According to CBS, 4.3 million Americans aged 55+ are using marijuana as the herb is becoming a popular alternative to expensive, and often harmful prescription medications. Did you know that seniors use 30% of the nation’s painkillers, even though they only make up 14% of the population?
The switch to cannabis is hardly a surprise; senior citizens are fed up with having to remember to take half a dozen different pills a day at specific times, and it is especially frustrating when these prescription drugs do little to actually alleviate their medical conditions.
CBD, the non-intoxicating compound in marijuana, is becoming especially popular because it doesn’t result in a ‘high.’ Moreover, it is available in most states as long as it comes from industrial hemp, and it comes in easy to consume oil and capsule forms. Instead of taking a cavalcade of pills, all you have to do is consume X amount of CBD oil drops once a day, and that’s it! As well as being cheaper, easier to use, and safer than prescription meds, here are five other reasons why more seniors than ever before are dumping their pills and feeling better with CBD.
1 – Relief from Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is unfortunately a fact of life for an increasing number of seniors. Conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia take their toll and can cause crippling pain which greatly reduces quality of life. Instead of using addictive opioids, seniors are turning to CBD because it offers a safe and effective method of pain relief. This is all down to the impact of cannabis compounds on the body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS.
In 2006, a study by Manzanares, Julian, and Carrascosa looked at the role of the ECS in pain control, and discovered that THC, CBD and other marijuana compounds act to inhibit the molecules in the body that cause inflammation. These compounds also interact with the body’s endogenous opioid system and other natural painkilling systems. A 2008 study by Kaplan et al. showed that CBD alleviates the onset pain caused by arthritis, and can even physiologically reverse its underlying causes.
For chronic pain, we recommend purchasing a topical or edible CBD product as it works faster. Topicals in particular are effective if you have chronic pain in a single spot (like joint pain). Just rub the CBD cream on the affected area and feel the difference. It will reduce inflammation, pain and hopefully, help you get some much-needed rest.
2 – CBD Helps Tackle Insomnia
The older you get, the harder it is to sustain a sleeping state for any period of time. In fact, a National Sleep Foundation poll found that people aged 65+ were over 50% more likely to wake up in the middle of the night than were people aged 18-29. One of the reasons why seniors struggle to sleep is due to a change in circadian rhythm that results in them being sleepier in the early evening, which means they wake up far too early in the morning.
Although indica-dominant marijuana strains are arguably the best for helping you sleep, CBD products also have their uses. In an Eaze State of Cannabis Report, an incredible 95% of respondents (who used sleeping pills) were able to reduce their sleeping pill usage by substituting them with weed or its derivatives, which include CBD. As a bonus, you’ll feel refreshed in the morning as opposed to the groggy feeling you get with sleeping pills.
3 – Better Cognitive Ability
Neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and, dementia is sadly on the rise amongst seniors. Parkinson’s for example, is a degenerative condition that results in the death of your dopamine-producing cells. Dopamine deficiencies also cause symptoms such as loss of cognitive functions, memory loss, dementia, and loss of balance.
A 2014 study by Lotan et al. in Israel found that symptoms such as rigidity of muscles and tremors were reduced when patients smoked cannabis. Other studies have found that small doses of THC can hamper or even reverse the production of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. These proteins are responsible for blocking information from getting to the brain. Cannabis is believed to interact with the natural endocannabinoids in the brain to fight the build-up of these proteins, and ultimately prevent premature cell death.
4 – Fighting Depression
According to Healthline, an estimated seven million seniors in the United States experience symptoms of depression. Marijuana is known to decrease anxiety, improve mood and promote laughter. Did you know that humor and laughter have tremendous health benefits? The process relaxes the body, protects the heart, triggers the release of feel-good endorphins, and even boosts your immune system.
CBD directly interacts with a variety of cell receptors, although it has an indirect interaction with CB1 and CB2 receptors. Nonetheless, cannabidiol has a positive impact on your serotonin and dopamine receptors so when it is ingested, CBD will help trigger the release of these hormones that are known to boost your mood. Moreover, high doses of CBD directly activate the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, which results in an anti-anxiety effect.
5 – Helps Control Crohn’s Disease
An estimated 780,000 Americans have Crohn’s Disease, and this inflammatory bowel disease causes immense pain and anguish with symptoms such as weight loss, abdominal pain, and blood in your diarrhea. At the time of writing, it is an incurable condition and it has a profound effect on quality of life.
However, research studies suggest that marijuana is capable of sending the condition into remission! It is known that most of the painful symptoms are caused by inflammation; when your GI tract is constantly inflamed, your body can’t absorb enough nutrients to survive. While pharmaceutical drugs try to suppress the immune system and reduce inflammation, weed works differently.
Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD prevent the immune system from releasing pro-inflammatory proteins. Instead, they trigger the release of anti-inflammatory compounds. There are cannabinoid receptors found throughout the GI tract and are primarily located on immune cells. In a 2013 review, researchers found that people with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s produced fewer endocannabinoids. Also, patients who use marijuana for Crohn’s experience no negative side effects and enjoy improved appetites.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Seniors
This article has only outlined five benefits of CBD for seniors but in reality, there are dozens more. CBD offers a natural alternative to addictive opioids, and is effective when treating chronic pain, Crohn’s Disease, neurodegenerative conditions, depression, insomnia, and a variety of other conditions. You should be able to purchase CBD from industrial hemp online, as it is legal in most states. And finally, while CBD oil works well for most conditions, edibles and topicals are viable alternatives and are probably more effective for chronic pain.
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