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By Adam Parsons

In the last few years, seniors finally started considering cannabis as a medical herb instead of a dangerous drug. That’s a big deal for a generation that grew up during prohibition, and it must be for good reason. All over the world, more and more seniors are becoming aware of the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids, with the non-psychotropic CBD being a preferred choice. Not that a little THC would hurt most older people, yet in most countries the laws on medical cannabis continue to lag behind scientific findings.

Health deterioration is an unavoidable part of the ageing process, often leading seniors to use pharmaceutical drugs with numerous (and occasionally severe) side effects. Scientists are working hard to uncover anti-ageing lifestyle changes that work to soften the blow of time and offset the symptoms of degeneration. Now, some researchers have set their sights on CBD.

PAIN RELIEF, ARTHRITIS, AND OSTEOPOROSIS

Anyone over the age of 60 starts experiencing some kind of pain. It might be from previous injuries, muscle or joint soreness, or other conditions. It is argued that cannabis is a pain-reliever to the same extent as, or even better than, prescription medication. Cannabinoids are able to reduce pain related to arthritis, cancer, neuropathy, spasticity, headache, migraines, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, post-operation and post-injury recovery, and spinal cord injuries and diseases.

The endocannabinoid system continues to emerge as a promising target in the field of musculoskeletal medicine; it shows up everywhere from tendons and fascia to bone cells, joints, and pain signalling pathways. Studies[1] are looking into modulating the ECS using cannabinoids such as CBD, using animal models of joint pain to see what they’re capable of. These research efforts include administering the cannabinoid in rat models of osteoarthritis[2] to find out if it might mitigate pain and nerve damage.

In a lab environment, the efficacy of CBD as a topical treatment for arthritis[3] was highlighted in a 2016 study by the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy, where transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling, pain, and inflammatory biomarkers in rats.

Our cannabinoid receptors might also play a role in the prevention of osteoporosis[4], which is another common condition associated with ageing. A lab study by the University of Edinburgh showed that CB1 receptor activity protects against age-related bone loss by regulating the bone mass and life cycle of bone marrow cells.

These findings have driven researchers to test cannabinoids in models of bone breaks and degeneration. For example, a 2015 study[5] examined how CBD interacts with osteoblasts (the cells that lay down new bone tissue) when it comes to fracture remodelling.

Osteoporosis CBD

NEURODEGENERATIVE DISORDERS

Inflammation and oxidative stress underpin myriad neurodegenerative disorders, and ongoing studies are pitching CBD against models of these conditions, looking for signs of antioxidant abilities along the way. 

A review of recent research titled “Neurological Aspects of Medical Use of Cannabidiol[6]” collated all the preclinical and clinical findings carried out investigating the effects of CBD alone. The potential role of CBD in Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cerebral ischemia, was examined, but its employment needs further confirmation from well-designed clinical studies.

SLEEP DISORDERS

During sleep, our brain clears out toxins, such as free radicals, it has been producing during the day. Sleep quality is important to prevent age-related neurodegenerative diseases, but sleep issues are very common among seniors. Elderly people are frequently prescribed sleeping pills, which cause dependency and a wide range of side effects.

Muscle spasms caused by neuromuscular disorders are often the culprit when it comes to disrupted sleep. Ongoing clinical trials are pitching cannabinoids, including CBD, against involuntary muscular contractions[7].

CBD Sleeping Medical

CARDIOVASCULAR FUNCTIONS

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death across the world, and they strike most severely in elderly populations. Researchers aren’t entirely sure how CBD affects the heart and cardiovascular system as a whole, but ongoing studies are testing the cannabinoid for its effects on this system, including:

  • Blood pressure changes[8]
  • Cardiac arrhythmias[8]
  • Hypoxia-ischemia[9]
  • Cardiovascular damage[10] caused by diabetes

GASTROINTESTINAL HEALTH

Digestive and gastrointestinal complications can add to the clinical picture as a result of age-related cell deterioration and inflammation within the digestive tract. Moreover, seniors often suffer from loss of appetite, which causes weight loss, tissue weakness, and mental issues. Ongoing studies are trialling CBD against reduced appetite, inflammatory bowel disease[11], colitis, and Crohn's disease.

Gastrointestinal CBD Medical

HOW SENIORS CAN USE CBD

Even if the majority of the elderly population have not experimented with CBD yet, more and more patients, older or not, have already been able to reduce their prescription drug intake upon taking cannabinoids. Many seniors are still not aware of how medical cannabis could improve their quality of life, but it seems that those who have started taking CBD are happy with the results.

CBD comes in a wide variety of forms, including pills, isolate crystals, salves, edibles, sprays, oils, and tinctures, which can be swallowed or absorbed under the tongue. This assortment of methods makes consumption and dosing very easy, even for seniors or impaired people. Cannabinoid oils can also be mixed into regular food and drink, and do not produce the high associated with THC. With today’s booming demand for CBD, new products are constantly being developed to target different needs and conditions, including formulas specifically tailored to the ageing population.

External Resources:
  1. Is cannabis an effective treatment for joint pain? - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  2. Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  3. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  4. Cannabinoid receptor type 1 protects against age-related osteoporosis by regulating osteoblast and adipocyte differentiation in marrow stromal cells. - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  5. Cannabidiol, a Major Non-Psychotropic Cannabis Constituent Enhances Fracture Healing and Stimulates Lysyl Hydroxylase Activity in Osteoblasts. - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  6. Neurological Aspects of Medical Use of Cannabidiol. - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  7. MARIJUANA AND MUSCLE SPASTICITY https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  8. A single dose of cannabidiol reduces blood pressure in healthy volunteers in a randomized crossover study. - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  9. Cannabidiol administration after hypoxia-ischemia to newborn rats reduces long-term brain injury and restores neurobehavioral function. - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  10. Is the cardiovascular system a therapeutic target for cannabidiol? - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  11. Cannabidiol in inflammatory bowel diseases: a brief overview. - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Disclaimer:
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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