Cannabis and its Benefits for Seniors
We often hear about the benefits of the use of Cannabis, or Medical Marijuana, on adults as a form of health maintenance and/or for relief of chronic pain and illness. We gathered some useful details from a variety of sources to provide you with information to make a knowledgeable decision on its beneficial uses for yourself or your elderly loved ones.
**This is for informational purposes only. Seek advice from a health care practitioner or licenced producer/seller**
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis refers to the plant Cannabis sativa. The cannabis plant originally comes from Asia. It is now grown around the world, including in Canada.
Chemical substances in Cannabis
Cannabis contains hundreds of chemical substances. Over 100 of these are known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are made and stored in the plant's trichomes. Trichomes are tiny, clear hairs that stick out from the flowers and leaves of the plant.
The most researched cannabinoid is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is responsible for the way your brain and body respond to cannabis, including the high and intoxication. THC has some therapeutic effects but it also has harmful effects. Harmful effects may be greater when the strength of THC is higher. Medical marijuana contains THC.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is another cannabinoid. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a high or intoxication. There is some evidence that CBD may block or lower some of the effects of THC on the mind. This may occur when the amount of CBD in the cannabis is the same or higher than the amount of THC. CBD is also being studied for its possible therapeutic uses.
How Medical Marijuana can help
Choosing to use cannabis for medical purposes should be done in consultation with a health care provider. The evidence of the effectiveness and safety of cannabis for treating medical conditions is still emerging. The limited evidence that is available is not specific to older adults.
There are studies that show some potential medical benefit for the use of cannabis in these specific cases such as:
Nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy
Muscle contractions or stiffness associated with multiple sclerosis
Chronic neuropathic pain
Palliative and end-of-life pain
One of the primary uses of medical marijuana is to help cancer patients, especially when they are going through rounds of chemotherapy. Some studies have shown that smoking marijuana can help with nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients.
Alzheimer's & Dementia
Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease have sometimes turned to medical marijuana to help with their treatment to assist with symptoms of depression and loss of appetite that may come along with the degenerative brain disease.