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.


THC

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.


CBD

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


Cancer

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.


In 2014, there was a preclinical study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that analyzed the “potential therapeutic effects of THC” on the disease.” Researchers introduced THC to beta-amyloids, which are clumps of proteins that build-up on the brain and are one of the leading signs of the presence of Alzheimer’s. They found that THC helped slow the advancement of these beta-amyloids, and the results from the study “strongly suggest that THC could be a potential therapeutic treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease through multiple functions and pathways.”


Pain Management

Almost all seniors have experienced some sort of pain in their later years, and medical marijuana can help with that. What’s interesting is that you often don’t need to ingest the marijuana to reap the medical benefits of the plant. There are rubs, creams, and lotions infused with THC that can seep through your skin and attack a small, singular area of pain.

Seniors often have to deal with chronic joint pain and pain from arthritis. CBD has shown promise in temporarily alleviating this pain through both user testimony and clinical studies.


Mental Health


Anxiety

When it comes to anxiety, a 2015 study showed that oral doses of CBD helped lower anxiety in patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder. The same study showed that CBD could also be potentially effective for patients with PTSD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder.


Depression

Aside from anxiety, depression among seniors is unfortunately very common. Ailing health, loss of friends and family, and isolation can all cause stress and depression. A 2014 study with CBD and rats showed that the substance demonstrated some anti-depressant like actions, including increased movement and sleep regulation.




Jean Guy's Story


When it comes to Cannabinoids for pain & comfort, combined with my need to be focused for my career, where I must be clear-minded and not feeling like I am under any influence, I tend to consume around the 10 % THC range. This is based on being titrated and adjusted to THC, and with equal or higher CBD % in volume in a blend of Sativa and Indica i.e. a 1:1 combination. If you are not aware, Sativa tends to activate the mind and gives you more energy. While Indica tends to relax the body and mind.


For persons new to Cannabis/THC, they should start at around a 5% THC range or lower.

  • THC has psychoactive components i.e., Feeling of being high

  • CBD does not have psychoactive components and helps with inflammation-related conditions.

  • That said, combining both CBD & THC in moderation helps with the medical alleviation.

In the daytime, I go with a higher concentration of Sativa Strains and later in the evening I go with a higher concentration of an Indica, including full Indica for bedtime deep sleep/relief.


I also consume my cannabinoids in microdose increments and do not over-medicate which would create unproductiveness. For example, single intake/inhalation spread out over the daytime hours, allows me to feel relief throughout the full day while also being productive.


I stick to unflavored oils when vaping to avoid any additional chemicals when vaping for health reasons. Vaping is very discreet and great for my daytime/business usage.

Later in the evening, at times I enjoy smoking flower strains in a pipe when at home. I will take my evening walks with the dogs, enjoy the Indica in multiple inhalations for a sound night’s sleep.


Always be mindful that each person reacts differently to each strain they consume. That said, if you are not accustomed to cannabinoids, start with a lower THC concentration with a higher CBD concentration. Thereafter once accustom, increase the THC to the 1:1 concentration during the day or higher if needed.


The variety of available products legally in Canada has expanded dramatically from oils to flowers, drinks, edibles etc… making it easier to meet your lifestyle needs.


There are multiple articles such as this one for cannabis and sciatica, that walk people through the type of stains that are best fitted for the medical condition speaking to alleviate.



Sources:


Ottawa Public Health - Cannabis for Older Adults

Government of Canada - Cannabis

Ontario Cannabis Store

Aging.com - Complete Guide to Medical Marijuana for Seniors

Strains for Sciatica




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