It’s no secret that CBD can help reduce inflammation and treat chronic pain for a variety of conditions, from epilepsy to gastrointestinal disease to eczema. What you may not realize is that CBD can be hugely beneficial to the elderly as well, providing a host of health benefits in addition to treating chronic conditions, all without any ‘high’.
Of course, you want the best for your loved ones, and you want to know the science behind any new additions to their medicinal regimen. Here, we’ll discuss the potential benefits of giving CBD to your grandparents or elderly family and friends, how to go about choosing a CBD product (or combination of products) that suits their needs, and how to assist with finding the right dosage strength.
How Can CBD Benefit the Elderly?
CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, making it ideal for many senior suffering from inflammatory diseases such as arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis), Alzheimer’s, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and others. CBD can be used to treat “flare-ups” of symptoms, but it’s most effective when it’s used regularly; it reduces inflammation over time, thereby alleviating the pain associated with the inflammation as well as other symptoms like muscle spasms and neuropathy.
CBD can be a powerful alternative to NSAID pain relievers, whose prolonged use may cause liver damage and can even be toxic in high doses. CBD works on your body’s natural endocannabinoid system, producing little to no unwanted side effects while reducing and even replacing current medications. How can CBD be beneficial in treating illnesses common to seniors? Let’s explore some common conditions and examine the science behind CBD’s effectiveness with each.
CBD for Seniors: Good for Glaucoma
CBD acts in a manner similarly to THC (which has also been studied and shown to be beneficial, but is a harder sell for many senior citizens, who still have deeply entrenched negative associations with cannabis use) to decrease intraocular pressure, or IoP. High IoP is an underlying cause of glaucoma, a neurodegenerative disease that causes deterioration of the neurons within the eye, and thus damages their communication with the brain.
Cannabinoids have been shown to decrease IoP by as much as 25%, which can provide your neurons much-needed relief and slow the degenerative process. CBD can also treat ocular pain experienced by some glaucoma sufferers, making it an ideal treatment option for patients seeking both long-term treatment of the underlying cause and immediate symptom relief.
CBD for Seniors: Slowing Alzheimer’s and Dementia
CBD can do more than just curb the inflammation of neural tissue characteristic of dementia. It can also serve as a neural protectant, shielding neurons from damage and even helping eliminate toxic proteins that cause the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease in particular.
CBD’s combined anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties may help slow the advance of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. If your loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, CBD can help slow the advancement of the illness as well as treat the anxiety often felt by dementia sufferers, especially in the later stages of the disease. While more research is needed in this arena, the risks are so low that CBD may be worth a try: worst case, it has no effect, but in the best case it could help your loved one lead a better quality of life in their remaining days.
CBD for Seniors: Alleviating Arthritis
Bone and joint pain is a common complaint among seniors, as is arthritis and its equally debilitating cousin, rheumatoid arthritis. CBD can alleviate symptoms at the source by treating underlying inflammation, reducing the effect of the disease and relieving the pain it causes. It’s also a potent analgesic and alters pain perception as well as attacking the cause.
CBD can be taken orally as a systemic treatment for arthritis, but it can also be applied topically for localized relief. Use a CBD salve or cream to rub into joints and muscles, working both from within and from without to target and relieve inflammation and pain.
CBD for Seniors: Curbing Cardiovascular Disease
CBD can help treat the inflammation found in the blood vessels of those suffering from cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, potentially reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke over time as well as decreasing blood pressure. CBD can also reduce inflammation in the lungs and may have beneficial effects on the cardiopulmonary system. It may also reduce inflammation in the brain following a stroke and may be helpful in recovery and rehabilitation.
Choosing the Right CBD Regimen for Seniors
With all the CBD products available on the market, it’s easy to get lost in the jumble. Check out our CBD Buyer’s Guide for details, but the key takeaway is to look for short ingredient lists, limited to a carrier oil and CBD or hemp extract, when seeking out tinctures and softgels.
So, what type of CBD is best for your loved one? We recommend CBD softgels because they are an easy and long-acting method that allows you to customize your dose with ease and makes dosing simple and straightforward. The orally ingested CBD takes a little longer to take effect (about 45 minutes), but it can last up to 8 hours.
For fast-acting relief, vaporizing CBD can be an option for some seniors. While it isn’t for everyone, vaping takes effect very quickly and lasts several hours, making it a good way to treat sudden flare-ups of symptoms.
Topical salves can provide localized relief from pain and inflammation, targeting exactly what hurts. Topicals can also alleviate feelings of anxiety resulting from the disorientation caused by dementia: simply rub it on their skin in a soothing manner and help bring them back to calm—applying to the temples of forehead is very effective.
Finding the Right CBD Dose for Seniors
When it comes to finding the right dose, CBD is like any other medication: it may take some time and experimentation to find the dosage that works for your loved one. The good news is, you won’t cause them to overdose no matter how much you give them, and you won’t cause any adverse health consequences. We’re not saying to start with a full bottle of tincture, but just know that there’s plenty of room for error with no dire consequences.
We recommend starting with a single softgel or a approximtely 15mg CBD through a tincture, increasing the dose if no effects are felt after the first hour. You can always increase the dose if necessary, but you can’t scale it back once you’ve administered it.
Continue to increase the dose of CBD until relief is felt. Once you find a dose of a systemic CBD product that works for your loved one, we recommend supplementing it with topical products as needed in order to provide maximum symptom relief.
A Quick Note About CBD & Drug Testing
Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception. There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, and the ones available paint a rather murky picture: avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely. A single study (as yet unconfirmed) suggests that even isolate-based products may not be completely risk-free under certain circumstances.
If you are concerned about your loved one passing a drug test for any reason, you’ll need to consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for them. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize the risk of a false positive.
CBD is a low-risk, potentially highly beneficial way to treat a variety of the complications associated with old age. Whether your loved one is suffering from glaucoma, heart disease, dementia, or arthritis, there is an appropriate CBD regimen available that can help them live a healthier, happier life in their golden years. In fact, CBD has helped thousands of senior eliminate pharmaceutical medication altogether.