Cultivating Hope

Medical marijuana: a blessing for Alzheimer’s patient.

Since he retired from his position as a Lutheran pastor and moved from Missouri to Florida seven years ago, Steven* and his wife, Sharon*, have made the short drive from their home in Holly Hill to their daughter’s place in Ormond Beach hundreds of times.

It’s a route they know by heart, which is why Sharon became concerned a few years ago when Steven suddenly became confused and wondered out loud if he needed to make a right turn or left turn to get onto their daughter’s street.

“What concerned me most was that this was not the first sign of trouble I’d detected over the previous few months,” Sharon explains. “Before that, I also noticed that Steven had started losing his train of thought a lot, too.

“We’d be out to dinner with friends or at home talking with family and he’d be talking about something and suddenly stop, as if he was done making his point, when he hadn’t made it at all. He also started repeating the same questions a lot.”

With her concerns mounting, Sharon made an appointment for Steven to see his primary care physician. That resulted in a trip to a neurologist, who soon confirmed Sharon’s worst fears: Steven was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Two years later, after 72-year-old Steven developed hand tremors that sometimes made it difficult for him to hold a newspaper or control a fork or spoon, the neurologist diagnosed the retired minister with Parkinson’s disease.

After two medications prescribed by the neurologist failed to alleviate the tremors, the couple’s daughter suggested Steven try medical cannabis and told them about Coastal Cannabis Clinics in Ormond Beach.

Remarkable Treatment Option

Coastal Cannabis Clinics is the practice of Joseph Rosado, MD. It is a private medical practice specializing in treatments using medical cannabis, which became legal in Florida in 2016.

Since then, it has been approved as a treatment for more than a dozen conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease and PTSD, which is just one of the reasons Dr. Rosado considers it a “remarkable” treatment option.

“Medical marijuana is remarkable because it has so many properties and works on so many different receptors in the body,” says Dr. Rosado, whose first order of business is to confirm a patient has a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

Once that step is completed, Dr. Rosado can write an order for medical marijuana, which can be obtained only through a state-approved dispensary and distributed only in capsule or droplet form, as a topical preparation or an extract that can be vaporized.

The three marijuana compounds that have provided significant medical benefits are cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and terpenes. There are also three chemovars, or strains, of cannabis: Sativa, Indica and Hybrid.

When recommending medical cannabis, Dr. Rosado and/or Kathryne Gunn, DO, typically recommend a combination of chemovars because each affects the body in different ways. That’s what he did in his effort to treat Steven’s tremors.

He started with a combination that had a ratio of five parts CBD to one part THC. The results were amazing, Dr. Rosado explains, because it did more than just help reduce the tremors.

“Like a couple of other patients that I’ve seen, Steven came to us hoping we could help him control his tremors,” Dr. Rosado says. “But the combination of CBD and THC that we recommended also helped alleviate some of the symptoms of his Alzheimer’s disease.

“In particular, it helped him with his cognition and recognition, and as I’ve said, he’s not the first person I’ve seen this result in. Others have been helped to the point where they can now fold laundry, match up a pair of socks or do other similar tasks.

“Now, some might read that and say, What’s the big deal? So what if they can fold laundry or match socks? But that’s something that Alzheimer’s patients have a difficult time doing because they have a challenge with their cognitive capabilities.”

Stress Reliever

Dr. Rosado, who has lectured extensively on the subject, says studies show that what medical marijuana can do is halt the development of Alzheimer’s disease, which affects approximately 6 million people in the United States.

“It can prevent the further worsening of the condition,” Dr. Rosado educates. “There have also been some studies on mice that show it has reversed the condition. But let’s focus for now on its ability to prevent the worsening of it.

“Alzheimer’s is characterized by large accumulations of a microscopic brain protein fragment called beta-amyloid and another protein called tau. Both of these cause neuroinflammation and oxidative stress to the brain.

“What cannabinoids, and in particular CBD does, is reduce the neuroinflammation. Cannabinoids are also an antioxidant, so they can block the oxidative stress that occurs in the brain and initiates a toxic inflammatory process that causes the demise of the cell.

“It stimulates the removal of the beta-amyloid, and what we’re finding in the patients who have come to us is that they begin to realize the benefits of that somewhere between 30 and 90 days after beginning treatment with medical cannabis.”

It was during such a time frame that Steven began to benefit from the effects of his medical marijuana treatment. In addition to a decrease in the degree and number of tremors, he also experienced “less brain fog,” according to Sharon.

“He’s not losing himself in conversations or repeating questions as often as he was,” Sharon says. “And he’s not having any more of those confused moments like he had in the car that day. I have to believe the medical marijuana is working.

“We know this is not a cure. Steven is going to be living with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s for the rest of his life. But the medical marijuana is making living with Alzheimer’s disease easier, and you can’t ask for much more than that.

“Like Dr. Rosado says, it’s a remarkable treatment, and I’m so glad our daughter suggested we visit Coastal Cannabis Clinics and meet Dr. Rosado. I’m not sure we would have done that on our own, but just like my daughter, I recommend both to anyone.”

*Patients’ names withheld at their request.
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    • Coastal Cannabis Clinics

      The goal of medical cannabis physicians Joseph Rosado, MD, Kathryne Gunn, DO, Alyn L. Benezette, DO, and the team at Coastal Cannabis Clinics is to provide comprehensive medical cannabis treatment to everyone from pediatric to geriatric p... Read More

    • Joseph Rosado, MD

      Joseph Rosado, MD, is a family medicine doctor who specializes in physical therapy and alternative addiction therapy/management. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Life College in Marietta, GA and his Doctor of Medicine degree from U... Read More

    • Alyn Benezette, DO

      Alyn Benezette, DO, is a board-certified clinical neurophysiologist who has been practicing for more than 25 years. He received his Doctorate of Osteopathy from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in 1981 and later performed hi... Read More

    • Kathryne Gunn, DO

      Kathryne Gunn, DO, is a medical cannabis physician who trained with Dr. Rosado. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology and health sciences from the University of Central Florida and her doctorate degree from Debusk College of Osteo... Read More