Image: Tikun Olam medical cannabis in capsule form (Photo courtesy of Tikun Olam).
A new study shows that therapeutic use of cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for seniors, and is often a factor leading to the decreased use of other drugs, including opioids.
Researchers at Ben-Gurion University (BGU; Beer Sheva, Israel) and Tikun Olam (Tel Aviv, Israel) conducted a prospective study that included 2,736 patients 65 years and older who began cannabis treatment from January 2015 to October 2017 in a specialized cannabis clinic. The most common indications for cannabis treatment were pain (66.6%) and cancer (60.8%). All patients were prescribed one or more of Tikun Olam's proprietary cannabis strains, with the main strains being Erez, (53.2%), Avidekel (33.4%), Alaska (25.7%), and Midnight (20.4%).
All patients filled an initial questionnaire, which assessed their characteristics, and the researchers then evaluated the treatment. The main outcomes were pain intensity, quality of life, and adverse events at six months. The results revealed that after six months of treatment, 93.7% reported an improvement in their condition, and reported pain levels were reduced from a median of 8 (on a scale of 0-10) to a median of 4. The most common adverse events were dizziness and dry mouth. After six months, 18.1% stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their dose. The study was published on February 7, 2018, in the European Journal of Internal Medicine.
“There is a substantial growth in the use of medical cannabis in recent years, and with the aging of the population, medical cannabis is increasingly used by the elderly,” concluded senior author Victor Novack, PhD, of the BGU Cannabis Clinical Research Institute. “Our study finds that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and efficacious in the elderly population. Cannabis use may decrease the use of other prescription medicines, including opioids. Gathering more evidence-based data, including data from double-blind randomized-controlled trials, in this special population is imperative.”
“This pioneering clinical study on the use of cannabis in the geriatric population is the first step in finding safer, and less toxic medications for use in our elderly populations,” said Bernie Sucher, CEO of Tikun Olam. “This study is an unprecedented affirmation by the scientific community of the efficacy of medical marijuana in the elderly. These people are arguably the most medically vulnerable population, and already a large and growing proportion of the users of medical cannabis.”
Cannabis, also known as Marijuana, is composed of dried buds and leaves of varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant. The two most active components in marijuana are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and cannabidiol (CBD). THC seems to cause the euphoria reported by users, and helps relieve pain and nausea and reduce inflammation. CBD can help treat seizures, reduce anxiety and paranoia, and counteract the THC high.