The Use of Cannabinoids in Treating Dementia

Dementia (K Marder, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Dementia


Purpose of Review

To review and summarise the current evidence on the safety and efficacy of using cannabinoids to treat behavioural and neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia.

Recent Findings

Two randomised controlled trials testing a synthetic form of tetrahydrocannabinol have shown that while well tolerated, there was no significant therapeutic effect, based on changes to scores on the neuropsychiatric inventory (NPI). Case reports and open label trials have indicated that there may be some therapeutic benefit of adding synthetic cannabinoids as an adjunctive therapy to reduce agitation, aberrant motor behaviour and nighttime behaviour.


More well-controlled clinical trials in older populations with varying severity of dementia are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of cannabinoids in treating behaviour symptoms of dementia. We provide suggestions for designing such trials and evaluating possible adverse effects of cannabinoids on cognitive and neuropsychiatric functioning.


Cannabinoids Dementia Alzheimer’s disease Neuropsychiatric inventory Pharmacotherapies 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Megan Weier receives payments from the Therapeutic Goods Administration to review the evidence on the efficacy and safety of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical use.

Wayne Hall receives payments from the Therapeutic Goods Administration to review the evidence on the efficacy and safety of cannabis and cannabinoids for medical use and is a member of the Australian Advisory Council on Medical Uses of Cannabis.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Drug and Alcohol Research CentreThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.The Centre for Youth Substance Abuse ResearchThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.National Addiction Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKings College LondonLondonUK

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