Cancer, Insomnia, Anxiety, and Pain Patients All Report Better Quality Of Life After Using Cannabis
Insights From A New Study
Pain, cancer, insomnia, and anxiety are among the most common yet difficult to treat conditions afflicting millions of people around the world. The good news is that cannabis has been shown to help people who struggle with these conditions, without the addiction and side effects that are attached to taking pharmaceutical drugs.
A new study out of Australia, whose results were published in the JAMA Network Open journal, has shown that patients with these conditions reported a much better quality of life after using cannabis. A population of 3,100 patients who were authorized by physicians in Australia to use cannabis because prescription drugs failed them, were studied by researchers. They were given different dosages of marijuana, though most of them consumed high CBD products.
It was also interesting to note that most patients in the group were above 50 years of age. The authors wrote, “Patients using medical cannabis reported improvements in health-related quality of life, which were mostly sustained over time. Adverse events were rarely serious.”
“In this retrospective case series, patients reported improvements…. After commencing treatment with medical cannabis…. On all eight of the health-related quality of life domains assessed… Further high-quality trials are required,” the authors concluded.
There is a growing body of research on the impact of cannabis on patients with cancer and other illnesses. They all echo the same results, thereby proving the efficacy of cannabis in improving quality of life. In one study in particular, from May 2023, researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder analyzed 25 cancer patients in an observational study to determine any effects of cannabis products to the symptoms of cancer as well as side effects of chemotherapy.
This is among the first studies to ever analyze the impact of cannabis purchased from a dispensary to cancer patients. This is not normally the case with studies because the current federal laws in the United States prohibit university researchers from possessing and distributing marijuana products unless it has been provided by the government for research purposes. As a workaround, the researchers instead analyzed the responses of cancer patients after buying their own medical marijuana products from dispensaries.
The study’s 25 participants each went to a dispensary to buy edibles of their own liking, which varied from pills to tinctures, chocolates, gummies, and baked items. The THC and CBD dosages varied from one patient to another. Participants were then sent cognitive and physical tests through a mobile laboratory that visited their home, and took tests after consuming cannabis.
According to the patients, their pain levels dropped drastically just an hour after consuming cannabis. Naturally, the more THC they consumed, the more psychoactive effects they felt. Meanwhile, patients who consumed more CBD reported better sleep and less pain, which is attributed to the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD.
Follow-up exams were taken after two weeks of regular cannabis consumption. During this time, patients admitted to have a reduction in pain as well as an improvement in their cognitive function and sleep. It was also interesting to note that the researchers observed a correlation between a decrease in pain and improved cognition.
Another study from 2022, this time conducted by researchers from Brazil, involved investigators who surveyed 7,491 cannabis users together with 839 non-consumers. The participants were asked to answer a standardized questionnaire which gauged their quality of life, well-being, depression, and anxiety.
The data, which was published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, revealed that participants who were also regular cannabis consumers, reported highest quality of life scores. Occasional cannabis users followed afterwards. The researchers also noted that both regular and occasional users had higher quality of life scores compared to non-cannabis users scored higher than non-users, while those who said their cannabis use was problematic had the lowest scores.
“Even after controlling for possible confounders such as demographics and the use of other psychoactive drugs, occasional or habitual self-perception of cannabis use remained associated with better outcomes of quality of life and mental health,” wrote the researchers.
“The results obtained in this study are particularly relevant because they were obtained from a sample predominantly composed of habitual cannabis users from the general population, a group less frequently represented in other surveys,” they wrote. “Except for self-perceived dysfunctional cannabis use, the association between cannabis use with an increased risk of adverse health outcomes was not observed in the present study. It is possible that these adverse outcomes, generally described in many other studies, may be due to publication bias or the fact that our survey data collection strategy predominantly targeted recreational cannabis users,” the authors concluded.
Last but not least, another study from the United Kingdom reveals that patients who consume medical cannabis for chronic illness report significant improvements in health and quality of life. The results of this observational study was published in Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, and details the findings from 2,833 patients in the UK Medical Cannabis Registry. The participants were analyzed by British researchers, who sought to understand the efficacy and safety of cannabis products.
All the study participants were already given a doctor’s authorization to buy cannabis products. They were suffering from several different kinds of disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to inflammatory bowel disease and chronic pain. The participants consumed cannabis either through vaporization or ingesting extracts. After the researchers analyzed the participants’ symptoms, they concluded that “… CBMPs [cannabis-based medicinal products] is associated with an improvement in general HRQoL [health-related quality of life], as well as sleep- and anxiety-specific symptoms up to 12 months in patients with chronic illness…”
There is more than sufficient evidence that integrating cannabis into the lifestyles of those struggling with many treatment-resistant conditions can yield valuable therapeutic benefits. All these and more, without the side effects and addictive qualities of conventional medications.