January 7, 2019

How Seniors Are Using Cannabis to Manage Pain

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The latest studies show that cannabis can help alleviate pain, especially among seniors. A recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health analyzed cannabis consumption rates among seniors aged 65 and above. Data gleaned from the survey demonstrated a 250% increase in the number of seniors using cannabis from 2006 to 2013.

A different survey on senior cannabis consumption revealed how nine out of 10 seniors liked medical cannabis so much after trying it as an alternative to opioid painkillers, that they’d recommend it to their peers. By the time the study was over, the majority of study subjects had successfully replaced opiates with cannabis.

Study co-author Dr. Diana Martins-Welch said, “The impact of medical marijuana was overwhelmingly positive. Medical marijuana led them to take fewer medications overall—opioids and non-opioids—and they had better function and better quality of life.”

“I was on Percocet and replaced it with medical marijuana. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said one of the seniors who participated in the study.

“It [medical marijuana] is extremely effective and has allowed me to function in my work and life again. It has not completely taken away the pain, but allows me to manage it,” added another patient.

So, what can someone over the age of 65 expect when using cannabis to treat pain?

Seniors Won’t ‘Overdose’ on Medical Cannabis Products

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) affirms that nobody has ever fatally overdosed on cannabis, while over 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017. While you may be less likely to overdose, that’s not to say that dosage is not essential.

“Even aspirin can kill you if you take too much, but a fatal dose of marijuana would require ingestion of fifteen hundred pounds in fifteen minutes—a physical impossibility for any human,” writes cannabis author David Schmader in his book, “Weed: The User’s Guide.”

It’s recommended that patients start with low doses and gradually increase them, either by potency or amount. By doing so, you can determine how much medical cannabis is required to produce the desired effects. Some companies specialize in controlled-dose cannabis products that make it easy for seniors to dose, such as THC-infused chocolates, cannabinoid-rich sprays (one spray = one dose), and oil-infused capsules, to name a few.

“The goal with medical marijuana is to find the dose that gives a therapeutic benefit without a high, or slowing reaction time or causing sedation,” Martins-Welch explained. “To find that right dose, we start low and go slow.”

Seniors Can Experiment with Consumption Methods

When treating pain with CBD, senior medical cannabis patients have the option to consume their medication orally with CBD oil infusions, (e.g. capsules and dissolvable powders,) topically, (e.g. CBD-infused lotions for localized relief) or sublingually, which is one of the most popular methods of consumption.

Sublingual CBD consumption may involve spritzing a cannabinoid-infused spray onto the tongue or dropping some potent oil on/beneath the tongue for fast absorption into the bloodstream. CBD molecules can enter the bloodstream much faster when the oil is not first absorbed through the stomach, (e.g. consuming edibles.)

Beyond Just Physical Relief

Aside from the myriad ways in which CBD can help seniors manage their physical pain, it can also help with emotional distress. As we age, our social circles dwindle. Studies show seniors with active social lives live longer and are better able to deal with physical ailments.

In particular, CBD is recommended for bolstering confidence in public speaking situations, as well as for eradicating the symptoms of fear and panic disorders.

As all-natural remedies for enhancing overall health, medical cannabis and CBD are indeed worth getting excited about. It’s an exciting conversation-starter and by attending local cannabis-derived events, seniors can meet new friends and educate themselves at the same time.

With studies like this one proving cannabis’ anxiolytic effects, CBD could transform the lives of a senior with a social anxiety disorder, providing much-needed physical and emotional relief.

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