The senior set is consuming cannabis in record numbers. “Given the unprecedented aging of the US population, we are facing a never before seen cohort of older adults who use recreational drugs,” said Dr. Benjamin Han, a geriatrician and health services researcher at New York University.
The reason for the skyrocketing consumption among older Americans is clear: It’s a medicine. And, as Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, reminds us, cannabis is typically prescribed to manage diseases that often strike in older age, pointing to an increasing desire to take a medication that has fewer side effects than traditional prescription drugs.
So the next time you are visiting with your grandparents, consider taking along a little extra to share. You also may want to talk to them about a few reasons why sharing your stash may be good for their health.
Treatment For Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s is a progressive brain disease that kills brain cells. It is the most common form of dementia, affecting five million Americans, and it kills about one out of three seniors, which makes it the sixth leading cause of death.
Multiple studies suggest that cannabis is an effective treatment for patients suffering from this hideous ailment. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease revealed that THC helped decrease delusions, agitation or aggression, irritability, apathy, and sleep disturbance in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2006 study showed that THC stimulated appetite and reduced nighttime agitation, providing relief not only for Alzheimer’s patients but for their caregivers.
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Just a small dose of cannabis a day may help delay the aging process in the brain and improve memory in older adults, according to a new study published Monday in Nature Medicine. As the Baby Boomer generation ages into retirement, there will be a massive number of potential victims of this dreaded disease.
Maintaining A Healthy Body Weight
For some senior citizens maintaining a healthy body weight is a major health issue. For many, weight gain and obesity becomes a problem as more seniors become more sedentary. Also, the side effects of some prescription medication include lack of motivation or tiredness.
For other seniors, gradual weight loss is an issue. Again, some pharmaceuticals inhibit appetite. And then there are those whose weight yo-yos, which has its own health risks.
Cannabis, of course, has long been considered an appetite stimulant. Marijuana has been used for decades to help those suffering from AIDS, wasting syndrome and cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiation.
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Research has revealed that cannabis helps patients regulate their weight and promotes increased levels of HDL cholesterol (the so-called good cholesterol) which lowers the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Relief From Arthritic Pain
Arthritis is one of the most common health ailments in the world, with more than 50 million people affected in the U.S. alone. Researchers at the University of Nottingham noted that targeting cannabinoid receptors with marijuana may help bring pain relief to knee joint pain associated with osteoarthritis.
A Chinese study showed that joints damaged by arthritis have a high number of CB2 receptors, which marijuana can activate to fight inflammation and pain. In the case of arthritis and other joint ailments, topicals such as creams, lotions and balms work wonders. And Grandma and Grandpa don’t have to worry at all about getting high.
Help With “The Blues”
It happens to all of us, not just senior citizens. Episodes of depression often sneak up on us and the effect can be debilitating. The World Health Organization reported last year that depression is now the world’s leading cause of poor health. More than 300 million people worldwide suffer from the affliction and the number of people with depression soared 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.
Research suggests that cannabis may be a viable option for depression. A European study suggests that cannabidiol or CBD — a non-psychoactive component of marijuana — is effective in treating anxiety and depression. More clinical studies need to be conducted to determine how effective cannabinoid therapy is in treating depression, but there is evidence that it works.
Related Story: Here’s How Marijuana Can Help The Global Depression Epidemic
If your grandparent struggles with depression or just has a difficult time remaining upbeat, you may want to give it a try. Low-dose edibles may do the trick
Transitioning Away From Pharmaceuticals
According to the CDC, most drug overdose deaths (more than 60 percent) involve an opioid with 91 Americans dying every day from an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids and heroin. As America’s opioid abuse epidemic continues to worsen, a 2017 study revealed that medical marijuana may be a potential remedy for pain patients.
The study found that cannabis, in combination with opioid pain medications, can lower opioid side effects, cravings, and withdrawal severity, as well as enhance the analgesic effects of opioids, thereby allowing for lower doses and less risk of overdose. The authors concluded that their results “demonstrate that inhaled cannabis safely augments the analgesic effects of opioids.” Research published last year found that 80 percent of medical cannabis users reported substituting cannabis for prescribed medications, particularly among patients with pain-related conditions.