The year 2022 was a very dynamic and exciting year when it comes to cannabis in many parts of Europe. We at Kalapa have analyzed our work of the past year. One thing stands out: cancer is by far the most common disease people turn to us for support.
Who is Kalapa?
Kalapa Clinic in Barcelona, Spain, was founded in 2015, making it the first medical cannabis consultation in Europe. Our doctors are trained in cannabis-based therapy for chronic diseases. Kalapa’s international team has years of experience in cannabinoid treatment.
The goal of Kalapa Clinic from the beginning has been to provide consultation and medical education on an international level. It is our vision to establish cannabis as a therapeutic option. We believe in the potential of cannabis-based medicine to improve patients’ quality of life. Our focus has always been on refractory diseases.
More than 5,000 patients have now used our counseling services. We offer training and consultations in six languages. The co-founder and former medical director of Kalapa Clinic, Dr. Mariano Garcia de Palau, is a founding member of the Spanish Observatory of Medical Cannabis. We participate in international institutional and university research projects, advise on product development, and collaborate with other stakeholders such as patient associations.
Cancer – the most common disease of our patients
Which people contact us? An analysis of our data from 2022 shows us that cancer is the most common disease among our patients. About 20 percent of the people, we counseled internationally in 2022, suffered from some form of cancer.
Cannabis has now taken on a recognized role in treating cancer patients. Research show that cannabinoids are used to combat tumor pain as well as treat insomnia and brighten mood. They can alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Medical cannabis therefore rightly has its place in cancer treatment – as an additional medication, it makes a valuable contribution to improving the quality of life of those affected.
This experience is also confirmed by our Kalapa doctor and cannabis expert Robert Uhlenbrock: “The cancer patients who turn to us are looking for symptom improvement, especially for pain, loss of appetite and sleep problems. Most of them have heard about medical cannabis in their social environment or have already tried cannabis from the black market and are therefore interested in the therapy options with cannabinoids. Some of these patients are “out of treatment” and therefore interested in the cannabis option. Most of the time, they do not have the opportunity to approach their treating doctor about cannabis. Instead, they find a lot of information on the Internet – not always serious and reliable – and want to get information and advice from us. Clinically, this group is very heterogeneous.”
Fibromyalgia – high level of suffering
After cancer, chronic pain disorders are the largest indication group at Kalapa with 13%, followed by epilepsy (12%) and fibromyalgia (just under 8%). All other conditions combined account for about 6%.
Fibromyalgia is a relatively unknown condition. The complex pain syndrome causes pain in various parts of the body – usually near joints and in muscles. Women are affected six to seven times more often than men. The level of suffering caused by fibromyalgia syndrome is very high.
Why do so many patients with fibromyalgia turn to cannabis to relieve their symptoms? Mery Peña, Kalapa doctor and cannabis expert, explains: “Fibromyalgia is difficult to diagnose, there are no objective changes in tissue biopsies, there is no gold standard lab test. The condition is associated with depression and anxiety and patients bear the stigma of a psychosomatic condition. In addition, fibromyalgia is difficult to treat: A complex condition needs a multimodal approach, and focusing only on pharmaceutical options bears poor results, not achieving analgesic effect, but adding secondary effects. There is scientific literature and surveys that report that patients feel more satisfied with cannabis compared to other pharmaceutical options. In addition, there is a theory that patients have a lower “endocannabinoid tone”, therefore making them prone to an increased sensitivity to pain, among other things.“
Age: Patients on average over 50
Looking at the age structure of our patients, the middle to older age is striking. For all diseases, the average age is over 50, for chronic pain even over 60. The only exception is epilepsy – because of the severe forms of childhood epilepsy.
The still young year also promises to be an exciting one. Firstly, because of the planned legalization of cannabis for recreational use in Germany. European neighbors are also watching this topic with interest and one or the other has already announced that they will react if Germany goes ahead.
On the other hand, we hope that the care of patients in Germany will be simplified and improved by legalization – and that the opposite will not happen. Reimbursement of cannabis flowers by health insurers should continue to be possible, as should the prescription of cannabis-based medicines by general practitioners. We see the problem that people are often unable to discuss the topic of cannabis therapy with doctors. It is time for this situation to change. And as far as Spain is concerned, we would like to see concrete steps in the initiated regulation of medical cannabis in Spain. These are already overdue.
If you have any questions about our work, please contact us: