For many years, “cannabis” has had a negative connotation. However, hemp and cannabis plants have been used for thousands of years, and are anciently revered for their potential healing properties. When used safely, it’s possible to use CBD for elderly pain or for arthritis in seniors.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about CBD for seniors, along with answers to questions like, “Are CBD gummies safe for seniors?”
What Is CBD?
The body has an innate system called the endocannabinoid system, which recognizes cannabinoids (naturally occurring compounds in the cannabis plant) that enter the body.
The Body’s Endocannabinoid System
The body actually makes its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids (namely anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglyerol). This means that your body already has a system with receptors for CBD, called CB1 and CB2 receptors. Different receptors have different effects.
CBD and THC
There are two main types of cannabis compounds people use. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has a more potent effect and is known for the “high” it creates. The legality of THC depends on where you live in the United States, so it’s important to examine your cannabis products closely before buying.
CBD, on the other hand, has more subtle side effects. It’s appreciated for its ability to relieve pain without being intoxicating. Since cannabis is an ancient form of medicine, the benefits of CBD haven’t been officially established by modern-day science. The research that does exist suggests CBD may help with pain, nausea, and chronic conditions (such as arthritis or cancer).
Understanding how CBD is extracted can help you choose the product that is right for you. There are three main types of extracts you’ll see on the market:
- CBD Isolate: contains only CBD (THC-free)
- Broad-spectrum CBD: contains CBD, plus flavonoids and terpenes (THC-free)
- Full-spectrum CBD: contains CBD, flavonoids, terpenes, and non-detectable levels of THC
Essentially, broad and full-spectrum CBD products contain more parts of the cannabis plant. They are either THC-free or contain the tiniest traces of THC (not enough to intoxicate you). It will usually say “THC-free” somewhere on the bottle so you know for sure.
If you’re nervous about having any THC in your CBD, you can start out using isolate or broad-spectrum products first.
How To Use CBD For Elderly Pain
CBD products are available in many forms. The effects of CBD largely depend on how you choose to use it.
Perhaps the safest to experiment with at first is CBD topicals, which are products applied to the body (not ingested into the body). Examples include lotions, lip balms, salves, and muscle rubs.
Topicals make sense for arthritis pain since CBD has been studied for its ability to be anti-inflammatory and reduce pain. Like any other lotion or topical product, start out by testing it on a small patch of skin and discontinue use if you experience irritation.
CBD oils are also considered generally safe to try for seniors. Each CBD oil comes with what is called carrier oil (i.e. hemp seed oil, MCT oil, olive oil, avocado oil). Different carrier oils have different properties and different possible health benefits.
Other CBD Forms
Under the umbrella category of “CBD oils” are many other products containing various forms of CBD. For example, there are CBD capsules, drinks, and CBD-infused foods that are absorbed through the intestines during digestion. Anything heading down the digestive tract will take some time to absorb (about 1-3 hours), but the delayed onset and longer duration is a perk for some people.
Inhaled products, such as vape pens, are usually warned against. While they take effect more quickly than other methods of use (usually within 15-45 minutes), there are risks of respiratory disease due to compounds created by the heating process. If you are interested in vaporizing CBD, it’s important to talk to a licensed medical professional first who can help you understand the risks.
Are CBD Gummies Safe For Seniors?
CBD gummies are a type of edible that makes consuming CBD delicious and easy. Some people don’t like the natural, nutty taste of hemp and consuming it in a gummy makes daily dosages easy. Gummies come in many flavors and can be added to your usual supplement regimen.
When shopping for CBD, older adults should look for third-party testing. This means that an organization outside of the company you’re buying from has verified the safety and standards of that product.
Additionally, purchasing THC-free gummies will allow you to experience the potential benefits of CBD without intoxicating effects. Some CBD gummies are combined with other ingredients that may appeal to you, like melatonin for sleep.
The bottom line? Be sure to look at the label and ingredients list to make sure the product you’re looking at has everything you need and nothing that you don’t.
In Summary On CBD for Seniors
While science is still catching up to this ancient medicine, CBD may be able to provide you with relief from everyday aches and pains. There are many CBD solutions for seniors, including gummies, pills, oils, and topicals like lotion.
If you’re using CBD for a condition like arthritis, be sure to read the label carefully before buying so you understand the details, dosage, and effects.
CBD for Arthritis Pain: What You Should Know. Arthritis Foundation. Published September 2022. https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/managing-pain/pain-relief-solutions/cbd-for-arthritis-pain.
Crocq MA. History of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2020;22(3):223-228.
Dellwo A. Carrier Oils for CBD: How to Choose the Best One. Verywell Health. Published July 2022. https://www.verywellhealth.com/cbd-carrier-oils-5081879.
Raypole C. A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System. Healthline. Published May 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/endocannabinoid-system.