New research finds medical cannabis “significantly safer” for elderly patients than opioid medication

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  • Israeli researchers have found strong evidence that medical cannabis is “significantly safer” for elderly patients than pharmaceutical medication
  • 94% of respondents reported improvement in their condition and reduced pain levels
  • Nearly 20% of participants reduced or completely stopped their use of opioid medication

A new study has found medical cannabis to be significantly safer for elderly patients than pharmaceutical medications.

The study, published in The European Journal of Internal Medicine, found that medical marijuana is “safe and efficacious for elderly patients” seeking to treat symptom related to chronic pain, cancer symptoms, Parkinson’s disease, Chron’s, MS, PTSD among a plethora of medical issues.

Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Cannabis Clinical Research Institute at Soroka University Medical Center conducted a surveyed 2,736 medical cannabis patients aged 65 years and older who received medical cannabis through “Tikun Olam,” the largest Israeli medical cannabis supplier.

Due to the recent substantial growth in the use of medical cannabis by elderly patients, researchers aimed to “assess the characteristics of elderly people using medical cannabis and to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the treatment.”

During the 6-month study period, 2736 patients above 65 years of age began cannabis treatment and answered the initial questionnaire.

Chronic pain (66.6%) and cancer (60.8%) were the most common reasons given by respondents for using medical cannabis.

After monitoring patients 65 and older for six months, we found medical cannabis treatment significantly relieves pain and improves quality of life for seniors with minimal side effects reported.
– Professor Victor Novack

Following six months of cannabinoid treatment, 93.7% reported an “improvement in their condition and the reported pain level was reduced from a median of 8 on a scale of 0-10 to a median of 4.”

The study also found that “18.1% [of respondents] stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their dose,” after the 6-month period.

While pharmaceutical medications come with multiple severe adverse side-effects, the most common “adverse effects” reported by respondents were: “dizziness (9.7%) and dry mouth (7.1%).”

More than 33% of patients used cannabis-infused oil; 24% smoked cannabis flowers, with 6% preferring vaporization.

Discussing the results of the study, Professor Victor Novack said: “After monitoring patients 65 and older for six months, we found medical cannabis treatment significantly relieves pain and improves quality of life for seniors with minimal side effects reported.”

Professor Novack is a professor of medicine in the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences (FOHS), and head of the Soroka Cannabis Clinical Research Institute.

While the results from the study are promising, the researchers acknowledged that more research will be needed before full conclusions can be made:

“Gathering more evidence-based data, including data from double-blind randomized-controlled trials, in this special population is imperative.”

References and further Reading

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29398248

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