THC & CBD for Dementia

Some recent highlights and curiosities from the amazing world of cannabis science and therapeutics.
By Adrian Devitt-Lee On May 01, 2019

A pilot study recently demonstrated that cannabis extracts can be safely used to ameliorate symptoms of severe dementia. Swiss researchers at Geneva University Hospitals decided to use cannabinoids to help ten patients with severe dementia. They took a 2:1 extract of CBD and THC, titrating patients up to about 20 mg CBD and 10 mg THC per day. The oil extract was infused into cake to make it more palatable to the seniors, and the dose was split across three meals a day. Two months into treatment, half the seniors had eliminated other drug use, including morphine, benzodiazepines, and antipsychotics. This reduction in pharmaceutical use, along with the direct activity of the cannabinoids, dramatically reduced behavioral problems and the rigidity that accompanies dementia. Patients were monitored for up to five months, and the beneficial effects appeared to persist unabated. Previous research hasn’t always shown beneficial effects of THC in dementia, so why was this group different? Well, other studies tried to use pure THC (in the form of Marinol, for example). Pure THC is not particularly pleasant, and generally patients can only tolerate low doses. But as part of a less refined cannabis extract, a higher dose of THC could be taken without ill effect. The reaction of the patients’ families was “astonishingly positive,” according to the authors. Although this was only a small pilot study, comprising ten individuals, it suggests that cannabis can be used safely and effectively in people with severe dementia.

Short description: 
Adrian Devitt-Lee, Project CBD's chief science writer, is employed as a research chemist by the University College of London.