While some proponents claim that cannabidiol (CBD) can improve dementia symptoms, there is no convincing evidence to support this.

Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

CBD is a natural chemical in cannabis, and people with chronic conditions commonly use it to manage pain. Research has shown that it is safe to use and carries few side effects.

At present, there is very limited research on CBD use for the treatment of dementia. Some evidence suggests that a combination of CBD and THC, the pychoactive component of cannabis that produces the “high” feeling, can improve behavioral symptoms such as aggression and irritability and that it can also lead to a person using less pain medication.

Read on to learn about how CBD oil can be used for dementia, what the research says, safety information, and more.

An image of CBD oil droppers.Share on Pinterest
Anna Efetova/Getty Images

CBD is a cannabinoid, which is a naturally occurring compound in the C. sativa plant. It does not give a person the “high” feeling usually associated with cannabis use.

Research has shown that CBD is a generally safe, well-tolerated form of pain relief. It may have some anti-inflammatory properties, but research has yet to confirm this. People commonly use it as a pain reliever for chronic pain, arthritis, and other chronic conditions.

Although CBD has wide-ranging benefits, there is no evidence that it can directly improve dementia symptoms or disease progression. There have been no large clinical trials studying the chemical’s effect on people with dementia.

Some studies have observed the effects of CBD, as well as other cannabis products, in managing dementia symptoms.

A 2019 systematic review showed that people who were given a combination of CBD and THC experienced improvements, including:

  • needing less pain medication
  • decreased vomiting
  • less neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as agitation, irritability, and screaming

However, the researchers only looked at CBD and THC together, not in isolation, so these results do not confirm that CBD alone can produce the same outcomes.

There is very little research on using CBD alone for dementia symptoms, but several clinical trials are ongoing. One small 2022 study involving 17 people with dementia in Greece found that 3% CBD drops improved behavioral and psychological symptoms in about two-thirds of the participants.

The authors noted that while these findings were encouraging, they need more larger-scale studies to confirm the results.

Proponents of CBD claim that it can help people with dementia in two ways:

  1. improving behavioral and motor symptoms
  2. reducing the progression of the disease and improving cognition and memory

While some studies have shown that CBD may play a role in symptom improvement, no research has looked at cognition or disease progression. Therefore, there is no reason to believe this is true.

As previously mentioned, there is very little research on CBD use for dementia, but new research is ongoing.

One clinical trial at Eastern Virginia Medical School is analyzing the effects of CBD capsules on various behavioral symptoms and quality of life measures. The study aims to complete in 2023.

Specifically, the researchers are looking at:

  • changes in agitation and aggression
  • changes in caregiver burden
  • changes in participant and caregiver quality of life
  • neuropsychiatric symptoms
  • cognitive skills
  • sleep quantity

At present, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved cannabis products for the treatment of any health conditions. However, they have approved one cannabis-derived and three cannabis-related products. They include:

ProductActive ingredientFormUse
EpidiolexCBDoral solutionseizures associated with epilepsy
Marinol (dronabinol)synthetic cannabinoidpillnausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
Cesamet (nabilone)synthetic cannabinoidcapsulenausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy
Syndros (dronabinol)synthetic cannabinoidoral solutionanorexia-related weight loss in people with AIDS

These medications are only available with a doctor’s prescription.

There are currently no CBD products approved for use in the treatment of dementia, but some research has shown promising results. Some companies make false claims that their products can help people with dementia symptoms.

A variety of CBD products are available for purchase, but people should be careful when choosing products and check with a healthcare professional before trying anything new.

For more information and resources on CBD and CBD products, please visit our dedicated hub.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), CBD in its pure form is typically safe to use.

However, it is important to know that many commercially available CBD products are not FDA approved. This means the quality, ingredients, and efficacy of these products can vary greatly. People should always check with a doctor before trying a new CBD product.

They should also manage their expectations if they are trying CBD products to treat dementia symptoms. While they may benefit some people, there is little research on CBD for the treatment of dementia, and they may have no or even negative effects.

CBD can cause side effects in some people, including:

It is also important to know that CBD products cannot replace evidence-backed medications prescribed by a medical professional. People should not use CBD in place of other therapies or medications.

CBD is a naturally occurring compound in the C. sativa plant frequently used for pain relief. Although research suggests it may improve behavioral symptoms in people with dementia, there is no evidence confirming this.

New clinical trials are investigating CBD’s effect on people with dementia.

While CBD is generally safe to use, over-the-counter CBD products are not FDA regulated. People should contact a healthcare professional before trying any new medications.