Latest Study On Medical Marijuana Shows No Help For Dementia

By @hyaluronidase on
An elderly women sits in the warm sun surrounded by the shadows of winter outside Toronto City Hall
IN PHOTO: An elderly woman sits in the warm sun surrounded by the shadows of winter outside Toronto City Hall December 4. Toronto and most of southern Ontario has been basking in double digit celsius temperatures for the last 10 days making it feel more like early September rather than early December. Reuters

Several medical reports have supported the effectiveness of marijuana for certain illnesses. However, a new study finds that marijuana pills used for medical purposes do not help curb symptoms of dementia.

The new study, which was published on May 13 in the journal Neurology, shows that pills containing low dose of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, are “no better than placebo pills” in treating dementia symptoms such as wandering, pacing, aggression and agitation, as reported in WebMD.

The study involved 50 randomly selected patients in a double-blind experiment. These participants also did not have other medical conditions.

Twenty-six of them were placed on placebo while the remaining 24 took 1.5 milligrams of THC, three times a day for three weeks. Neither participants nor the researchers know which group took which treatment.

During the first week of the study, caregivers recorded levels of symptoms of dementia exhibited. For the last two weeks of the study, monitoring of symptoms continued but at this point, researchers were allowed to compare results for both groups.

The results show that those taking THC pills felt better during the whole duration of the study. However, the placebo groups also improved, showing no significant difference between the control groups, reports The Verge.

Previous studies conducted on mice and clinical trials performed on humans suggest that THC from marijuana can help reduce symptoms associated with dementia, including motor control problems. Marcel Olde Rikkert, a co-author of the study, said that either the studies were not controlled enough or it could be too small to draw a conclusion.

Researchers say that patients can tolerate medical marijuana pills well, so it is appears to be safe when given in higher doses for the purpose of future research. “Right now, there are no medications specifically approved for these types of symptoms,” said Norman Relkin, an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, who is also an American Federation for Aging Research spokesperson.

The medications used to treat dementia symptoms were “borrowed” from medicines that are used to treat conditions that exhibit symptoms similar to dementia. "We need better interventions," said Relkin, who was not a part of the study, in a report by WebMD. "This is a major unmet need."

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