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CBD for seniors: understanding the potential

The soaring interest for CBD products among seniors is perhaps the unlikeliest development to have come from cannabidiol’s (CBD) emergence. Granted, cannabis would have been making a breakthrough during the counterculture days of the 1960s. This was a time when many of today’s seniors would have been in their youth. But for most of their lives marijuana has been a demonized substance, in all shapes and forms. However, in 2019, CBD is making a huge splash in the senior demographic.

Americans have been steadily embracing cannabis, with medical and recreational legislation being brought in by various states. But hemp-based CBD products have made much more of a national impact, thanks to being legal at federal level. In the past few years, CBD has gone from being barely known to a wildly popular plant-based supplement and remedy. “The cannabis that doesn’t get you high” is how most of the public know it. The health benefits and wellness potential of CBD and products made from industrial hemp oil extracts have certainly not gone unnoticed. Many even prefer CBD to their prescription medications.

This is a comprehensive guide to the best CBD for the elderly. We will consider a few conditions that are common among pensioners, but may be aided by CBD treatment. These include chronic pain, arthritis and joint pain, and neurodegenerative illnesses. In regard to these disorders, we will also go over the most suitable CBD products for seniors.

Chronic pain

Cannabis use for chronic pain has a history that dates back not hundreds but thousands of years. Ancient Chinese medicine practices recommended the herb. Indian Ayurvedic medicine harnessed cannabis, as did the ancient Greeks. However, there is one big drawback to cannabis being a mainstream medication for pain in today’s world. That’s the fact marijuana is, in its whole form, psychoactive. For many, the thought of having to get high to relieve their pain is too much. Some are averse to psychoactive substances for health reasons, others are against the likes of cannabis due to religious beliefs.

Therefore, researchers have been trying to establish whether the psychoactive THC in cannabis is needed to relieve chronic and neuropathic pain. And if it isn’t, could CBD on its own be an effective painkiller? We have just a few studies that have analyzed the potential of CBD as an analgesic. Yet some key breakthroughs have been made. On top of that, out of all the reasons for taking CBD, chronic pain is top of the pile. This discovery was made via a questionnaire reported in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research last year.

Get natural pain relief with CBD

CBD, as a potent pain-reliever and non-psychoactive drug, promises to change the game. Until now, the best hope that many senior patients have had to genuinely ease their chronic pain symptoms was opioid painkillers. These prescription drugs do admittedly have therapeutic value. But it is the harsh downsides of these treatments which makes them so unappealing. Opioids are – like the natural opium plant – highly addictive, and are notoriously easy to overdose on. For many patients, opening a treatment has been a downward spiral. And it’s one with a vice like grip that is mightily tough to break free from.

CBD takes a much softer and more sustainable approach to pain relief. Firstly, it’s a non-addictive substance that doesn’t affect the natural chemical balance of the body. While opioids act as strong agonists of opioid receptors, CBD helps the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to work normally. The cannabinoid does this by stifling reuptake of anandamide, making more of the endocannabinoid available to bind with CB1 receptors. With CBD increasing levels of anandamide, this also stimulates activity at the vanilloid receptor, another influencer of pain.

Some pain conditions require a stronger dose of CBD. But the body will never become physically or mentally dependent on the compound. The wide range of CBD products on offer also means that pain can be combated in different ways. Acute, neuropathic pain responds well to vape oil and concentrate treatment. Chronic pain is effectively soothed with CBD capsules. And all types of pain can be eased by using CBD creams. In some cases, the effects may be even better when you combine CBD oil or vape juice with a topical product.

Arthritis and joint pain

Arthritis affects many seniors, and the disorder can destroy quality of life. The condition can prevent people from living life to the full. And even from doing simple tasks like driving a car or opening a jar. Arthritis is not a single illness, and comes in multiple forms. This can make finding a treatment tricky, as there are different causes of arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the conditions most are familiar with, so will be our focus.

Osteoarthritis (OA)

OA is the most common form of arthritis. It can cause stiff and painful joints throughout the body. In life, general wear and tear causes a small level of damage to the joints. Older people are more prone to this than any other demographic in society. Typically, the body is able to heal itself from minor levels of damage, but OA occurs when this doesn’t happen. Excessive use of a joint or joints can exacerbate symptoms of arthritis, as can family history and previous RA. These symptoms include inflammation, swelling and pain as joint cartilage breaks down.

CBD is effective at easing the pain associated with OA, and can also help to reduce inflammation. This two-pronged effect makes CBD especially good at managing the symptoms of arthritis. The likelihood is that a CBD cream will have greater benefits for arthritis than products taken internally. This is because topicals can directly treat the damaged area.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

RA causes a similar stiffness and swelling of the joints, but appears to have different causes to osteoarthritis. Symptoms of RA can become worse due to flare-ups. This can mean the condition has a harsher effect on quality of life. RA can also contribute to tiredness and weight loss. This suggests much more is going on than simple deterioration of joint cartilage.

There is a growing belief that RA is caused or at least worsened by poor gut health. The concept of ‘leaky gut’ has consistently been ridiculed by medical professionals. However, research emerging in recent years suggests there may be a vein of truth to this ancient view of health.

RA has been confirmed as an autoimmune disease. CBD may be therapeutic for the condition by treating a leaky gut. This stops the body from becoming overwhelmed by inflammation, preventing harmful bacteria from spreading. A study has found that CBD can repair gut lining, in doing so preventing symptoms of leaky gut. Utilizing CBD oil and creams would perhaps tackle the root causes of RA, while providing pain relief.

Neurodegenerative illnesses

Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease are all types of neurodegenerative illness that are common among elderly people. Deteriorating brain health is the cause of these conditions. Managing these illnesses can be very difficult, and in many cases, ultimately impossible. That’s why it’s important to take the necessary measures to prevent them. Evidence shows that meditation can be beneficial, and supplementing the brain with antioxidants and omega-3s also helps. Getting plenty of sleep – at least the seven hours minimum as recommended by healthcare experts – is vital. The brain heals most during deep sleep.

But what positive effect can a cannabinoid like CBD have, given that we know cannabinoids influence the brain? Let’s consider Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder which is notorious for adversely affecting memory. The main brain region responsible for memory loss is the hippocampus, which tends to decline with age. However, through CBD consumption, the hippocampus can be maintained and even regrown. The cannabinoid, and others – notably cannabichromene (CBC) – produce a marvellous effect known as neurogenesis. This encourages hippocampal growth by stimulating neuronal stem cells.

A broad-spectrum extract may work better for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative illnesses than CBD-isolate. This is because of the therapeutic value that CBD and other non-intoxicating cannabinoids have. So far, a medical link between CBD and reduced Alzheimer’s symptoms is unproven. However, some researchers have theorized about the possibilities in their studies. Moreover, a Brazilian Alzheimer’s patient was permitted CBD treatment a couple of years ago. Why Brazil? The South American country has a reputation for carrying out neuroscientific experiments related to cannabinoids.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition that doesn’t really make much sense. It affects all ages, and causes mental and physical symptoms. These include poor sleep quality, fatigue, reduced cognitive functioning, stiffness, headaches and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Those with the illness find it pretty much unbearable to live with. Matters are not made any better by the fact that it does not have an official cause or cure.

But a known cause and remedy for fibromyalgia may not be far away – in fact, it may already be here. Discovering the ECS in the early 1990s has been a major scientific breakthrough. It’s allowed researchers to study the system in its entirety and work out what happens when it becomes dysregulated. Dr Ethan Russo, a neurologist and psychopharmacologist, and his team have diligently been researching this for the past 15 years.

They have found that fibromyalgia – and conditions such as migraines – can potentially be linked back to ECS dysfunction. Given that the symptoms match up to the variables that the ECS regulates, it’s easy to see why. While this sounds – and is – a huge problem for health, the remedy may be pretty simple. CBD has all-round benefits for the ECS. CBD acts indirectly on its two primary receptors (CB1 and CB2) to regulate the ECS.

Many fibromyalgia patients are starting to experiment with CBD products, some of whom are enjoying major relief. As the effects need to be felt all the body, we suggest trying edibles, vape juices, capsules or even hemp flower.

Final thoughts

This article has demonstrated how:

  • CBD oil for elderly people can help with chronic pain
  • CBD products for seniors are great for arthritis and joint pain
  • Neurodegenerative illnesses may be manageable with CBD
  • CBD for seniors may get to the root of fibromyalgia

 

The positive media stories on hemp-based CBD has certainly been a factor in its newfound popularity among the elderly. Well-read seniors have picked up on the benefits that the cannabinoid may have, and are getting in on the action. As with pretty much every area of CBD research, more studies are needed to conclusively confirm the benefits for these conditions. But with CBD products available for all Americans to buy, many are deciding to jump right in. That CBD has few side effects and is non-addictive has no doubt helped. And, of course, the critical fact that it won’t make you high, in any dose.