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Study: How cannabis improves quality of life in older adults



Medical cannabis can help relieve a number of conditions brought on by age

Older adults have found medical cannabis to be beneficial in helping ease symptoms of chronic conditions  – but more support and education is needed, according to one study.

Researchers conducting a study to understand the use of medical cannabis among older adults have concluded that many are ‘open’ to the treatment as a potential alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.

When entering older age, it is common to suffer from a higher number of conditions that cause daily, and often significant pain, simply as a result of the body getting older.

The study, by researchers from Concordia University, Center for Gerontology in Montreal, Canada, found that medical cannabis consumers over the age of 60 reported the use of this therapy improves quality of life and, and reduces reliance on pharmaceutical drugs.

Lead author, Lydia Manning concluded: “Our findings suggest that older adults are open to medical cannabis as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs, hopeful with regard to the management of symptoms and pain, and aware of and astute at managing issues related to stigma both from their physicians and family and friends. Furthermore, older adults describe the frustrations with education, awareness, and lack of support with dosing.”

During the study, it was discovered that participants found medical cannabis use to be beneficial in managing chronic conditions and alleviating symptoms such as chronic pain.

While the findings are presented as an interpretation of the participants’ perceptions, this information is expected to help clinicians learn more about the factors impacting medical cannabis use and the types of information and assistance that may aid other adults in accessing the treatment.

It is true that while users report the positive impact of medical cannabis on quality of life and reduction of pain, many are frustrated with the lack of guidance on the subject of the remedy provided by their primary care physician.

This hesitance is defended by health professionals who attribute this to the lack of formal training in the subject.

Commenting on a different study which identified strong positive association between higher frequency cannabis use and self-reported improvements to pain symptoms, deputy director of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in the US, Paul Armentano said: “These results are hardly surprising. Many seniors likely experimented first-hand with cannabis during their youth and are now returning to it as a potential therapy to mitigate many of the health-related symptoms that come with older age, including chronic pain. Many seniors are well aware of the litany of serious adverse side-effects associated with available prescription drugs, like opioids, and they perceive medical cannabis to be a viable alternative.”

It is no secret that the population of the UK is ageing, with nearly 12 million people aged over 65 – accounting for 18 per cent of the total population, and with many experiencing health issues including chronic pain, heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s, these studies are well-timed to offer alternatives to traditional pharmaceuticals.

A 2016 study found that transdermal cannabidiol has potential for reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis without any noticeable side effects.

As the body ages, bone density decreases. This can lead to a number of health issues including fractures and bone diseases such as osteoporosis; a condition that causes the bones to become brittle and fragile.

In 2017/18, the NHS revealed that almost 100,000 older people suffered from hip fractures. And according to the Office for National Statistics, 5,048 people aged over 65 died from having a fall in 2017.

Although research remains in its early stages, some studies have demonstrated the potential of cannabinoids, including CBD, for strengthening bones and promoting the healing process.


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