The fastest growing population of CBD users is people over the age of 65. Benefits of CBD use for adults in this age range are abundant. In studies from as early as 1991, cannabinoids have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits with minimal side effects. Over the counter medicines used for pain relief often have some serious side effects, for example, NSAIDS (Motrin, Ibuprofen) can cause serious gastrointestinal GI bleeds and damage kidneys. Yet older adults use these medicines quite liberally. Why is this? The answer is worth its own blog all to itself. The short answer is this: 100 years of anti-cannabis propaganda.
As a cannabis nurse, before I begin to work with any client, I ask what associations they have with cannabis. Unfortunately, individuals over 65 have an overall negative association with cannabis e.g., it is something people need to use in secret because it’s a “drug”.
For women over 65, the first step is to unlearn negative information forced upon them about cannabis, particularly before the year 2000. A vast majority of negative information shared during that time frame was not based on scientific facts. This is the biggest and most critical hurdle for individuals to overcome. The paradigm has however changed very quickly, from “cannabis is harmful and a gateway drug”—think “reefer madness”—to “cannabis, hemp, and CBD is the latest new thing to contribute towards our health since the invention of antibiotics”. I spend enormous amounts of time clarifying incorrect cannabis information my clients learned from the 60s—and many are refreshingly surprised at the evidence based, scientific information that is available to them. They just need help navigating it and that is where my role as a certified cannabis nurse comes into play to ensure my clients have the right information.
The second step is to discuss CBD use with your physician and/or obtain a cannabis nurse. This step is important even if someone is only using CBD for recreational purposes. Most adults over the age of 65 are on at least one medicine. This particular group is also at risk for developing more chronic and acute illnesses. Open conversations regarding your cannabis use and questions with credible and knowledgeable physicians and nurses is vital. The third most important step is to understand dosing. If you are on medication(s) or have any chronic illness it is important to reach out to a certified cannabis nurse to help dose and navigate further. I tell my clients to start low and go slow for dosing. Older adults have older vital organs so the liver and kidneys metabolize drugs slower. This means that it takes longer to feel the effects of a drug; it also takes longer for it to pass through your body. The science is there to ensure that it is safe, but equipping yourself with knowledge and a credible medical professional will help make your experience more fruitful and pleasurable!
CBD may seem like the latest health and wellness craze but people, specifically women, have been experiencing real benefits since its expanded legalization. These benefits are becoming more abundant and being documented within medical research. Why does cannabis work well in older adult populations AND women? I will explore the reasons in future blog topics, such as medical bias towards women, medical institutions have a history of ignoring a patients lived experience with illness that does not corrralate with labs or tests, polypharmacy in the older adults and chronically ill population, and evidence based practices that mostly benefit cis-gendered european men. More research is needed (research that includes more than one gender and a diverse population) but CBD appears to work quite effectively on pain receptors and neurotransmitters to treat a variety of symptoms.
Educating ourselves about CBD and the products we put in our bodies can feel overwhelming at times. That’s why Acute on Chronic are working hard to keep it simple and straightforward.