In recent years there has been a substantial increase in the use of medical cannabis, particularly with the aging population. In a recent study, titled 'Epidemiological characteristics, safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in the elderly', published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, researchers found that after just six months of being treated with cannabis, 93.7% reported improvement in their condition.
The study focused on 2,736 patients over the age of 65 who began cannabis treatment between January 2015 and October 2017. Treatment was conducted in a specialised clinic where patients answered an initial questionnaire. The researchers were looking specifically at pain intensity, quality of life and adverse events at six months.
The group included people with MS, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The most common indications for cannabis treatment were pain (66.6%) and cancer (60.8%).
After six months of treatment not only did 93.7% of patients report improvement in their condition, but their pain levels were reduced from a median of eight on a scale of 0-10 to a median of four.
The most common adverse events were dizziness (9.7%) and dry mouth (7.1%). After six months, 18.1% stopped using prescription medication or reduced their dose.
Based on these findings the researchers concluded that the therapeutic use of cannabis “is safe and efficacious in the elderly population.” They also suggested that cannabis use may decrease the use of other prescription medicines, including opioids. They now feel that gathering more evidence-based data, including data from double-blind randomised-controlled trials, in this special population is imperative.