Many older adults use cannabis to address pain, insomnia and other health issues. The numbers are steadily increasing each year. Many countries have already legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes. These countries include Canada, Uruguay, the Netherlands and some U.S. states.
Marijuana is the term used to describe the dried buds and leaves of the Cannabis plant. It also goes by other names including pot, grass and weed. The biologically active components in marijuana are called cannabinoids, sometimes referred to as THC and CBD.
The THC causes the “high” in marijuana users but it helps to address medicinal issues such as pain and nausea. CBD does not cause a high but can be used to treat your medicinal conditions. Marijuana can have different effects on symptoms based on the strain used.
While more research needs to be done to determine how cannabis affects the senior population, it does have some benefits. Researchers say cannibas can be a safer substitute for opioids, or tranquilizers like benzodiazepines.
Benefits of Cannabis
Recent research indicates that cannabis can be beneficial to treat the following conditions:
Tests are still ongoing but results show that other conditions such as eczema, epilepsy, arthritis and Huntington’s disease can also benefit from marijuana.
Risks of Cannabis
Some studies have shown that marijuana may increase the risk of testicular cancer. Cannabis may also be associated with depression, anxiety, bladder cancer, bone loss and brain changes, although the evidence is still inconclusive.
Elderly people are at risk of more falls because of the side effects of marijuana like drowsiness and dizziness. Arrhythmia is also a concern for the elderly. If you have coronary artery disease, marijuana may trigger a stroke.
If you are taking drugs for depression, heartburn drugs, antibiotics or calcium channel blockers (for high blood pressure), check with your physician before consuming cannabis. The drugs may interfere with how your body metabolizes the THC.
Many seniors recommend CBD for Parkinson’s, dementia, osteoarthritis, and chronic inflammation. CBD has twenty times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and two times the power of steroids.
How To Ingest
If you don’t want the high when smoking marijuana, you may want to consider ingesting instead. Ingesting helps control how much you want to consume. Dispensaries sell pills, tinctures, edibles, jars of green flower clumps, oils, patches, and creams. The oils can be squirted into your mouth, mixed with tea, juice or other drinks. Oils can even be used in your baking.
It can take up to four hours for oils to be effective and can last up to 10 hours depending on the amount you injest. Keep this in mind so you don’t overindulge. If you experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, cramping, psychosis or chest pain, it may be prudent to visit your local ER.
Keep in mind that nine out of 10 older adults who have taken cannabis have reported no emotional or functional problems.