Objectives: Ten million new cases of dementia are recorded annually worldwide, with agitation and idiopathic weight loss being the most common symptoms. Several pharmacological therapies have emerged in recent years, but the clinical use of cannabis extracts in older patients with AD is constantly growing. This retrospective, analytical, observational, spontaneous trial aimed to enhance the clinical action of THC: CBD cannabis extract administration in AD patients with severe symptoms such as agitation, weight loss, cognitive impairment, and sleep disturbance.
Methods: Thirty patients (9 men and 21 women) diagnosed with mild, moderate, or severe AD, aged 65-90 years, appealing to our Second Opinion Medical Consultation (Modena, Italy), were enrolled and required to use oil-diluted cannabis extract, Bedrocan® (22% THC, 0.5% CBD, Olive Oil 50 ml), twice a day for 12 weeks. The efficacy of cannabinoid therapy was evaluated at baseline and 12 weeks after therapy, employing three self-administered questionnaires completed by the parents of the enrolled patients: NPI-Q, CMAI, and MMSE.
Key findings: The NPI-Q demonstrated a reduction (p<0.0001) in agitation, apathy, irritability, sleep disturbances, and eating disturbances, consequently improving caregiver distress. Levels of physically and verbally aggressive behaviours, measured using the CMAI questionnaire, were lower (p<0.0001) in all patients. The MMSSE questionnaire confirmed a significant decrease (p<0.0001) in cognitive impairment in 45% of the patients.
Conclusion: Our anecdotical, spontaneous, and observational study demonstrated the efficacy and safety of oil-diluted cannabis extract in patients with AD. The limitations of our study are: 1) small patient cohort, 2) absence of control group, 3) self-administered questionnaires that are the most practical but not objective instruments to assess the neurologic functions of AD patients.
Keywords: AD; Alzheimer disease; Bedrocan®; CBD; THC; agitation; cannabis; extract; galenical preparation; oil; weight loss.