What Seniors Need to Know About CBD
It seems like everyone’s talking about cannabidiol (CBD) oil now that many U.S. states have legalized the use and sale of medical marijuana. CBD is hyped for helping with a range of issues affecting seniors, ranging from arthritis pain to irritable bowel syndrome, among other conditions. It’s probably no surprise that people over age 50 are the fastest-growing segment of CBT consumers fastest-growing segment of CBT consumers. Even baby boomer Martha Stewart is getting in on the CBT wellness trend, starting with her new line of CBD-infused products for pets.
Are you thinking about trying CBD? Here’s what seniors and their caregivers need to know about it.
What Is CBD?
CBD is a chemical that’s extracted from the cannabis plant, but it’s not the same thing as marijuana. Marijuana contains THC, the psychoactive compound that gives users a feeling of being extra-friendly, happy and relaxed, which is pretty much another way of saying “high.” CBD-only products shouldn’t have any THC in them. In fact, most CBD products are made using hemp, which has less than 0.3 THC and is now a legal substance in the U.S.
How Does It Work?
Did you know that the human body makes its own cannabinoids? You also have cannabinoid receptors in your brain and other parts of your nervous system. It used to be thought that CBD provided pain relief because it attached to the body’s cannabinoid receptors that are related to inflammation and pain. However, new research is showing that CBD might work because it helps your body to make better use of its own cannabinoids.
What Are the Benefits of CBD?
There hasn’t been enough scientific research into the benefits of CBD as of yet, so this section focuses mostly on the potential and likely benefits of CBD.
CBD users claim to experience everything from relief from chronic pain and depression to smoother skin when CBD oil is applied topically. Some of the issues that CBD is showing promise for helping with are listed below. Keep in mind that these haven’t all been scientifically proven to the level of obtaining Food and Drug Administration approval.
- Arthritis: CBD could help reduce arthritis symptoms, according to preliminary research that looked at osteoarthritic knee pain.
- Sleep issues: Some research suggests that CBD can help you fall asleep. It’s not known for sure if CBD works on the sleep receptors in the brain or if it helps users fall asleep because of its calming effects. Researchers caution that the relaxation effects could go away after a few months of regular use, which is why they recommend it as a short-term solution only.
- Dementia: Early evidence shows that consuming CBD oil might reduce inflammation in the brain, although that’s only been demonstrated in animals, not humans. Mice with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease were given THC and CBD oil and showed enhanced learning abilities and fewer amyloid clumps in their bodies.
- Epilepsy: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has approved one CBD product, called Epidiolex, to treat two rarely occurring types of epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
- Nausea and wasting: The FDA has given its stamp of approval to three CBD products that are used to treat the side effects of cancer treatments, namely, nausea that results from chemotherapy. It’s also approved to help stimulate the appetite of people with AIDS who are prone to a loss of appetite and dangerous levels of weight loss.
This list is far from complete. CBD and its sister compound THC are also showing promise to treat glaucoma, PTSD, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and other conditions.
Is It Safe to Take CBD?
Mainly because they’re not all regulated by the FDA, some CBD products make it to the market with THC in them in varying amounts, even when the labels say there isn’t any. One study of about 85 CBD-containing products found THC in 18 of them. That’s a concern because, as one expert in chronic pain noted in an interview with the Arthritis Foundation interview with the Arthritis Foundation, almost all possible side effects of cannabinoids are from THC, not CBD.
Some potential side effects include fatigue and nausea, and CBD could potentially interact with medications, so always talk with your doctor before using CBD products. If your doctor isn’t familiar with CBD and potential interactions, you could ask for a referral to someone who is.
How Should You Take It?
You can find CBD products in a range of forms, such as capsules, extracts, topical ointments and edibles. Since these products aren’t yet FDA-regulated, you should do a little homework into quality before buying a product. The Arthritis Foundation advises everyone to contact the manufacturer to ask for proof that their CBD offering has undergone a third-party review for purity and strength.
If you live in a state that has legalized recreational marijuana, look for dispensaries that work with medicinal users rather than recreational-users only. Medical dispensaries are likely to be stricter about verifying the purity and potency of their goods and can make product recommendations for you. Also, you can check the products that have been reviewed on consumerlab.com, a third-party group that certifies the quality of dietary supplements, including ones containing CBD.
How Much Should You Take?
If you’re looking to try CBD for your arthritis symptoms, the Arthritis Foundation recommends using low doses because smaller amounts seem to work the best for alleviating pain. Start by taking 5 to 10mg twice a day and gradually increase the dosage up to 50-100mg per day.
Research suggests that higher doses are needed to induce sleepiness, but again, it’s always wise to start at a low dose and gradually build up. It can take some trial and error to determine the right product and dosage that will work for you and your body’s cannabinoid receptors.
The world of CBD products is still a lot like the Wild West. The rules are murky, and more regulation is needed to make sure that quality standards are consistent across the board. However, clinical studies into its benefits are promising, so it could be a mistake to write off CBD products, especially if other treatment methods aren’t giving you relief from your age-related health problems.