Currently there is no evidence to show that cannabis or cannabis oil (CBD oil) can stop, reverse or prevent dementia. <span><b>Background:</b> Accumulating evidence suggests that the non-intoxicating cannabinoid compound cannabidiol (CBD) may have antipsychotic and anxiolytic properties, and thus may be a promising new agent in the treatment of psychotic and anxiety disorders. However, the neurobiological substrates unde</span> …
Cannabis, CBD oil and dementia Cannabis, CBD oil and dementia .
Currently there is no evidence to show that cannabis or cannabis oil (CBD oil) can stop, reverse or prevent dementia.
Can cannabis or CBD oil treat dementia or its symptoms?
There are no research studies that prove cannabis, or products such as cannabis oil (CBD oil), can stop, slow, reverse or prevent the diseases that cause dementia.
Some studies suggest cannabis could help to manage a few behavioural symptoms of dementia, such as agitation and aggression.
But more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of taking cannabis, and whether it is an effective and safe way to tackle dementia symptoms.
If you have any questions or concerns about cannabis use and the risk of dementia or other brain disorders, please talk to your GP.
Read our advice to help reduce your risk of developing dementia.
What is cannabis?
Coconut oil and dementia Coconut oil and dementia .
There is currently a lack of evidence to show that coconut oil plays any role in preventing or treating dementia or its symptoms.
Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a plant. The dried leaves, flowering parts or resin extracted from the plant is taken recreationally.
Cannabis is made up for two main components – Tetrahydrocannabinol and Cannabidiol.
What is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?
THC is the main component of cannabis that invokes feelings of sociability, happiness or relaxation.
Products containing more than 0.2% THC are not legally available in the UK.
What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
Cannabidiol or CBD does not cause any psychoactive or intoxicating effects.
Products that contain CBD are legal and can be bought on the high street or online.
Is there any evidence behind the cannabis and CBD oil claims?
There have been no clinical trials on the effects of cannabis or CBD oil in people living with dementia.
In the lab
A key hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease is the build up of clumps of a protein, called amyloid, in the brain. Some studies have shown that components of cannabis, including THC, appear to remove this protein from nerve cells grown in the lab.
Another study that gave both THC and CBD oil to mice with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease showed an improved in learning and had less evidence of amyloid clumps in their bodies.
Research continues to better understand the effects of CBD oil on the brain. Some early evidence suggests that CBD oil may reduce inflammation in the brain, although this has yet to be proven in people.
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Tackling the symptoms of dementia
Research does suggest that high concentrations of CBD oil could be useful for managing some of the symptoms of dementia such as agitation and anxiety.
A few small clinical trials have assessed the effects of cannabinoids (including THC and synthetic cannabinoids, such as nabilone) on behavioural symptoms of dementia. However, trials and studies so far have generally been small or low quality making it difficult to come to a conclusion.
It is also important to note that the researchers in these studies have used high concentrations of CBD oil that may not be available to buy. These studies have also been short term so we still don’t know what the long term effects of using CBD oil might be.
A study is currently underway at King’s College London that will look at whether a mouth spray containing cannabinoids could be used to reduce symptoms of agitation and aggression in a small group of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
The Impact of Cannabidiol on Human Brain Function: A Systematic Review
Background: Accumulating evidence suggests that the non-intoxicating cannabinoid compound cannabidiol (CBD) may have antipsychotic and anxiolytic properties, and thus may be a promising new agent in the treatment of psychotic and anxiety disorders. However, the neurobiological substrates underlying the potential therapeutic effects of CBD are still unclear. The aim of this systematic review is to provide a detailed and up-to-date systematic literature overview of neuroimaging studies that investigated the acute impact of CBD on human brain function. Methods: Papers published until May 2020 were included from PubMed following a comprehensive search strategy and pre-determined set of criteria for article selection. We included studies that examined the effects of CBD on brain function of healthy volunteers and individuals diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder, comprising both the effects of CBD alone as well as in direct comparison to those induced by ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of Cannabis. Results: One-ninety four studies were identified, of which 17 met inclusion criteria. All studies investigated the acute effects of CBD on brain function during resting state or in the context of cognitive tasks. In healthy volunteers, acute CBD enhanced fronto-striatal resting state connectivity, both compared to placebo and THC. Furthermore, CBD modulated brain activity and had opposite effects when compared to THC following task-specific patterns during various cognitive paradigms, such as emotional processing (fronto-temporal), verbal memory (fronto-striatal), response inhibition (fronto-limbic-striatal), and auditory/visual processing (temporo-occipital). In individuals at clinical high risk for psychosis and patients with established psychosis, acute CBD showed intermediate brain activity compared to placebo and healthy controls during cognitive task performance. CBD modulated resting limbic activity in subjects with anxiety and metabolite levels in patients with autism spectrum disorders. Conclusion: Neuroimaging studies have shown that acute CBD induces significant alterations in brain activity and connectivity patterns during resting state and performance of cognitive tasks in both healthy volunteers and patients with a psychiatric disorder. This included modulation of functional networks relevant for psychiatric disorders, possibly reflecting CBD’s therapeutic effects. Future studies should consider replication of findings and enlarge the inclusion of psychiatric patients, combining longer-term CBD treatment with neuroimaging assessments.
Keywords: Cannabis (marijuana); cannabidiol; delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol; functional MRI; neuroimaging.
Copyright © 2021 Batalla, Bos, Postma and Bossong.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.