Cannabis for Alzheimer's Research Gets a Big Boost From Spier Family Foundation - RxLeaf
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Cannabis for Alzheimer’s Research Gets a Big Boost From Spier Family Foundation

Lydia K. RN
cannabis, alzheimer's, dementia, edibles, medical cannabis, USA, legalization, research, memory loss, FDA

It’s hard to get research funding for cannabis medicine, largely due to federal regulations and scheduling from the DEA. After their father suffered from Alzheimer’s and only found relief in cannabis, the Spier children have decided to change that.

The Spier family was pushed to the brink when their patriarch suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. As many families know, the slow and insidious decline of this form of dementia takes a massive toll on the health and well being of everyone involved. The family tried and exhausted all possible treatment options without success, and the last resort was cannabis. Fortunately, the Spiers were able to find some respite.  Inspired by these results, they are now sparing no coin on funding clinical research for Alzheimer’s disease.

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Image credit: Atthapon Raksthaput

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that affects 5.7 million Americans. In its early stages, the brain disorder causes problems with memory, judgment and may interfere with daily tasks. This gets worse with time, until the patient has no recollection of even himself. It is a terminal condition that takes 4 to 8 years from diagnosis to its end point.

Currently, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, but moderate symptom control can be achieved through the use of medication. Cholinesterase inhibitors, like Donepezil, aim to slow the progress of the disease and improve quality of life. These are merely treating symptoms, however, and are no solution.

Nazi Concentration Camp

Oswiecim, Poland, Auschwitz Camp I. Image Credit: Posztos

The Great Alexander Spier

When he was a young man, Alexander Spier was an inmate at a Nazi concentration camp during WWII. This trauma is something he would have to relive as an Alzheimer’s patient. The weight of that is unfathomable.

While in Poland, Mr. Spier he was able to find an escape to the United States. Here, he toiled as a watchmaker, and later as a jeweller. From his talents and hard work, Alexander Spier was able to establish a multi-million dollar empire that remains operational to date.  The parent company, The Mayfair Realty & Development Corporation, supports medical research through their philanthropic arm, called the Spier Family Foundation.

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Image credit: ABC News

Alzheimer’s Is a Cruel and Merciless Decline

Mr. Spier was among the 50 percent of Alzheimer’s patients who develop neuropsychiatric symptoms in the latter stages. The hallmark of this phase is characterized by agitation, delirium, depression and other forms of psychosis. During this period, he relieved the horrid experiences of the three concentration camps that he survived. Often he would ask for his mum, as if she were still alive.

All of the aggressive antipsychotics and anti seizure drugs failed to pull him back from this abyss. Instead, the side effects worsened his delirium and agitation. As a last attempt, his son, Greg Spier, decided to introduce cannabis-infused granola bars as part of his father’s daily regimen. Mr. Spier was given these granola bars four times a day and the improvement was remarkable!

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Image credit: Olga Dubravina

“The only thing that seemed to give him any reprieve was the marijuana, it is the only thing that allowed him to sleep” Greg Spier observed.

Mr Spier died three months later, in 2017.  But, his children were inspired to start a funding research into the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

Studies Into Cannabis for Alzheimer’s Are Very Promising

study conducted by a team of German and Israeli researchers revealed that when THC was administered to older mice with impaired cognition, learning and memory improved to a level on par with their younger counterparts.

Further animal research has also shown that THC works in a similar way to the pharma drug Aricept used to treat dementia. It does this by speeding up the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. The main difference is that THC operates without the severe side effects of pharmaceuticals. THC can also slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the accumulation of beta plaques.

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Image credit: Zerbor

The Spier Family foundation supports Harvard’s McLean Psychiatric Hospital. The two have partnered to research the potential value and use of medical cannabis in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Considering how difficult it is to find funding for cannabis related studies, largely due to scheduling. this comes as a very welcome endowment!

 

Lydia Kariuki

RN, Expert medical writer who is passionate about cannabis!

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