A large British study tests cannabis to treat the symptoms of dementia. Retired people with Alzheimer's symptoms will test how cannabis-based treatment relates to a dummy drug.
Scientists are testing whether Sativex — a peppermint-flavored mouth spray containing cannabinoids — can be used to reduce symptoms of agitation or aggression. About half of the 850.000 people with dementia in the UK experience such symptoms, as well as memory problems and confusion. The drug has already been prescribed to some patients with multiple sclerosis to relieve muscle stiffness and spasms.
Alzheimer Research UK has donated £ 300.000 to the Kings College London study, which involves elderly patients in care homes. The research team will recruit 60 volunteers with Alzheimer's disease between the ages of 55 and 90 who live in care homes and have symptoms of agitation or aggression.
Volunteers will be on the medication for four weeks, with results compared to that of a placebo drug. Principal investigator Professor Dag Aarsland said: “Although people often associate Alzheimer's disease with memory problems, it is only one aspect of a complex condition that can affect people in different ways. Many people with Alzheimer's disease can become irritable or aggressive and this can pose problems for the person with the condition and those close to them, ”said the psychiatrist.
Lack of treatment methods
“Current treatments for behavioral and psychiatric symptoms of dementia are very limited, and we are looking for alternatives. Doctors sometimes prescribe antipsychotics, and while these drugs can have important benefits, they must be weighed against the risk of very serious side effects. ”
Although Sativex is licensed for the treatment of some MS symptoms, it is not yet prescribed for use in symptoms of dementia. The drug is a peppermint flavored mouth spray that contains a 1:1 ratio of two major cannabinoids in the cannabis plant: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). If the test is positive, the trial is followed by a larger study.
Dr. David Reynolds, chief scientific officer at Alzheimer's Research UK, warned against the use of cannabis in an uncontrolled environment, claiming that the drug carries risks - including short-term memory and anxiety. He said: “Without new dementia treatments in more than 15 years, it is vital that we test a wide variety of approaches to find effective ways to help people.
Read more at www.telegraph.co.uk (Source)