Did my Grandma join the Cannabis Craze?
Did you just see a blue-haired grandma coming out of a pot dispensary? Yup, you did. With the widespread legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana, more and more seniors are turning to CBD products for pain relief and treatment of many ailments that often come with age and can, in many cases, reduce or eliminate the need for dangerous or addictive prescription drugs. Still, many seniors (and their younger relatives) are skeptical about the cannabis craze and it should be noted that there are still some states in which only CBD or medical marijuana are legal and some in which it is still deemed an illegal substance. Research continues on the effects of cannabinoids on various ailments and conditions, and you should always consult your doctor before embarking upon your own course of THC or CBD treatment.
Differences Between CBD and THC
Cannabidiol (CBD) can be derived from either marijuana or hemp, although the latter plant has so little CBD that it is legal in all 50 states and can be found even on grocery store shelves. Oil derived from marijuana can contain as much as 20% CBD, making it more effective for medicinal use.
Possibly of most importance, CBD does not produce a “high,” but THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) does have quite a psychoactive result. In short, TCH gets you stoned or sleepy, but CBD may keep you alert and even add energy.
Two Kinds of Seniors Using CBD and Pot
Newbies: These are seniors who have never smoked pot but who suffer from a variety of aches and pains, and their actively curious minds have led them to research the effects and benefits of marijuana and its derivatives. Busloads of ladies from a Colorado nursing home may be seen disembarking for their field trip to a dispensary where they will explore an overwhelming variety of tinctures, oils, pills, actual marijuana buds, and edibles ranging from cookies to gummy bears. Best of all, if they choose the CBD route, they don’t have to get high to enjoy the benefits.
Boomers and Hippies and the Cannabis craze: Those who did their wild time buying baggies on a street corner in the 1960s seem to be more at ease with trying marijuana. Those who choose to smoke the product often remark on the difference between today’s scientifically engineered pot and the grass of yore. Oh, and those brownies are very different. Still, even old hippies get aches and pains and they’re coming out in droves for cannabis relief. These are the clients who don’t mind getting a THC buzz, and may be heard humming “Free Bird” while standing at the edibles counter.
Possible Health Benefits
Arthritis Pain Relief
Arthritis clinics in the United States and Canada regularly prescribe medical marijuana for relief of symptoms for both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, and the benefits have been cited in numerous medical journals, including The Lancet, Britain’s most prestigious such publication. For those who don’t care to imbibe, there are lots of boutique-style scented creams to relieve the inflammation, swelling, and pain that make movement and sleep difficult.
The jury is still out on this one, at least for long-term benefits. True, smoking marijuana can relieve the intraocular eye pressure that defines glaucoma, but it’s short-term, so you’d have to be puffing all day to make it work. Sublinguals could be the answer. CBD has promise, but so far only good ol’ Mary Jane has proven to provide real relief.
Relieves Anxiety, Promotes Calm Attitude
CBD is one of the most popular cannabis remedies for seniors, partly because it’s not psychoactive so they don’t have to deal with being high, and partly because of the mood elevation properties. Anxiety, panic attacks, and nervousness seem somewhat relieved by CBD, much more than marijuana. It is usually used in a sublingual dose, and many users say it is slow to take effect and that takes time and patience to determine what amount is right for you.
The evidence is growing that suggests cannabis helps to repair bone fractures and inspires strengthening of bones due to its connection to the endocannabinoid system that governs much of our body and nervous system. Fractures in the hip and other joints are of considerable concern for older patients, and regular use of medical marijuana or CBD help to prevent breaks.
As we get older, most of us have a bit more trouble sleeping. Sleep is essential to all of us because sleep is when our bodies and brains repair. Both CBD and THC can increase deep sleep and reduce the length of lighter sleep, helping to leave elders rested and ready to face the day. Note that cannabis products with a high THC content (vapes or smokes) may not help with sleep.
It may seem as if we spend half of our lives trying to keep our weight down, but as we hit our much older years, we often have a lack of appetite and losing weight can be dangerous. Weight loss, tissue weakness, and mental issues go hand in hand with appetite loss and poor nutrition. Both pot and CBD help to activate the appetite. This adds a new meaning to “afternoon tea.”
Alternative to Prescription Drugs
A good many seniors take up to a dozen prescribed drugs per day, some of which interact badly with one another. They can also interact negatively with such seemingly benign foods as bananas and grapefruit, or with over-the-counter drugs like aspirin or digestive compounds. Some patients have had success with weaning themselves off serious opioids with cannabis products.
What’s the Future for this Cannabis craze?
The ongoing legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana has led growers to experiment with creating different strains of products designed for specific treatments or effects. Alongside the growers, the producers of edibles continue to find ways to make cannabis a palatable and even gourmet ingredient in everything from fruit shakes to gummy bears. It seems reasonable that as the market becomes more sophisticated, more seniors will be willing to give cannabis a chance to ease the aches and pains that are a natural part of aging or to try cannabis as an alternative or addition to prescription drugs for more serious ailments or diseases.