One of the first long-term studies has been conducted to determine the benefits of cannabis use in patients living with Dementia. Short-term studies propose enthusiasm in the use of medical marijuana, but long-term information is lacking. Researchers from Geneva, Switzerland have concluded that patients have experienced “marked improvements” of symptoms and stated that there have been “no problems related to the treatment and limited adverse drug reactions.”
What does this mean for the future of cannabis in relation to the treatment of Dementia?
What is Dementia? 🤔
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines dementia as a general term to describe the “impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions that interferes with doing everyday activities.” The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease.
Certain factors can increase the risk of developing dementia such as Age (mostly occurring at the ages of 65 and older), family history (parents or siblings), race/ethnicity, poor hear health, or traumatic brain injuries.
What are the Types of Dementia? 📋
Alzheimer’s Disease – 60% to 80% of cases of dementia are caused by Alzheimer’s Disease. Caused by specific changes in the brain, the most common symptom is remembering recent events, but having difficulty remembering distant memories. Symptoms may also include personality changes and challenges with walking and talking.
Lewy Body Dementia – This form of dementia has been brought to attention as actor/comedian Robin Williams has been reported to have been posthumously diagnosed with this form of the disease following his untimely death on August 11th, 2014. Lewy Body Dementia is caused by clumps of abnormal deposits of “Lewy Body Proteins” that build up and disrupt areas of functions that perform visual perception, muscle movement and thinking skills.
Vascular Dementia – Strokes and issues with adequate blood flow to the brain are connected to approximately 10% of dementia cases. Individuals at risk are those living with diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Symptoms worsen with onset of strokes or mini strokes.
Other Types of Dementia – Other forms of dementia depends on the are of the brain that is affected. Frontal-Temporal dementia leads to behavior changes to due altered function in the frontal lobe of the brain. When more then one area of the brain suffers from disfunction, this is referred to as “Mixed Dementia”.
How does Cannabis benefit patients with Dementia? 👍
As previously mentioned, the study conducted in Geneva, Switzerland focused on the long-term safety and effectiveness of the use of cannabis extracts in individuals in their 80s living with dementia. Patients consumed approximately 12mgs of THC and 24mgs of CBD daily for 13 months.
Researchers documented those participants expressed less agitation and improved sleep patterns. Overall, it was concluded that dementia patients that are administered cannabis extracts at a ratio of THC/CBD (1:2) are safe and demonstrate improved clinical outcomes on a long-term basis.
Does THC improve Alzheimer’s symptoms? ✅
THC is the main psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis. Scientists at the University Medical Center in Goettingen, Germany observed mice that displayed symptoms of Alzheimer’s. The mice were able to perform better on memory tests when given a synthetic form of THC. The mice with Alzheimer’s that did not receive doses of THC (the placebo) were not able to perform the same tasks. Though these studies have yet to be determined with humans, these results show promising success for future testing.
Many researchers have studied the effects of cannabinoids on psychological and physiological symptoms, but more investigation is necessary. If you or someone you love is living with any form of dementia and have questions or concerns about symptoms or your treatment options, please consult your healthcare provider.