CBD for seniors is not able to see how many silver-haired patients are visiting their health practitioners to discuss the pros and cons of a trial of medical cannabis. These patients range from people in their 60s with kidney failure, who can no longer take certain pain medications but still need to manage chronic pain, to patients in their 90s who are looking for a good night’s sleep and are wary of the side effects of traditional sleep medications.
Some of them, typically ‘children of the 60s’, are quite comfortable with the idea of using medical marijuana. Others bring it up quietly as if they are asking permission to break the law.
According to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, cannabis use among older adults (defined as 65 and older) in the US has been steadily increasing. In this study, the prevalence of past-year use increased from 2.4% to 4.2% from 2015 to 2018. This study is consistent with other research, as well as reports from physicians who recommend cannabis in their daily practices.
What conditions are seniors using CBD for?
Studies show that older adults commonly use medical cannabis for the same conditions younger patients do: pain, insomnia, neuropathy, and anxiety.
Benefits of CBD for seniors
Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is one of the many cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant. Similar to other cannabinoids, CBD is able to interact with our body’s receptors that are located in our endocannabinoid system (ECS).
There is a ton of completed research highlighting the ECS as the catalyst behind the positive effects we experience from a Cannabis plant. This is also why a psychoactive cannabinoid such as THC is able to produce effects that alter the mind of the user. CBD has no such effects, which means that you will not get ‘high’ after using it in any form.
Let’s have a look at the changing health benefits of CBD for seniors.
1. Managing pain
With almost half of America’s seniors dealing with arthritis and over 75% of them suffering from chronic pain in one form or another, having to live with pain is something many seniors are forced to struggle with within their daily lives. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are plenty of studies that prove CBD’s ability to lower inflammation and relieve pain. With the use of CBD oil, different receptors are activated throughout the ECS, causing a significant reduction in pain, with no additional negative side effects.
2. Improving bone health
Osteoporosis is a common condition that a majority of seniors are forced to endure. The depleting minerals inside our bones cause them to become brittle and fragile, making them more prone to a break or fracture.
Along with decreasing inflammation and repairing cell damage, research and studies have shown that CBD can play a role in strengthening our bones. It can even increase the healing process if someone does have a bone fracture. It should be noted here that there is still plenty of research that is needed to determine the exact viability and what method of using CBD is most effective in these cases.
3. Improving sleep patterns
Insomnia and other sleeping disorders are conditions people suffer from at any age. That being said, with someone over the age of 60, these disorders are becoming more and more common. A shift in one’s sleeping patterns can be even more harmful to seniors because it reduces the recovery time taken that is required for the body to rejuvenate itself.
Adding another medication to help get a better night’s rest is a common practice by seniors, which may provide temporary relief. But in the long run, this habit will create an even bigger issue as far as damage to vital organs and other negative side effects are concerned.
According to some studies, CBD for seniors helps them remain calm, fight stress, anxiety, and any worry that may come as a supplement to sleeping problems. It will not leave you feeling tired or drowsy. In fact, you will wake up energized, refreshed and ready to face your day head-on.
4. Boosting heart health
CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties may be able to reduce risk factors that can lead to heart disease (i.e., high blood pressure). It may also be able to reduce the risk of related conditions (i.e., strokes). High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for hypertensive heart disease. Your blood pressure can rise under stress, but some research suggests a dose of CBD can lessen that spike.
In a 2017 study, healthy human volunteers were subjected to stress and then given a dose of CBD. The CBD lowered their blood pressure, as compared to volunteers given a placebo. So, the use of CBD for older adults going through these symptoms may be useful in lowering blood pressure and heart rate under stress.
However, a 2017 review of 25 studies found that there’s no evidence that CBD provides similar results under non-stressful conditions. So, talk to your doctor before using CBD if you have high blood pressure. Another 2017 review also concluded that CBD increased cerebral blood flow during a stroke. However, it’s important to note that these reviews are focused on animal studies and more research on humans is needed to determine if the same results apply to humans as well.
What are the risks?
Medical cannabis is usually well-tolerated among seniors. However, as with all medications, there is no such thing as a free lunch, meaning that there are always side effects and some downsides to consider. Most of the adverse effects associated with cannabis usage are dose-related, so it is important to know the strength of the marijuana you are taking and to ‘start low and go slow.
Medical cannabis is increasingly viewed as an effective option for managing insomnia and chronic pain. It’s key to have an informed discussion with your doctor to weigh the safety risks, especially if you have cardiac issues, are taking multiple medications, or have cognitive changes due to aging.
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