Wellness communities everywhere are discovering the major benefits CBD can potentially offer. The World Health Organization (WHO) described cannabidiol (CBD) to be “well tolerated with a good safety profile” (WHO). All individuals may benefit from CBD use in one way or another. A young athlete may find benefits in pain relief or a middle-aged insomnia may drift off to sleep following a dose of CBD.
One group of people who may find many benefits from CBD, the same group of people who are growing rapidly in numbers, is our seniors. By 2030, as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age, there will be 1 retirement age senior for every 5 people (census.gov). This article will focus on seniors and the potential benefits CBD for seniors can provide our older generation.
So what exactly is CBD? CBD is part of a group of molecules called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are made up of the active parts of cannabis. So far, 144 cannabinoids have been discovered. This includes THC and CBD. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most abundant cannabinoid found in marijuana and produces the feeling of ‘being high’. CBD is the 2nd most abundant and has no psychoactive effects so using CBD will not result in your becoming ‘high’.
Cannabis is the species of plant and there are two varieties: Marijuana and Hemp. As we just discussed, marijuana is high in THC. Hemp on the other hand legally has less than 0.3% THC, and is abundant in CBD. Many people use the phrase that CBD is
“Help without the high”
But CBD and THC do not just provide benefits on their own. They can work together to boost each other's benefits to you through something called the entourage effect. It is suggested that when used together, cannabinoids work symbiotically to promote the benefits each can provide.
Besides CBD products derived from hemp, you may also find products that contain Hemp seed oil. The clear distinction between hemp products and hemp seed oil products is that hemp seed oil products contain 0% CBD. Even if you do find some benefits from hemp seed oil, do not be fooled into thinking any hemp seed oil products are providing the benefits CBD can.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The mechanisms by which CBD and other cannabinoids affect your body are through a system called the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS for short. The ECS plays a vital role in many of your body’s physiological functions and processes including sleep, appetite, inflammation management, anxiety, and more.
The goal is to maintain a balanced and stable level of operation called homeostasis. When something is out of whack, the ECS works to return order and balance by activating cannabinoid receptors. The main receptors, CB1 & CB2, modulate different systems within your body to maintain homeostasis.
Types of Products
There are a variety of ways that someone can consume CBD products. Maybe you prefer to chew on some delicious CBD gummies. Or maybe you like a good smoke so hemp flower and CBD Vapor Pens are for you. Whether you want the ease of a CBD tincture or the on-the-spot relief of a CBD topical, there is a product out there that is right for you. Besides your preferences, one thing to consider may be how much of the CBD is actually making into your bloodstream to provide maximum benefits.
Smoke-able products like hemp flower and vapor pens have a high absorption rate with tinctures closely behind, followed by edibles, ending with topicals. Topical products mostly affect local cannabinoid receptors on the skin and provide their benefits not so much through the bloodstream but for on-the-spot relief.
Look for Lab-Tested Results
There are many CBD companies and products out there and it is up to you, the consumer, to find quality products from a trustworthy company. Part of your search should be looking for up-to-date, lab-tested results for each product a company is selling. You’ll want to make sure that the levels of CBD are at the levels advertised and that the levels of Δ9-THC is below the legal limit of 0.3%. A responsive company who can answer you quickly if you have any questions about the products and their lab results can be a plus as well.
Finding Your Perfect Dose
OK, so you found a company you like, you have the product you want, and now it's time to take some CBD! But, how much should you take? Unfortunately there is no straight forward answer when it comes to dosing. There are many factors at play including age, weight, metabolism, severity of condition, when you last ate, and more. Rest easy, finding your perfect dose is not that hard. Dosing of CBD is measured in milligrams (mg).
For example, the Thrive Flower CBD Drops jar is 750mg total. Each dropper contains 25mg of CBD. We suggest starting with a small dose, maybe 10-25mg, then building up slowly from there. A typical dose lasts about 6 hours so wait at least 4 hours before dosing again.
Taking note, on a scale of 1-10, on how you feel in terms of pain, anxiety, sleepiness, mood, etc., can help you better understand how a particular dose of CBD affects you.
Arthritis affects 50% of people aged 65 or older (cdc.gov). According to the CDC, “the risk of arthritis increases with age . . .” (CDC). There are two types of arthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis (RO) is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks otherwise healthy tissue. The chronic inflammation of joint lining can cause a lot of discomfort. Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs as the cartilage between your bones wears down over time. It is much more common of the two.
A review of cannabinoids in treating arthritis and other chronic pain symptoms found “. . . that, in comparison with placebo, the cannabis-based drug was associated with significant improvements in certain pain parameters and quality of sleep. With regard to drug safety, the study found no serious adverse effects in the active treatment group, with most adverse effects being mild or moderate” (Gonen, et al).
Another study on using CBD for chronic pain looked at the mechanisms by which CBD may help to alleviate pain. They found that CBD can help increase the active levels of the body’s pain relief chemical, serotonin (Argueta, et al). Those dealing with symptoms of other chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, back pain, headaches, and multiple sclerosis may find some relief with CBD use.
Remember the entourage effect we talked about? How using multiple cannabinoids togethers, like CBD and THC, can boost each other's benefits? The same study mentioned above found that CBD can help make any THC consumed more available to the body; CBD increases the bioavailability of THC (Argueta, et al).
The older we get, the more susceptible we are to sleep issues like insomnia. This is due to a number of factors. The quality of our sleep decreases as we age as well. We tend to sleep less, wake up more often, and take longer to actually fall asleep (sleep latency) (Sleep Foundation). A review of the prevalence of insomnia found that people, aged 35 or older, have a “significantly higher” chance of sleep issues than their younger counterparts (Bhaskar, et al). Another survey found that 43% of people aged 65 or older reported having issues with sleep (Miner, et al). So how can CBD help with sleep?
Now we come back to the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). Studies have shown that interactions between cannabinoids (CBD, THC, etc.) and the ECS’s cannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2) are important to how you sleep (Kesner, et al). Sleep is in the top 3 reasons people use CBD (along with pain and anxiety). When looking at the number of people that had improved sleep scores, a study found that 67% of participants had, but they fluctuated over time (Shannon, et al). That is 2 out of 3 people with improved sleep as attributed to CBD.
As we age, it becomes less obvious to diagnose someone with anxiety compared to a younger person (Balasamo, et al). This, in part, is why it is believed that anxiety is underreported. The reported numbers are still high: The CDC found that about 15% of people over the age of 50 experienced “frequent mental distress”. CBD was found to have the potential to “diminish anxiety” (Beedham, et al). This occurs through, once again, the ECS.
In the body, cannabinoids are broken down by metabolic enzymes (ex. FAAH). CBD can inhibit this enzyme (FAAH) allowing cannabinoids, that occur naturally in your body, to build up (anandamide - AEA). Anandamide acts similarly to THC and this plays a role in what makes CBD a treatment option for anxiety (Blessing, et al).
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is very common in seniors. About 69% of people aged 60-79 have CVD and that number jumps to 85% for 80+ year olds (heart.org). Taking proper wellness steps to protect and maintain your heart health is important to everyone. Consistent exercise and eating right play major roles, and CBD might be able to give your heart health an extra boost. It was found that CBD reduces resting blood pressure. It also keeps blood pressure down when a stressful event increases your heart rate (Jadoon, et al). CBD’s powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties give it
“tremendous therapeutic potential” (Rajesh, et al)
for the treatment of CVD. Do not stop taking any current medications before speaking with your doctor. Also, speak to your doctor before changing your wellness routine. CBD is not a substitute but rather an enhancement for your wellness.
We have learned how CBD for seniors can aid the wellness of joints, muscles, the mind, and the heart, and now we will see how it can help keep your bones healthy. As we age, our bones can become weak and brittle. This condition, osteoporosis, affects around 16% of people aged 65 or older (CDC). Close to 50% have low bone mass. Broken bones can be a major problem for seniors because the road to recovery is longer and more arduous. Recent findings show promise of CBD use to promote bone health through, once again, the ECS. It was demonstrated “that CB1 and CB2 have overlapping but [distinct] roles in skeletal homeostasis” (Idris, et al). Using CBD to activate cannabinoid receptors can help
A neurodegenerative disease is when cells located in the central nervous system either die or cease to function. Conditions such as Alzheimers, Parkingsons, and Dementia affect millions of Americans. And as our population gets older, more and more of us will experience neurodegenerative issues. Already, close to a million people are living with Parkinsons in the United States (NIEHS).
CBD acts in several ways to promote neural health. Antioxidative properties work to restore oxidative homeostasis. This is frequently related with neurodegenerative diseases and can therefore benefit neural health (Sagredo, et al). Potent anti-inflammatory properties help to keep circulation open and blood flowing to the brain (Maroon, et al). It has been found that
CBD has high potential to be a “pharmacological tool for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders” (Cassano, et al).
Always speak to your doctor or physician before changing your wellness routine.
Speak with your doctor or physician before making any changes to your wellness routine. Do not stop taking any medications before speaking with your doctor or physician. This article summarizes the research out there on the benefits seniors may experience with CBD use. This article is not meant to be taken as medical advice, as only your doctor can provide you with that information.