A new study has shown that medical marijuana may bring relief to older people who experience pain, sleep disorders or anxiety due to chronic health conditions.
The research found medical marijuana may be safe and effective.
In addition, one-third of participants using marijuana reduced their use of opioids.
Currently, about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition.
Previously, scientists have found that in many states, medical marijuana has become a popular treatment in people with chronic diseases and disorders.
However, how it could benefit older people is unclear until now.
In the present study, the researchers examined 204 people with an average age of 81 in the New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program.
The participants took THC and CBD, the main active chemicals in medical marijuana, for about four months and had regular checkups.
The researchers found about 20% of patients reported side effects, including sleepiness and balance problems.
According to the team, a ratio of one-to-one THC to CBD was the most common ratio in people with no side effects.
The team found about 70% of participants experienced some symptom relief.
Among them, 49% experienced pain relief, 18% had fewer sleep problems, 15% had less neuropathy, and about 10% had less anxiety.
In addition, opioid use decreased by 32% in the patients.
The results suggest that medical marijuana is well-tolerated in people age 75 and older.
It can be an additional option for older people who often have chronic conditions.
The team warns that this study relied on participants reporting whether they experienced symptom relief. It is possible that they just experience the placebo effect.
In the future, better-controlled studies should be conducted to test the marijuana effect.
One study author is Laszlo Mechtler, MD, of Dent Neurologic Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology.
The research will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 71st Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, May 4 to 10, 2019.
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