As we age, so do the systems in our bodies, meaning they stop being as effective as they were in our younger days. So, sometimes, we need medicine to keep us going. Several reasons explain these changes.
However, despite the apparent benefits of such drugs, long-term use can have undesired side effects.
That's why the emergence of natural adaptogenic supplements, like CBD, promises to be a game changer. So, if OTC medications could harm our older citizens more, could CBD be a better option?
CBD's safety profile makes it stand out as a better option. For starters, it's generally non-addictive and causes no dependence even when used for long periods. CBD is tolerated quite well, with doses as high as 1,500 milligrams, having been used with no almost no adverse side effects.
However, there are concerns about the use of CBD in older people.
This population may be more susceptible to the effects of CBD than younger folks. This is attributed to the reduced hepatic function in the elderly. Furthermore, CBD has been shown to inhibit hepatic enzymes, possibly affecting the metabolism of certain drugs.
Nonetheless, the Arthritis Foundation contends that CBD may significantly benefit the senior population in dealing with symptoms associated with insomnia, pain, and anxiety—conditions to which they are predisposed.
We should point out, however, that there are limited studies on CBD use among older people, so its potential side effects are not clearly known.
Types of CBD
CBD is a cannabinoid compound derived from cannabis and hemp. It's the second-most abundant cannabinoid after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), famous for its mind-altering property that causes a "high."
Unlike THC, CBD is rarely psychoactive, so you are unlikely to get "high" from using CBD. However, its health-impacting properties are sure to appeal to anyone thinking of a less harmful, effective, and natural supplement.
CBD comes in three major types: isolate, broad spectrum, and full spectrum. Recently a fourth type —whole-plant CBD—was added to the list. Let's see how these CBD types differ.
Generally considered the purest type of CBD, isolates are made by removing all other compounds and substances from the cannabis extract.
Consequently, the pure crystalline powder left behind doesn't contain flavonoids, terpenes, cannabinoids, and most importantly, THC.
The measure of pure CBD isolate is the lack of a distinct taste or odor.
Full spectrum CBD
Full spectrum CBD is a cannabis extract with all the beneficial compounds found in the cannabis plant. These include cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential oils. It's probably the most popular type of CBD due to its inherent advantages.
However, one of the challenges surrounding full spectrum CBD is its THC content. In most countries, marijuana is illegal, and so are cannabis products with high THC content.
Therefore, in jurisdictions where medical and recreational marijuana is legal, the THC content in cannabis products is strictly regulated.
Generally, CBD products are legal in the U.S. if the THC content is not more than 0.3%.
Broad spectrum CBD
This type of CBD contains all the beneficial compounds in cannabis minus THC. It is ideal for people who undergo drug screening, maybe due to their work or profession.
One of the merits of broad spectrum CBD is that you get to enjoy the benefits of the entourage effect with less risk of a positive drug test.
So, what's the difference between whole-plant CBD and full spectrum CBD? Well, the former is CBD extracted from most parts of the cannabis plant, including the buds, leaves, flowers, stems, and stalk.
Plus, this type of CBD is less refined than full spectrum CBD and may contain waxes, fats, and plant matter.
Whole-plant CBD is conditionally legal in the U.S. if the THC content doesn't exceed the 0.3% limit and it's derived from hemp. Generally, hemp is the preferred source for CBD because it has a lower THC content than marijuana.
CBD benefits for seniors
The general standpoint among researchers is that CBD is "possibly safe" if used appropriately.
Among other things, this means taking the correct dosage, using high-quality CBD, and consulting a medical practitioner when you're on other medications.
There are many areas where CBD may offer much-needed relief for seniors. As we age, we become increasingly susceptible to certain medical conditions. Fortunately, a growing body of studies shows that CBD could help reduce the severity of such conditions. These include:
Even though anyone can be diagnosed with anxiety, the elderly are more anxiety-prone. It is believed that 10-20% of seniors suffer from anxiety, most of which is undiagnosed.
It's understandable why; older adults undoubtedly go through a lot — health problems, stressful life events, and changing biological states.
However, in CBD, the elderly population has a natural supplement that could help them reduce some forms of anxiety. Even though the evidence is not strong, studies have demonstrated CBD's ability to reduce social anxiety disorder and phobia in simulated tests.
CBD's anxiolytic properties are attributed to its action mechanism on serotonin activity. It's also been shown to modulate dopamine secretion, thereby influencing mood.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common type of arthritis and one of the leading causes of disability among the elderly. This disease affects and causes pain in the neck, knees, hands, back, and hips, making it difficult to perform routine functions like walking, standing, and sitting.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observes that nearly two-thirds of people with OA are younger than 65. Women are more affected than men, but factors like weight (obesity) substantially increase your risk of becoming arthritic.
A large-scale review showed that topical cannabis could lower arthritis pain and inflammation. Multiple animal studies have also shown that CBD has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
As anecdotal evidence of CBD's ability to reduce symptoms of arthritis continues to grow, seniors should be the happier set of people.
Pain is quite common in older adults. The causes include infections, old injuries, arthritis, pressure injuries, bowel disease, cancer, and circulatory problems. Pain causes significant distress and discomfort in seniors and often affects their quality of life.
CBD's pain-reducing potential is promising. Animal studies have shown that this cannabis compound may help relieve pain and inflammation. The exact action mechanism is unknown, but researchers think CBD reduces pain by affecting endocannabinoid receptor activity.
CBD may also influence the production of anandamide in the body. This neurotransmitter is associated with mood regulation and pain perception. In higher amounts, it alters how the mind perceives pain stimuli, mostly by dampening the sense of pain.
Most people find it harder to fall asleep as they age. Often, when they finally manage to sleep, they wake up frequently during the night or much earlier than they would ideally like.
The explanation is that our suprachiasmatic nucleus (SN) also ages as we grow older. The SN is an internal biological clock that includes the hypothalamus, which controls the circadian rhythm.
So, as the SN deteriorates, the effects extend to the circadian rhythm, reducing its ability to accurately regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
The Sleep Foundation also argues that as people age, significant changes happen in hormonal production.
For example, melatonin production is reduced, thus impairing the ability to fall asleep. The worries of life raise cortisol levels, effectively keeping us awake longer.
This is because CBD is believed to have a calming effect on the central nervous system and thus acts as a sedative.
In older adults, inflammation may co-occur with pain and joint swelling, commonly associated with arthritis.
Cannabinoids like CBD have are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, making them capable of suppressing inflammatory responses.
It's thought that cannabinoids, in collaboration with the endocannabinoid system, regulate pathways that influence the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in addition to activating immune cell apoptosis.
As a result, scientists contend that CBD could be a helpful addition to preventive treatment plans for diseases that involve chronic inflammation.
In fact, the joint pain felt by arthritis patients may worsen the inflammation since pain and inflammation often go hand-in-hand.
Reduces muscle spasms
Involuntary muscle contractions are common in advanced ages due to several reasons. Old age comes with reduced muscle mass, which means the remaining muscles do more work and get overstressed.
Further, it's believed that tendons gradually shorten and weaken with age, resulting in cramps. Muscle cramps can also symptomize medical conditions like diabetes, uremia, thyroid disease, hypocalcemia, and hypomagnesemia.
The root cause of muscle cramping is chemical signals gone haywire. By working through the endocannabinoid system, CBD alters the communication between the central nervous system and muscles, thus helping reduce muscle spasms.
Studies conducted in 2004 and 2010 by researchers in Switzerland and California, respectively, showed that cannabinoids could potentially "reduce spasm frequency and increase mobility" in patients with MS.
Furthermore, CBD has beta-myrcene and delta-limonene, two anti-inflammatory compounds with muscle-relaxing properties.
Research findings on CBD's effect on appetite are largely inconclusive. Studies present variable results, with some showing CBD may improve appetite while others show the opposite.
Despite the ambiguity, researchers are convinced CBD may have a powerful impact on appetite and hunger.
CBD health benefits for seniors
As CBD's popularity continues to soar, more people will probably integrate it into their treatment plans.
Research on CBD may be young, but early findings indicate it could possess properties that may be helpful, especially for the elderly.
For example, CBD may help with:
CBD could play a role in managing neurological diseases thanks to its neuroprotective properties.
One of the most studied areas in this respect is CBD's effect on epilepsy and MS. As a result, a CBD-based drug (Epidiolex) has FDA approval for use in helping to manage epilepsy.
In 2019, the European Commission approved the use of Epidiolex as an adjunct supplement in treating seizures associated with Dravet syndrome or Lennox Gastaut syndrome. This development followed the compelling results from four randomized trials involving 714 patients with the two severe forms of epilepsy.
Additionally, neuroimaging studies indicate that acute CBD causes significant changes in connectivity patterns and brain activity in the resting state while performing cognitive tasks in patients with psychiatric disorders and healthy volunteers.
Cognitive decline is a natural part of aging. While some drivers of cognitive decline are attributed to lifestyle choices, genetics is also believed to play a role.
Neurogenesis and neuroplasticity slow down as people age because the brain is no longer effective in creating new brain cells. This affects the ability to learn new things.
However, a study showed that CBD might help boost these two processes.
Over 200 million people worldwide have osteoporosis, with the elderly constituting the larger percentage. This is a consequence of aging.
On the outside, bones appear solid, but their insides are filled with a porous matter where new cells and minerals are produced. As the bones become less dense, they lose strength and become fragile. So a simple fall ends up with a broken bone!
Research suggests that CBD may support bone growth and strength via osteoblast formation. Osteoclasts are cells that break down bones. These cells have a receptor—the GPR55—that speeds up bone degeneration and loss when activated.
However, CBD has been shown to prevent the activation of this receptor, thereby minimizing osteoclast activity.
In a 2010 study, researchers established that administering CBD alone to mice significantly affected fracture healing, with the new bone being much stronger and tougher.
The study concluded that this could have been the stimulating effect of CBD on Lysyl Hydroxylase, an enzyme that promotes bone healing.
Research suggests that CBD's anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties may play a role in reducing risk factors for cardiovascular problems like high blood pressure.
For example, a 2017 study showed that CBD lowered blood pressure in participants subjected to stress compared to their peers who were given a placebo.
However, a 2017 review of several studies discounted the early findings, stating there wasn't sufficient evidence CBD could achieve similar results, especially under non-stressful conditions.
Inflammation is also a precursor to many cardiovascular issues, such as myocarditis and coronary heart disease. So it follows that CBD's anti-inflammatory properties could significantly affect inflammatory responses in the heart.
One study found that CBD may help reduce inflammation by enhancing blood flow to the arteries, thus reducing strain and averting heart failure. Another investigation showed that giving 5 milligrams of CBD to mice reduced their inflammation by 50%.
CBD may also have a positive effect on heart arrhythmias. This was demonstrated in a rat study that showed CBD lowered ventricular arrhythmias. The researchers concluded that CBD could potentially mitigate the antiarrhythmic effect.
There is evidence that high concentrations of CBD could be useful in managing some symptoms associated with dementia. Other clinical trials assessing the effects of cannabinoids on dementia have been low-quality, making it difficult to come to a definitive conclusion.
Even though there aren't large clinical human trials to determine whether CBD can help manage dementia, several reviews suggest that it may improve certain symptoms associated with the condition.
Cancer treatment side effects
Although research is ongoing, experts suppose CBD could have anti-cancer properties.
There is empirical evidence that a combination of CBD and THC may help reduce cancer-related symptoms such as appetite loss, pain, nausea, and vomiting.
In this line, drugs like nabilone and dronabinol, which have synthetic THC, are approved in the U.S. to manage chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Dronabinol may also help improve sleep, appetite, taste, and overall quality of life for cancer patients.
Reduces symptoms related to Alzheimer's disease
Recent research has demonstrated that CBD could mitigate the negative effects of brain cell aging, oxygen accumulation, and inflammation.
Additionally, CBD boosts the quantities of certain proteins that clear plaque and dead cells, thereby enhancing cognition and motor function in people with Alzheimer's.
Oxygen levels in the brain can rise due to brain degeneration and memory loss. As an antioxidant, CBD may help reduce problems brought about by oxygen stress, thereby enhancing brain processes.
Brain cells of Alzheimer's patients typically degenerate and decline rapidly. A promising benefit of CBD is its capacity to stimulate brain tissue. According to a 2011 study, CBD may help brain cells grow and develop, thus potentially slowing memory loss and the loss of other brain functions.
Is CBD oil safe for seniors?
So far, CBD's safety profile is pretty good. There have been no demonstrated changes in heart rate, neurologic tests, blood pressure, or blood tests. Moreover, compared to other controlled medications, patients don't appear to build CBD tolerance.
However, CBD may interact with other medications because it influences CYP enzyme expression. Therefore, older individuals taking other drugs processed in the liver should take precautions.
Risks of CBD oil for seniors
Currently, there is insufficient high-quality data to determine whether CBD is safe for seniors. But there are some side effects associated with CBD use.
For instance, somnolence has been observed in 32% of cases involving Epidiolex, diarrhea (~20%), reduced appetite (~22%), and liver injury (~13%). Minor side effects like dry mouth, lightheadedness, fatigue, and changes in appetite.
Moreover, there is a correlation between marijuana use in older adults and increased injury risk. Given the growing use of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, the elderly should probably consult a marijuana expert before using cannabis products.
Best CBD for seniors
The hallmark of a good CBD product is quality—that's what FOCL offers.
Our Sleep Drops contain organic CBD, CBN, and MCT oil. These ingredients promote better and deeper sleep. So, if sleep is becoming an issue, try these out!
We also understand that people have different preferences regarding the method of taking CBD. This is why our Premium CBD Gummies are another great option for someone who yearns for some peace of mind. These treats give you a delicious 25mg dose of chill wherever and whenever you want it.
Bothered by sore muscles and joint aches? Get quick relief with our Relief Cream. Packing 500mg of premium hemp CBD and reinvigorating herbals, you won't fail to feel this cream's soothing and cooling effects as it’s absorbed into the skin.
Ultimately, we advocate for a mind + body approach when using CBD. This is why we have the FOCL Bundle package that combines the energizing ingredients of FOCL Day and the calming properties of FOCL Night for a great mind-body balance. Stay productive during the day and sleep like a baby at night!