Study: Medical marijuana may reduce hospitalizations among patients with sickle cell disease

Image of marijuana plant.

Patients with sickle cell disease who use medical marijuana at home to reduce their pain tend to have fewer hospitalizations than those who do not use it, researchers are reporting.

In the study, researchers examined data from 50 patients with sickle cell disease at the Adult Sickle Cell Program at Yale New Haven Hospital. Among the patients, 29 obtained medical marijuana (mostly edible products) and 21 did not. Those who obtained medical marijuana visited the hospital less frequently on average over a six-month period, the researchers found.

Most of the patients reduced their hospital admissions by at least one visit, while several reduced their hospitalizations by three, four, or five visits  A reason for reduced hospitalization rates could be because medical marijuana helped patients better tolerate their pain at home, the researchers said. The findings could lead to an alternative for treating pain in patients with sickle cell disease, they said.

The study, published in Blood Advances, was partly funded by NHLBI.