According to a recent Gallup Poll, 1 in 5 seniors, aged 50 and older, use CBD
It may seem odd to think of giving CBD to our aging parents, but more and more studies show that CBD can have positive benefits for seniors. From anxiety to osteoarthritis, and Alzheimer’s to multiple sclerosis, scores of people credit CBD for easing the symptoms of these diseases when traditional medicines can’t.
The first step is talking with your parents about using CBD. To combat years of misinformation and negative stereotypes, you’ll need to be informed about CBD and its CBD’s potential benefits. You’ll also need to be prepared to debunk the cultural mythology around cannabis use.
The number one assurance you may need to make is that cannabidiol or CBD oils, tinctures, edibles and balms won’t make your parents “high.”
Hemp, a member of the Cannabis sativa family, lacks or is extremely low in THCA (THC once heated or decarboxylated) , the euphoria-inducing agent more commonly found in Cannabis indica.
Instead, hemp-based CBD works with the body’s endocannabinoid system to activate neurotransmitters and receptors in our bodies. CBD has been used to treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, and inflammation successfully.
Benefits of CBD for the elderly (and most everyone else, for that matter)
Alzheimer’s & Dementia
CBD’s anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties act on neural tissue to counteract inflammation and to protect against further tissue deterioration. It also helps to eliminate the toxic proteins that cause the damage of Alzheimer’s disease, reduce brain cell inflammation, and regenerate damaged cells.
Well-known for its anti-anxiety properties, CBD can also help to soothe the agitation and anxiety often experienced in later stages of the disease.
Bone and joint pain are frequent complaints in older patients; osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can be debilitating. CBD’s potent anti-inflammatory effects can help treat the underlying inflammation of bone and joint disease. Also, CBD’s analgesic properties interact with the body’s neurotransmitters to alter pain messages.
CBD helps with arthritis pain in 2 ways. It’s a systemic treatment when taken orally, it can also be applied as a salve or cream to relieve localized musculoskeletal pain.
CBD can have an impact on the underlying vascular inflammation that plays a role in cardiovascular disease and hypertension. A CBD regimen can potentially reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. There is some evidence that CBD may mitigate post-stroke cerebral inflammation and be beneficial for recovery.
As we age, it becomes harder to achieve deep sleep for more extended periods of time. In deep sleep, our brains regenerate and eliminate some of the toxins our bodies produce. It’s not uncommon for doctors to prescribe potentially addictive sleeping medications to seniors. Giving CBD to parents can avoid addictive medications and help improve sleep quality.
Sleep quality plays a vital role in helping to prevent neurogenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and glaucoma. CBD has been shown to extend deep sleep and adjust the deep-light sleep cycle.
In general, senior citizens are at risk for loss of appetite, a serious problem for the elderly. Loss of appetite or disinterest in eating can lead to weight loss, malnutrition, bone and muscle loss, as well as mental issues. Hemp-based CBD, like its cousin marijuana, has been shown to be an appetite stimulant for seniors, helping to ensure adequate nutrition.
Giving CBD to your senior parent
Before giving CBD to your parents, do consult their primary care physician, as well as your parent. Although CBD is safe, the interactions of CBD and prescription medication interactions may dictate changes in dosage.
Your parent’s doctor may be resistant because of a lack of knowledge about the various studies into the benefits of CBD for elders that have been done. Though more research is needed, early results indicate that CBD has a number of positive benefits.
Once everyone has agreed to give CBD a try, the next step is deciding the initial dosage. Even though the average daily dose is 20 – 40 mg/day, experts agree that it’s far better to begin at a very low dose (2.5 – 5.0 mg/day) and increase slowly until the benefits are realized. It’s also important to remember that elderly patients tend to have more sensitivity to cannabis constituents.
The other consideration before giving your parent CBD is where they live. CBD is legal in varying degrees in 47 states, though your parent may need a medical marijuana card to get CBD. In Nebraska, Idaho, or South Dakota, CBD, and cannabis are illegal, and your doctor can’t prescribe it for your loved one.
Orally, CBD oil or tincture can be taken as a capsule, soft gel, gummy, or sublingually. Although slower to metabolize in the system, capsules and the like have the advantage of fitting in with your parent’s daily pill regimen. It’s also easier to monitor the daily dose of CBD more precisely.
Which type of CBD is best for elderly patients?
Look for CBD products that are derived from organic practices.
Be sure the manufacturer provides a certificate of analysis from a third-party lab. The certificate tells you the amount of CBD in the product and its purity. You’ll want to know not only the amount of CBD in the bottle but also the amount of CBD per dropper. By law, CBD cannot contain more than 0.3% THC, the “intoxicant” compound found in marijuana.
Full-spectrum CBD delivers all the compounds and cannabinoids available in hemp, including 0.3% THC, because it’s extracted from the whole plant. Broad-spectrum is much the same, only without the THC. Isolate is the purest form, 90% cannabidiol (CBD), without any other compounds beyond the carrier oil, which is often a combination of coconut and other oils.
Topical salves, balms, and creams deliver a less exact dose of CBD but provide specific, localized pain relief. Simply massage into the skin where it hurts. The skin forms a dermal barrier that hinders absorption, so apply generously.
Giving CBD to your aging parent can provide them with many benefits for some of the most troublesome conditions of aging. Whether it’s glaucoma, dementia, arthritis, or heart disease, CBD’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties can help provide relief.
In consultation with your parent’s primary care physician, and with your parent’s consent, a daily regimen of CBD can help alleviate pain, promote better appetite, and improve sleep quality. If your goal is to help your parent live a healthier and happier life in their elder years, then it’s time to discuss CBD with them.
Cannabinoids Promising for Improving Appetite, Behavior in Dementia
For patients with dementia, cannabinoids may be a promising intervention for treating neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) and the refusing of food, new research suggests.
Results of a systematic literature review showed that cannabinoids were associated with reduced agitation, longer sleep, and lower NPS. They were also linked to increased meal consumption and weight gain.
Refusing food is a common problem for patients with dementia, often resulting in worsening sleep, agitation, and mood, study investigator Niraj Asthana, MD, a second-year resident in the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, told Medscape Medical News. Asthana noted that certain cannabinoid analogues are now used to stimulate appetite for patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Filling a Treatment Gap
After years of legal and other problems affecting cannabinoid research, there is renewed interest in investigating its use for patients with dementia. Early evidence suggests that cannabinoids may also be beneficial for pain, sleep, and aggression.
The researchers note that cannabinoids may be especially valuable in areas where there are currently limited therapies, including food refusal and NPS.
“Unfortunately, there are limited treatments available for food refusal, so we’re left with appetite stimulants and electroconvulsive therapy, and although atypical antipsychotics are commonly used to treat NPS, they’re associated with an increased risk of serious adverse events and mortality in older patients,” said Asthana.
Asthana and colleague Dan Sewell, MD, carried out a systematic literature review of relevant studies of the use of cannabinoids for dementia patients.
“We found there are lot of studies, but they’re small-scale; I’d say the largest was probably about 50 patients, with most studies having 10 to 50 patients,” said Asthana.
In part, this may be because until very recently, research on cannabinoids was controversial, he added.
To review the current literature on the potential applications of cannabinoids in the treatment of food refusal and NPS in dementia patients, the researchers conducted a literature review.
They identified 23 relevant studies of the use of synthetic cannabinoids, including dronabinol and nabilone, for dementia patients. These products contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in cannabis.
More Research Coming
Several studies showed that cannabinoid use was associated with reduced nighttime motor activity, improved sleep duration, reduced agitation, and lower Neuropsychiatric Inventory scores.
Several studies revealed a link between cannabinoids use and increased appetite and the consumption of more meals. One crossover placebo-controlled trial showed an overall increase in body weight among dementia patients who took dronabinol.
This suggests there might be something to the “colloquial cultural association between cannabinoids and the munchies,” said Asthana.
Possible mechanisms for the effects on appetite may be that cannabinoids increase levels of the hormone ghrelin, which is also known as the “hunger hormone,” and decrease leptin levels, a hormone that inhibits hunger. Asthana noted that in these studies, the dose of THC was low and that overall, cannabinoids appeared to be safe.
“We found that, at least in these small-scale studies, cannabinoid analogues are well tolerated,” possibly because of the relatively low doses of THC, said Asthana. “They generally don’t seem to have a ton of side effects; they may make people a little sleepy, which is actually good, because these patents also have a lot of trouble sleeping.”
He noted that more recent research suggests cannabidiol oil may reduce agitation by up to 40%.
“Now that cannabis is losing a lot of its stigma, both culturally and in the scientific community, you’re seeing a lot of grant applications for clinical trials,” said Asthana. “I’m excited to see what we find in the next 5 to 10 years.”
Commenting for Medscape Medical News, Kirsten Wilkins, MD, associate professor of psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, who is also a geriatric psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Health Care System, welcomed the new research in this area.
“With limited safe and effective treatments for food refusal and neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia, Drs Asthana and Sewell highlight the growing body of literature suggesting cannabinoids may be a novel treatment option,” she said.
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) 2021: Poster EI 36. Presented March 16, 2021.
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Medscape Medical News © 2021
Cite this: Cannabinoids Promising for Improving Appetite, Behavior in Dementia – Medscape – Mar 19, 2021.