As the marijuana market is expanding rapidly, more and more people of all ages try marijuana either medical or recreational. And of course the elderly living in the XXI century are not an exception, but as the wise they are unsure about some moments, that’s why we’d like to shed the light on the use of medical marijuana by seniors.
Aging is always accompanied by its own changes, and of course not pleasant ones. Seniors often experience pain of different types, usually due to the course of the lifetime it’s become the chronic pain. Arthritis, osteoporosis, all possible joint seizures, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, severe muscle spasms, pain because of the cancer and chemotherapy, HIV or diabetes treatment. The list can go on and on. As our organism becomes worn out, no wonder, that we start feeling tired faster, oftener experience fatigue, groundless anxiety, our eyesight gets weaker, often complicated by glaucoma, and what’s more frightening, we start having problems with our memory and brain itself – Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease… As a result, to withstand all the above mentioned conditions and lead an ordinary more or less healthy life, a bunch of medications is prescribed to seniors. The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s survey estimated, that more than 50% of older patients (57-85 years) take more than five medications or supplements daily. Quite naturally, that another misfortunes happen represented by a great deal of after-effects of these medications. A kind of vicious circle, don’t you think?
CAUTION ABOUT MMJ
Those, who saw and experienced themselves the age of hippies, and of course, tried the appropriate pleasures including marijuana, now are the people of the advanced age and quite cautious about consuming the plant for medical purposes. It proved the 2014 survey data, only about 2% of seniors have tried medical marijuana. Basically, elderly people are afraid of getting “high” and losing control over their actions and even hallucinating. However, the number of seniors using exactly medical cannabis has been growing nowadays. The shift for the choice cannabis started already in 2006-2007 as the data of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows, for the period of 2006-2007 till 2013 the number of adults aged 65 and over consumed cannabis increased by 250%. And in the main it’s due to real benefits and efficacy that medical marijuana provides.
PROVING MMJ’S BENEFITS: TESTIMONIALS
Published in San Francisco Chronicle “Senior’s Guide to Cannabis” can be useful to read those, who are concerned about seniors and MMJ relationship. Eloise Theisen, a 43-year-old Concord nurse practitioner, who educates and consults about medical marijuana for seniors and senior living facilities, narrates encouraging stories from her professional practice about senior patients tried medical cannabis and found a long-awaiting relief for their conditions.
For instance, a 89-year-old woman diagnosed with advanced-stage dementia was in poor state, going through debilitating pain. In three months after starting consuming MMJ she could cope with her pain easily, and in a year she could afford her a trip abroad, that was impossible for years.
Eloise mentioned also a story about a Parkinson’s disease patient with dementia, who was extremely aggressive, and his wife, trying to control him depriving herself of sleep. The situation was solved with the help of cannabis tincture capsules.
What is essential in treating ailments with cannabis, Eloise underlines, is the right product, the right method of use and of course the right dose. Therefore, if chosen and found right, medical cannabis may treat chronic pain, reduce aggression, improve sleep, alleviate anxiety and depression.
HOW COULD MMJ BE A MIRACLE FOR SENIORS?
- PAIN. We mentioned on our blog the benefit of MMJ against chronic pain repeatedly. The matter is in the endocannabinoid system, that has receptors throughout the body. They activate immune cells in case of an injure and stimulate it to fight against its disturber, Simply saying, the endocannabinoid system helps the organism regulate itself, minimizing pain and damage. Thus, natural cannabinoids contained in marijuana, mainly THC and CBD, influence the receptors, enhancing the body’s ability of self regulation. It is proved by a released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report.
Therefore, medical marijuana can help seniors with numerous varieties of pain and inflammation, caused by arthritis, cancer, muscle spasms etc.
- ANXIETY AND SLEEP DISORDER. It’s already scientifically proved and goes without saying, that CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabis compound, could be extremely useful to completely eliminate anxiety. However, it’s also believed that both main medical compounds THC and CBD should be equally contained in a product to work properly. The Institute of Psychiatry published a study, however conducted on animals, that shows a much lower anxiety level at those individuals, that were given CBD. Sure, the lack of scientific trials slows down the final conclusion, but it’s absolutely clear, that consuming MMJ could calm down and stabilize your mood. THE LACK OF APPETITE. Astonishingly, but elderly people often suffer from anorexia, and about 80% of deaths among seniors happen due to this reason. They simply may not have a desire to eat, or because of continuous pain, or they forget to eat, or just are unable to prepare meals. And again here endocannabinoid receptors need to be mentioned, and particularly CB1, which is responsible for appetite, muscle control, pain, cognition, and reward.
A group of studies proves that medical marijuana use raises the levels of two key hunger-regulating hormones, ghrelin and leptin, but does not significantly alter insulin levels, indicating it may be a safe and effective way to increase appetite.
MMJ FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
Alzheimer’s disease is terrible, because it’s progressive and leads to memory loss. As the High Times magazine says, there are 76 million people born in the years following World War II in the United States, and studies forecast that more than a half of them could develop Alzheimer’s. Not only seniors themselves suffer from associated with the disease dementia, but their relatives too. And again there is no cure for it…
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published in 2014 a preclinical study “The Potential Therapeutic Effects of THC on Alzheimer's Disease”. It showed that low doses of THC enhance the ability of cells of producing energy and thus to withstand possible contributors to the development of Alzheimer’s disease – beta-amyloid proteins, slowing down their production.
Preliminary laboratory studies conducted in the grown neurons at the Salk Institute demonstrates how THC reduces the amyloid beta protein levels and possesses the anti-inflammatory quality on damaged cells. This discovery could be a reasonable ground for clinical trials.
And there is another group of studies originated from Australia, that was briefly reviewed in the journal “Frontiers in Pharmacology” supports the idea of THC being effective against Alzheimer’s dementia. But the best results were shown in mice treated with a combination of CBD and THC.
MMJ FOR PARKINSON’S DISEASE
Parkinson’s disease affects the nervous system, as Alzheimer’s disease it’s also progressive. 4 main symptoms of PD are tremor, slowness of movements, limb rigidity and gait and balance problems. And again no cure. And as an alternative means medical cannabis comes on stage. Although the number of clinical trial is miserable, the official website of Parkinson’s Foundation provides some PD-related studies on cannabinoids use.
For example, published in 2015 a review of preclinical and clinical studies “The Therapeutic Potential of Cannabinoids for Movement Disorders”. It analyzes the benefits of medical cannabis on movement disorders and assumes, that cannabinoids could benefit to some movement disorders, as tics, for instance, but to claim with 100% assurance more clinical trials are needed and of course, reconsideration of medical cannabis as Schedule I substance.
And it doesn’t stop such states as Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island to prescribe MMJ for Parkinson’s disease as a qualified medical condition.
MORE REASONS FOR SENIORS TO TURN TO MMJ
As 29 states have legalised some forms of medical marijuana, seniors also become more inclined to use in their treatment MMJ.
Firstly, it’s safer, at least, because it’s a natural source and not an artificially and chemically produced medications, as opiods and antipsychotics. It gives far less side-effects. It doesn’t have a mortal overdose, unlike as chemical drugs. And what’s more encouraging, there is no need to dose it up, as we know our organism may get used to some prescription drugs and for their proper effect the dose needs to be raised. To great disappointment of anti-advocates of MMJ, the plant doesn’t develop addiction.
Secondly, medical cannabis costs much cheaper than a whole bunch of multiple prescribed medications. Yet in 2010 the waste of money on medications were nearly 5 times higher rather than on medical cannabis.
Thirdly, there are a plenty of ways of using medical cannabis beside smoking, as many seniors recollecting their good old days are becoming afraid of a possible associated with the way “high” state. Although smoking gives you the most instant relief. Nowadays the medical marijuana market offers you edibles, liquid extracts, tinctures, oils, creams, ointments and butters, containing depending on your needs either higher percentage of CBD or THC component.
Here it’s necessary to mention, that an enormous variety of marijuana strains may have minimal psychoactive effect, with non-psychoactive CBD content prevalence.
Finally, marijuana becomes more accessible, either for recreational or medical purposes. Especially now, when the demand for natural wonder is rapidly increasing with the expanding of marijuana market due to Prop.64. Moreover, science also tries not to stand aside and move on, winning back the right to conduct more research on MMJ properties and potential benefits. By the way, with a growing number of all possible dispensaries and online delivery services, it’s got much easier to purchase MMJ products and of course not forgetting about online evaluation centers, that provide with medical marijuana documents, thus removing an additional obstacle of visiting local clinics, spending free time queueing up for a desirable recommendation. Our medical marijuana evaluation center, MMJHerb, is not an exception. With guaranteed patient’s confidentiality, we provide with a complete Doctor’s recommendation from a licensed physician.
Of course, to add to your current treatment medical cannabis products or not, we recommend to consult your doctor, to find out whether it’s worth trying it or not.
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