so no joints or bowls! lol, (Unless I’m there)


#8

Good article and very informative :heart:️:+1:


#9

There are some scientific papers out there from legitimate research institutes where they found that THC dissolves amyloid plaques inside nerve cells. They tested it against some drugs that do that and It was better than all of them. In fact, it dissolved ALL the amyloid plaques! This deposition of plaques inside nerve cells eventually kills them and may be the mechanism of Alzheimer’s Disease.

One of these papers mentioned the newly discovered cannabinoid path in the undrugged human brain. I guess the idea is that we make something like THC when we are young, but as we age that production decreases. (THC would not get us high if we didn’t have a receptor for something like it in our brains!) Ingesting a little THC might replace that missing cannabinoid and help prevent Alzheimer’s!

There are several things that can cause dementia, and THC will probably not help with the others except it might make patients less combative. Which is useful because uncontrolled violent acts are probably the most common reason for institutionalization.


#10

@bob31 Having been on the insomnia roller coaster I can say that getting a handle on that first will truly help her. I was on 3 sleep meds and still was awake - talk about frustrating. Is she hoping to get off those 2 meds?

Finding a strain for sleep that doesn’t increase appetite will be key as you already know. When I used the CCO in my tea or candy I found Girl Scout Cookie and Mad Dawg made me ravenous, Gorilla Glue wasn’t too bad. The one I’m using now called Grease Monkey isn’t bad either. Looks like your Cannatonic doesn’t give the munchy side effect either so you’re good.

Since you need to be careful with sugar and calories, edibles are probably out. Although I wonder if you could do a version of candy with stevia instead of sugar. You could do the dry canna caps from your decarbed bud with a drop or two of the CBD oil per capsule that way there are no additives - if she can handle it digestively. I know some are concerned with the coconut oil and weight gain, but I haven’t found it to be an issue. I have actually lost weight since coming off my pharmaceuticals even with eating edibles, canna caps etc. (and Lays potato chips)

Is she open to vaping? That would ultimately solve your problem if so. No matches and you can make the vape juice from what you have on hand with the bud and oil.

I’m all over the place here as thoughts come to me…sorry. You could also infuse a basic oil like canola or vegetable oil and she could use it to make a dressing for salad or something more nutritious but that may be a reach. There is a great website called CannabisCheri and she has lots of recipes like this one:

Marijuana Recipes: Awesome Avocado, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins

Servings: 8
Author: Cheri Scared
Ingredients
3 pounds mixed color heirloom tomatoes
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons cannabis infused olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and cracked black pepper
Instructions
Core tomatoes and slice about 1/3-inch thick. Arrange tomatoes slices on a large serving platter.
Whisk together vinegar and canna-oil and drizzle over the tomatoes. Sprinkling the fresh mint and basil over the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
Chill until serving time. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead of time.

Another article that caught my eye was cooking with concentrates, specifically kief and hash if you don’t want to use oil or butter. It’s all a matter of how creative you want to be.


Marijuana cooking with concentrates, namely kief and hash, opens up a whole new world of recipes that can be converted to cannabis cooking. A lot of these recipes contain far less fat than ones that depend on butter or oil to carry the medication, an important consideration for those trying to curb calories or limit fats. Of course cannabis metabolizes better with some fat, but when you cook with concentrates, you eliminate the need to add extra oil or butter to achieve a proper dose.

When cooking for my own use, as opposed to developing recipes for others, I almost always use decarboxylated dry ice kief. I find that its milder flavor naturally blends in better with more foods than the herbal undertones contained in marijuana infused butter and oil.

Before we go further, let’s define the terms so everyone is on the same page:

Kief is a powdery substance composed of the resinous glands or trichomes on the marijuana plant. The powder can range from somewhat sticky to gummy depending on the plant and strain.

Hash is kief that has been heated and pressed. Hash can range from gold to dark green or brown in color and from a dry, crumbly, powdery texture all the way to a sticky putty-like substance, and all points in between.

Hash and kief are known as cannabis concentrates because they contain the part of the plant that contains the THC, without much of anything else. In practical terms, this means far less herbal flavor in the finished food. The potency of a given concentrate, of course, depends on the quality of the plant that dedicated its glands to making it.

Hash and kief can be used interchangeably in recipes. Specific dosing ranges for cooking with kief and hash can be found in this article.

Marijuana Cooking: How to Cook with Kief or Hash

As we discussed earlier, kief and hash can range from dry and crumbly to sticky and gummy. Many smokers prefer the latter, but for cooking purposes, the dry, crumbly, powdery stuff is often easiest to work with because it is easy to grind which then allows you to stir the fine powder into all kinds of foods, something impossible to do with the gummy type of hash. If you plan on dissolving the hash in a hot liquid, however, either type will work fine.

Like any cannabis edible, your hash or kief infused food needs some fat, or alcohol, to help it metabolize effectively. If you do want to add hash or kief to a fat free food, be sure to accompany the food with another dish that does contain some fat, or wash it down a glass of milk, or coffee or tea with cream, or some other fat containing beverage in order to achieve a maximum effect.

The other consideration when cooking with any kind of cannabis is temperature. Remember, THC evaporates at temperatures greater than 392 degrees F. You can cook at temperatures higher than that, as long as the temperature of the food itself doesn’t get that high.

You will need to heat or decarboxylate your kief before using in recipes that don’t call for cooking, as the heat activates the raw plant’s THC-A (or acid) and turns it into THC. Even if you plan on using hash or kief in a recipe that will be cooked, decarbing it first can up its potency and I highly recommend taking this extra step. I do this with hash too.

Check out her website for other ideas.


#11

High Times Magazine ran some tests and they recommend decarbing at 111 C for 111 minutes. (it’s easy to remember.) That’s 232 degrees F for us F people. Far, far below the temperature for anything good to boil off. Hot enough to get near 100% decarb and release the full potential of your edibles.


#12

Ok, I have a couple of questions, sorry, retired long term care DON, ADON, Clinical Coordinator, RNBSN, etc, ad nauseum :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: What stage of dementia is this lady at? Early, mid, late? Still mobile?. Unless it is affecting her mobility or giving her incontinence issues then I wouldn’t worry about her weight, she will start not wanting to or forgetting how to eat soon enough. Anyway, having had an 80 year old male with mild, moving toward moderate, dementia in my personal care for the past year and a half who was still at home but had intractable pain in his left leg I have a little knowledge about this Family got him some patches from Colorado at a medical shop and then they got him vape juice. They started too high of a dose and he became more unsteady on his feet, increased difficulty in putting together cohesive thoughts. I cut the patches in quarters and they were perfect, lasting 48 hours instead of 24. Improved pain management leading to better mobility and increased independence. Improved, over an 8 week period, with improved hand/eye coordination, more rational thinking with decreased paranoia toward son in law. After 12 weeks patch increased to 1/2 and after another 4 weeks a vape was added. He already smoked e-cigs so adapting wasn’t an issue. I will have to find out though exactly which strain he was on as, to protect me, the family put everything into different packaging to disguise things so that I, and an LPN that came over in the evenings were not in violation our state’s Nurse Practice Act. EDIT: Found out patches and vape distillate were Mary’s Medicinals. No specific type of herb mentioned on the website that I could find. Vape distillate combo CBD/TSH, patches 20 mg. She did say that patches were specifically designed for neuropathic pain and some anti-psychotic stuff as well, no specific breakout of percentages of sativa/indica.


#13

I would say she is on the line between Early and Mid. She was diagnosed about 5 months ago after the family noticed some “issues”. She is still in her home and the family is preparing for the future as best they can.

I think that I am best suited to get her vaping. I have been mixing and matching for my wife for some time so I think this is the best course for us. Their aren’t any MMJ patches available in this state and this woman is a former smoker, so it will be familiar to her.

We plan to sit down and talk to her on Monday to be sure we understand what her expectations are and bring along a CBD vape for her to try.

I’m thinking this is probably a short term deal and that I’m going to ultimately wind up switching her over to tincture or canna-caps.

Thanks @FreakyDeekie @AnneBonny @1BigFella for your input thus far!


#14

Wow! @FreakyDeekie that is great info. Really blows me away more and more when I hear success stories like that ~ and open minded medical professionals like you of course who know the benefits and are willing to help your patients.


#15

I think you need to try both CBD and THC in trying to discover what works for somebody. You may also have to try smoking and edibles. Apparently, vapeing may not get hot enough to extract THC-v which has some very profound medical benefits. The amyloid plaque papers used THC, so CBD oil might not do it.

Likewise, CBD patches might not do much for dementia. So don’t be afraid to try everything.


#16

The CBD Vape is actually a blended 250mg / 30ml CBD oil and a third gram of extreme orange shatter ( [TAC: 83.4%] THC: 70.91%, CBD: 0.57% ) mixed with MCT oil.

For my wifes vape

I try to do a balanced CBD / THC

That puts the THC at about 16% and the CBD is at about 8mg /ml

Due to the disparaging ways of measurement I have to do this by trial and error.

I find that for my vape I cut the amount of CBD by half and it suits me better and I’m still extremely functional!

I think the hardest thing is going to be finding a strain that is high in CBC, CBD, CBG, THC, THCa

And if i recall for sleep we are looking for CBN?


#17

According to leafly, these are popular strains for treating insomnia


#18

northern lights is a personal fave of mine @bob31
i would like to add that the mmj given to alz/dem patients can be used to get them off of pain/arthritis meds that seem to magnifiy effects of diease.


#19

@bob31 this thread may turn out to be the single best act you’ve ever done! This subject literally touches all of us. Bravo!

I gravitated to cannabis on my GP’s suggestion as a replacement for lorazapam and benadryl, which I had been taking nightly for over 20 years to help sleep. Within 3 weeks of my starting a cannabis regime I was off those meds and sleeping much better.


#20

Good show @bob31. Everyone needs a friend like you.