With cannabis consumption now legal in some form across 33 states and the District of Columbia, the country is continuing its march towards normalizing use of the plant. And it seems that folks of all ages are embracing marijuana’s beneficial effects.
The Baby Boomer generation is experiencing a significant increase in cannabis consumption, with an even bigger spike seen among those 65 and older. This growth is expected to continue as the elderly find themselves having to deal with the common aches and pains—as well as diseases—that come with aging.
Not a whole lot of studies have been done to gauge cannabis’s efficacy among seniors. Which is why last year’s study published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine is a welcome addition.
At the start of the study run by Hebrew University and the Ben Gurion University of Negrev in Israel, 1,186 individuals over the age of 65 received medical evaluations. This included taking their medical history, habits around medication use and a quality of life assessment.
Participants—the majority of whom were dealing with pain and cancer—were then recommended specific cannabis strains based on their condition. They either ingested cannabis oil, or they smoked or vaped marijuana.
After a six-month period, researchers interviewed the participants. What they found was that over 90% of the seniors—93.7% to be exact—reported that their condition had improved.
Specifically, on a scale of 0–10 (with 10 being the worst pain possible), their pain level went from a median of 8 to a median of 4. In addition, over 18% were either able to reduce their use of opioid painkillers or stop altogether.
Some study participants reported adverse effects from cannabis, with the most common issues being dizziness (9.7%) and dry mouth (7.1%). Considering the side effects associated with opioids—constipation, bloating, nausea, vomiting, addiction and even death—cannabis in comparison comes out well ahead.
That said, the study findings support the therapeutic use of cannabis as safe and efficacious among the elderly. Researchers concluded that next steps should ideally involve gathering more evidence-based data in the form of double-blind, randomized-controlled trials.
If you’re a senior experiencing chronic pain, talk to your doctor about adding cannabis to your health and wellness regimen. Or chat with one of HelloMD’s doctors, who are well-versed in cannabis and can provide you with helpful information.
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