According to a 2018 report published in Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, individuals over the age of 50 have accounted for the greatest increase in marijuana use over the initial portion of the 21st century (from 2000 to 2017).
Medical cannabis, including non-psychoactive products like CBD oil, has no doubt provided a popular alternative to expensive prescription medications – many of which pose risks of serious side effects. And with the amount of seniors who rely on prescription (and non-prescription) drugs on a day-to-day basis, we can expect the number of elderly patients who turn to cannabis to increase even more in the coming years.
Did you know, for example, that even though seniors account for just 13% of the U.S. population, they represent roughly 34% of all prescription medication use? (Data taken from a 2010 factsheet published by MUST for Seniors).
For most medical cannabis experts, this switch to cannabis has hardly been a surprise as many seniors are fed up with having to take a veritable cocktail of pills multiple times throughout the day – especially when the meds may or may not actually be effective in alleviating their medical conditions.
In particular, CBD (a non-intoxicating compound in cannabis) has become especially popular among the elderly because it doesn’t result in a “high.” Moreover, products like CBD oil are readily available in most parts of the country, and are expected to become even more prevalent with the passing of the 2018 Hemp farming Act (which legalizes hemp cultivation under certain conditions in the US).
In this article, we discuss why CBD oil for senior citizens has gained traction across the U.S. and Canada, and whether or not it may represent a viable option to add to your daily health regimen.
Best CBD Oil for Elderly Patients? Let’s Take a Look at Some Evidence First…
It is fully understandable that many people out there are simply wanting to know, ‘what’s the best CBD oil for elderly patients?’ Folks have no doubt read all about the therapeutic potential of CBD, and are wanting to get their hands on a bottle as soon as possible to see whether or not it works for them.
However, as is the case in any situation where your health and well-being is at stake, it is important to fully understand what you are putting into your body — and why. To be clear, the only medical conditions in which CBD has been FDA-approved to treat is Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome – two rare forms of intractable epilepsy.
There have however been a host of academic publications released over the last decade or so that have suggested other possible uses for CBD, so let’s take a look at a few of the most relevant ones. If you are a senior citizen wanting to know more about the use of CBD oil to treat a certain ailment, be sure to read and understand the following information.
#1 | Chronic Pain, Aching Joints, and Sore Muscles
Chronic pain is unfortunately a fact of life for an increasing number of senior citizens. Conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia take their toll, and can cause crippling pain which greatly reduces overall quality of life.
Opioid-based medications have traditionally been the treatment option of choice for a variety of severe pain, but as mentioned earlier, numerous elderly patients out there have found a similar form of relief using CBD oil.
Furthermore, the World Health Organization has highlighted the relative safety of CBD, citing that it is “generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
Ultimately, this comes down to the impact of cannabis compounds on the body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS. In a 2006 study published in Current Neuropharmacology, researchers looked at the role of the ECS in pain response and discovered that cannabis compounds (like CBD) may act to inhibit responses in the body that cause pain-inducing inflammation.
For chronic pain, some seniors have opted for edible CBD products while others prefer conventional CBD capsules or sublingual tinctures that are absorbed below the tongue. Even topical CBD creams have become popular among the elderly, in which a CBD-infused lotion is simply massaged into sore muscle or aching joint areas.
#2 | Insomnia and Other Sleep-Related Issues
Most seniors will tell you that the older you get, the harder it is to sustain a healthy state of rest throughout the night. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation has suggested it can be more difficult for men and women over the age of 65 to “stay asleep throughout the night.”
Although indica-dominant marijuana strains have traditionally been the go-to cannabis products for inducing sleep, these strains produce a psychoactive high that most senior citizens would not be comfortable with.
However, many have found quality sleep-promoting effects with CBD oil, with some even being able to use it as a replacement for over-the-counter meds (many of which leave you feeling groggy and hazy the following morning).
#3 | Improved Mental Clarity and Cognition?
Neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are sadly most prevalent among senior citizens. Parkinson’s disease, for example, is a degenerative condition that drastically affects dopamine-producing cells. Dopamine deficiencies may cause such symptoms as:
- Loss of cognitive function
- Memory loss
- Loss of balance
While clinical data involving senior citizen CBD use is still very much lacking, it is a fact that the U.S. government holds a patent on cannabinoids for their use as neuroprotectants; in other words, their ability “[to be used in the] treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
Furthermore, the government patent abstract states that CBD may be “particularly advantageous” as it “avoids toxicity [that is otherwise] encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids [such as THC] at high doses.”
#4 | Depression, Anxiety, and Mood Disorders
While depression is not necessarily a “normal” part of getting older, the National Institute on Aging has suggested that it is a common problem among older adults. Furthermore, it is known that millions of senior citizens across the U.S. and Canada (and indeed the rest of the world) suffer from mental ailments such as anxiety, stress, and mood disorders.
Indeed, conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety are some of the most common reasons why older adults are going online and searching for the ‘best CBD oils for senior citizens.’ What’s more, there have been several scientific publications released suggested an actual potential for CBD to be effective in this regard.
One recent publication for example (a 2015 report by Dr. Esther Blessing published in Neurotherapeutics), has stated that “current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders…”
#5 | Crohn’s Disease and Other Inflammatory Digestive Conditions
An estimated 780,000 Americans have Crohn’s Disease – an inflammatory gastrointestinal condition that can cause immense pain and anguish (not to mention symptoms such as weight loss, nausea, and abdominal pain).
However, some research has suggested that cannabis compounds may be capable of reducing inflammation responsible for many of the debilitating, painful symptoms. In fact, the University of Illinois is currently sponsoring a clinical trial on the use of CBD as an “adjunct therapy for Crohn’s disease.”
While we will have to wait on the results of the trial(s) in order to see if an FDA-approved CBD medication is eventually released, the fact remains that senior citizens using CBD oil for Crohn’s (and other similar inflammatory issues) has been on the rise.
Looking for the Best CBD Oil for Senior Citizens? Speak With Your Doctor First
While this article has outlined five potential benefits of CBD oil for seniors, be advised that none of the above uses are FDA-approved. As mentioned earlier, the only current medical use of CBD that has gained FDA approval is in the treatment of two rare forms of intractable epilepsy.
Regardless, countless elderly patients have turned to CBD and other forms of cannabis as a potential alternative to their current medications, with many finding quality relief. Before you go searching for the ‘best CBD for elderly individuals,’ however, it is advised that you speak with your doctor about how best to use it.
While CBD may offer numerous potential benefits, it has been know to impact the action of enzymes in the body that metabolize many prescription and non-prescription medications, so be on the safe said and speak with a medical professional before implementing it into your daily routine.