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How marijuana and marijuana-based products can be used to improve quality of life

Facts are facts: our bodies simply don’t work as well at 70 as they did at 20. Our sleeping patterns tend to deteriorate as we age, and it’s common to feel stressed out or depressed. The wear and tear we subject our bodies to over the years means chronic aches and pains also become the norm. Carrying out daily objectives becomes an ordeal, and we find that we can’t always do the things we used to be able to.

But there’s no reason to resign ourselves to a life of boredom in old age. In fact, scientific research has proven that marijuana can help to improve our quality of life, particularly in our latter years.

How marijuana helps sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is fundamental to everything else – if you’re up in the night, being unproductive in the daytime due to tiredness is to be expected. Moreover, without good quality sleep, the body is left open to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, as it doesn’t spend long enough in deep sleep – the phase which clears out toxic byproducts that accumulate in the brain.

To fully understand why sleep is important, it’s important to know exactly how the brain behaves while we’re in this state.

The recent discovery of the lymphatic system in the brain has been a crucial one for scientists. A part of the immune system, the lymphatic system clears out wastes and helps prevent sickness.

Incredibly, it took until 2015 for scientists to find the lymphatic system in the brain. Before, the common consensus was that the brain didn’t have lymph vessels – this was obviously a huge development for brain research.

So, we now know that the brain has lymph vessels, but what role do they play in regard to sleep? As we touched on, during sleep our bodies clear out waste that has built up by pumping a cleansing fluid into the brain. Sleep also helps to repair damaged bones and muscles.

According to Jeff Iliff, an Oregon Health and Science University representative who was interviewed by NPR, sleep pattern alterations could make Alzheimer’s disease more likely.

He explained that during deep sleep, the cerebral spinal fluid which usually acts as a protectant on the outside of the brain moves inside the brain and washes out toxins and neurotoxins. Hence, if you have a healthy sleeping pattern, with regular, lengthy deep sleep, the body isn’t going to have any trouble getting rid of the harmful waste and, in doing so, reduce your chances of contracting a neurodegenerative disease.

Iliff and his research team found this out by investigating on rodent brains in 2013, but other scientists discovered that humans have lymphatic vessels and that the same process occurs in 2015.

How marijuana promotes deep sleep

We have known for a while that marijuana promotes sleep, but it’s more complex than that. Cannabis changes our sleeping pattern, extending the time spent in deep sleep and reducing the time spent in lighter sleep phases, such as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

The body spends less time in deep sleep as we get older, which is why cannabis can be such a useful – and healthy – sleeping agent for seniors. Since the body repairs itself in deep sleep, if it doesn’t spend the necessary time in this phase, it’s unable to clear out the waste, leaving you more exposed to developing neurodegenerative diseases.

Young people tend to have a good balance of deep sleep and light sleep – it’s only when we get older that this is prone to being offset.

The lack of deep sleep is why elderly people tend to get tired more quickly and drop off to sleep during the daytime. However, a middle-of-the-afternoon nap usually only puts the body into light sleep, and these naps make it more difficult to sleep – and crucially to get deep sleep – at night.

Therefore, older people are often prescribed sleeping tablets. However these aren’t without their flaws. In addition to being addictive, sleep meds often come with other side effects and can be more trouble than their worth. In contrast, marijuana promotes deep sleep in a natural way, isn’t physically addictive and doesn’t lumber you with side effects.

Since we’ve only been aware of the brain’s lymphatic system for a short time, there’s no conclusive research on how it’s affected by marijuana, but the anecdotal evidence looks very positive for the herb. Hopefully the necessary studies will be conducted soon so we can confidently know the therapeutic potential of cannabis as a sleep agent.

How marijuana relieves stress and promotes good mental health

It’s not uncommon for middle-age adults and seniors to have mental health issues, whether through loneliness, a lack of physical mobility, chronic stress or any other reason. Prescription drug abuse and alcohol abuse is also increasing among these demographics, according to new evidence. All in all, it’s a concerning time for the boomer generation.

A 2009 study did encouragingly find a decline in suicide rates among the elderly, but sadly that they were still more likely to commit suicide than any other demographic. Depression is a more common reason for committing suicide in older adults than other age groups.

Research has shown that low-dosing marijuana is a great natural treatment for depression, thanks to the herb’s anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties. An animal study from the University of Buffalo revealed that endocannabinoid levels are lower in those suffering from chronic stress-caused depression.

Moreover, CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, is a much faster acting anti-depressant than any prescribed medication. Studies on animal models showed that while anti-depressant meds can take a month to six weeks to take effect, the positive results of CBD are noticeable after just one dose. Marijuana’s aforementioned neuroprotective qualities are also thought to ward off age-related depression.

Despite not being official benefits, cannabis use improves sleep, reduces pain perception and encourages laughter. These three all help to improve a person’s mental health status. Without tackling depression, the condition – alongside chronic stress – can have an extremely detrimental effect on your quality of life. Respect your mental health, and give it the same due care and attention you would your physical health.

How marijuana helps with chronic pain

Chronic pain afflicts many, and once again, it’s the older generation that suffers most. There are a number of contributing factors: arthritis, osteoporosis, autoimmune conditions and neurodegenerative diseases to name four. These can all cause severe pain, and are more common in younger people than old.

And because the body finds it more difficult to heal itself with age, it’s even tougher for older people to recover from said injuries and conditions.

Marijuana for neuropathic pain

Medical experts are far from reaching common ground on the medical abilities of marijuana, and chronic pain is one particular area where the debate rages. The herb’s potential for tackling acute pain is uncertain, but clinical human trials on patients with HIV indicate that it could be great for combatting neuropathic pain.

In one test, participants smoked cannabis with 1 to 8% THC four times a day for five days. A placebo was also given, and it was found that the marijuana reduced pain by a whopping 30 percent. Encouragingly, 1 to 8% THC isn’t even a high quantity of the psychoactive compound, and with participants also noting enhanced mood and improved functioning, there’s a lot to be excited about.

Marijuana for inflammatory pain

Chronic inflammatory pain sufferers could also benefit from taking cannabis. A 2014 study on animal models uncovered that endocannabinoids had links to osteoarthritis. The researchers discovered that administering a synthetic cannabinoid reduced osteoarthritic pain signals.

From this, the scientists deduced that additional evaluation of how cannabinoids could treat osteoarthritis would be needed. Ideally, further tests would be conducted in humans.

Now, while arthritis and conditions like HIV thankfully don’t affect all seniors, the realization of a medicine that works could be revolutionary for the medical world. Traditionally, opiate-based medication would be prescribed for such ailments, and these are typically littered with side effects – these include powerful sedation, nausea and constipation. Marijuana, a non-aggressive analgesic, offers all of the pain relief with none of the addiction or these horrible side effects.

In fact, marijuana could actually be used to tackle the side effects induced from opioid medication. It’s true that many marijuana strains are sedative in their own right, but certain breeds – sativa-dominant strains especially – are more likely to energize than sedate.

5 great ways to consume marijuana

Contrary to popular belief, you no longer have to toke on a blunt, smoke a pipe or rip a bowl from a bong to consume marijuana – you don’t even need to get “high”! Recreational – and some medical users – may revel in the psychoactive experience, but for those who don’t, there are a plethora of CBD-dominant strains (e.g. Charlotte’s Web, Cannatonic) that are more suited to your requirements.

Indeed, it’s these misconceptions of cannabis that put off many older generations from experimenting with the herb – many aren’t even aware of its therapeutic abilities. Here are five easy intake methods to get nervous beginners started with marijuana.

1) Cannabis oil

Medical cannabis oil is made by extracting the cannabis resin from the marijuana plant itself. The result is a potent, concentrated, gooey extract which can be used for several medicinal purposes. Many chemotherapy patients find it helps to ease the side effects, some use it to treat their anxiety, others to cope with chronic pain and so on. Low-dosing cannabis oil is popular, but seasoned users can easily handle up to one gram per day.

Not that the average user will need anywhere near as much as one gram. The beauty of cannabis oil (and CBD oil) is that you can dose precisely and achieve medicating consistency. When smoking straight bud, there’s no way of knowing exactly how much CBD or THC is in the select amount you’re taking, but cannabis oil is manufactured to contain consistent levels of the key cannabinoids throughout. Marijuana oil can be consumed sublingually by applying a few drops under the tongue, or by filling up empty capsules and consuming orally – however, with this method, the oil takes longer to kick in as the body first has to digest the capsule.

Small doses of cannabis oil with THC aren’t going to get you stoned, but higher doses may cause some psychoactive effects. Remember that THC has medical qualities too and that whole-plant medicine is preferable to isolate, but if you cannot buy cannabis oil with THC in your state or don’t enjoy the psychoactivity, you can also purchase CBD oil which won’t get you high.

In legalized states, cannabis users have a wide range of options. CBD-dominant oil, THC-dominant oil and oil with an even mix of CBD and THC are all available.

2) Vaping

For those who’ve previously liked smoking but want a safer alternative, vaping is likely the way forward for you. This method still activates the marijuana and delivers that unique psychoactive experience inhaling brings, but doesn’t burn the plant matter and damage the lungs. And for those who’ve never smoked, there’s probably little appeal to smoking in the first place.

On the contrary, vaping marijuana (or marijuana oil) still heats the plant matter enough to activate the cannabinoids, but not enough to burn it. Vapor is much cooler and smoother to inhale than smoke, and it’s also a lot more discreet as it doesn’t produce the same pungent odor.

There are a variety of vaporizers to choose from. Some vape dry bud, others vape concentrates and oils while others vape CBD e-liquid. There are pen vaporizers, portable vaporizers and desktop vaporizers, all of which have their perks and disadvantages depending on your scenario.

3) Edibles

Edibles are perhaps the most comfortable way to introduce a prospective new user to marijuana. Smoking – and even vaping – can attract negative, unhealthy connotations, whereas edibles are far less controversial. And because the cannabinoids enter the bloodstream differently when eating compared to inhaling, the effects are different too.

While the impacts of smoking and vaping wear off after two or three hours and typically affect the mind more than the body, an edible experience is much more physical and often lasts for five or six hours. However, edibles are slower to get to work – it can take an hour or more (depending on your metabolism) before you fully appreciate the effects of the herb.

This slow activation time can trick novices, who feel like they need more because the first dose isn’t strong enough. Anywhere between 10 to 15mg of THC should be enough for the average adult user. First-time users may want to reduce that dosage further, and should be careful about taking more on their first try. It’s best to start slowly and read how your body responds, as that will be a better guide than any going forward.

4) Raw dietary marijuana

The vast majority of marijuana consumption methods involve heating the plant up and activating the cannabinoids (such as when smoking or preparing an edible). But there’s reason to believe that raw marijuana is beneficial too.

According to William Courtney, a California-based doctor, the body can withstand much greater doses in raw form than heated form – to the tune of 1 to 2,000mg, instead of a mere 10mg. What benefits does this have? A much higher dose enhances marijuana’s effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory, anti-ischemic, antioxidant and much more. However, in raw form, cannabis is not psychoactive.

Indeed, raw marijuana is something of a superfood – akin to the likes of kale, pomegranate and ginger! Dr Courtney advises either juicing or blending marijuana (as with any fruit or vegetable) to extract the maximum goodness out of it. Courtney recommends those taking marijuana to help with neurodegenerative diseases stir their blended mix into a high-fat beverage for slower release of the cannabinoids.

5) Topical marijuana

Topical cannabis is kind to your skin and ideal if you have blotchy skin, acne or any other complaint. Furthermore, topicals are good at dealing with localized pain, as you can simply apply to the affected area. For those with arthritis, this is a good way of maximizing the anti-inflammatory properties of the herb.

Your joints tend to stiffen up with age, and cannabis creams, salves and balms can help to loosen up and restore your mobility to what it used to be.

In topical form, marijuana is non-psychoactive, making it even more preferable to medical users – especially those who want to medicate at work. Indeed, the effects of the cannabis are contained to where the cream is applied. Therefore, if you have stiffness in the arm, you can treat that specific area without sedating your whole body.

Marijuana is a revolutionary anti-ageing treatment

Hopefully this article has improved your knowledge on the overall potential of marijuana. Legalization and research has unleashed the herb – we are now aware of so many medical uses and how to best get them. From dealing with pain, regulating sleep to managing mental health, cannabis is proving itself to be a one-treatment-fits-all solution for seniors.

Perhaps you’re interested in trying marijuana, or maybe you have an older relative who you believe could benefit from the plant. If discussing it with them, point them to, so they can learn more and discover the range of marijuana-derived, CBD products stocked here. CBD e-liquids, edibles, vape oils, cream – we have it all!

Have CBD products or marijuana helped you or somebody that you know? Share your stories in the comments and get involved in one of America’s hottest conversations.

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