CBD is being studied as a treatment for a wide range of conditions. Find out more about how CBD can help you and what risks to consider. CBD (Cannabidiol), an active compound found in cannabis has been proven to be effective in the treatment of ailments associated with elderly people such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, dementia and even depression. Almost one in five Americans over 50 now use some kind of CBD product. Cannabis specialist Dr. Danial Schecter discusses what older adults need to consider when they start using CBD.
What to Know About CBD Oil For Elderly
CBD is a chemical found in marijuana. CBD doesn’t contain the ingredient that produces a high, which is known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Typically CBD is available as an oil, but CBD is also sold as an extract, a vaporized liquid, and an oil-based capsule. Numerous CBD-infused food, drink, and beauty products are available online.
Many people use CBD oil to curb symptoms of many common health issues, including some elderly people. According to a 2020 nationally representative Consumer Reports survey, 20% of Americans 65 years and older said they’d tried CBD oil, up from 14% from the prior year in 2019. However, it’s important to keep in mind what conditions CBD oil can help and whether it’s safe for the elderly to use.
Is CBD Oil Effective?
Each of us has something called an endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system works to keep you in a stable condition where everything in your body works at its best. For instance, if it is hot outside or if you are exercising vigorously, your endocannabinoid system will help steady your heart rate and keep your body temperature within a healthy range by making you sweat.
Your body works best when everything is balanced, and your endocannabinoid system helps maintain that balance, despite what might be going on in your external environment.
When something is out of balance, like an inflamed joint due to arthritis or injury, CBD oil helps support your endocannabinoid system so your body can better handle and relieve the problem.
Is CBD Oil Safe for Seniors?
We need more research, but CBD oil seems to be an up-and-coming treatment solution for the elderly.
While CBD and THC are both found as parts of the cannabis plant, significantly higher THC amounts are found in marijuana. Some seniors might be prescribed medical marijuana by their doctor, although medical marijuana is not legal in every state, and some people don’t want to experience a “high.” In those cases, CBD can be a great alternative.
CBD doesn’t produce a high, and it’s legal throughout the United States. It’s sourced from a hemp strain of cannabis and contains .3% THC or less. This means you get all of the benefits without having to worry about feeling a high.
Benefits of CBD Oil
There are numerous benefits of CBD oil:
- Relieves arthritis pain
- Relieves chronic pain
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces muscle spasms
- Improves sleep
- Prevents or reduces symptoms related to Alzheimer’s disease
- May reduce cancer cell growth
- Reduces nausea and vomiting for cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy
Pain relief. CBD oil has also proven to be an effective, non-habit-forming treatment for pain. One study found that CBD reduces pain 30% more than traditional medication or medical marijuana (THC) alone.
General anxiety and performance anxiety. One study of individuals with a social anxiety disorder and fear of public speaking gave some people a single dose of CBD an hour and a half before they participated in public speaking. Those given the CBD experienced a significant reduction in their anxiety, with less discomfort and stress.
In short, CBD has been proven effective in enhancing the quality of life, preventing cognitive decline, reducing blood pressure in stressful situations, and more.
What to Consider When Buying CBD
Decide why and what form. Think about what you’ll be using CBD for and how you’d prefer to use it. CBD is often available as an oil, pill, drop or lotion.
Consider the amount of THC. Some CBD products contain THC, although it’s in very small amounts. If you’re looking for CBD with no TCH in it at all, consider looking for CBD made from hemp.
Find where it was made. Not all CBD products are made the same way. Colorado has very robust, trusted CBD manufacturing facilities, but if you buy CBD online and it comes from somewhere overseas, it may not have gone through any safety testing.
Read the label. Always read the label of any CBD product to check for additional ingredients that could affect your health or safety.
Stay cautious. Some CBD brands will make claims that CBD can cure cancer or help with heart disease. Huge health claims like that are illegal and are not verified. If a brand is advertising unrealistic benefits, beware.
Risks of CBD Oil
Currently, the only CBD product approved by the Food and Drug Administration is a prescription oil called Epidiolex used to treat epilepsy. Although CBD is currently being studied as a potential treatment for other conditions like Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes, the research is limited.
CBD also carries some potential risks and may cause:
- Dry mouth
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Reduced appetite
- Potential negative interaction with other medications
Because CBD is mostly available as an unregulated supplement, it is challenging to pinpoint effective doses or know exactly what you’re getting. For this reason, it’s important to talk with your doctor before taking CBD.
CBD Awareness Project: “Benefits of CBD.”
Consumer Reports: “A Guide to CBD and Cannabis for Older Adults”, “How to Shop for CBD.”
Journal of pain and symptom management: “Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC:CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain.”
Mayo Clinic: “What are the benefits of CBD—and is it safe to use?”
Neuropsychopharmacology: “Cannabidiol Reduces the Anxiety Induced by Simulated Public Speaking in Treatment-Naïve Social Phobia Patients.”
CBD Oil for the Elderly and Older Adults: Benefits & Uses
The Cannabis Sativa plant has at least 104 chemical compounds—also referred to as cannabinoids—of which cannabidiol (CBD) is a notable one. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD isn’t intoxicating as it does not give the highly stimulating feeling that cannabis is known for.
CBD has a wide range of properties that are being studied for their potential clinical benefits. Certain studies show that CBD could be helpful in a wide range of conditions, such as pain, inflammation, epilepsy, anorexia, schizophrenia, and more.
CBD oil is a liquid extract that’s usually derived from hemp. It is typically extracted with pressurized CO2 and then infused into carrier oils, such as MCT oil, hemp seed oil, or olive oil.
You can find CBD oil over the counter in many countries. Hemp-derived CBD oil is legal in all 50 states and you don’t need a prescription to buy it.
Moreover, CBD oil can be useful in certain conditions affecting older people. As such, it’s essential to determine exactly how helpful it is in treating these conditions and how to use it to minimize side effects and other potential health risks.
What Are the Different Types of CBD Oil?
CBD oils have three main variants based on chemical composition. These variants are CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD oil, and broad-spectrum CBD oil.
This is the purest form of CBD, having no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content or other hemp compounds. The isolate is usually found in a crystal or powder form of CBD and is cheaper than the other variants.
Full Spectrum CBD
Full-spectrum CBD contains other cannabinoids that occur in the cannabis plant — also known as whole-plant CBD — including trace amounts of THC. Full-spectrum CBD has been shown to have more medicinal benefits than the other variants as it evokes the entourage effect — a mechanism where all cannabis compounds work together in synergy to amplify each other’s effects.
Broad Spectrum CBD
The broad-spectrum CBD also has all the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant but doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol. This variant is not as easily obtainable as the other versions, although the extraction process is similar to the other two.
How Effective Is CBD Oil?
In our bodies, the endocannabinoid system works to promote and maintain homeostasis — a state where everything functions optimally. It works irrespective of our external environment so that changes or fluctuations do not affect our normal body balance.
When that balance is breached, perhaps due to a sickness or injury, CBD oil helps the endocannabinoid system adjust so that it can resolve the problem faster and more optimally. CBD oil achieves this by slowing down the breakdown of endocannabinoids already present in the body.
This allows the body to use them longer and regulate balance more efficiently in all other systems throughout the body.
How Safe Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil has shown itself as a rising and promising treatment for older people.
It provides an alternative for older adults who are prescribed medical marijuana by their doctors. Medical marijuana is legal in some states, but some older people would prefer not to experience the buzz when taking their medicine.
CBD does not intoxicate or produce a feeling of euphoria when used; however, this is also dependent on the THC content.
CBD is usually tolerated by most people with very few side effects. A consultation with a holistic doctor experienced in CBD use will help you get a bigger picture of the pros and cons of your treatment.
Speaking of which…
What Are the Health Benefits of CBD Oil for Seniors?
There are several health benefits of CBD oil. Although research is still in development, certain studies show that CBD might become an alternative treatment option for seniors with different health conditions, such as:
Arthritis is one of the major causes of disability in the United States.
Recent reports from the Arthritis Foundation have shown that two of the most common types of arthritis — rheumatoid and osteoarthritis — may be successfully managed with the use of CBD.
Further research has also shown that CBD helped in reducing pain, improving sleep, and reducing anxiety among arthritis patients.
Although not many clinical studies have been conducted, the arthritis foundation has urged the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to regulate the use of CBD products such as tinctures and topicals for arthritic pain.
2. Chronic Pain
CBD can be used for pain management too. Its anti-inflammatory properties help in reducing joint pain associated with arthritis (1).
Its antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective properties have made CBD a reliable option for many.
It can be used for health conditions such as lupus, nausea, post-traumatic stress, fibromyalgia, cancer pain, and even neuropathic pain.
3. Anxiety Disorders
Studies have confirmed that CBD may be an alternative solution for anxiety. A study carried out by the national institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) showed that CBD helped in reducing stress in animals.
CBD has also been recommended for people with post-traumatic stress disorders and it can also be used to treat insomnia caused by anxiety.
On top of that, CBD can help with the following conditions:
- Sleep disorder
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Lung conditions
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Things to Consider Before Buying CBD Oil
You should consider certain factors such as safety, transparency of your vendor, and the product’s quality to avoid common mistakes when buying CBD Oil.
Here are a few important things to look for:
- Certificates of Analysis (COA): this is the document that confirms the product’s chemical profile and the lack of contaminants, such as pesticides, heavy metals, and mycotoxins.
- The company’s reputation can be determined based on reviews, warning letters from the FDA, health claims made by the company (if it is unsubstantiated or not), and its certification status.
- MCT oil helps improve CBD’s absorption because CBD and other cannabinoids are fat-soluble.
In some countries, CBD oil is classified as a nutritional supplement rather than a drug. This makes it harder to know if it contains the exact quantities of cannabidiol, as regulation may be a bit lax.
Is CBD Oil Safe?
Although CBD oil can improve the quality of life of the elderly, it also comes with some benign side effects. Some of the risks associated with CBD oil include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue and Drowsiness
- Reduced appetite
- Weight fluctuation
In addition to these side effects, there’s also a risk of CBD-drug interactions. Some medications come with a “grapefruit warning”. These are drugs that interact with even small quantities of grapefruit, affecting the enzymes that break down these drugs. CBD also affects these enzymes and, as such, should not be taken alongside these medications due to possible complications.
Drugs that shouldn’t be taken with CBD include:
- Cholesterol medications (Statins)
- High blood pressure medications
- Heart rhythm medications
- Anti-infection medications
- Mood medications
- Blood thinners
- Pain medications
- Erectile dysfunction and prostate medications
- Organ transplant rejection medications
- Crohn’s disease medications
Key Takeaways on the Benefits of CBD Oil for the Elderly
Old age comes with its own quirks as well. Lots of health conditions have been more prevalent among the older population. CBD has shown itself as a natural and safe alternative to pharmaceutical medications when it comes to addressing the problems linked to aging.
A good number of studies, surveys and other scientific evidence show that CBD does help in the treatment of conditions associated with seniors, such as pain, inflammation, arthritis, and even sleep disorders, and neurodegenerative conditions.
That said, it’s important you speak with your physician and do some research before you try any CBD oil product.
Do we have any seniors among our readers? Give us a shout in the comment section and tell us how CBD has improved your quality of life!
- Zuardi AW. Cannabidiol: from an inactive cannabinoid to a drug with a wide spectrum of action. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. (2008).
- Campos AC, Moreira FA, Gomes FV, Del Bel EA, Guimarães FS. Multiple mechanisms are involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. (2012).
- Martin-Santos R, Crippa JA, Batalla A, Bhattacharyya S, Atakan Z, Borgwardt S, et al. Acute effects of a single, oral dose of d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)administration in healthy volunteers. Curr Pharm Des. (2012).
- Schier A. R., Ribeiro N. P., Silva A. C., Hallak J. E., Crippa J. A., Nardi A., E., et al. . Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. (2012).
- Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent.Curr Drug Saf. (2011).
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
CBD Safety For Seniors
Almost one in five Americans over 50 now uses some kind of CBD product, according to a recent Gallup poll. And they are doing so undeterred by the total lack of FDA oversight or guidelines. But to what extent is CBD use a public health concern for seniors? And what do older adults need to consider when they start using CBD?
Fake product alert
Hemp-derived CBD oil is now poised to overtake olive oil in the category of most counterfeited plant extract on the planet, making authenticity a prime concern for older consumers. Random samplings of CBD products consistently detect misrepresentation between their labels and their contents. In some cases, the nominal cannabinoid is entirely absent, in others, more nefarious substances have been found.
One of the many organic, third-party lab-tested CBD products on the market.
Hence, until the FDA gets its regulatory house in order, responsibility for finding a safe product lies with the consumer. According to the Brightfield Group, seniors tend to prefer ingesting CBD in oils, vape cartridges and edibles, which entails a lot of label-reading for seniors. When evaluating a CBD product, make sure it uses CBD from organic hemp, preferably grown in the United States, and that it is third-party lab tested to verify the CBD content and rule out the presence of contaminants.
Once you get it, how do you use it?
While CBD products have never been easier to access in the US, actually getting the desired results from them can be more complicated.
I spoke with Dr. Danial Schecter, an Ontario-based family physician who is the co-founder of a network of cannabis-based medicine clinics that have served over 60,000 patients in Canada, and who recently became Director of Global Medical Services at Canopy Growth Corporate, about the guidance he suggests for seniors interested in using CBD.
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Danial Schecter (DS) I’ll start with a few basics: CBD is a molecule derived from the cannabis plant. It is what we call non-euphoric-inducing, in that it doesn’t cause you to feel high, but it is still what we call psychoactive, meaning that it has an effect on the neurotransmitters and the chemistry of your brain, just like an antidepressant or a sleep aid would have.
Abbie Rosner (AR): How do you approach CBD dosage for seniors?
DS: When we’re talking about CBD, in terms of dosing it in particular, we know that doses of CBD are very safe, that there has been no documented overdose of CBD, that it does not cause euphoria and that it is safe to be used in quite high quantities. We have studies where it’s been used in as low as 5-10 mgs per day, and studies that are using it in as high as 1500 mgs a day.
The supposed effects of CBD are that it has anti-inflammatory, antidepressant and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties – but we still don’t really know exactly how it works. Yet there have been studies done in humans, for example, where subjects were given 600 mg of CBD in a single dose or a placebo, and then had them do a simulated public speaking exercise. And those who had the CBD had a significantly easier time, with less anxiety.
But, in clinical practice, we never give doses like that. It’s just not affordable. What I see in my clinical practice is that the majority of people will respond to somewhere between 40 and 100 mgs of CBD/day.
AR: If a 70 year old woman came into your clinic, would you recommend that she take 40 mg of CBD?
DS: No. What I would say is, we don’t know what your dose is going to be. Everyone’s endocannabinoid tone is different, their metabolism is different, you’re on a certain number of medications that will potentially affect the metabolism of CBD and the only way to know if it is going to work and what the dosage is, is by taking a standardized approach, starting low and going slow.
AR: And what would the starting dose be?
DS: In a healthy adults a starting dose would usually be 5 mg of CBD, but in people who are elderly, who are potentially on a number of medications, and who are very sensitive to side-effects of medications, we like to cut that dose in half, and start at 2.5 mgs of CBD. The 40-100 mgs a day of CBD a day that I mentioned previously, that’s usually for people who are using it for pain or for anxiety and wellbeing.
AR: Pain and anxiety are two of the main issues that older adults are facing – so the picture that I’m getting is that, if an older adult comes in and says, I have pain and I’d like to start with CBD – you’d start low but you might theoretically get up to 40-100 mgs of CBD to actually address the effects.
DS: Exactly – so what we usually do is, we encourage people to start at a very low dose – 2.5 mgs – and then increase in 2.5 mg increments – depending on how aggressive they want to be – over anywhere between 2 days and one week. And then wait to see if they feel any kind of response.
Usually, the psychological symptoms will take longer to actually improve or respond to CBD than the physical symptoms. So we would often recommend a slower titration for anxiety or depression, and for the physical symptoms that have a quicker response, we could recommend a quicker titration.
AR: What do you recommend for seniors who want to supplement or replace their medications with CBD?
DS: Whenever we want to start a new medication, one of the very basic principles is that we should really not be playing around with another medication. So you only want to introduce or remove one medication at a time.
If you’ve been on a sleep aid for many years, and you want to stop taking it and use CBD, I would not recommend that you all of a sudden stop taking the sleep aid and start taking CBD, because your insomnia will get worse. Under the guidance of your physician, you would want to taper in the CBD until you reach a stable dose.
AR: Is CBD alone a potent medication?
DS: It can be. But it’s probable that the best benefits – at least what I see in clinical practice – is when we can use a combination of both THC and CBD.
There is idea that exists that THC is bad and CBD is good, when in actuality, both of these molecules have a very important place in clinical practice. And while THC has received a bad rap, because it is associated with getting high, in actuality, it has more immediate benefits than CBD. With THC there’s a huge misconception that people just use it to get high. But in doses that do not cause you to get high, it can be very beneficial for things such as sleep, pain, nausea, appetite stimulation and muscle spasms.
AR: That’s all fine and well in Canada. But in most of the United States, older adults need to get a medical marijuana card to access those products –with all the bureaucracy that entails. And now they can access CBD in almost any drugstore – and that’s what they’re doing!
DS: For someone who wants to access CBD on the open market, that’s absolutely fine – but ideally, they would be doing so under the supervision of their main treating physician.
AR: In your practice, are you seeing older adults who are asking for CBD products?
DS: That’s actually what we’re seeing the most of these days. In Canada, where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use, the greatest increase in our patient population at the clinics are the Baby Boomers and the parents of Baby Boomers who are coming in all the time asking to try that CBD oil.
But the other thing is that, even when they want CBD, once we start examining them, getting their history and understanding what it is they are looking for, we find that very often they would benefit from a low dose of THC in addition to CBD. Here in Canada, you can very easily say, I know you’ve heard about CBD, but you could benefit even more from something with a little THC.
AR: And there’s the beauty of full legalization – that you don’t have to jump through so many hoops to get a little THC in your medicine.