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Project Twenty21 finds medical cannabis dramatically improves quality of life

The first findings from the UK’s largest medical cannabis patient study show quality of life improved by more than 50%

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Results show a 51 percent increase in patients ability to lead a more normal life

The first findings from the UK’s largest medical cannabis patient study show quality of life improved by more than 50 percent. 

Preliminary results from Drug Science’s Project Twenty21 study, have found medical cannabis significantly improves quality of life for people with life-limiting conditions such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis (MS) Tourette’s syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Published on Tuesday 11 May, the report is the first real-world data to be collected on medical cannabis in the UK.

Launched in 2019, Project Twenty 21 has now licensed prescriptions of medical cannabis to over 900 patients, who have been unable to manage their conditions with commonly prescribed medicines. 

Their progress has been assessed using the established methodology that is used to study the wellbeing of patients with cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia and numerous other conditions.

Results show a 51 percent increase in patients’ self-reported health and ability to lead a more normal life, as well as significant improvements in managing debilitating secondary conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Every patient enrolled had at least two ‘failed treatments’ on their medical records –  where commonly prescribed medications, such as opioids, had little to no effect on their ability to manage their conditions. 

Sixty four percent of patients involved in the study were male, 35 percent female and one individual identified as non binary, with an average age of 39.9 years.

The vast majority of patients (56 percent) reported chronic pain as their primary condition.

By 13 March 2021, a total of 75 individuals had completed both an initial and three-month follow up appointment, indicating the life-improving effect of prescribed medical cannabis on improved health. 

Dr Anne Katrin Schlag

Dr Anne Katrin Schlag, head of research at Drug Science

Dr Anne Schlag, head of research at Drug Science, the organisation behind the project and an honorary fellow at Imperial College London, said: Our patient population comprises a huge age range, who often have multiple health problems. The low quality of life that they experience demonstrates just how unwell many of them are.

“Stereotypes of medicinal cannabis users as being young, healthy recreational users looking for a legal source could not be further from the truth.”

Speaking to Cannabis Health she said that the treatment of patient’s secondary conditions was “essential” when considering their overall quality of life.

“The majority of patients have secondary conditions, some even as many as up to 10,” said Dr Schlag.

“Most common secondary conditions diagnosed were depression, back and neck problems, insomnia, stress and anxiety, which all can be severely detrimental to patients’ quality of life.

“With this high number of multi-morbidity, many of these patients would have been excluded from formal, randomised controlled trials, highlighting the importance of a real-world evidence database, such as Twenty21.” 

Almost two thirds (63 percent) of patients in the study had previously turned to illegal cannabis use in an attempt to treat their conditions, but have been able to avoid criminality thanks to a legal prescription. 

According to researchers, prescriptions also provide an opportunity to reduce and stop reliance on widely available medicines which can come with serious side effects, including dependency.

The report follows guidance from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) published in April 2021, which stated, ‘there is little or no evidence that [commonly prescribed drugs, such as benzodiazepines or opioids] make any difference to people’s quality of life, pain or psychological distress, but they can cause harm, including possible addiction’.

Drug Science experts have previously called for NICE and other regulatory bodies to reconsider their guidance on medical cannabis and give patients another viable option. 

Dr Schlag told Cannabis Health that the impact of medical cannabis on opioid use would be analysed in a future report.

“In the current paper, we can see that the majority of patients are using medical cannabis to treat pain but not – yet – whether this led to opioid sparing,” she added.

Through project Project Twenty21, Drug Science is aiming to build the UK’s largest body of evidence for the effectiveness of medical cannabis, in the hope that the findings will lead to NHS funding where the benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risks.

Founder of Drug Science, Professor David Nutt, commented: “A lack of clinical evidence has made it difficult for doctors to confidently prescribe legal medical cannabis in the UK. These new findings provide a major step forward, and help to clarify the benefit these medicines can have for thousands of seriously ill patients.”

The scheme subsidises prescriptions for eligible patients to access affordable treatment through a number of UK clinics.

Eric Bystrom, CEO of Cellen, one Project Twenty21’s prescribing clinics said the findings were “significant” in furthering the understanding of medical cannabis, he added: “To date, much of the narrative in the UK has been centred around the perceived lack of data and evidence. For the first time, we now have meaningful data and research from the UK.

“This is significant because it starts to equip clinicians with data and furthers the education and understanding of medical cannabis in the UK”

What’s it like to be a patient on Project Twenty21?

My experience as a medical cannabis prescriber on Project Twenty21

Mental health

Clinical trial will assess if CBD can be used to treat PTSD

A new clinical trial could be a breakthrough moment for the treatment of PTSD

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PTSD is particularly common among those who have served in the armed forces

US biotech firm Ananda Scientific has launched clinical trials of a cannabis-based treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The company has teamed up with New York University Grossman School of Medicine to carry out the eight-week study.

The Phase II double-blind, randomised trial will involve 120 patients in a large scale placebo-controlled experiment which could be a breakthrough moment for the drug.

If successful, the trial will be an important step on the journey to winning regulatory approval Ananda’s Nantheia treatment, a drug incorporating CBD into a liquid application.

PTSD is a common mental health disorder which occurs in people following a traumatic experience and is a particular problem among people who have served in the armed forces.

A 2014 study found as many as 12.9 percent of US soldiers who served in Iraq displayed some symptoms of PTSD.

Recent months have seen warnings health workers on the front line during the Covid-19 crisis could also be experiencing PTSD.

An increasing number of health workers have displayed PTSD symptoms during the pandemic.

A study in the British Medical Journal compiled earlier this year found 39.5 percent of staff on critical care wards ‘met the threshold for probable clinical significance’ when surveyed for PTSD symptoms.

The study will also evaluate its impact on patients with neurocognitive impairments resulting from a traumatic brain injury.

Sohail R. Zaidi, Ananda’s president, said: “This is an important milestone for Ananda’s clinical development program, and we look forward to continuing to work with the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

“We are impressed by the scientific rigour and professionalism of the NYU team in getting a cutting-edge program in place to test the efficacy of our very promising drug.

“The initiation of patient enrolment in this study reinforces our commitment to our goal of improving health and wellness empowered by cannabinoid science.

“This is also an important step in our efforts to provide patients with PTSD with potentially improved therapeutic options.”

This trial is being led by Esther Blessing, assistant professor of psychiatry and Charles R. Marmar, chair of psychiatry.

Dr Marmar leads NYU’s PTSD research programme and is a leading expert in clinical trials for innovative treatments for PTSD and related conditions.

He said: “We are excited to get this important trial underway. Our collaboration with Ananda Scientific allows us to progress in the development of evidence-based CBD products for this debilitating condition.”

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Why are people using CBD?

New survey data reveals why people in the US are consuming CBD – here are some of the key findings.

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New survey data reveals how and why people in the US are consuming CBD

New survey data reveals how and why people in the US are consuming CBD – here are some of the key findings.

Data intelligence firm New Frontier has released two new reports providing in-depth analysis on CBD consumer groups in the US and the factors shaping their behaviours. 

For the survey, respondents were grouped into four cohorts based on their primary reason to consume CBD including; medical, pain management, unwinding and general wellness.

Just over half of those described as ‘unwinding’ consumers are under the age of 35, while most who use it to manage pain are aged 55 or older, according to the findings.

Medical and general wellness consumers are roughly evenly distributed across age groups.

A whopping 92 percent of medical users reported having a ‘positive impression’ of CBD and 71 percent have recommended it to someone they know.

Unsurprisingly, medical users were more likely to consume CBD on a daily basis and spent more on the supplement, with one in four claiming to be spending more than $100 per month on CBD products. 

The majority of those surveyed said they used CBD for pain management and were “highly satisfied” with CBD and most likely to believe that it has “valid medical uses”.

But in general this group was “uninformed” about the cannabis market, says the report, and only one in five weren’t  interested in learning more.

Those who consume CBD to unwind identified anxiety reduction, stress relief, sleep, relaxation and pain management as some of the common reasons for use.

This group was younger than the average and nearly three-quarters said they had discussed CBD with friends, while more than 90 percent have friends or family who also use it.

By contrast, general wellness consumers were among the least likely to have had a conversation about CBD (11 percent) and nearly 1 in 5 (17 percent) did not know any friends or family who consume it.

Oils and tinctures were the most popular consumption method, followed by topicals, edibles and drinks and vaping, with CBD in capsule and pill form the least common.

Concluding key takeaways from the survey, the authors write: “The deepening fragmentation of the CBD consumer market will continue as consumers become more familiar with the products, and more targeted in the ways by which they integrate CBD into their lives. 

“While medical consumers are most likely to be regimented in their use, more likely to be brand-loyal, and most focused on dosing, other consumers groups are far less entrenched in their product preferences or consumption habits.”

While 30 percent of surveyed consumers expected their CBD usage to increase in the next six months, just under half (49 percent) said they did not have a preferred brand.

New Frontier Data founder and executive chair, Giadha A DeCarcer, noted: “As the market is flooded with more product choices, CBD brands and retailers would be well-served to delineate and target their consumers as they would in any other mainstream product category.”

See the full report at New Frontier Data 

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Mental health

Friends and CBD founders donate profits to mental health charity

10 percent of the brand’s profits will go to the Mental Health Foundation this month

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Catherine Meardon (left) and Laura Walton co-founded Moi+Me

Two friends who co-founded a CBD brand after experiencing anxiety, are donating a percentage of the company’s profits to a mental health charity this month.

Best friends and CBD co-founders, Laura Walton and Catherine Meardon know the importance of looking after your mental health.

Both of them have experienced anxiety either personally, or through a loved one. 

This June, the pair who co-founded CBD brand Moi+Me, are donating 10 percent of their profits to the Mental Health Foundation to help raise awareness. 

The charity provides support for those experiencing mental health issues, as well as campaigning to raise awareness and reduce stigma.

The friends and former colleagues founded Moi+Me after Laura’s struggles with anxiety after losing her mum.

She says discovering CBD, along with other tools and being able to be open about her experience helped her find her “way out”.

As a friend, Catherine has found it difficult to know what to say and together they wanted to build a brand that could provide tools and support, as well as taking the confusion out of CBD.

“Both of us have been touched personally by anxiety, either through our own suffering or that of those we love,” said Laura.

“I used CBD along with other tools during her mental health journey and found them to be a great support, but I didn’t want to only create a brand or product, we want to help support as much as we can by encouraging people to take extra care of themselves and have self-love.” 

She added: “It is our mission to raise further awareness of mental health, we are fully aware it can still be hard to be open about mental health in fear of being judged so by supporting this charity who in turn helps others also suffering feels a perfect fit for our brand.”

The concept for Moi + Me came from the idea that our busy lifestyles leave us feeling pulled in different directions with little time for reflection and self-care.

The range includes CBD balm, temple roller, peppermint oil mist and massage candle to encourage customers to take time for themselves.

Catherine added: “We both understand the importance of getting your life balance right. If you don’t allow time in your life for reflection and relaxation, things can very quickly feel on top of you. 

“Our busy lifestyles can leave us feeling like you have one soul and two minds. One ‘Moi’ side of us is thriving externally while the other ‘Me’ side feels tired, worn out and has too much on.  

“We’ve designed our high-quality, pure CBD product range to help bring moments of calm into your daily routine through a combination of stimulating flavours and scents.”

 

Visit www.moiandme.com

Access mental health information and support via the Mental Health Foundation 

 

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