Synthetic Marijuana Could Help Dementia Patients In Battling Agitation, Lack Of Appetite

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Synthetic marijuana could support the improvement of the lives of people who have to live with dementia, says new research presented at Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Chicago.

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are impairing the cognitive abilities.

There are various other symptoms which include anxiety, agitation, depression, and insomnia which reduce the patients’ quality of life.

They also create hard challenges for the caregivers and are also the leading causes of placing patients in nursing homes.

Unfortunately, the FDA has not approved any drug treatments for these symptoms, even if some pharmaceuticals, such as antipsychotics that approved for other diseases are prescribed off-label for Alzheimer’s patients.

On the other hand, these are associated with increased apathy, strokes and deaths, so the FDA’s denial to approve them is understandable.

A potential way of reducing symptoms

Studies found that a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in marijuana, is safe and effective in treating agitation, lack of appetite and other behavioral symptoms in dementia patients.

A brand new study out of the University of Toronto included 39 people with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s dementia.

The patients received nabilone, a synthetic form of THC that is easier to regulate and is available in capsule form, for six weeks, and also a placebo for six weeks.

While they were taking nabilone, their agitation levels and neuropsychiatric symptoms were reduced and their appetite improved.

“We’re excited because we think this opens a whole new door for cannabinoids as a group for treating agitation in Alzheimer’s disease,” stated Krista Lanctot, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology-toxicology at the University of Toronto.

These capsules are already approved to treat nausea that’s associated with chemotherapy and this was the first study which analyzed their use in patients with Alzheimer’s.

Funding for a more significant trial is expected, and currently, another synthetic cannabinoid is being tested in the U.S.