Could medical marijuana help grandma and grandpa with their ailments?

Medical marijuana may bring relief to older people who have symptoms like pain, sleep disorders or anxiety due to chronic conditions including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, neuropathy, spinal cord damage and multiple sclerosis, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 71st Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, May 4 to 10, 2019. The study not only found medical marijuana may be safe and effective, it also found that one-third of participants reduced their use of opioids. However, the study was retrospective and relied on participants reporting whether they experienced symptom relief, so it is possible that the placebo effect may have played a role. Additional randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic health condition.

"With legalization in many states, medical marijuana has become a popular treatment option among people with chronic diseases and disorders, yet there is limited research, especially in older people," said study author Laszlo Mechtler, MD, of Dent Neurologic Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. "Our findings are promising and can help fuel further research into medical marijuana as an additional option for this group of people who often have chronic conditions."

The study involved 204 people with an average age of 81 who were enrolled in New York State's Medical Marijuana Program. Participants took various ratios of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to cannabidiol (CBD), the main active chemicals in medical marijuana, for an average of four months and had regular checkups. The medical marijuana was taken by mouth as a liquid extract tincture, capsule or in an electronic vaporizer.

Initially, 34 percent of participants had side effects from the medical marijuana. After an adjustment in dosage, only 21 percent reported side effects. The most common side effects were sleepiness in 13 percent of patients, balance problems in 7 percent and gastrointestinal disturbances in 7 percent. Three percent of the participants stopped taking the medical marijuana due to the side effects. Researchers said a ratio of one-to-one THC to CBD was the most common ratio among people who reported no side effects.

Researchers found that 69 percent of participants experienced some symptom relief. Of those, the most common conditions that improved were pain with 49 percent experiencing relief, sleep symptoms with 18 percent experiencing relief, neuropathy improving in 15 percent and anxiety improving in 10 percent.

Opioid pain medication was reduced in 32 percent of participants.

"Our findings show that medical marijuana is well-tolerated in people age 75 and older and may improve symptoms like chronic pain and anxiety," said Mechtler. "Future research should focus on symptoms like sleepiness and balance problems, as well as efficacy and optimal dosing."

Vincent Bargnes, Paul Hart, Sheila Gupta, Laszlo Mechtler.
Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis in Elderly Patients: A Retrospective Review ina Neurological Outpatient Setting.
71st AAN Annual Meeting Abstract

Most Popular Now

Pfizer and Lilly announce top-line results from lo…

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) announced top-line results from a Phase 3 study evaluating tanezumab 2.5 mg and 5 mg. The objective of the stu...

Bristol-Myers Squibb reports first quarter financi…

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) today reported results for the first quarter of 2019 which were highlighted by strong demand for Opdivo (nivolumab) and Eliquis (a...

AstraZeneca starts artificial intelligence collabo…

AstraZeneca and BenevolentAI today began a long-term collaboration to use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for the discovery and development of new treat...

Comprehensive tumor profiling promises new therape…

The WINTHER trial, NCT01856296, led by investigators from Vall d'Hebron Institute of Oncology - VHIO (Spain), Chaim Sheba Medical Center (Israel) (Raanan Berger), Gustave...

Walnuts may help lower blood pressure for those at…

When combined with a diet low in saturated fats, eating walnuts may help lower blood pressure in people at risk for cardiovascular disease, according to a new Penn State ...

Amgen ignites a social fitness movement to support…

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) launched the Breakaway Challenge initiative, a national social fitness program to motivate individuals to take action in their health and to support t...

Chemotherapy or not?

Case Western Reserve University researchers and partners, including a collaborator at Cleveland Clinic, are pushing the boundaries of how "smart" diagnostic-imaging machi...

Drugs to prevent stroke and dementia show promise …

Treatments that prevent recurrence of types of stroke and dementia caused by damage to small blood vessels in the brain have moved a step closer, following a small study...

Possible link between autism and antidepressants u…

An international team led by Duke-NUS Medical School has found a potential link between autistic-like behaviour in adult mice and exposure to a common antidepressant in t...

Personalizing precision medicine with combination …

Precision oncology often relies on treating patients with a single, molecularly matched therapy that targets one mutation in their tumor. In a report, published online in...

Researchers define Alzheimer's-like brain disorder

A brain disorder that mimics symptoms of Alzheimer's disease has been defined with recommended diagnostic criteria and guidelines for advancing future research on the con...

Amgen and Syapse enter precision medicine collabor…

Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), a world leader in biotechnology, and Syapse, a company powering precision medicine insights through its global provider network, announced a precisio...