March 14, 2008
Scientists are suggesting that cannabis can offer some benefit for
The scientists from Israel and Spain say cannabis-based treatments could
improve memory loss in Alzheimer's sufferers.
The revelation was made this week at a symposium of cannabis experts
hosted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB)
where the scientists said that a compound present in cannabis
significantly slows memory problems caused by the disease.
Ten years ago the RPSGB launched its protocols to demonstrate the
therapeutic effectiveness of cannabis which led to Government-funded
trials in Britain to explore the benefits for patients with multiple
sclerosis and in the treatment of severe pain.
Cannabis-derived medicines have subsequently entered the market and are
currently available to patients in Canada.
The claim follows successful tests in mice and the scientists are now
calling for funding for trials to be conducted in humans.
Cannabis is thought to trigger harmful mind-altering effects in some
people but the scientists say the medicinal compound in question,
cannabidiol, is not a hallucinogenic ingredient.
Professor Raphael Mechoulam from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
also found that the symptoms of type 1 diabetes can be helped by
Professor Mechoulam however warns against the use of cannabis by
Alzheimer's patients because the psychoactive ingredient
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could have damaging effects on memory.
Experts are calling for clinical trials into the potential benefits of
the non-psychoactive components of cannabis and they too stress that
such treatments are not the same as recreational cannabis use.
Professor Tony Moffat, chairman of the Symposium says progress has been
made in the last ten years but more research is needed as there is
considerable interest in the medical benefits of cannabis and related
compounds for a range of conditions including arthritis, multiple
sclerosis and neurological pain.
Alzheimer's disease is the commonest form of dementia, which affects an
estimated 24.3 million people worldwide.