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Alzheimer’s, Mom and Cannabis

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!

Here are a couple of pictures that are a hoot!  Mom met Matt, the worlds most tatooed man and at first was open mouthed and wide eyed, but then walked up and hugged him.

Here's some pictures from Mom's 83rd birthday party!  We gave her two cakes, three hours apart, so that she didn't remember the first!

Pat gets new dolly

Pat greeting visitors

Pat interacting

By Eloquentsolution

We are sorry to announce that Pat passed yesterday morning, 7-12-12, holding hands with Eloquentsolution, after smiling and mouthing, "I love you." We will all miss her and consider it a privilege to have known her.  "Full sails and following seas, sweet lady!" Our deepest condolences to Eloquentsolution and family.

GW

7-19-2013

Whoop, whoop, lu lu lu lu lu lu lu lu lu lu lu lu lu lu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Science just discovered how cannabis combats Alzheimers:  http://www.truthonpot.com/2013/07/09/study-cannabis-may-rid-brain-of-alzheimers-plaque-slow-disease/

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42 Comments

  1. Skunk Pharm Research,LLC

    Linda, I know this is a tardy response but felt compelled to add my experience. Mom's dementia caused anger and fear responses though not brain damage induced. I used a THC dominant formulation for mom. Because she had seizures, I did search out grow and produce a CBD formulation for her. The results were less than desirable. She became a fearful, angry obstinate child. The THC seemed necessary to help her forget she was dying and to mitigate mood issues. Dose is another issue. Every individual is dose different. I suggest starting with a light dose tincture at night, in case there are issues. Find whatever combination Tincture you feel comfortable dosing to start, perhaps a dominate THC with maybe a 20% ratio of CBD. If tolerated, repeat in the am. Consider starting doses from 5 to 10 mg. If you see no effects, four hours later, double the dose. If that proves to be too much, split the difference four hours later. You get the idea of the binary search pattern. I always made a nice cup of tea for mom to take tincture. I found concentrated doses easier to administer (she could not spit them out), so pressed that as soon as she was able. Mom experienced great benefits from large doses (began speaking again) . Most of the research I have read calls for 1-5mg with little to no effect. Mom’s doses rapidly increased to 3000mg per day. The more she took, the better the results. Again, all beings respond differently, be attentive and observant, particularly if the patient does not speak. My best to you, Carla aka ES

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