A new published clinical study out of Israel offers scientific evidence that the therapeutic use of cannabis can be a safe and effective treatment for elderly people, and is often a factor leading to the decreased use of other drugs, including opioids.
The groundbreaking article, "Epidemiological characteristics, safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in the elderly" published on February 7, 2018 in the European Journal of Internal Medicine, is the first of its kind. The study surveyed patients above 65 years of age who received medical cannabis at Tikun Olam clinics in Israel from January 2015 to October 2017. All 2,736 patients, with a median age of 74.5 years, were prescribed one or more of Tikun Olam's proprietary cannabis strains, each developed over a number of years to address specific symptoms. The main strains used in the study were Erez, (53.2%), Avidekel (33.4%), Alaska (25.7%), and Midnight (20.4%).
The most common indications for cannabis treatment were pain (66.6%) and cancer 60.8%). After six months of treatment, 93.7% of the respondents reported improvement in their condition and the reported pain level was reduced by half -- from a median of 8 on a scale of 0–10 to a median of 4. Adverse side effects were minor and rare and included dizziness (9.7%) and dry mouth (7.1%).
Importantly, after six months, 18.1% of the patients reduced their dose of opioid analgesics -- or stopped using them entirely.