As more states legalize marijuana usage, cannabis products have become increasingly common. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one such product. CBD is a chemical compound of the cannabis plant that offers therapeutic properties without the psychoactive “high” typically associated with cannabis use. CBD products come in many different forms, including oral tinctures, gummies, and topical creams.
CBD use has exploded across the nation, and the 50+ group is no exception. According to one study, cannabis use among adults age 50 and over increased by 250 percent between 2006 and 2013. Nearly one in five Americans over the age of 50 has used a CBD product, according to a recent Gallup poll.
Adults age 65 and above are among the most medicated population group in the U.S. They represent 12 percent of the total population but account for more than a third of the country’s prescription drug use. As our bodies naturally age, older people are more likely to suffer from serious health conditions. Therefore, this group could possibly see the greatest benefit from CBD products. In fact, states that have legalized cannabis including CBD reliably prescribe fewer opioids, have fewer deaths caused by prescription opioids and fewer people in treatment for opioid addiction.
Unfortunately, even though many older adults are taking advantage of the benefits CBD has to offer, not everyone is on board. Many seniors may still hold onto outdated stereotypes of cannabis use, not realizing that CBD could significantly improve their quality of life. In many cases, CBD may reduce or even replace pharmaceutical drugs. Here are some answers to questions you might have about CBD.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of more than 100 chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. These chemical compounds are called cannabinoids and share a similar molecular structure to the endocannabinoid hormones our bodies produce. CBD can bind to the human endocannabinoid system, helping regulate biological functions such as appetite, sleep, pain responses, inflammation and mood.
What are some benefits of CBD oil?
As more research is conducted, new benefits and uses of CBD are being discovered all the time. CBD has therapeutic properties for all age groups. Common uses by older adults include treatment for:
- Pain management. Because CBD reduces inflammation, it has been shown to be effective for chronic pain, including arthritis and sciatica.
- Sleep problems. CBD can help insomniacs sleep better; alternately, it can be microdosed during the day to promote alertness.
- Anxiety and depression. Studies show that CBD has mood-regulating effects that can safely and effectively treat depression. There’s evidence to believe that CBD can help treat other mood disorders such as PTSD and OCD as well.
- Chemotherapy side effects. Cancer patients were among the first group to experiment with medical marijuana to treat symptoms including nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. More recent studies show that CBD can be equally effective for these symptoms.
- Dementia. Several studies have indicated that CBD treatment may slow cognitive decline in dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
Is CBD oil safe?
Research has shown that CBD is a safe and effective treatment for many people. Of course, anyone interested in using CBD should speak with their doctor first, and never stop taking medication without a doctor’s guidance. Like any other substance, there are some known interactions between CBD and certain medicines or supplements, so be sure to have a candid discussion with your primary care provider.
Tips on CBD safety
With your doctor’s approval, here are some helpful steps to take. First, be sure to research the brand or company you’re interested in. CBD products can be bought pretty much everywhere, from online stores, farmer’s markets, dispensaries and even major retailers like Walmart and CVS in some areas.
However, before buying any CBD products, be sure to research the brand and company. A reputable brand will submit each batch to independent third-party testing to verify the contents and be sure there are no contaminants. Also, make sure the plants are hemp and grown in the USA. While there is currently no federal regulation for CBD products, the U.S. does have specific farming practices the industry must adhere to.
Until the FDA steps in to issue guidelines on CBD safety, the onus is on the consumer to stay safe, so be sure to closely read the label.
Oral tinctures, vape pens and edibles tend to be most popular with older adults. When shopping around, keep in mind that different forms of CBD produce different effects, and the same product can produce effects that vary from person to person. Keep an open mind that finding the perfect CBD product may be a process of trial and error. Here are a few types of products to consider:
- Oral tinctures: CBD oil or hemp oil usually contains a food-grade oil such as MCT or coconut oil. A full-spectrum hemp oil offers the benefits of CBD, plus other valuable nutrients.
- CBD Isolate: These may be clear or light golden, depending on the carrier oil used. These products have isolated and removed the cannabidiol and mixed it with a carrier oil. Isolates strip out beneficial cannabinoids and fatty acids that full-spectrum oils contain, so you may want to focus on full-spectrum oils.
- Edibles: These are food items infused with CBD concentrate, including gummies and syrups. Edibles take longer to produce an effect since they must be absorbed via the digestive system.
- Topicals: CBD-infused lotions, balms or patches are applied directly to the skin. They can help with surface-level issues such as headaches and arthritis.
CBD oil dosage
While a doctor can provide guidance for your specific situation, a general guide to ensure seniors’ safety is to start at 2.5 mg, which is half the recommended dose for younger adults. Everyone’s metabolism and experience is different, so it’s important to start slowly and gradually increase the dose. Older adults are more likely to be taking other medications and may feel the effects more quickly due to age.
Over the course of a few days to a week, the dose can be increased in 2.5mg increments. Physical symptoms tend to respond more quickly to treatment than psychological symptoms, so be sure to talk with your doctor about your specific symptoms and a realistic outcome. Never stop taking any medication without a doctor’s supervision.