MAR 24, 2018 2:21 PM PDT

Cannabis is Safer than Opioids for the Elderly

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Israel has legalized marijuana for medicinal uses and has some of the highest rates of cannabis usage in the world, enabling researchers to do many large-scale studies about the impact of the drug. A recent study by scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Cannabis Clinical Research Institute at Soroka University Medical Center has found that in patients older than 65, medical marijuana can reduce pain significantly, without adverse side effects. 

New research suggests that cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for elderly people suffering from many ailments. / Image credit: Publicdomainpictures.net

The work has been reported in The European Journal of Internal Medicine; it suggests that cannabis is a safe and effective treatment for elderly people afflicted with many diseases including cancer, Parkinson's disease, PTSD, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis.

"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," said Victor Novack, M.D., a BGU professor of medicine and head of the Soroka Cannabis Clinical Research Institute. 

"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," he continued.

In this work, the investigators assessed 2,736 patients that were aged 65 or older to see how they felt after six months of treatment with medical cannabis. The majority of the patients had been prescribed the drug by a doctor to relieve pain, in particular, pain related to cancer. About 33 percent of participants used oil infused with cannabis, about 24 percent smoked it, and around six percent used a vaporizer.

After the six months, over 93 percent of participants reported a drop in their pain level from a median of eight to four on a scale of ten points. Nearly 60 percent of those who had initially said their quality of life was either “bad or “very bad” reported feeling “good” or “very good” after the six months of treatment. Over 70 percent of patients also said that they felt there was a moderate or significant improvement in their condition.

The most common side effects reported by the participants were mild, with about ten percent of patients feeling dizzy, and about seven percent getting a dry mouth. Over 18 percent of respondents ceased or reduced their use of opioid pain relievers.

The researchers have suggested that the work shows how cannabis can help reduce dependence on highly addictive opioid-based painkillers. However, they added that more work would be necessary to confirm that hypothesis.

Learn more about the rise in marijuana use among the elderly from the video.

Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! Via American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Researchers, European Journal of Internal Medicine

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
FEB 06, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Reduces Disruptive Behavior in 50% of Young People with Autism
FEB 06, 2021
Cannabis Reduces Disruptive Behavior in 50% of Young People with Autism
Current pharmacotherapies for disruptive behaviors among those with autism are relatively ineffective. Now though, resea ...
APR 20, 2021
Health & Medicine
Cannabis Users Tend to Exercise More
APR 20, 2021
Cannabis Users Tend to Exercise More
Two recent studies have shown that far from performing less exercise, people who use marijuana are actually more active. ...
APR 22, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Cannabis Use Disorder in Pregnancy Linked to Infant Health Problems
APR 22, 2021
Cannabis Use Disorder in Pregnancy Linked to Infant Health Problems
Researchers have found that babies born to mothers diagnosed with cannabis use disorders at delivery are more likely to ...
MAY 21, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Parental Consumption of Cannabis Increases Teen Consumption
MAY 21, 2021
Parental Consumption of Cannabis Increases Teen Consumption
Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada have found that teens brought up in homes where their pare ...
JUN 08, 2021
Cannabis Sciences
Can Smoking Weed Help You Lose Weight?
JUN 08, 2021
Can Smoking Weed Help You Lose Weight?
While cannabis is known to increase appetite in what is known as the ‘munchies’, some say they are able to l ...
JUN 08, 2021
Health & Medicine
THC Level in Body Fluids Is Not a Good Marker of Impairment
JUN 08, 2021
THC Level in Body Fluids Is Not a Good Marker of Impairment
It’s not easy to tell how impaired a person will be based on how much THC they have in their body a study has foun ...
Loading Comments...