Medical Cannabis Is Effective in Elderly Patients
February 15, 2018
The Jerusalem Post – Medical cannabis therapies can significantly cut chronic pain in patients over 65 years of age without adverse effects, according to BGU researchers and the Cannabis Clinical Research Institute at Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva.
A new study, published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, found that the therapeutic use of marijuana is safe and effective for elderly patients who need relief from chronic pain due to cancer, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other disorders.
“While older patients represent a large and growing population of medical cannabis users, few studies have addressed how it affects this particular group, which also suffers from dementia, frequent falls, mobility problems, and hearing and visual impairments,” says Prof. Victor Novack, M.D., of the BGU Faculty of Health Sciences, and head of the Soroka Cannabis Clinical Research Institute. Prof. Novack is also BGU’s Gussie Krupp Chair in Internal Medicine.
“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,” says Prof. Novack.
BGU researchers surveyed 2,736 patients 65 years and older who received medical cannabis through Tikun Olam, the largest Israeli medical cannabis supplier. More than 60 percent were prescribed medical cannabis to treat pain, particularly pain associated with cancer.
After six months of treatment, more than 93 percent of the 901 respondents reported their pain dropped from a median of eight to a median of four on a 10-point scale. Close to 60 percent of patients who originally reported “bad” or “very bad” quality of life upgraded to “good” or “very good” after six months. More than 70 percent of patients surveyed reported moderate to significant improvement in their condition.
All patients received a prescription after consulting with a doctor who prescribed treatment.
While the researchers state their findings to date indicate cannabis may decrease dependence on prescription medicines, including opioids, more evidence-based data from this special, aging population is imperative.