As the support for medical cannabis grows across the world and more and more people start using marijuana, its consumption among the elderly people is also quickly increasing. According to a recent survey, cannabis use among elderly people in Canada is on a rapid rise after its legalization. In the US, people aged 65 and older consist of the fastest-growing demographic group among cannabis users. According to a recent study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, more and more middle-aged and older Americans are using marijuana to alleviate symptoms like pain, nausea, spasticity and sleep disorders. Dr. Benjamin Han, assistant professor of internal medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and a medical cannabis expert, says that many of these elderly marijuana users are actually new converts or late boomers. With the growing popularity of medical marijuana among the people of older generations a question becomes very pertinent: Is marijuana safe for elderly people? In this post, we will discuss the implications of cannabis consumption on the health of elderly people and how they could benefit from medical marijuana. Keep reading it to know more about the implication of cannabis use among the elderly and the best marijuana strains for seniors elderly.
Implications of marijuana use in elderly people
Although there is insufficient clinical research on the subject, anecdotal evidence of the positive effects of cannabis on alleviating various health symptoms in elderly people cannot be easily ignored. Many elderly users and their doctors prefer medical cannabis for its pain relief potentials and fewer side-effects. Doctors like Mona Sidhu, a geriatrician at the Hamilton Health Sciences, prescribe medical marijuana to their patients suffering from pain, anxiety or sleep disorders so that they don’t have to depend on fentanyl or morphine medications.
How marijuana helps the seniors
- Pain relief
‘I have a lot of pain and I’m not allowed to take anti-inflammatories (like ibuprofen). I was on Vicodin for a long time, but it stopped working, so my only alternative was marijuana’, says Arlene Galchinsky, 78 and a long-time arthritis patient from Colorado, US. According to a study by the University of Iowa College of Public Health, medical cannabis can be ‘an effective substitute for prescription opioids and other misused medications’ among elderly people who suffer from chronic pains. Studies have proven that cannabis in general and especially the cannabinoid CBD is a great pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory agent. By stimulating the glycine receptors in our brains, it suppresses neuropathic as well as inflammatory pains. Another natural compound found in cannabis, THC or tetrahydrocannabinol has pain-relieving potentials as well. THC works on the dopaminergic, serotonergic and glutamatergic systems of our body which helps us to manage pain better. This is a major reason why more and more doctors and healthcare professionals across the world are recommending medical marijuana to seniors who suffer from chronic pains associated with serious diseases like arthritis or sclerosis.
- Battling anxiety or depression
Anxiety and clinical depression are very common psychological symptoms among the people of middle age or older. Sometimes serious illnesses or chronic health issues also cause these conditions. While anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants can have serious side-effects on the health of elderly people, medical cannabis is much safer. THC and CBD – both the cannabinoids help in different ways to treat depression or anxiety and highly effective for patients suffering from PTSD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
- Improved cognitive abilities
It is a well-known fact that with age our cognitive faculties and brain functions get poorer and slower. A recent study in the University of Bonn, Germany claims that regulated use of THC can improve brain functions and cognitive abilities in elderly people. Aging of the brain means that the endocannabinoid system in our body gets weaker which results in slower neurotransmission and poor cognition. Both THC and CBD have properties that can stimulate the endocannabinoid system and restore normal brain functions.
- Cancer and other serious ailments
There is growing evidence that the cannabinoids have great therapeutic potentials in alleviating nausea, pains, weight loss, lack of appetite and even tumor growth associated with cancer patients. Numerous studies and anecdotal accounts suggest that medical marijuana can be highly effective in the palliative care of elderly cancer patients.
- Promises better sleep
As sleep disorders are very common in older ages, many elderly people have no option but to depend on sleeping pills which can have serious side-effects on their health. Cannabis, on the other hand, is much safer and ensures a quality sleep. CBD has great relaxant properties and gives you a body high that will help you to calm your nerves and get some sleep. THC, on the other hand, is very useful if you want to increase the deep-sleep phase, uninterrupted by dreams.
5 best marijuana strains for the elderly
Although everyone has their unique needs and preferences, here are five best marijuana strains for the seniors that are currently extremely popular in the market.
- AK-47 (65/35 sativa-indica hybrid with 18-20% THC and 1.5% CBD)
- Blue Dream (60/40 sativa-indica hybrid with 17-24% THC and around 2% CBD)
- Purple Kush (100% indica hybrid with 19-27% THC and less than 1% CBD)
- AC/DC (50/50 sativa-indica hybrid with 1-6% THC and about 20% CBD)
- Ringo’s Gift (80/20 indica-sativa hybrid with about 1% THC and 22% CBD)
Things to consider for an elderly marijuana user
Being an elderly marijuana user, the first thing you need to know is that there are thousands of different cannabis strains available in the market. They all have different cannabinoid contents and terpene profiles and therefore produce quite different effects. Not all of them are equally suited for your unique health condition or biological makeup. Cannabinoids have a bad reputation for interfering with the normal functions of other medications that you might be taking. It is therefore important that you consult a healthcare professional before you start looking for the best marijuana strains for seniors and elderly.
Consulting an expert is also necessary to fix the appropriate dosage for you. Too much THC in your cannabis can increase the heart rate and cause anxiety or unnecessary energy rush. If it is legal in your state, self-medication on marijuana strains can be very helpful for elderly people who are suffering from various health conditions or ailments. You just need to know which are the best marijuana strains for seniors elderly and fix the dosage after consulting a doctor. We assure you, it can improve your life a lot more!