Medical cannabis may improve quality of life, Australian study finds
Medical cannabis may significantly improve the quality of life of people suffering from a range of health conditions, according to Australian researchers.
The peer-reviewed study included over 3000 patients largely being treated for chronic pain but also some who were undergoing treatment for cancer pain, insomnia and anxiety.
Researchers found people experienced a notable improvement across eight areas of health-related quality of life indicators, particularly pain and their social and emotional wellbeing after they had started treatment with medical cannabis. The improvements were largely ongoing however mild side effects such as sleepiness, dry mouth, tiredness and dizziness were common.
Researchers documented changes in patient scores on the SF-36, a widely used medical questionnaire which doctors use to assess someone's quality of life.
The questionnaire asks patients to reflect on eight areas in their life, including mental health, vitality, body function and pain. After commencing treatment with medicinal cannabis, researchers said patients reported improvements in all quality of life domains assessed by the SF-36.
The highest changes were recorded in areas of social functioning, bodily pain, and physical and emotional role limitations.
Physical functioning was the category with lowest average improvement.
Lead author Dr Thomas Arkell said "while clinical evidence for medical cannabis efficacy is still in its infancy, this study shows that patients using medical cannabis do experience significant improvements in their daily life and wellbeing".
Chronic pain is one of the most common health problems in the country, so medical advancements tackling this issue offer potential relief to scores of Australians.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness, one in five people over the age of 45 live with chronic pain.
Those people are five times as likely to be limited in their daily activities. "While there is still some reticence in the medical community to include medicinal cannabis in their treatment considerations, we hope that continued large-scale studies of this kind will convince those who might be on the fence that it is a worthwhile option that may have a significant impact on the quality of life of people with pain," Arkell said.
Medical cannabis was legalised in Australia in 2016, and doctors must obtain regulatory approval to prescribe the products to patients.
Approvals have increased rapidly over the last two years and now total more than 332,000.
Fifty-five per cent of approvals have been for chronic pain, followed by anxiety with 23 per cent and insomnia or sleep disorders in six per cent.
According to the study, a significant body of research has shown medicinal cannabis can work well for patients suffering chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.
The study analysed the experiences of 3148 patients who were treated for health conditions at Australian clinical network Emerald Clinics.
"The evidence we're generating continues to suggest that medicinal cannabis can help people struggling with conditions like chronic pain, insomnia and anxiety," Emyria Medical Director Dr Alistair Vickery said. Originally published here: https://www.9news.com.au/national/medical-cannabis-may-improve-patients-quality-of-life/1bca843d-c839-4118-ad0f-1975bf50d093