Did you know that although seniors account for just 12% of the U.S. population, they represent roughly 34% of all prescription medication use?
In fact, most older adults take several medications to treat chronic illness according to HealthinAging.org.
The use of medications is not surprising when one considers the fact that our bodies were, sadly, not built to last forever. As we get older, our hearts slow down, our skin becomes less elastic, bones shrink and lose density, and our brains even shrink!
Although medications often help maintain the health of senior citizens, many studies have shown that a lot of older adults end up suffering from problems related to medication.
Number one on the list of Top 10 Prescribed Drugs in the US among all Americans is Vicodin, an opiod pain medication. Vicodin has a high risk for addiction and dependence. It can cause respiratory distress and even death when taken in high doses or combined with other substances, especially alcohol.
Seniors Looking to Cannabis for Safer Alternatives for Relief
You know times-they-are-a-changing when the front cover of the AARP Bulletin features a large cannabis leaf. But, in fact, that is exactly what appeared on the cover of this months AARP’s monthly free publication. The AARP Bulletin is distributed nationwide to 23 million senior members.
The Bulletin reported that the fastest-growing group of marijuana users in the U.S. are older Americans. For people between 50 and 64 years old, cannabis use tripled between 2003 and 2014; among those 65 and older, usage grew tenfold during the same time period. Today, the Bulletin reported, used by older Americans is increasing by 10 to 15 percent each year. In fact, older adults represent up to half of all medical marijuana users.
Senior Use of CBD
Not only are users of medical marijuana on the older side, it would seem that CBD users are also on the older side. In a study done by MRI Simmons of cannabis consumers, it was found that the average CBD consumer is 45 years old.
A study called: A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users, was done to get more information on CBD-only users, meaning those who do not use marijuana. This online survey used an anonymous questionnaire that was available to the general public. In this study, the largest group of people who responded were between the ages of 55 and 74. This would seem to demonstrate that CBD-only users, like medical marijuana users, are an older population.
Senior Finds that CBD helps Pain and Sleep
Barbara is 90 years old and lives in Florida. She drinks tea and eats lots of salad. She also uses Fusion CBD products. Barbara has been suffering from arthritis for 30 years and serious bone issues for the past two years. Barbara says that she has aches and pains all over.
“But my oldest son doesn’t let me complain,” Barbara laughs. “He just says, ‘Mom, you’re 90. It’s great that you are still here.’” Barbara is the mother of five.
Another son introduced her to Fusion CBD products.
“I have been using the mints for about a year,” Barbaba shared. “I munch on 2 a day, usually at night. They help calm down my pain so I can sleep. I keep a tin of mints in my purse as well so I can munch on a couple if I am having a bad day.”
Barbara’s pain has been so severe that she was on oxycontin, a highly addictive pain killer at one point.
“I didn’t want to continue taking it,” Barbara shared. “I was concerned about it’s addictive nature.”
Today, Barbara uses the Fusion CBD mints, tincture and roll-on when she is looking for pain relief, especially her knee pain. In spite of her age and physical issues, Barbara is only taking two prescription medications, far below the average of five prescription medications for most seniors.
“I have one medication for high blood pressure and another for cholesterol,” Barbara shared. “Other than that, it is just vitamins and CBD.”
Many Seniors are Not Aware of Hemp CBD
“I am the only person in my circle of friends who uses CBD,” shared Barbara. “My friends were not familiar with it until I told them about it. They didn’t really understand what hemp was and thought it was marijuana until I explained it.”
Barbara is not at all interested in medical marijuana for herself.
“I am not interested in anything that could be habit forming or mind altering,” she said.
Indeed, she has a reason for concern. The National Institute on Drug Abuse released information that suggests that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of “marijuana use disorder.” Seniors are not high-risk for this necessarily. People who use marijuana before age 18 are 4 to 7 times more likely to develop this use disorder than adults. People with responsibilities, such as a job and kids, or a rich social network, are less likely to suffer. On the positive side, the pain-relieving properties of medical marijuana make it a potential replacement for pain medication. In 2014, states that had legalized medical marijuana reported a 25 percent drop in deaths resulting from an overdose of pain medication.
Barbara’s choice was to start with CBD rather than medical marijuana.
“I am very careful,” she said. “I think that has a lot to do with why I am still around at age 90.”
Hemp CBD Vs Marijuana
CBD is short for Cannabidiol. It is a type of cannabinoid, a natural compound found in both the hemp and the marijuana plant—although in very different quantities. Hemp grown for the purpose of producing CBD can have as much as 18% CBD. Marijuana tends to have a lot less.
Marijuana, on the other hand, contains much higher quantities of the cannabinoid THC. TCH is the cannabinoid that causes the “high”. In fact, the one and only legal defining factor between hemp and marijuana is the level of TCH. If THC levels are 0.3% or less, here is the US the cannabis plant is classified as hemp. If THC levels are above 0.3%, the cannabis plant is classified as marijuana. That being said, marijuana usually contains much higher levels—anywhere in the range of 10% to 30%.
What Hemp CBD Oil Does in the Body
Because hemp contains less than 0.3% THC, the full-spectrum CBD oil that comes from hemp does not produce the “high” of marijuana. It has been found to produce many other effects, however. These include improved mood, sleep, reduced inflammation, and a decrease in pain.
CBD does this by interacting with the body’s own endocannabinoid system. This bodily system contains two different types of receptors—CB1 and CB2 receptions—that are found on the surface of cells throughout the body.
CB1 receptors are found all over the body, but many are in the brain. The CB1 receptors in the brain affect pain, coordination and movement, thinking, emotions and mood, appetite, and memory, among other things. CB2 receptors are found more commonly in the immune system. They affect inflammation and pain.
CBD is one of over one hundred different cannabinoids contained in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids from plants are called phytocannabinoids (Phyto means plant). CBD interacts with the CB2 receptors. CBD doesn’t interact with the receptors directly, however. CBD interacts with the enzymes that break down the body’s own endocannabinoids (cannabinoids produced by our own body. Endo means body.) This allows the body’s own endocannabinoids to last longer in our system so they can do their job.
The Job of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
Doctors and scientists are still researching to fully understand the ECS. So far, we know it plays a role in regulating functions and processes like sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction, and fertility.
In spite of uncertainties, research has linked the ECS to the following processes:
- chronic pain
- learning and memory
- motor control
- heart and cardiovascular system function
- muscle formation
- bone growth
- liver function
- reproductive system function
- skin and nerve function
- appetite and digestion
These functions all contribute to homeostasis, which refers to the balance in your body. For example, if the pain from an injury or a fever throws off your body’s homeostasis, your ECS kicks in to help your body get back in balance.
Many experts believe that maintaining homeostasis if the primary role of the ECS.
The Endocannabinoid System and Aging
Experimental evidence shows that the ECS regulates critical homeostatic processes and that cannabinoid signaling possibly decreases as people age. According to research published by the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), increasing the length of time that the body’s own cannabinoids stay in the body could be a promising strategy for slowing down the progression of brain aging and for alleviating the symptoms of neurodegenerative disorders.
Initial research has demonstrated that many conditions that are more prevalent as one ages have been found to respond positively to CBD.
Aging, Inflammation and CBD
The number one condition promoting seniors to try CBD is inflammation. Remedy Review surveyed over 1000 seniors citizen CBD users and found that 42 percent of them tried CBD to help with their inflammation. That same survey found that only 30% of seniors reported a good quality of life before using CBD whereas nearly 66% reported a good quality of life after using CBD.
Aging, Pain and CBD
The number two condition prompting seniors to try CBD is pain. 20% of the US population suffers from chronic pain. Among senior citizens, that rate more than doubles to a full 52%.
Remedy Review found that 41% of seniors who have tried CBD did so for pain. The same survey found that 61% of those seniors using CBD report a reduction in their chronic pain.