A study conducted by the DENT neurologic institute will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 71st Annual Meeting in Philadelphia this May. The study reviewed 204 patients age 75 and older with conditions ranging from pain to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s Disease.
The study found that medical cannabis, given as capsules, tinctures, or a vapor pen, relieved symptoms of pain, anxiety, and problems with sleep. The study followed patients over an average of 4 months of treatment and improved symptoms in 69% of participants. Approximately one third (34%) of patients reported adverse effects ranging from sleepiness to balance disturbances, gastrointestinal issues, and euphoria. Opioid consumption was reduced in 32% of participants.
Given that qualifying conditions for medical cannabis often plague older adults, the effects of medical cannabis in this patient population will become increasingly important. To our knowledge, this is one of the first studies that aims to characterize these effects.
Balance disturbances and sleepiness are important adverse effects to pay attention to going forward. Older adults are more susceptible to falls, hip fractures, and the sedating effects of medications.
A group from UB reported similar reductions in opioid consumption last year (link below).