Berlin, Germany: Oral synthetic THC (dronabinol) reduces nocturnal motor activity in patients suffering from severe dementia and Alzheimer's disease, according to clinical trial data published this month in the journal Psychopharmacology.
Twelve patients with severe dementia participated in the open-label pilot study. Treatment with 2.5 mg of synthetic THC daily for two weeks led to a significant reduction in nighttime activity and agitation. No side effects were observed.
Dronabinol is a FDA-approved Schedule III drug that may be prescribed for the treatment of cachexia (weight loss) in patients with AIDS and for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy in patients who have failed to respond adequately to conventional antiemetic treatments.
Previous trials investigating the use of synthetic THC on patients suffering from dementia have shown it to reduce agitation, decrease negative feelings, and stimulate weight gain in Alzheimer's patients.
Aside from providing potential symptomatic relief, emerging evidence also indicates that cannabinoids may play a role in slowing the progression of certain neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's Disease).
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. Full text of the study, "Delat-9-tetrahydrocannabinol for nighttime agitation in severe dementia," appears in the March issue of Psychopharmacology.