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Study: cannabis ‘effective’ in older patients with chronic conditions

Around 60% of patients with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis said cannabis was beneficial at managing their symptoms.

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A balanced formulation of medicinal cannabis was safe and effective in treating older patients.

New research supports the use of medicinal cannabis in patients with a range of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, peripheral neuropathy, and multiple sclerosis.

The findings of an observational study suggest that a balanced formulation of medicinal cannabis is safe and effective in treating older patients, with treatment-resistant neurological conditions seeing the most benefit.

Researchers reviewed the medical records of over 150 Australian patients with an average age of 63, who were prescribed cannabis for neurological, musculoskeletal, autoimmune, or anti-inflammatory disorders.

The majority of patients were prescribed an oil preparation containing a balanced ratio of THC:CBD, with data collected over a period of 30 months. The average daily dose of CBD (34.8mg) was significantly higher than that of THC (16.9 mg).

According to the paper, medicinal cannabis was perceived to be beneficial by more than half (53.5%) of patients.

Patients experiencing neuropathic pain/peripheral neuropathy patients reported the most benefit (66.6%), while those with nociceptive pain conditions (caused by damage to the tissue), such as spondylosis, were least likely to perceive cannabis as being beneficial for their symptoms.

Around 60% of patients with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis said cannabis was beneficial at managing their symptoms, followed by just under half of those with migraine (43.8%), chronic pain syndrome (42.1%), and spondylosis (40.0%).

Medicinal cannabis was found to have the greatest perceived effect on sleep (80.0%), followed by pain (51.5%), and muscle spasm (50%). 

“This study indicates that medicinal cannabis, in a balanced formulation, may address a variety of non-cancer conditions and indications concurrently and can be safely prescribed by a medical doctor,” the authors state.

“It is recommended that patients are assessed individually to determine whether medicinal cannabis is an appropriate treatment option, considering the associated safety risks to potential therapeutic benefit.”

The paper suggests that future clinical trials should investigate the role of cannabis in treating the conditions highlighted in the study, as well as recommending further research into its effects on pain and sleep.

The authors add: “Understanding how medicinal cannabis can be used in mainstream medicine is crucial as it has the potential to positively impact millions of lives around the world.”

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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