THC is Effective in Mitigating Agitation in Those with Alzheimer’s, Finds Case Report

According to a new case report oral THC is associated with symptom mitigation and reduced prescription drug use in a patient with severe Alzheimer’s-induced dementia. The case report was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry and is titled Cannabinoid as beneficial replacement therapy for psychotropics to treat psychiatric symptoms in severe Alzheimer’s dementia: A clinical case report.

For the study researchers studied the use of synthetic, oral THC (dronabinol) in a female patient with severe Alzheimer’s disease (AD). They found that even low-doses of dronabinol was associated with reduced aggression and anxiety, as well as an overall improvement in the patient’s emotional state. In addition the patient wasable to reduce the use of psychopharmacological drugs.


“Our report underpins the need for randomized, controlled trials to explore the effect of cannabinoid receptor agonists on behavioral and psychological symptoms in patients in different stages of AD”, states the study. “Cannabinoids have a distinct pharmacologic profile that may offer an alternative pharmacologic approach to antipsychotics and sedatives for treating NPs (neuropsychiatric symptoms) in patients with AD. In addition, the beneficial effect on appetite and pain may significantly improve quality of life of AD-patients and their caregivers.”

The full abstract can be found below:



Alzheimer’s Dementia (AD) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease that affects approximately 17% of people aged 75–84. Neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) such as delusions, agitation, anxiety, and hallucinations are present in up to 95% of patients in all stages of dementia. To date, any approved and effective pharmacological interventions for the treatment of NPS are still not available. We describe a clinical case of a female patient diagnosed with AD with continuous cognitive decline and dementia-related behavioral symptoms. Between 2008 and 2019, the patient was examined half-yearly at the memory clinic of the Medical University of Innsbruck. At each visit, cognitive state and pharmacological treatment were evaluated. In addition, NPs were assessed by using the neuropsychiatric inventory (NPI). In 2018, the patient progressed to severe AD stage and presented with progressive NPs (anxiety, suspected delusions, agitation, aggressive behavior, and suspected pain due to long immobility). Consequently, off-label treatment with low-dose dronabinol was initiated, which facilitated a reduction of psychopharmacological treatment from six to three psychotropics. At the same time, the patient’s emotional state improved, while disruptive behavior, aggression, and sedation decreased significantly. This case report underpins the need for randomized, controlled trials to explore the effect of cannabinoid receptor agonists on behavioral and psychological symptoms in patients with severe AD.

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