Aggression and other disruptive behaviours linked to Alzheimer’s disease are notoriously difficult to treat, sometimes leading to patients being restrained or medically sedated, but some doctors are now investigating the potential for success with a new strategy: CBD oil.
Family members of patients with dementia say CBD oil, short for Cannabidiol and derived from the cannabis plant, can make a world of difference.
David Scholey’s yelling used to echo through the hallways of his Ontario long term care facility in Fenelon Falls, Ont. Ever since he tried CBD oil two months ago, the 76-year-old’s dementia-related disruptions have declined.
“Within a couple of days you could tell it was working because of the fact that he was a lot quieter, he was a lot calmer,” said Catherine Mantle, a registered nurse and care director at Fenelon Court.
David’s brother, William Scholey also noticed a major improvement. “I think it is wonderful for not only David but for people and family just to see that he is not... as anxious and frustrated,” he said.
William Scholey says “the problem” with sedatives for his brother was that they made it more difficult for David to communicate simple things like which movies he wants to watch.
“He’s a movie buff and he is constantly looking for new titles. He likes the old war and cowboy movies and stuff and David has a great memory in that regard,” Scholey said.
Scholey joked that his brother is now a “pothead,” but also said that the therapy doesn’t appear be making David “high.” That’s likely because CBD is not the chemical in cannabis that makes people feel euphoric. The “high” comes mainly from Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
‘Godsend for caregivers’
Betty Wigle’s family has also turned to CBD oil. Her son, James Tripp, says the drug shifted his 92-year-old mother’s mood from anxious and depressed to cheerful.
As her caregiver, Tripp says the CBD therapy has been a godsend.
“I was so worn out from looking after her. It is hard enough looking after seniors but an Alzheimer's patient is literally a 24/7 job. I was sleeping two hours a day. I was exhausted dealing with my own health issues,” he said.
“When we got her on the (CBD) therapy it solved so many of the volatility issues,” Tripp added.