Study suggests cannabis treatment improves quality of life for patients with various conditions
Cannabis can improve patients’ lives with various qualifying health conditions, according to new research. A recently published study revealed that 3,148 surveyed patients showed an increased health-related quality of life following cannabis treatment.
The retrospective case study gathered data through self-reporting from Australian patients receiving treatment from Emerald Clinics, a network of seven specialty clinics. Patients filled out a 36-part Short Form Health Survey for multiple visits from December 2018 to May 2022.
The study aimed to monitor survey answer changes and investigate the effect of physician-prescribed cannabis treatment on patient limitations in physical and social activity. Additionally, researchers tracked difficulties in daily activities due to physical and mental health, bodily pain, general mental health, fatigue, and general health.
Patients attended up to 15 follow-up appointments an average of every 44 days. On average, patients surveyed received around five additional consultations. The types of cannabis medicine administered varied on physician assessment, with 93.9 percent of patients prescribed oral applications like oil and capsules and 2.5 percent given inhalation methods either by themselves or in combination with oils. Different ratios of CBD to THC were administered based on physician assessment.
The most common condition among patients surveyed was non-cancer chronic pain, making up 68.6 percent of patients. In addition, six percent of patients received treatment for cancer pain, 4.8 percent sought relief from insomnia, and 4.2 percent were diagnosed with anxiety.
Patients showed a 6 to 18-point increase in their quality of life following cannabis treatment, and researchers report an increase in all investigated areas. However, patients also reported 2,919 adverse effects, 86 of which were considered severe and two of which were considered serious.
The most common adverse effect of cannabis treatment was sleepiness, affecting 13.1 percent of respondents. Patients also reported dry mouth, lethargy, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, nausea, diarrhea, feeling high, increased appetite, headache, anxiety, panic attacks, vivid dreams, hallucinations, and impaired coordination. Unfortunately, researchers cannot state whether side effects are due to cannabis treatment or underlying conditions without more research.
Despite side effects, the study suggests a positive correlation between cannabis treatment and overall quality of life for patients diagnosed with chronic pain (both cancer and non-cancer), anxiety, and insomnia–though researchers advise caution to avoid serious side effects or contraindications.