Cannabidiol as a Treatment for Neurobiological, Behavioral, and Psychological Symptoms in Early-Stage Dementia: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial Protocol

Publication Name

Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research


Rationale: The slowing of disease progression in dementia in the early stages of diagnosis is paramount to improving the quality of life for those diagnosed and their support networks. Accumulating evidence suggests that CBD, a constituent of Cannabis sativa, is associated with neuroprotective, neuroendocrine, and psychotherapeutic effects, suggesting that it may be beneficial to dementia treatment. However, no published human study to date has examined this possibility. This trial aims to determine whether daily treatment with CBD over a 12-week period is associated with improved neurobiological, behavioral, and psychological outcomes in individuals living with early-stage dementia. Methods: Sixty participants with early-stage dementia will be recruited for a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Participants will be randomized into either 99.9% pure CBD or placebo treatment conditions and administered two capsules per day for 12 weeks. Participants will commence a 200 mg/day dose for 2 weeks before escalating to 300 mg/day for the remaining 10 weeks. Neuroimaging and blood-based neuroendocrine profiles will be assessed at baseline and post-treatment. Psychological and behavioral symptoms will be assessed at baseline, 6 weeks, and post-treatment. Monitoring of health and side-effects will be conducted through weekly home visits. Discussion: This study is among the first to investigate the effects of isolated CBD in improving neuroanatomical and neuroendocrine changes, alongside psychological symptoms, during the early stages of dementia diagnosis. The outcomes of this trial have the capacity to inform a potential novel and accessible treatment approach for individuals living with early-stage dementia, and in turn, improve quality of life, prognoses, and treatment outcomes. Trial Registration: This trial has been registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (CT-2020-CTN-03849-1v2) and the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12621001364864).

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Funding Sponsor

National Health and Medical Research Council



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