Opioids Verse Cannabis – Effective Pain Relief For The Elderly
FACT: As life expectancies increase, so too, can the number of years of life experienced with pain.
Unfortunately, if an individual experiences pain in the later years of their lives it can negatively affect how many more years they will live.
For most Australian seniors, the primary option they had to manage the pain has been taking opioid drugs to combat the pain. Unfortunately, these types of medications can have a range of adverse side effects including addiction and dependence which can make doctors reluctant to prescribe them.
Opioids cause a number of side effects in elderly patients.
SCIENCE: The University of Sydney undertook a study that found opioids significantly increase the risk of older people developing a range of serious, negative side effects, including drowsiness, loss of balance and loss of memory.
Cannabis, on the other hand was found in clinical doses to have no side effects in studies in Israel.Studies show that older people have almost three times as many adverse reactions from opioids that younger people.
Opioids kill more people than Heroin: The National Drug & Alcohol Research Center at the NSW University reports that prescribed opioids are killing more people in Australia than heroin. Of the total population only 14 percent are over 65, but this group contains 30 percent of all the people who use opioids. The elderly then are the people most at risk of accidental overdosing.
Despite all this, Opioids are the most common treatment for these sorts of conditions.Opioids have been the most common type of treatment for musculoskeletal pain in Australia for decades.
Cannabis is the safer answer for Muscle and Joint Pain Relief
For many elderly patients, Cannabis could be the answer:
The Clinical Research Institute of Soroka University made a study of over 3,000 elderly patients suffering chronic pain from various conditions including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
To help alleviate their pain, over 60 percent were prescribed medical cannabis. Of these patients, 93 percent, after a six month period said that they felt their pain had significantly reduced. They also believed that their quality of life had improved from poor, to very good. Of all the patients, 18 percent had been able to significantly reduce or totally stop using prescribed opioids.
However, Medical marihuana is, as yet, untested
Associate professor Dr. Kenneth Mukamal at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Harvard Affiliated) said that, at this stage, medical marijuana has not been subjected to the kinds of rigorous testing that is required for all new pharmaceuticals.
As a result, the long term benefits and effects have not been proven. There are of course, a growing number of peer reviewed studies and large numbers of anecdotal of a large number of patients who have claimed medical cannabis has reduced their symptoms of conditions such as stress, anxiety, sleeping disorders, cancer and chronic pain.
The important elements of cannabis that alleviate pain
- Cannabis contains over 142 active components:
Each of the active ingredients in cannabis has been shown to be effective in targeting different illnesses. The best known cannabinoids or active ingredients in cannabis are THC and CBD.
the psychoactive compound responsible for the cannabis “High” as well as fighting pain and nausea it is often used to combat the effects of chemotherapy. The reason it is often smoked it to release the THC, which without being heated cannot be absorbed by the body
Has no psychoactive effect, you cannot get “High” from it, to get the benefit of CBD from cannabis you do not smoke it as this destroys all the compounds in cannabis except THC. CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, on the autoimmune system, where it has been shown to be effective with epilepsy, autism, diabetes, heart disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Israel has 30,000 elderly patients using cannabis
Although Israel is a small country, there are over 30,000 patients at present receiving medical cannabis treatments through medical centers in Israel, according to Saul Kaye on Israel21c, a pharmacist and the chief executive of iCAN: Israel-Cannabis venture fund.
Using cannabis products for elderly patients has the advantages of being less invasive and safer than alternatives. They can be administered via pills, sublingual tablets, delayed-release gel capsules, transdermal patches, drops, ointments and metered inhalers.