As it is widely known, the main reason why some Alzheimer’s patients are institutionalized is their behavior, as approximately half of them can start experiencing anger and restlessness, while becoming physically or verbally abusing to those around them. Some new data presented by Canadian researchers shows that something similar to cannabis, a man-made type of it, by the name of nabilone, could be a solution in calming agitated patients with this unforgiving disease.
Current treatment for Alzheimer’s is not that effective
The present-day treatment for agitation in this disease is represented by antipsychotic drugs, which unfortunately are not extremely effective and have numerous serious side effects, such as a higher chance of strokes and death, as mentioned by Krista Lanctot, a senior scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
Testing synthetic cannabis on patients
Nabilone was tested by Lanctot’s team on 33 patients that have moderate to severe Alzheimer’s and who experience agitation. The testing lasted for 14 weeks. After the trial, the report showed an improvement in the condition of the sufferers. It appears that these patients who were on synthetic cannabis have become significantly less agitated, compared to situations when placebo was used instead. The same applied to the overall symptoms related to their behaviors.
According to Dr. Nathan Herrmann, who is a psychiatrist and a scientist with Sunnybrook at the University of Toronto, the patients were calmer after this treatement, and it was easier to examine them than before. It also contributed to caregivers being remarkably less stressed.
A completely new approach
Partly funded by the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, this study is trying to take treatment into a new direction, as other experiments to improve the symptoms of this terrible disease have not been successful. A larger study is planned for the future, which would include more patients and would take three more years. Doctors also remind us not to forget that they are not actually using marijuana, but a synthetic drug, in order to see if symptoms in Alzheimer’s patients will improve, which makes a big difference.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.