The Use of Cannabinoids in Treating Dementia

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2017 Aug;17(8):56. doi: 10.1007/s11910-017-0766-6.


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.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Cannabinoids; Dementia; Neuropsychiatric inventory; Pharmacotherapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Symptoms / drug therapy*
  • Cannabinoids / adverse effects
  • Cannabinoids / therapeutic use*
  • Dementia / drug therapy*
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Humans


  • Cannabinoids