Seniors and CBD: What You Need to Know
Many people think CBD is a young person’s wellness trend. But seniors and CBD are a great match! The fact is, the majority of CBD users are over age 44, and some 20% are over the age of 64.
And that makes sense because users report CBD aids in lessening menopause symptoms, improves sleep and eases gastrointestinal issues. Studies also indicate that CBD can decrease pain and inflammation – including the symptoms of arthritis. It also may help with neurological disorders such as dementia. These are all issues many adults face as they age.
Almost 10% of seniors surveyed have tried CBD for health-related reasons and 51% of those that have tried it reported having an improved quality of life afterward. So, if you’re an adult “of a certain age,” you may want to consider adding CBD to your health regimen.
CBD vs Pharma
Physicians usually prescribe medication for seniors’ health issues. Multiple prescriptions, in many cases. In fact, more than half of adults 65 and older (54%) report taking four or more prescription drugs. Of course, many of those drugs carry side effects. If you’ve ever watched a television ad for a popular medication, you’ve probably heard the narrator read a long and frightening list of possible side effects.
According to Good Rx, the eight most common drug side effects in the elderly (and the drugs that cause them) are:
- Muscle pain and weakness: Statins including simvastatin, atorvastatin and rosuvastatin
- Bone loss: Proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole, esomeprazole and pantoprazole.
- High potassium levels: Antibiotics such as Bactrim; ACE inhibitors such as lisinopril; and ARBs such losartan.
- Nerve damage: fluoroquinolone antibiotics such as levofloxacin and ciprofloxacin
- Falls and delirium: Benzodiazepine receptor agonists such as Zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata).
- Heart and gastrointestinal problems: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve).
- Joint pain: Diabetes medications known as dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4) inhibitors such as Januvia, Tradjenta and Onglyza.
- Low sodium levels: SSRI antidepressants such as sertraline, escitalopram, fluoxetine and paroxetine.
CBD Side Effects
Side effects of CBD are rare. If they occur, they are minor and include nausea, dry mouth, fatigue and irritability. Clinical trials have prescribed CBD doses up to 1,200 mg daily for months without observing any serious side effects. And a US Government patent concludes that “No signs of toxicity or serious side effects have been observed following chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers … even in large acute doses of 700 mg/day.”
However, CBD may interact with some over-the-counter medications. If your doctor has prescribed you a medication and warned you against eating grapefruit, you should not take CBD with it. CBD is not recommended during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
The Cost of Prescription Medication
Aside from side effects, there’s another downside to prescription meds: cost. Americans spend more on prescription medications than any other country in the world. The cost of drugs in the U.S. is higher than any country in the world.
Seventeen percent of our total national healthcare spending goes to prescription drugs. And prescription medications have seen an annual price increase of 9% for oral medications and 15% for injectables from 2008 to 2016. That compares to an inflation rate of 2%.
That cost is difficult for many elderly Americans to bear. An AARP Policy report said that “for a consumer who takes 4.5 brand name prescription drugs on a chronic basis, the annual cost of treatment would have been more than $26,000 in 2015” (the most recent year for which data is available). And that comes with a second cost: health. According to one study, about one-fifth of older adults don’t take medications as prescribed because they can’t afford them.
Using 50mg per day (an average starting dose for specific ailments), a bottle of Sunrise CBD Oil will last about 30 days. So, depending on the strength (1,500 or 3,000), a year’s worth of CBD will cost between $600 and $1,050.
What is CBD?
CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol, a compound that occurs naturally in both marijuana and hemp. Certain strain of hemp have it in very high concentrations in certain strains of hemp. CBD is widely regarded to possess great medicinal value.
Most CBD (cannabidiol) comes from the agricultural hemp plant, a fast-growing member of flowering plants in the family Cannabaceae. Marijuana belongs to the same family of plants. While marijuana and hemp are similar in many ways, they differ in their phytochemical composition. Hemp has lower concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gets you “high,” and it has higher concentrations of CBD, which doesn’t produce the “high” of marijuana.
While many people are just now learning about CBD, cannabis and hemp have long been used for a variety of purposes. Evidence of hemp rope was found via an imprint in broken Chinese pottery from about 10,000 B.C. A remnant of hemp cloth dating back to 8,000 B.C. was found by archaeologists in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iran and Iraq). Up until the cotton gin was invented, hemp was the most popular fiber for textiles. As far back as 2700 B.C., CBD was used for therapeutic purposes.
Seniors and CBD
The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp. Before that, it was on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Because of its status under the CSA, up until now it was difficult to do research on its medicinal properties, so studies were few. However, there’s one thing many researchers already agree on: that data so far provides a case for further research to learn more about the therapeutic potential of CBD. Now that hemp is legal, more studies are underway.
Here are a few disorders aging adults experience that may be alleviated by using CBD.
According to Psychology Today, “Women who experience insomnia and with symptoms of anxiety or depression during menopause, as well as women who have aches and pains as a menopause symptom, may find relief from CBD.”
The European Journal of Pain published one study that concluded “use of topical CBD has potential as effective treatment of arthritic symptomatology, and a 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine said “cannabinoids may represent a novel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain.”
For more information, The Arthritis Foundation has published “CBD Guidance for Adults with Arthritis.”
A 2015 study published in Neurotherapeutics concluded, “Evidence from human studies strongly supports the potential for CBD as a treatment for anxiety disorders,” including seasonal affective disorder, general anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Older adults commonly have secondary insomnia – that is sleeplessness brought on by another disorder such as pain or anxiety – as well as sleep issues that are a result of aging. CBD probably helps people sleep better by decreasing pain and anxiety. CBD also helps control the endocannabinoid system, which regulates mood and other biological processes.
CBD may aid in reducing gastrointestinal problems. A 2016 study published in Current Neuropharmacology concluded that cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system “represents a promising target in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases and gastric mucosal lesions, ulceration and inflammation.” It’s believed that CBD helps by stimulating cells in the gastrointestinal lining and helps reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease. CBD helps to ease pain and cramping that are a result of gastrointestinal disorders.
The United States has a patent for cannabinoids. According to the patent, cannabinoids can act as a neuroprotectant, or agent that preserves neuronal structure and/or function. CBD limits damage to the brain, central and peripheral nervous system after “stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia,” according to the patent.
Who Uses CBD & Why
A study by Project CBD found that the average CBD user is a white, well-educated female over 45. Overall, the age of CBD users skewed older. According to the study, “This finding may be explained by CBD’s popularity for treating pain and sleep problems, ailments that are common among the elderly, particularly in the US where half of older adults report suffering from chronic ‘bothersome’ pain and half report regular sleep disturbances.”
Participants leaned toward hemp-based CBD in the form of tinctures and topicals. The most common medical issues they use CBD for are pain, mood, insomnia, and general wellness. According to Project CBD, most were using CBD for multiple disorders.
When it came to participants’ perception of the effectiveness of CBD, the study found:
- 90% of participants reported some improvement in the frequency and duration of their pain, with 60% reporting that CBD made these aspects “much better.”
- When it came to pain intensity, participants reported a 60% reduction – from an average pain score of 6.85 to an average score of 2.76.
- Participants reported getting to sleep more quickly when taking CBD, reducing the average time from about an hour to 20 minutes. They also reported waking up 1.4 times per night after CBD versus 4.3 times.
- 92% of participants experienced some relief of anxiety, and 68% reported that feelings of nervousness were “much better” with CBD.
- Study participants reported CBD was highly effective in addressing mood disturbances and pain associated with PMS and menopause. It also appears to help mitigate night sweats associated with menopause.
- They also reported CBD was extremely helpful for relieving abdominal cramps or pain, nausea or vomiting, and indigestion associated with gastrointestinal disorders.
In another study by Hello MD and Brightfield Group, 60% of CBD users find it more effective than prescription medications and 75% found CBD more effective than over-the-counter products.
The Bottom Line
The FDA doesn’t allow us to make medical claims about CBD. But, as you can see above, studies and users make the claims for us. We can say we believe that CBD is useful for treating many health issues, as well as improving overall health, so seniors and CBD are a perfect match.
However, CBD is not for everyone. As already mentioned, those who can’t consume grapefruit with medications shouldn’t take CBD, nor should nursing mothers. A recent study by the University of North Carolina School of Medicine suggests CBD use during early pregnancy can affect fetal development, so pregnant women should not use CBD.
CBD works differently on different people, so results may vary. And we don’t recommend stopping prescription medications or mixing them with CBD without talking to your physician first.
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