World’s first study on cannabis and dementia set to commence in Perth

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A number of cannabis developments are happening in Australia right now. The country’s capital, Canberra, recently decriminalized weed. Soon, researchers will carry out the world’s first ever medical trial into the effects of using cannabis to treat dementia.

The study could provide hope to the many dementia patients who reside in Perth and the rest of the world. According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, approximately 5.8 million people live with dementia in the United States.

Dementia – a condition characterized by problem-solving, thinking, memory and behavioral skills – is usually treated using cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine. However, some methods of treatment are unsuccessful and may produce unwanted side effects.

With positive news surfacing regarding the benefits of using cannabis to treat widespread ailments, such as chronic pain, anxiety and epilepsy, the prospective results of Perth’s study on cannabis for dementia seem promising.

50 dementia patients will participate in the Australian study on cannabis for dementia

The Australian map is turning green, what with “the Land Down Under” set to conduct what researchers believe will be a pivotal research effort into cannabis for dementia. This, combined with the fact that cannabis has been decriminalized in the country’s capital, indicates that Australia’s cannabis industry could be about to take-off big time.

A total of 50 patients aged 65 and above who have been diagnosed with dementia will participate in Perth’s study on cannabis for dementia. Patients will report their symptoms, while researchers determine the efficacy of using cannabinoids and plant-derived compounds to relieve the symptoms of the debilitating disease. 

The Australian study on cannabis for dementia will span over 14 months and will see the study subjects being administered with an oral cannabinoid-rich spray solution. Researchers are hopeful that, in addition to relieving symptoms of dementia like psychosis, aggression and agitation, cannabis will also prove useful in increasing the appetite of dementia patients.

“We think cannabis is going to help ameliorate behavioral signs and symptoms we see from dementia,” researcher Dr Amanda Timler said in a statement.“It’s one of those medications that will treat a number of symptoms compared with typically being diagnosed with dementia and taking a number of different drugs.”

Previous studies have explored the potential of using cannabis for Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. As time progresses, Alzheimer’s disease may impact an individuals train of thought, memory and ability to speak properly.

Based on a previous trial that took place over four weeks and involved 11 patients with Alzheimer’s disease, 10 patients experienced a “significant reduction in CGI severity score.”

The researchers determined that adding medical cannabis oil to Alzheimer’s patients’ pharmacotherapy is “a safe and promising treatment option.”

Medical cannabis legalization in Australia

Back in October 2016, the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act was effectuated in Australia. The enactment of this law permitted doctors to legally prescribed patients with pharmaceutical-grade cannabis treatments; so long as they meet the medical criteria outlined in the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s Special Access Scheme.

A number of clinical trials to assess the suitability of using medical cannabis in the treatment of HIV/AIDS therapy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-related nausea, pain management and palliative care are currently being carried out in Australia.