Epidemiological Characteristics, Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in the Elderly
European Journal of Internal Medicine, 2018
Ran Abuhasira1, Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider1,2, Raphael Mechoulam3, Victor Novack1
1Cannabis Clinical Research Institute, Soroka University Medical Center, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be’er-Sheva, Israel; 2Research Department, Tikun Olam LTD, Israel; 3Institute for Drug Research, Medical Faculty, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
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. The aim of this prospective study, conducted in collaboration with Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University, was to analyze the characteristics of cannabis treatment in the elderly, by measuring pain intensity, quality of life, and side effects after six months of treatment. The most common indications for cannabis treatment were pain (66.6%) and cancer (60.8%). The study found that the therapeutic use of cannabis is safe and efficacious in the elderly population.
STUDY POPULATION: 2736 geriatric patients (1,273 males, mean age 74.5).
- 2,736 patients answered the initial questionnaire. 1,186 (43.3%) remained in treatment after at least half a year and of these, 901 (75.9%) answered the follow-up questionnaire.
- Overall improvement – 93.7% of patients reported that the cannabis treatment improved their condition.
- Improving quality of life – 59% of patients reported their quality of life to be “good or very good,” after half a year of active treatment, whereas only 14% of patients rated their quality of life at this level prior to beginning treatment.
- Pain reduction – Pain reporting was significantly reduced from a median of eight to four out of a scale of ten. Prior to treatment, 66.8% of patients reported high pain-intensity; after six months of treatment, this number decreased to only 7.6% of patients.
- Overall decrease in medication intake – 35.1% of patients reported a decrease in the number of medications taken or in dosage.
- Decreased opioid intake – 18.1% of patients stopped using opioid analgesics or reduced their dose.
- The most common reported side effects were dizziness (9.7%) and dry mouth (7.1%).
- The study found that cannabis use is safe and effective among the elderly population.