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CBD For Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that starts in the brain many years before symptoms start to show. It is the most common cause of dementia, which is the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions, and it is thought to be caused by the abnormal build-up of proteins in and around brain cells. One of the proteins is called amyloid, which form plaques around brain cells, and the other is called tau, which form tangles within brain cells. As brain cells become affected, there’s also a decrease in neurotransmitters involved in sending messages between brain cells and, over time, different areas of the brain shrink. In most people with the disease — those with the late-onset type — symptoms first appear in their mid-60s, with the first sign being minor memory problems. The symptoms get worse over time and can include:

  • memory loss 
  • confusion, disorientation and getting lost in familiar places
  • needing help with daily tasks 
  • problems with speech and language 
  • changes in personality and behaviour
  • loss of motor skills
  • hallucinations. 

Despite decades of research, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or most forms of dementia, leaving patients and their loved ones searching for effective treatments to alleviate symptoms and improve their quality of life. One promising area of research is Cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant. CBD does not always contain Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the plant’s better-known psychoactive compound, and should contain less than 0.2% to be legal in the UK. 

Can CBD Help With Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia? 

There is no definitive evidence that CBD can stop, slow, reverse or prevent the diseases that cause dementia. However, some scientific evidence suggests that it might help to provide symptomatic relief for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) through its anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and neurogenic effects. There is also some evidence to suggest that it could help to suppress the main causal factors of AD.


A 2021 study found that high doses of CBD administered to individuals with late stage Alzheimer’s disease increased levels of two proteins that play a key role in reducing the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaque, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. It also found that CBD improves cognition, in an experimental model of early onset familial Alzheimer’s.

Indeed, a 2019 review of studies concluded that CBD components of cannabis might be useful to treat and prevent AD because CBD components could suppress the main causal factors of AD.

This comes together in a 2022 case in which a 75-year-old man with mild-stage Alzheimer’s underwent a 22-month treatment regimen with micro doses of a cannabis extract rich in cannabinoids. This treatment led to significant improvements in both mnemonic (memory-related) and non-mnemonic symptoms with no significant side effects.

More recent studies using an AD mouse model have suggested that CBD can reverse cognitive deficits, along with Aβ-induced neuroinflammatory, oxidative responses, and neuronal death. Furthermore, CBD can reduce the accumulation of Aβ and hyperphosphorylation of tau, which suggests the possibility of delaying AD progression.

Elsewhere, CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties have shown promise in protecting brain cells from damage and inflammation, including in neurodegenerative disorders like AD. Additional research has found that CBD reduces neuroinflammation and promotes neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change and adapt due to experience. 

Different molecular targets of CBD in the brain via: Bhunia, S. et al. (2022) ‘Cannabidiol for Neurodegenerative Disorders: A comprehensive review’, Frontiers in Pharmacology, 13. doi:10.3389/fphar.2022.989717.

CBD & Anxiety

Many dementia patients experience significant anxiety and agitation. CBD’s anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) properties may help manage these symptoms, without the sedative side effects associated with other medications. 

In a randomised clinical trial on the effects of rich cannabidiol oil on behavioural disturbances in patients with dementia, it was found that CBD significantly reduced agitation over placebo in patients suffering from behavioural disturbances related to dementia, with non-serious side-effects.

A review on Cannabinoids for Agitation in Alzheimer’s Disease concluded that the current literature suggests that cannabinoids may be beneficial in treating symptoms of AD, especially agitation, as well as aggression, impulsivity, circadian rhythms, nocturnal activity, and sleep. is conducting a clinical trial on cannabidiol oil for agitation in people with Alzheimer’s disease, which is due to end in March 2024. 

The factors (left) which contribute to agitation in Alzheimer’s disease, and the indirect positive outcomes of cannabinoids (right) via: Goveas, J.S. (2021) ‘Commentary on “cannabinoids for agitation in alzheimer’s disease”’, The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 29(12), pp. 1264–1266. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2021.03.004.

CBD & Sleep

While good quality sleep is linked to good health, including a reduced risk of dementia, poor sleep could lead to increased stress, confusion, and agitation.

Increased amyloid in the brain is commonly seen in people with Alzheimer’s and studies have shown that raised amyloid levels may be associated with poor sleep. Thus, sleep disturbances are common in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. In better news, CBD has shown promise in improving sleep quality and reducing insomnia.

Researchers evaluated the effects of CBD treatment in 72 adults with either anxiety or sleep problems and, after 2 months,  56.1% reported improvements to sleep.

In a 2021 cross-sectional study, 48% of people taking CBD for sleep reported that it helped them to fall asleep quicker, with 40% saying it also helped them to sleep better. 

In another study examining the effects of cannabis on insomnia, researchers found CBD more effectively decreased symptoms of insomnia than THC. 

CBD & Antipsychotic Effects

Some dementia patients exhibit psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. Studies suggest that CBD’s antipsychotic properties may help alleviate these symptoms.

2017 randomised control trial found that, after 6 weeks of treatment, compared with the placebo group, the CBD group had lower levels of positive psychotic symptoms and were more likely to have been rated as improved and as not severely unwell by the treating clinician.

A 2020 review of studies concluded that recent clinical trials added further evidence for an antipsychotic potential of cannabidiol, though further research is required to clarify the safety and efficacy of cannabidiol.

Graph showing reduction in psychotic symptoms, in addition to a significant improvement in global functioning, when CBD was used for 4 weeks.

Image via: Understanding the Relationship Between Cannabidiol and Psychosis: Clinical Issues, via: Zuardi, A. et al. (2008) ‘Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in parkinson’s disease’, Journal of Psychopharmacology, 23(8), pp. 979–983. doi:10.1177/0269881108096519.

Despite this evidence, more research is needed to understand whether CBD is an effective and safe way to treat dementia symptoms. 

Using CBD for Dementia: Safety Considerations & Usage

Evidence for the use of CBD in dementia care is limited, and there are no CBD products that have been specifically approved for the treatment of this condition. However, CBD is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. These are some clear factors to look out for if you would like to try it out. 

  • Safety and Side Effects: Although CBD is generally considered safe and well-tolerated, it can cause mild side effects, such as dry mouth. It might also interact with certain medications, so it is essential for patients to consult with their doctor before starting CBD treatment.
  • Source and Quality: Choose CBD derived from organically grown hemp, as this ensures minimal exposure to harmful chemicals. You should also look for third-party laboratory reports to verify how pure and potent your product is, and to ensure there are no contaminants.
  • Type of CBD: Broad-spectrum CBD is a great option for those who want to experience the effects of CBD without consuming THC, the psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. Some clinical reports suggest that broad- or full-spectrum CBD may have a better effect due to the number of cannabinoids and other plant compounds they contain that work together, otherwise known as the entourage effect.
  • Dosage: Finding the right dose and administration method can be a trial-and-error process as results can vary significantly from person to person. Start with a low dose and gradually increase it while monitoring its effects.

We are Purity Hemp, the UK’s #1 Online CBD provider. Backed by science, and built on the principles of traceability, transparency & trust, we are dedicated to improving the health & wellness of all our customers.

We are proud to be one of the only companies to guarantee full traceability from seed to shelf with our premium range of products, tested by third-party, independent quality control analysts.

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