Cannabis For Seniors – Should Grandma Use It?
As age increases, so does the risk of serious health conditions. Many people in the 65+ range typically turn to opiates and other prescription medications to help manage their discomfort. However, cannabis for seniors is a real option today. It is a more natural way for them to cope with a wide variety of diseases, allowing Grandma to leave some (if not all) of those prescription pills behind.
Smoking marijuana has been around since Grandma was in her prime, but now she may have more reasons than ever to partake in medical marijuana. Along with the discovery of the potential health benefits linked to CBD and THC (two naturally occurring cannabinoids found in cannabis) cannabis use is on the rise for medicinal purposes.
Many people in the 65+ range have reported finding relief from an array of health conditions with regular doses of CBD. Jeff Cobb suffers from Lewy Body Dementia, but reports that CBD meds in the right dosages do amazing things for my dementia and general quality of life.
Jeff reported that regular doses of CBD keep him going throughout the day. His Dementia comes in phases, and when it is at its worst, Jeff claims he may have trouble with simple tasks like opening a box of cereal.
He turned to cannabidiol for relief, and although he was initially skeptical, he found that the supplement greatly reduced his suffering. CBD helps reduce his verbal aphasia and improves cognitive functions. By his account, cannabidiol is also responsible for some relief from other conditions, like nausea and sciatica pain.
His belief in cannabis is so strong that Jeff cultivates his own CBD medications, generally using concentrates greater than 50% with a THC:CBD ratio of 2:1 or greater. He doesn’t experience psychoactive effects from his cannabidiol dose, but says his dose “lifts the fog” from his brain instead. Jeff is so confident in the benefits of his CBD dose that he turned his wife (who suffers a disability) onto it as well.
The Ancient Medicine With Numerous Benefits for Older Patients
Cannabis predates modern medicine, and the first written evidence of its use as a holistic medication dates back to the Emperor of China in 2727 B.C. CBD wasn’t discovered until the 1940’s. Dr. Roger Adams, an American organic chemist, realized that his “red oil” extraction from Minnesota hemp was nearly 50% cannabidiol.
This inspired Dr. Raphael Mechoulam to conduct several studies on the cannabinoid, eventually leading to his discovery of THC in 1964. His identification of the chemical structure of THC, along with his in-depth research on the cannabis plant earned him the title “Father of Cannabis.” Since their discovery, research has skyrocketed, leading to some pretty compelling evidence about the potential health benefits of these cannabinoids.
Coincidentally, many of these benefits help treat conditions that are common for people over 65. Like Jeff and his wife, many seniors have multiple conditions that may be treated by this single cannabis-derived supplement.
- Inflammatory Conditions: Several studies show a link between cannabis and reducing inflammation, and many people have seen results when using medical marijuana to treat arthritis. THC may be useful for managing pain while CBD can help reduce inflammation in the joints. Other conditions causing an inflammatory response in the body include asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, and Crohn’s disease.
- Cancer: Cannabis is also highly regarded by many people as a great co-therapy for cancer patients. CBD helps offset some side effects caused by common cancer therapies, like nausea and loss of appetite, while THC can help fight fatigue. A few studies suggest that cannabis has other anti-cancer properties, like calming neuropathic pain due to nerve damage and shrinking existing cancer cells.
- Glaucoma: Many reports have demonstrated that smoking medical marijuana can be linked to lower eye pressure. Some of this research can be traced back to the 1970’s and suggests that regular doses of cannabis can help lower IOP (intraocular pressure), which may help glaucoma patients get relief. Most of these studies specifically linked the use of THC to lower eye pressure, but CBD has been noted to relieve some of the discomfort related to glaucoma. Reducing eye pressure in glaucoma patients may help prevent the condition from worsening, which can eventually lead to vision loss.
- Insomnia: THC is commonly known to provide relaxation and cut stress levels, but the psychoactive effects have been linked to helping patients with insomnia. Indica strains are typically best used for managing insomnia. These strains promote relaxation and can make it easier to fall asleep.
- Appetite Stimulation: CBD and THC work together here. CBD can reduce nausea due to various conditions, while THC is widely known to induce hunger. Smoking cannabis can actually lead to a raging appetite, which may be helpful for seniors who have issues with appetite and weight loss.
- Neurological Disorders: A few studies have looked at cannabis, including THC and CBD, as a treatment for certain neurological disorders. In some areas, certain CBD based medications have been cleared for treating epilepsy. Many studies have looked at the link between CBD and Alzheimer’s Disease, and frequently they show promising results. Some researchers believe that cannabis use is linked to a lower chance of developing certain forms of dementia.
CBD & Cannabis Dosing Methods for the Elderly
Grandma may be fine and dandy with smoking a joint, but that isn’t the only way to do it. There are several ways to consume cannabis that doesn’t involve any smoke, each of them better suited for a different lifestyle. Diversity is important, because different routines, preferences, and health requirements may play into choosing the best way to consume CBD and THC. There are a few methods that are more popular among seniors:
- Vaping: For seniors who want a quick delivery method, especially for managing chronic conditions, vaping may be the easiest dosing method. Vaping is a method of consumption similar to smoking, except that the smoke is replaced with vapor and the joint is replaced with an electronic vaping mod. It sounds technical, but it is really simple. Cannabis vape oil can be purchased in varying concentrations of CBD and THC, and there are many flavors for every palate. Vaping is a great place to start because it takes about 20 minutes for the first hit to kick in, so Grandma can take it slow until she likes the effects she feels. There is evidence that vaping may be healthier than smoking, but anyone with possible respiratory conditions should talk to their doctor before using this method.
- Pills and Capsules: If Grandma isn’t interested in new vaping trends there are other options to deliver cannabidiol to the body. CBD capsules offer cannabidiol in pill form, measured in precise doses, so it’s easy to take every day to reap the benefits. Pills may be the best method for seniors who require guidance for their daily medications since this dose of CBD easily fits into a pill organizer and requires no measuring. Since many seniors already take multiple capsules every day, this may be the most “normal” way to introduce CBD without raising any hairs.
- Edibles: At the first mention of another pill to take, Grandma may be saying “no way!” She may be a bit more open to trying cannabis brownies, or some other form of edibles, which is an easy way for seniors to incorporate CBD and THC into their regular diet. CBD gummies are like candy, but with a slew of potential health benefits. You should note, though, edibles take a bit longer to take effect because they have to go through the digestion process, so Grandma should expect to wait up to an hour before she notices any benefits.
- Tinctures: For something a bit quicker, tinctures are a great way to distribute CBD to the body. They are taken sublingually, or under the tongue, in small, liquid drops. Tinctures take about 20 minutes to kick in, and most seniors don’t mind the nutty flavor. If the flavor of natural hemp isn’t Grandma’s forte, many tinctures include flavor additives to help them go down more smoothly.
- Topicals: A topical solution is easy since you just apply them to the skin like an old-school salve. Topical CBD products may be great for treating skin conditions and reducing pain associated with muscle weakness and inflammation. Topicals come in many forms, including lotions, serums, creams, and more. Some topicals include other natural additives, like eucalyptus or lavender essential oils, which add specific benefits and pleasant aroma.
- Inhalers: CBD inhalers are one of the newest methods for consuming cannabidiol, but they are popular for many reasons. This makes taking your CBD dose just as easy as using a regular asthma inhaler, so Grandma may be more comfortable with this method. Inhalers result in fast-acting effects and generally have no smell, making them a discreet option. They do produce a mild, nutty flavor, and are sometimes mixed with other terpenes to create targeted effects, like enhancing mental focus or helping you sleep.
- Syrups: CBD syrups may be another familiar dosing method for Grandma, since its just as easy as taking a dose of cough syrup. Cannabidiol syrups come in multiple different flavors and strengths, and they make it easy to up your dose when your symptoms are particularly bad. Terpenes and natural extracts are often used to add delightful flavors and create targeted effects.
- Suppositories: In some cases, distributing cannabidiol by mouth is not an option. CBD suppositories are great for those who may struggle with nausea or gastrointestinal issue that may make it hard to consume supplements by mouth. Suppository supplements come in different strengths so Grandma can still find a dose that works for her.
Just like each method is better suited to different lifestyles, different concentrations of CBD are better suited for every condition. Jeff mentioned that he used a concentration higher than 50% to treat his severe Lewy Body dementia and sciatica. Lower concentrations may be more appropriate for mild conditions.
Most medical marijuana products are available in a variety of strengths and THC:CBD ratios. It might be best for Grandma to start small and work her way up. When trying to choose the best dosing method, it’s critical to have a discussion with a doctor. He should be able to help her determine if cannabidiol products are a viable (and safe) option for managing her existing conditions, and guide her through choosing the best CBD routine.
It is common for seniors to be sceptical of the “new age” supplement, but it is important to understand that it really isn’t that new at all. Like Jeff, many sceptics become believers after trying cannabis to get relief from their mild to chronic conditions. The majority of seniors who try cannabis (especially CBD) find that it helps relieve some of their undesirable symptoms.
A study involving nearly 3,000 patients 65 and older concluded that nearly 94% of patients reported at least some relief from their conditions. The majority of these patients also experienced a decrease in pain, from a median pain level of 8 to a much-reduced level of 4.
Since it has been legalized in many states, the number of seniors branching out to try marijuana has rapidly increased. Many reports claim that people 65+ are the largest and fastest growing demographic in the cannabis market. One report from a local news source in Denver, CO states that usage among this age group is up 250%.
There is no guarantee that CBD will cure any health conditions, but there are many people (like Jeff) who advocate that Grandma should give it a shot. Since health conditions can really start to pile up as we age, cannabis may be the closest thing to a “one-stop shop” that elderly people can get their hands on.