Alzheimer's disease is a chronic neurodegenerative (brain-damaging) disease that typically starts at old age, and worsens over time. Before development of modern brain diagnostics, AD has not been recognized as illness, but was characterized as mental condition associated with aging. The disease starts with short-term memory losses and confusing recent events with the ones long passed. As the condition advances, symptoms may include disorientation, problems with language, loss of motivation, mood swings and inability for proper self-care. Gradually, the brain loses the ability to handle bodily functions, ultimately leading to death. Speed of progression can vary, but the average life expectancy following the early symptoms is three to nine years. According to federal statistics, Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60% to 70% of cases of dementia in the U.S.
There is no known cure for Alzheimer's disease, and no treatment has been proven to slow its progression. However, several medicines exist that are designed to help improve the mnemonic function of the brain, such as donepezil, tacrine, rivastigmine and galantamine. The benefit from their use, however, is often insufficient. Newly published clinical studies show that preventing formation of deposits in the brain associated with degenerative diseases may be achieved through usage of medical marijuana. It has been reported that THC is a considerably more effective inhibitor than the approved drugs for Alzheimer's disease treatment, particularly, donepezil and tacrine. The cannabinoid receptors found in cannabis succeed in preventing the neurodegenerative process occurring in the course of the disease, while the general mood-elevating effect of medical marijuana may help with mood swings and motivational loss. Being one of the most typical conditions suffered by elderly people, Alzheimer's disease greatly decreases their quality of life. Medical marijuana may not only be the alternative treatment option for their condition, but also provide positive experience that would keep them from wasting away.