The US government’s attitude to marijuana and CBD has changed considerably over the last decade or so. These drugs are now being prescribed for a host of ailments and are said to offer a variety of health benefits, including improved appetite, relaxation, and reduced pain.
Many seniors are turning to these medications in place of addictive drugs like opioids and benzodiazepines, and in this guide, we’ll look at the benefits and side effects of doing so.
CBD Vs. Medical Marijuana
Marijuana is a drug derived from the flower/fruit of the cannabis plant. It contains a host of different compounds, many of which are in the cannabinoid class, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC is psychoactive. It induces a host of positive and negative effects, including euphoria, appetite stimulation, dry mouth, lightheadedness, sedation, nausea, and paranoia. THC is used both medically and recreationally, and when it’s consumed in the form of medical marijuana, it can be smoked, vaporized, or added to food.
CBD is non-psychoactive, so there is no “high,” it is not used recreationally, and it doesn’t produce the many side effects associated with THC. The jury is still out on what CBD effectively treats, but it certainly seems to offer some health benefits. More importantly, it is very safe, well-tolerated, and can be consumed as an oil, tincture, or edible.
Marijuana Benefits for Seniors
Marijuana is legal in around a dozen states and it’s available through prescription in several others. Many seniors use this drug to help with chronic pain and some eye conditions. It has also been used in palliative care and is generally much safer than other commonly abused recreational drugs.
For instance, it’s commonly believed that you can’t overdose on marijuana and while it can be psychologically addictive, it doesn’t present with the same crippling withdrawal symptoms as seen in alcohol and opiates.
Speak to your doctor about medical marijuana. They will determine if the drug is safe for you to use, focusing on your respiratory health (for smoked or vaporized marijuana), as well as your mental health, and blood pressure.
Marijuana, when consumed under guidance from a healthcare professional, may provide the following benefits for seniors:
- Relaxation: Marijuana helps the user to relax. When consumed in small doses, that relaxation may be enough to eliminate anxiety and assist with sleep.
- Appetite Stimulation: The famous “munchies” are not limited to teenage stoners stuffing their faces with Skittles and KitKats. For elderly individuals with limited appetites, such as those being treated for cancer, marijuana can improve appetite can ensure they get the calories they need.
- Lower Eye Pressure: Cannabis is often recommended for glaucoma, as it reduces eye pressure. The research is a little mixed, to say the least, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence.
- Pain: Marijuana use helps with chronic pain and is often prescribed following surgery and severe injury, as well as nerve pain.
Of course, as it also contains many other cannabinoids, including CBD, marijuana also provides the benefits outlined below.
CBD Benefits for Seniors
As CBD doesn’t need to be smoked and doesn’t cause paranoia and other side effects associated with marijuana use, it’s a much better option for seniors. Of course, once you remove the THC, you remove some of the benefits as well, but it’s still beneficial and may help to:
- Reduce Pain: Although the painkilling properties are not as pronounced and immediate, CBD may reduce inflammation and assist with chronic pain. Arthritis is one of the most common complaints amongst seniors and while harmful and addictive drugs are usually the first course of treatment, CBD is a viable and low-risk alternative.
- Improve Sleep: By aiding with relaxation, CBD may help seniors to sleep easier and for longer. Restlessness and interrupted sleep patterns are very common in seniors and as with painkillers, the alternative is usually a dangerous and highly addictive medication.
- Reduce Blood Pressure: More research is needed, but early reports suggest that CBD could treat high blood pressure, a condition that affects millions of seniors.
- Improve Cognition: The anti-inflammatory effects of CBD seem to work in the mind as well as the body, and early research indicates it could help to reduce the risk of neurological decline.
While CBD is available throughout most of the United States, you should still consult with a medical professional before beginning a course of treatment, especially if you have a preexisting medical condition or are taking prescription medication.