Is medicinal cannabis beneficial for older patients?


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Preliminary findings suggest that medicinal cannabis may not only help improve chronic pain, sleep, neuropathy and anxiety in older people, but it may also help to reduce opioid use amongst users. 

The study that is due to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 71st Annual Meeting in May included 204 people, with an average age of 81 years. Participants received various ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to cannabidiol (CBD), for an average of four months and had regular check-ups. 

The study identified symptomatic benefit in 69 per cent of participants, with the most common benefit seen in chronic pain (49%), sleep (18%), neuropathy (15%) and anxiety (10%). Opioid pain medication was reduced in 32 per cent of participants. 

At stable personalised doses, 34 per cent reported adverse events (AEs). The most common AEs were somnolence (13%), disequilibrium (7%) and gastrointestinal disturbance (7%). AEs that resolved after change in dosage were present in 13 per cent. 

The authors noted a balanced 1:1 THC to CBD oral tincture was the most commonly used formulation among patients who reported no side effects. 

They said future research should focus on symptoms like sleepiness and balance problems, as well as efficacy and dosing optimisation.