Medical cannabis may have the potential to treat dementia symptoms, but more research is needed.
Medical cannabis has been in the spotlight for quite some time. Despite some promising research, there’s a lot we don’t yet know about the potential benefits and risks of cannabis. For example, the research on dementia and cannabis isn’t yet conclusive.
Cannabis is made up of hundreds of naturally occurring chemicals called cannabinoids, as well as terpenes and flavonoids, which are chemicals that may also have health benefits. The two most well-known cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
While some evidence suggests cannabis could help with the symptoms of dementia, there isn’t a medical consensus on it.
Similarly, some research suggests cannabis could protect against dementia (specifically Alzheimer’s disease) — but it needs to be studied further.
If you’d like to try cannabis or CBD for dementia symptoms, it’s important to speak with your healthcare team first. While cannabis may be helpful, it does have potential side effects and may interact with certain medications.
Can smoking cannabis cause dementia? While there are some concerns that cannabis could contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, there’s very little evidence that this is the case.
Many online sources point to
While this is concerning, the study doesn’t directly show that people with cannabis use disorder are more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. And a study from 2020 found that CBD may improve blood flow in the hippocampus, although this study was small and only involved 15 participants.
Much more research needs to be done before a conclusion can be drawn.
Cannabinoids may have neuroprotective properties, according to a
This means it could protect nerve cells against damage and degeneration, reducing your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases. Neurodegenerative diseases — like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease — often lead to dementia.
More recently, a 2022 review says that there is “strong evidence” that certain chemicals in cannabis — including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids — have neuroprotective properties that could directly protect against amyloid β.
Amyloid β is a protein that forms plaques in the brain. These plaques can disrupt communication between nerve cells and cause inflammation in the brain. Amyloid buildup is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.
Can you treat dementia with cannabinoids? In the past few years, some promising research has concluded that cannabis may improve certain dementia symptoms.
When compared with patients who had a placebo, the patients who were given nabilone experienced less agitation but worse cognition (in other words, it affected their ability to think clearly).
More recently, a 2022 observational study assessed 19 people with dementia who were given 12.4 mg THC and 24.8 mg CBD per day for up to 13 months. Their symptoms seemed to improve — so much that some needed fewer medications and less assistance from caregivers.
Although this research is hopeful, there is a lot that experts still don’t know about cannabis and dementia, and further research is needed.
If you would like to use cannabis for dementia — whether it’s to treat your own symptoms or help a loved one — it’s important to seek medical advice first.
Cannabis and CBD might also interact with certain medications.
Speak with a healthcare professional to determine whether the risk is worth the potential benefit.
You could also get involved in clinical trials on dementia and cannabis. Clinical trials help researchers understand dementia better and develop effective treatments. Helping improve medical knowledge for everyone can be fulfilling, and it may also help you access potentially life changing medication. Your healthcare team can advise you on getting involved in dementia trials.
You can learn more and join trials through:
The research on cannabis and dementia is promising but not definitive. More research is needed to explore whether cannabis can treat the symptoms of dementia.
If you want to use cannabis to treat your dementia or give cannabis to a loved one with dementia, it’s important to speak with your healthcare team first.