Marijuana for medical purposes is quite popular now. You’ve probably read about its supposed ability to alleviate pain, aid in sleep, slow the progression of chronic illnesses, and much more. Current thinking is that it may help alleviate certain dementia symptoms. Banner Alzheimer’s Institute neurologist and psychologist Dr. Danielle Goldfarb believes preliminary research on the effects of medicinal marijuana on dementia is promising.
Despite the paucity of data, Dr. Goldfarb believes that marijuana may help alleviate the behavioral symptoms of dementia. “Nabilone, a synthetic version, also showed favorable benefits in one recent trial.”
Researchers in the area of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are only just starting to investigate the potential benefits of marijuana for treating the behavioral symptoms of these diseases. To far, only a handful of studies have looked at how aggressiveness and agitation are affected by synthetic cannabinoids and active components of the natural marijuana plant. Unfortunately, there are no reliable research showing that medicinal marijuana improves cognitive function in dementia patients.
It’s hard to draw conclusions from many research because of the tiny sample sizes, Dr. Goldfarb says. There’s also the fact that “high-quality research-grade marijuana is hard to get.” It wasn’t until recently that researchers were able to get marijuana from many facilities for government sanctioned studies. The Drug Enforcement Agency promised in August to increase the number of approved facilities to cultivate marijuana for scientific purposes. Better grade plants for research purposes will now be readily available to scientists.
Dr. Goldfarb warns that much more study is needed. Most people are acquainted with two of the cannabinoids found in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) (cannabidiol.) CBD and THC levels vary widely amongst cannabis strains. This complicates scientific research since different studies do not employ the same strain.
What do you think?
Please see a physician before using medicinal marijuana for the treatment of dementia. You should see a doctor to determine whether you or a family member might benefit from using medicinal marijuana. As an added bonus, they may be able to advise you on the best strains to use and how much to take.
Knowing your state’s regulations on medicinal marijuana is also crucial. Alzhiemer’s-related agitation is listed as a qualifying diagnosis for medicinal marijuana in certain jurisdictions, including Arizona. However, its use for Alzheimer’s disease in certain jurisdictions is limited, and it is not permitted for use with any other illnesses that may lead to dementia in those same areas.
Dr. Goldfarb believes that additional study is needed to fully understand the advantages and negative effects of medicinal marijuana, despite the fact that certain varieties have been demonstrated to lower agitation and aggressiveness for some persons with dementia. “Those interested in giving it a try should see a doctor about selecting an appropriate strain and dosage.”