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Let's see more of this. Over-65s experience much less pain if they take cannabis. Photo: GoToVan

Let’s see more of this. Over-65s experience much less pain if they take cannabis. Photo: GoToVan

You might see Granny rolling a joint after a study by Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev that was published in the European Journal of Internal Medicine in February 2018. The study found that eldsters – those aged 65 or more – experienced considerably less pain and almost no ill effects if they took cannabis.

All about eldsters

Professor Victor Novack, the professor of medicine who led the study, pointed out that eldsters were a large and burgeoning group of medical cannabis users, but few studies had looked at them. Depending on the country, older people can be anything from seven to over 33 percent of medical cannabis users. Novack’s team monitored 2,736 older people for six months, discovering that cannabis meant they had less pain and better quality of life with “minimal” side effects. The patients suffered from cancer, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder and ulcerative colitis. People of this age group also commonly experience dementia, frequent falls, impaired hearing and vision and mobility problems. In the United States, over 65s are 14 percent of the population but consume more than 30 percent of prescription drugs.

And what happens when they take cannabis

Having less pain, 18 percent of the group stopped taking highly addictive opiods altogether or reduced their intake; opiods have caused more deaths from accidental overdose than any other drug in US history. A quarter smoked the cannabis, while a third took cannabis-infused oil and six percent resorted to vaporization. Over 93 percent reported less pain, going from an average of eight to four on a 10-point scale. 60 percent at first reported that their quality of life was “bad” or “very bad” but changed their tune and declared it to be “good” or “very good” after the cannabis. The side effects most commonly experienced were dizziness in 9.7 percent of people and dry mouth in 7.1 percent. Why, dry mouth, properly known as xerostomia, is such a dreadful problem that it might mean taking cannabis is inadvisable. It can cause bad breath.

The researchers declared that the study had indicated that cannabis could decrease dependence on other medications in the elderly, but more evidence-based data was required. Israel is renowned worldwide as a pioneer in medical cannabis. Other studies afoot in the country are examining how cannabis can restore memory function and counter cognitive impairment.

He discovered THC

It was Professor Raphael Mechoulam of Hebrew University who identified tetrahydracannabinol (THC), the fun element of cannabis (it’s what makes you stoned), in 1964. He received the National Institute of Drug Abuse Discovery Award in 2011. He found that the very young as well as the very old benefitted from cannabis: there are children who are one or two years old who have epilepsy “And there is no other medication that works.” Cannabis helps as many as 60 percent. He feels that there are “hundreds” of ways in which cannabis promotes health that remain undiscovered. One that was not expected was the treatment of osteoporosis, while another was reducing brain damage following head trauma.

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