Could cannabis be the cure for dementia? World-first study is set to test how marijuana could improve the life of people suffering with the devastating illness

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  • World-first study to trial cannabis on patients living with mild dementia in Perth
  • A mouth spray will be applied to 50 participants aged 65 years and over
  • Researchers will observe if it relieves their symptoms and improves appetite
  • Half million people live with dementia in Australia with figure to double by 2040 

A pioneering study testing the effectiveness of medical cannabis on dementia patients will take place in Western Australia. 

The trial, a world first, will test the drug on elderly people living in residential aged care facilities in Perth over a 14 month period. 

Cannabis will be administered via a mouth spray and applied to 50 participants aged 65 years and over.

Researchers will observe the drug’s potential healing powers to not only relieve the symptoms and distress of sufferers, but also improve their appetite.

The University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Health Research (IHR) have partnered with Israel-based pharmaceutical company MGC Pharmaceuticals to run the study.

‘We think cannabis is going to help ameliorate behavioural signs and symptoms we see from dementia,’ researcher Dr Amanda Timler told Sunrise.

‘It’s one of those medications that will treat a number of symptoms compared with typically being diagnosed with dementia and taking a number of different drugs.’

About 50 million people live with dementia worldwide with almost half a million living in Australia.

That figure is expected to double over the next 40 years. 

IHR director and professor Jim Codde said people living with dementia often suffered from a range of agitation and psychotic symptoms.

He noted the disease impacted patients’ families so any any hope of finding a way to treat the condition should be thoroughly explored.


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