Oral THC May Reduce Agitation, Apathy, Irritability and Sleep/Eating Disturbances in Those With Alzheimer Disease

Oral THC with a small amount of CBD may be effective in reducing a host of negative symptoms associated with Alzheimer disease, according to a study published in the recent issue of the journal Clinical Therapeutics.

As noted by the study’s abstract, ten million new cases of dementia are recorded annually worldwide, with agitation and idiopathic weight loss being the most common symptoms. Although several pharmacological therapies have emerged in recent years, “the clinical use of cannabis extracts in older patients with AD is constantly growing.”

This retrospective, analytical, observational, spontaneous trial “aimed to enhance the clinical action of THC: CBD cannabis extract administration in AD patients with severe symptoms such as agitation, weight loss, cognitive impairment, and sleep disturbance.”

For the admittedly limited study, thirty patients (9 men and 21 women) diagnosed with mild, moderate, or severe AD, aged 65-90 years, “appealing to our Second Opinion Medical Consultation (Modena, Italy), were enrolled and required to use oil-diluted cannabis extract, Bedrocan® (22% THC, 0.5% CBD, Olive Oil 50 ml), twice a day for 12 weeks.”

The efficacy of cannabinoid therapy “was evaluated at baseline and 12 weeks after therapy, employing three self-administered questionnaires completed by the parents of the enrolled patients: NPI-Q, CMAI, and MMSE.”

According to the study, “The NPI-Q demonstrated a reduction (p<0.0001) in agitation, apathy, irritability, sleep disturbances, and eating disturbances, consequently improving caregiver distress. Levels of physically and verbally aggressive behaviours, measured using the CMAI questionnaire, were lower (p<0.0001) in all patients. The MMSSE questionnaire confirmed a significant decrease (p<0.0001) in cognitive impairment in 45% of the patients.”

Researchers conclude: “Our anecdotical, spontaneous, and observational study demonstrated the efficacy and safety of oil-diluted cannabis extract in patients with AD. The limitations of our study are: 1) small patient cohort, 2) absence of control group, 3) self-administered questionnaires that are the most practical but not objective instruments to assess the neurologic functions of AD patients.”

The full abstract of this study can be found below.

Abstract

Objectives: Ten million new cases of dementia are recorded annually worldwide, with agitation and idiopathic weight loss being the most common symptoms. Several pharmacological therapies have emerged in recent years, but the clinical use of cannabis extracts in older patients with AD is constantly growing. This retrospective, analytical, observational, spontaneous trial aimed to enhance the clinical action of THC: CBD cannabis extract administration in AD patients with severe symptoms such as agitation, weight loss, cognitive impairment, and sleep disturbance.

Methods: Thirty patients (9 men and 21 women) diagnosed with mild, moderate, or severe AD, aged 65-90 years, appealing to our Second Opinion Medical Consultation (Modena, Italy), were enrolled and required to use oil-diluted cannabis extract, Bedrocan® (22% THC, 0.5% CBD, Olive Oil 50 ml), twice a day for 12 weeks. The efficacy of cannabinoid therapy was evaluated at baseline and 12 weeks after therapy, employing three self-administered questionnaires completed by the parents of the enrolled patients: NPI-Q, CMAI, and MMSE.

Key findings: The NPI-Q demonstrated a reduction (p<0.0001) in agitation, apathy, irritability, sleep disturbances, and eating disturbances, consequently improving caregiver distress. Levels of physically and verbally aggressive behaviours, measured using the CMAI questionnaire, were lower (p<0.0001) in all patients. The MMSSE questionnaire confirmed a significant decrease (p<0.0001) in cognitive impairment in 45% of the patients.

Conclusion: Our anecdotical, spontaneous, and observational study demonstrated the efficacy and safety of oil-diluted cannabis extract in patients with AD. The limitations of our study are: 1) small patient cohort, 2) absence of control group, 3) self-administered questionnaires that are the most practical but not objective instruments to assess the neurologic functions of AD patients.

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