Australian patients with chronic health issues who were prescribed medical cannabis experienced significant improvements in their overall health-related quality of life and fatigue within the first three months of use. Additionally, they reported improvements in anxiety, depression, and pain. However, the study found that cannabis therapy did not seem to improve sleep disturbances in these patients.
Since 2016, medical cannabis has been approved for prescription in Australia for patients who have health conditions that are unresponsive to other treatments. The study, conducted by Margaret-Ann Tait and colleagues from the University of Sydney, aimed to understand the changes in patient-reported outcomes following cannabis treatment in this population.
The researchers surveyed 2,327 Australian patients with chronic health issues who were prescribed medical cannabis containing THC and CBD dissolved in a medium-chain triglyceride carrier oil. The patients were surveyed before starting cannabis therapy, after two weeks of treatment, and then once a month for three months. The survey included questions about self-reported health-related quality of life, pain, sleep, anxiety, and depression.
The majority of the surveyed patients were female (63%) with an average age of 51 years. The most common conditions being treated were chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety, and anxiety/depression. The results showed that patients reported significant improvements in health-related quality of life, fatigue, pain, anxiety, and depression over the three months surveyed. However, there were no overall improvements in sleep disturbances, despite many patients being prescribed cannabis for insomnia.
The study did not measure adverse effects, but some patients withdrew from the study due to unwanted side effects. The authors suggest that further research and development of cannabis oil products may be necessary to effectively treat patients with sleep disorders and insomnia. Overall, the findings suggest that medical cannabis may be effective in managing chronic conditions that were previously unresponsive to treatment.