A recent Australian study of over 2,300 people with chronic health conditions showed interesting improvements in overall quality of life within the first three months of using medical cannabis. has become clear. the studyA study published this week in the journal PLoS ONE also found reduced fatigue. The study also found that patients’ anxiety, depression, and chronic pain improved during this three-month period. “Patients experiencing anxiety, depression, or chronic pain also had improved outcomes over three months,” the study found.
The study looked at responses from Australian patients eligible for the QUEST initiative, which researchers described as “new prescriptions for medicinal cannabis between November 2020 and December 2021”. “This is a large, prospective, multicenter study of patients with chronic diseases.” These participants ranged in age from 18 to 97 years old (average age 51 years). 62.8% were women.
The main symptom reported by participants was chronic pain, accounting for 69% of cases, followed by insomnia at 23%, anxiety at 22%, and a combination of anxiety and depression at 11%. Half of the patients reported experiencing more than one of these symptoms at the same time.
Before starting medical cannabis use, participants underwent a baseline assessment that included assessments of health-related quality of life (HRQL), pain, sleep, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. A follow-up survey was then conducted after 2 weeks of treatment, and additional surveys were conducted once a month for 3 months.
Those who had been prescribed medical cannabis within the past 4 weeks were not eligible to participate in the study.
All study participants were prescribed Little Green Pharma medical cannabis oil, a product containing a combination of THC and CBD dissolved in medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil. This product comes in four different formulations, each featuring a different THC to CBD ratio.
- The ratio of THC to CBD is 1:20
- Balanced 10:10 ratio
- 20:5 ratio of THC
- Contains only CBD
In contrast to pre-treatment health-related quality of life, participants who successfully completed 3 months of treatment reported significantly improved overall well-being.
Only those who completed only the first follow-up assessment made less progress compared to those who continued treatment.
Additionally, pain was reduced across participants. More significant improvements were seen in patients diagnosed with chronic pain, as opposed to patients who were not treated for pain.
Regarding depression, the study authors said, “scores shifted from moderate to mild severity, but the difference did not fully meet the 5-point threshold for clinically significant improvement.” He emphasized. However, the improvements were more pronounced in individuals diagnosed with certain diseases, reflecting patterns seen in other areas as well. Specifically, when focusing on 288 participants who were dealing with “depressive health conditions such as mixed depression and anxiety, recurrent depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder,” the study found that patients moved from the severe category to moderate depression, a difference of 1.5%.” 5 points or higher, indicating clinically meaningful improvement. ”
In terms of anxiety scores, participants showed similar trends in improvement over time, but none of the participants, with the exception of 748 participants diagnosed with anxiety conditions, achieved “clinically meaningful improvement.” did. According to the study, “on average” scores moved from “moderate/severe anxiety to mild anxiety.”
Regarding insomnia, this study suggests: “An analysis of 534 participants diagnosed with insomnia showed no statistically significant or clinically meaningful changes in mean sleep T-scores over time, showing no difference from patients without insomnia. There was no.”
However, energy levels seemed to improve and fatigue did decrease, indicating “clinically meaningful improvement.
During the 3-month observation period, 127 participants withdrew from the study. Reasons cited included treatment not working (52 people), changing treatment (31 people), unwanted side effects (30 people), and cannabis products being too expensive (14 people).
However, most participants reported some level of relief. “Within the first three months of medical cannabis therapy, participants reported improved health conditions related to health-related quality of life, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and pain,” the study authors wrote in their paper. Stated. press release.
Although the results were generally welcome, the researchers noted that some of the reported improvements may have been due to a placebo effect.
“Our findings should be interpreted in the context of a single-group study without a control group. A systematic review of cannabis and HRQL studies revealed small effect sizes. [randomized controlled trials] “The effect size without a control group is large,” the study said. “Extensive public discussion (in the press and social media) about the benefits of medical cannabis and its interaction with the endocannabinoid system suggests that some of the observed improvements may be due to a placebo effect and that patients Expectations are rising.”
Looking ahead, the authors say their study will “continue to follow patients for 12 months to determine whether symptoms improve.” [patient-reported outcomes] maintained over the long term,” the study says. “Additionally, further subgroup analyzes will be conducted to determine whether patients with certain symptoms have better outcomes compared to other patients when using validated symptom-specific questionnaires. is.”
Therefore, the researchers are not done yet and will ideally report more specific and detailed findings.