CannaTrials adheres to evidence-based medicine – making statements based on medical evidence.

This page is excerpted and quoted from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.    A Committee of over 40 experts, researchers, and reviewers in The Health and Medicine Division published a 486 page report in 2017 entitled “The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research.
If you would like to access the entire report you may do so by clicking this link.

Medical Marijuana and Dementia

“Dementia is characterized by a decline in cognition that typically affects multiple cognitive domains such as memory, language, executive function, and perceptual motor function (NIH, 2013). Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and Parkinson’s disease with dementia are three prominent dementing disorders (NIA, n.d.). Behavioral and psychological symptoms, including agitation, aggression, and food refusal, are common in the more advanced stages of dementia. These symptoms cause distress to the patient and caregivers and may precipitate the patient being placed in institutional care. Current treatments for dementia (e.g., cholinesterase inhibitors) have only modest effects, and treatments for behavioral disturbances such as antipsychotic medications have both modest benefits and substantial adverse effects (Krishnan et al., 2009).

CB1 receptors are found throughout the central nervous system, and the endogenous cannabinoid system is thought to be important in the regulation of synaptic transmission (Baker et al., 2003), a process that is disordered in patients with dementia. Accumulating evidence suggests that cannabinoids have the potential for neuroprotective effects (Grundy, 2002; Hampson et al., 1998; Shen and Thayer, 1998). This developing understanding of the endogenous cannabinoid system, along with cannabinoids anxiolytic and appetite-stimulating effects, provides a rationale for its study in patients with dementia.

The authors of the good-quality Cochrane systematic review concluded that the “review finds no evidence that cannabinoids are effective in the improvement of disturbed behavior in dementia or treatment of other symptoms of dementia” (Krishnan et al., 2009, p. 8). Subsequently, a larger good-quality RCT found no benefit from low-dose THC. We agree that the evidence is limited due to the small number of patients enrolled, limits in the study design and reporting, and inconsistent effects. The current limited evidence does not support a therapeutic effect of cannabinoids.

CONCLUSION 4-13 There is limited evidence that cannabinoids are ineffective treatments for improving the symptoms associated with dementia.[1]

[1] The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research | The National Academies Press. 2017. Pages 111-113. Download the complete 486 page report.

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