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Dementia cannabis

Cannabis Gets the Green Light for Dementia Patients

By | February 18th, 2019

Medical marijuana will be used to treat dementia patients in the first major trial in the U.K. The trial is funded by Alzheimer’s Research U.K. and led by researchers at King’s College London.

Researchers will be testing a drug called Sativex, a peppermint-flavored mouth spray with both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) ingredients. It’s already approved for some patients with multiple sclerosis. Scientists will monitor 60 patients between the ages of 55 and 90 who are living in care homes for the trial. They’re looking for people who experience aggression and agitation as symptoms of dementia in particular.

“While people most often associate Alzheimer’s disease with memory problems, this is just one aspect of a complex condition that can affect people in different ways,” said psychiatrist Dag Aarsland, the professor supervising the trial. “Many people with Alzheimer’s can become agitated or aggressive, and this can pose difficulties for the person with the condition and those closest to them.”

Cannabis Use in the U.S.

In the U.S., 30 states have legalized marijuana for medical use, but there is limited research on the drug’s affect on dementia patients because it’s difficult to get trials approved, Dr. Nathan Herrmann, the head of the division of geriatric psychiatry at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Canada, told Being Patient.

“Based on some preliminary studies in other populations, like younger individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as animal studies, there is at least some reason to theorize these drugs would have a benefit,” said Herrmann. “Therefore, there is a crucial need to do more, and larger studies in patients with Alzheimer’s disease to determine their effects and side effects.”

Could Cannabis Harm Dementia Patients?

Herrmann warns that marijuana-based treatments will not likely improve cognition in dementia patients. “In fact, there is good reason to be concerned that cannabinoids could make cognitive function worse, either by direct effects or by causing excessive sedation,” he said.

The King’s College researchers hope that completing this small trial will result in getting a much larger clinical trial approved to offer more options to people with dementia and their caregivers.

“Current treatments for behavioral and psychiatric symptoms of dementia are very limited, and we desperately need to develop alternatives,” said Aarsland. “Doctors sometimes prescribe antipsychotic medications, and while these drugs can have important benefits, these need to be weighed against the risk of very serious side effects,” he added.

The spray may offer some hope to people suffering from the unpleasant symptoms that sometimes accompany a dementia diagnosis.

“With no new dementia treatments in over 15 years, it is vital that we test a wide range of approaches to find effective ways to help people living with the condition,” said David Reynolds, Ph.D., of Alzheimer’s Research U.K.

“While a major focus for dementia research is to develop drugs that slow or stop the progression of the physical diseases that cause dementia, what really matters is that a medicine benefits people’s day-to-day lives,” he added.

The spray is equal parts THC and CBD. THC is known for its psychoactive effects and is used recreationally. CBD, on the other hand, has been found to help with nausea, mild anxiety and provide some anti-inflammatory benefits. The spray is created from plants grown under secure conditions that allow for consistency in each batch.

“This is a rigorous clinical trial of a medication that has been carefully prepared, and which will be tested in circumstances where the health and wellbeing of participants can be closely monitored,” said Reynolds. “There is no good evidence that using cannabis in an uncontrolled setting could benefit people living with dementia, and we know that the drug can involve risks including short-term memory and thinking problems, coordination difficulties and anxiety.”

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27 thoughts on “Cannabis Gets the Green Light for Dementia Patients

  1. I take CBD oil twice and it seems to be helping my Mild Cognitive Impairment somewhat . Would Cannabis elp more?

    1. I removed my mother from assisted living she has slight dementia. She started having Sundowners symptoms with me being very aggressive in the late afternoon she has also been bedridden for a long time because of dizziness. No one could figure out why she was dizzy. The first 20 days of living with me she had only gotten out of bed 3 days because of dizziness. Desperately I purchase some hemp oil
      The next morning when she claimed she was dizzy and didn’t want to get out of bed I administered some. About a half-hour later I entered the kitchen to find her freshly showered dressed and emptying the dishwasher. She was an amazing the entire day. The next day I gave her more after lunch she told me I’m bored wow amazing from someone who’s been in bed 5 days a week because of dizziness and when she was awake keep asking the same questions and telling the same stories to being vibrant. I suggested we play a game of cards so we played several hands of Rummy she was able not only to play her and all the cards on the table and line of cards. Several times picking up the whole line she knew what she was doing and this is amazing. Amazing amazing

      1. Hey Dianna what exactly was the hemp oil you were giving your mother? I ask because my grandmother always complains about trouble sleeping and shes rather forgetful. Also definite signs of bed ridden-ness. She has asked me to purchase her Remfresh sleeping pills and then I thought about going the natual cannabis route. Would love to have more info on what she was taking, sounds like some amazing progress! so happy for you two!

        1. Hi my mom suffers with the same thing and have been thinking of getting her some but I’m scared to.. can I ask how long you have been giving her this please

        1. I’d love this info, as well. We’ve decided to get CBD for my MIL, but I don’t know what dosage to start with. The research says “high amounts,” but doesn’t give specifics.

      2. Just read your response and found it very interesting. If you don’t mind may I please know the brand name of the CBD you administered? I could use this for my Mum who is 93 years old. I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Commercial CBD oils are produced from the Hemp plant, a cousin of the marijuana plant. Medically, marijuana’s benefits are a combination of THC and CBD components with varying effects chosen with the ratio of those two compounds in mind.
    There are high CBD:THC ratio products that have very little psychoactive affect and much in the way of anti-anxiolytic/calming results.
    This is what I’d love to see a research effort on.

    1. Let us not forget that THC is great stuff, you don’t have to be puritan about it. I would not neglect it. CBD is energizing, THC sedating. Choose accordingly. THC is best for insomnia for example.

  3. I have Lewy Body Dementia and I have found a cannabis preparation that does magic on my brain; my speech pathologist was astounded and even wanted me to do it in his office to see the effect. Specifically it was a cannabis extraction with an 18:1 CBD:THC ration. I have found 50mg of a compound rated at 60-70% CBD and 2-4% THC turns the lights back on, smooths out my gait and allows nearly normal speech for hours. More however, my curiosity is awakened, I find myself more engaged in things around me. I ingest this via vaporization and as such, total efficacy is reached within 2 minutes. I wish I had brain left to research this further but my neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic was impressed enough that I was able to skip standard pharmaceuticals as the cannabis was doing everything they did with zero side-effects. Well mostly zero; the Captain Crunch tastes great after that for some reason. I have tried this preparation on three additional subjects: another with LBD, one with PTSD and one with ADD. It worked for them all, this preparation did. Thats why I put up my site to help disabled folks learn to grow for themselves, regardless of situation or location.

      1. I wish I knew where to look in Canada. We have so many screwy laws here in the states that makes finding this stuff hard. Basically because each state has its own cannabis laws, there can be no state-to-state commerce of this stuff. Thus is was recently that I found myself in a situation where I was forced off of it for two months and it felt like it was killing me. Well, that was dramatic. I felt, I was sure in my heart that the disease had progressed much farther than it was and there was no way back; the progression is a one-way street. Since no one in Nevada was selling it to any resellers in Las Vegas (my home), I could not legally buy it in a legal state, yet in Oregon and California they have overages of product of all kinds and the meds I needed were even on sale most of the time. Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink. Eventually after 60 days of this, the confusion and aphasia getting worse every day, the short term memory loss accelerating, it was scary but the reason I tell you all this is that I finally did get the exact right meds smuggled in from Cali and within 5 minutes of opening the package, I had a good chunk of my brain and my sanity back. Within 10 I was changing the channel from the brain-dead show I was watching to something far more complex, an 8 hour mini series I would not even consider in the other state. I wrote about it here but folks, this stuff is for real. To me, the evidence is irrefutable. Event though I was still feeling rough, I outlined the experience here if it helps others with dementia get off the fence and try it. It is nothing short of amazing.

        As for Canada, I don’t know since I can barely find stuff here. That is one reason I encourage dementia patients to grow, then they have total control over not just the quality of the meds but the availability as well. I have another dementia friend from Cananda I can ask about this…..

    1. Hi Jeff, read your comment and am interested in knowing the brand name of the CBD oil you speak of. I could use this for my 93 year old Mum. I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you!!

      1. Monica; if you are located in Nevada, one of the best brands I have found for consistency of product and reliable efficacy per dose, Kynd makes the Ringos Gift 18:1 sap/extract I use and recommend. If not, I don’t know because in the states, only hemp-based CBD is shipped across state lines because cannabis is still federally prohibited here. That means if you by a product in a place like say Nevada or Oregon, the screwy rules mean that product was grown from seed to weed as we say completely within the state lines. The thing I would definitely not waste money on is the hemp-based stuff, wasted much of my own doing research on what was killing me. If you are from the states, its like “near beer”. Now here is something to consider: while I cannot recommend a company, what I can do is recommend any extract made from Charolettes Web or a close derivative. The Ringos Gift I think is a custom strain from Kynd whereas CW you should be able to get in more places/countries….

  4. I am looking into CBD oil for my mother who has a cross between vascular dementia and possible AD. Now her issue is apathy. She cannot motivate unless there is music. That will get her in the moment. I am wondering about the benefit of simple CBD hemp oil for the apathy.

    1. Mother in law is in the same boat: vascular dementia and beginnings of AD. We started her on CDB oil last Friday night (today is Tuesday the 25th), she is sleeping more, is more aware, has being watching netflix almost by herself (the tech is new to her so you know). She has being asking questions, is a bit less forgetful, knee pain is gone, back pain is gone. And we took her out of the Excelon patch we had to put each night to help her sleep and be calm at nights.

      We also started her on Coconut oil, that will take a few more days to be noticed. But she is a lot different the last few days from what she has being the prior 40 days since she moved in with us.

  5. My mother has vascular dementia and is in advanced stages; lives with me.
    All of the comments above are “her”: Sundowner syndrome, aggression, anxieties, sleepless ness etc….
    For the past 4 years I have joked to my father about discussing medical marijuana with her doctor, but after reading all of this I truly would like to test this out. I am in the US, in the panhandle of Florida; where can I get the CBD oils, etc or does her doctor need to prescribe?

    1. Most health food stores are selling it in florida now. I have been in two chiropractor’s offices that carry cbd. You can also apply for a medical marijuana card and purchase from a dispensary.

  6. he word dementia has become a convenient tool by which many physicians describe a broad group of symptoms common to many brain disorders. Unfortunately, the clinical diagnosis often carries with it unintended cruel connotations in the lay language and a concomitant destructive potential.

    The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionaryof 2004 defines dementia first as “mental deterioration of organic or functional origin.”1Although a generalization, it seems innocuous and close to what is intended by physicians. However, on further reading almost every dictionary refers to its derivation from Latin, meaning madness or out of one’s mind. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary supplies the following 3 synonyms from Roget’s Thesaurus: insanity, lunacy, and madness. Non–English languages have some even more devastating translations and alternative meanings, ranging from idiocy, imbecility, mental deficiency, and moronismin German, to mental derangementin French, to insanityand lunacy in Italian. These definitions, not the medical diagnosis, are most commonly known to the public. Accordingly, persons diagnosed as having dementia could be seen by the lay community as being out of their mind or crazy.

    When sufficiently provoked in our childhood, calling someone demented was one of our worst epithets short of vulgarity. Things have not changed much, as witnessed by an advertisement on the Comedy Channel that described a future program as “extreme, idiotic, and demented.” A similar example is the horror film by Francis Ford Coppola entitled Dementia 13. Even the venerable Garrison Keillor in a November 6, 2004, radio skit called dementia “a proven method of weight loss” and implied its victims are “crazy.”

    With this lay use woven into everyday language, imagine being told by a physician that you have dementia. This nonspecific generality can easily rob patients of their humanity in the eyes of others and, most important, in their own eyes. The term can stigmatize and isolate, making others reluctant if not outright fearful of dealing with the person. At its unkindest, it is a word without hope, which is a crucial tool when faced with a devastating illness.

    1. Thing is, I was diagnosed. I had pretty much self diagnosed and went my GP, told him I needed testing and you know the typical journey from there. Except mine was somewhat accelerated because I told them were to look and my suspicions were confirmed. I wasn’t really destroyed by the news because by that time I had come to accept my fate.

      As for the 18:1 oil Jeff spoke of, it’s a true lifesaver. I too, suffer from LBD and, as you may know, we cycle in and out of awareness quite a bit. The 18:1 can really help bring you back to some what of a normal reality quickly

  7. I’m currently caring for a patient with dementia. She’s 63 and has been on several medications, Prozac, metformin, Zocor, And was addicted to Vicodin. She is aggressive and violent in the evening. She has no regular sleep patterns and paces on a regular basis. She was an avid drug user as a young adult. She was recently taken off ALL her medications to see if it would help her cognitive function and be LESS sedated. It did help her awareness levels, but heightened her aggression. So we had her try Marijuana (smoking) We immediately noticed her aggressive behavior stop and she stopped her pacing! She sleeps better and her appetite has improved. We don’t use it enough to see any memory improvement. We have started a regular vitamin regiment suggested by her doctor! We only use the Marijuana in times when she’s in an aggressive or agitated state. I truly hope more clinical trials will be approved for this research because we truly feels it is helpful

  8. I was very intrigued by the stories above. I was diagnosed with demensia and about 9 months ago and seem to be getting more and more forgetful. I Repeat things often and find myself not talking as much to avoid embarrassment.
    I have a lot of energy and walk my dog a coul9e if miles a day so, physically I feel In doing good. It’s losing my memory in worried about.
    Would anything be available that might help me?

    THANK you,

  9. I’m taking aricept (neologist DX) I think it takes me down to more normal level of nervousness. I’m 77 and I’ve been dealing w this for pAst year. A relative suggested CBD oil which I am using daily: Calming response. What I really can’t understand and hope this doesn’t violate the “intent” of this web site : neither of my drs addressed their initial DX with me!! Just nodded their heads as I rattled on about my anxiety and memory malfunctioning! (What am I going crazy?) I’m doing OK and settling into this unhappy situation , so why can’t they just address the issue straight on? It’s not going away! I’m old enough!! how mAny people get to “go gentle into that sweet night- But instead, “ rage against the dying of the light”. Please don’t pretend that this isn’t happening: neither my drs or my family/friends. I want to accentuate the good life I’ve had: many good times and successes and wonderful people. Until they come up with some magic mental “turn around “ we must accept that life/sentience must come to an end and modern medicine hasn’t figure how to change that : just don’t pretend it is not happening ! Good luck and prayers to all who are going thru this time in life. ”it isn’t easy being Green!”

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