Scientists wishing to assess changes in the quality of life of patients currently being prescribed cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) in the UK have published their findings that show positive outcomes in all of the assessed areas; sleep, anxiety and general quality of life. Patients’ self-reported outcomes from the use of cannabis medicines remained positive for the year-long duration of the trial.
Since the end of 2018 when the prescribing of cannabis by doctors became legal in the UK, much evidence has been published by researchers who have investigated the plant, and its many different components, to find out how it can potentially benefit us and the world around us.
Numerous studies have shown cannabis to be helpful for many different conditions, ranging from COVID-19 to its ability to help cancer patients cope with chemotherapy treatment. However, due to the chemical makeup of cannabis and its many different variations, firm conclusions and consistently replicated clinical results are hard to produce.
The team of scientists who worked on the quality of life study were from Imperial College London and worked in conjunction with Sapphire Medical Clinic. The study involved a cohort of 1400 patients who were all using a cannabis product supplied to patients in the UK marketed under the Adven brand name.
Although the team acknowledged the role cannabis can play in treating many different physical and mental conditions they felt there was a “paucity of high-quality clinical data on their effects on health-related quality of life (HRQoL)” which motivated them to conduct a study involving “patients prescribed a homogenous selection of CBMPs.”
Patients in the study were all prescribed either cannabis flower, oil, or a combination of both. They were assessed via online questionnaires at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after beginning treatment, the survey asked how their sleep, anxiety, and general quality of life had changed since they started taking their cannabis medicine.
The results showed that patients experienced improvements in their sleep, feelings of anxiety, and general quality of life. Patients in the cohort also reported using fewer opioid-based medicines.
“The results of this study show an associated improvement in self-reported anxiety, sleep quality, HRQoL, and a reduction in opioid prescription in patients treated with oil-based, dried flower, and a combination of both CBMPs at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months from baseline. The magnitude of the improvements was static following the changes seen at 1 month, with no statistically significant differences in each primary outcome noted between each follow-up on post hoc analysis, except in comparison to baseline”, study authors wrote.
The scientists acknowledged that the study does have its limitations, and noted that the driver of the self-reported positive outcomes can not be proven to be the result of the use of cannabis medicine.
In their conclusion, the authors commented on the low instances of adverse events. They added that their results should be added to, with further research to better understand cannabis and how it can help patients. “In conclusion, the CBMPs studied in this analysis were associated with an improvement in self-reported anxiety, sleep quality, and HRQoL, consistent with existing literature on CBMPs. Patients prescribed treatment formulations, including dried flowers, were most likely to show clinical improvement, although caution must be taken in interpreting these results due to the study’s limitations. Furthermore, the study highlights the low incidence of severe or disabling adverse events linked to extended use of CBMP. It demonstrates a higher occurrence of adverse events among females and individuals who are cannabis-naïve. Therefore, future studies with active comparators should investigate the effect of CBMPs on HRQoL, account for confounders, and assess long-term safety. This study does however provide support for the further examination of CBMPs in randomized controlled trials.”