Agitation In Alzheimer’s Patients Reduced By Synthetic Marijuana

  • A synthetic version of the active ingredient in marijuana, dronabinol, minimizes agitation in patients with Alzheimer’s disease according to results from a Phase II, multi-center study. It was also concluded by the researchers that minimized agitation could contribute to the relief of caregiver burden linked with the condition.

    The findings were presented at the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists’ 34th annual meeting.

    ‘Our results show dronabinol is an effective treatment for behavioral agitation in patients with Alzheimer’s and may ultimately help reduce the stress often experienced by caregivers,’ said geriatrician Joel S. Ross, M.D. a member of the teaching faculty at Monmouth Medical Center and the lead investigator in the study.

    ‘While difficult for the patient, the effects of agitation can greatly impact the emotional and physical health of family members and caregivers. By reducing patients’ agitation, caregivers are able to focus more time and energy on their patients’ overall wellbeing.’

    Agitation is the most common behavioral management problem in Alzheimer’s patients and could lead to a variety of symptoms ranging from physical and/or verbal abusive postures, physically non-aggressive conduct including pacing and restlessness.

    Marketed as Marinol, Dronabinol is synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC). Delta-9-THC also is a naturally occurring component of Cannabis sativa L (marijuana). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved Dronabinol for the treatment of anorexia in patients with HIV/AIDS and for the treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy.

    1Zajicek, J. The Lancet, Nov. 8, 2003: vol 263;pp 1517-1526

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