CBD-Rich Cannabis Can Effectively Treat Dementia Symptoms, Study Suggests
A new research study is adding to a growing body of evidence suggesting that cannabis can safely and effectively treat symptoms of dementia.
Published on October 26, 2022

Cannabis extracts with a 2:1 CBD to THC ratio can help manage behavioral symptoms and rigidity in patients with dementia, according to a new study published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience journal.

Researchers from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, partnered with several local hospitals to conduct this new study on cannabis and dementia. The research team specifically set out to “investigate the feasibility and long-term safety of administering tetrahydrocannabinol/cannabidiol (THC/CBD) treatment as an additional drug to a poly medicated population with severe dementia, evaluate clinical improvements, and collect information on the pharmacokinetics of cannabinoids and possible drug-drug interactions.”

The study presents data on 19 dementia patients living in a long-term care home in Geneva. All of these patients were taking medical cannabis extracts with a 2:1 CBD:THC ratio under the direction of their physicians. Over the course of 2 years, researchers tracked each patient's cannabis dosages and assessed their neuropsychiatric problems, agitation, rigidity, and incidents of aggression or troubling behavior.

On average, each patient received an average of 12.4 mg THC and 24.8 mg CBD every single day for up to 13 months of the two-year study period. None of the patients reported having any serious reactions to this long-term treatment, and no patients suffered adverse interactions with any of the other medications they were taking. Many patients were actually able to reduce their use of other pharmaceuticals, as well.

As a whole, researchers observed a “marked improvement” in each of these patients' behavioral symptoms. Based on these positive results, the researchers concluded that “a long-term THC/CBD (1:2) medication can be administered safely and with overall positive clinical improvement to poly medicated older adults with severe dementia and associated problems.”

Despite the extremely promising conclusion, the study's findings are limited by its small sample size and lack of a placebo group. The present study does back up the findings of prior placebo-controlled studies, though. One recent Israeli study reports that dementia patients who took a 30:1 CBD:THC cannabis extract three times a day showed lower rates of aggression, agitation, and insomnia than patients who took a placebo.

Inspired by these glowing results, researchers from all corners of the globe are working night and day to discover if cannabis can safely and effectively treat dementia and related disorders. Most of these experiments are also focusing on extracts with specific CBD to THC ratios, but some are also investigating the efficacy of high-THC cannabis. Preliminary studies have also suggested that CBN, a relatively unknown natural cannabinoid, could help protect brain cells from age-related degeneration.

In the race to find effective treatments for dementia, Alzheimer's, and other increasingly common neurodegenerative disorders, other institutions have set their sights on psychedelics. A recent clinical trial is currently investigating if regular LSD microdoses can effectively treat symptoms of Alzheimer's, and another preliminary study has suggested that the neuroregenerative properties of DMT could also have similar benefits.

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Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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