Cannabis for older people: can it really be good for their health?

Cannabis may be useful for the health of the elderly

Published on: 12/12/2022

Recent research seems to confirm the first encouraging results, but the study is still on-going.

As you get older, your body becomes weaker and more prone to even serious health complications.

Diabetes, cardiovascular and even respiratory diseases are just some of the problems that can arise with advancing age.

Although aging is an irreversible process, there are, however, remedies that can increase the quality of life, and among them, CBD-based remedies are much discussed.

But what does the science say?

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Cannabis for seniors: news from the world of science

While it is true that the use of cannabis for medical purposes is still under study, quite clear scientific evidence is beginning to emerge on the beneficial effects of medical cannabis and on the potential of cannabidiol (a non-psychoactive substance derived from cannabis) for the elderly.

In this regard, the most interesting signals emerged from the Cannabis and Cannabinoids in Medicine Conference (AIMC 2019).

A study of subjects over the age of 75, most of whom used cannabis oil sublingually, reportedly found significant benefits, such as improved cognition, mobility, and general bodily functions.

In contrast, only a third of the sample studied reported side effects, such as drowsiness and dry mouth.

To clarity, let’s say at the outset that cannabis is not a medicine, but is used as an adjuvant in the reduction of symptoms for which traditional medicines have no benefit.

That said, this and other studies seem to converge on the idea that cannabis can help the elderly to better experience age-related ailments such as joint pain and insomnia.

Cannabis may help the elderly live better

Disorders in older people: the potential benefits of cannabis

Although studies on cannabis in the medical field are numerous, there are only a few recent studies aimed at the treatment of the most common disorders in aging. Therefore, let us look, based on the scientific evidence, at some of the circumstances in which cannabis can be considered by the elderly.

More specifically, medical cannabis can be useful in combating insomnia, which can occur more frequently with age. There is a lot of scientific evidence in this regard. There is even a cannabis-based medicine (ZTL-101) that is used to treat chronic insomnia.

In addition to promoting sleep, it may also be indicated for anxiety or stress disorders.

According to some studies, CBD also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can help all elderly people suffering from muscle and joint pain, reducing discomfort and pain and increasing mobility.

Not forgetting, therefore, that medical cannabis can provide concrete help in more serious diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, for which no effective drugs have yet been identified.

In fact, as several studies have shown, cannabis has a positive effect when administered to patients suffering from neurodegenerative disorders, leading to an improvement in cognitive abilities impaired by Alzheimer’s disease.

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Disorders in the elderly: contraindications of cannabis

Having seen the advantages of cannabis in the treatment of certain diseases, let us now talk about its contraindications, as it is likely that the patient is taking medication at the same time.

Although there are no particular health risks, its use can cause mild side effects, such as mouth discharge or excessive drowsiness. However, great care must be taken in case of interaction with other medicines.

Medical cannabis may only be added to therapy on medical indication. It should be left to the doctor to assess both the cases in which it can be prescribed and the most appropriate type of product and dosage, so as not to take any risks.

Cannabis as a prescription-only adjunct to therapy

Medical cannabis: who has access to it?

Medical cannabis can be prescribed by doctors for those pathologies for which there is accredited scientific literature.

Since 2006, doctors in Italy have been able to prescribe cannabis-based master preparations for the treatment of pain caused by serious pathologies and in all cases in which conventional treatments do not give satisfactory results or are no longer sufficient to control the symptoms caused by certain pathologies, such as chronic pain, the side effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy or HIV treatment, spinal cord injuries, etc.

In conclusion

Although it is too early to say for sure, the first scientific evidence on cannabis use in older people is encouraging. Indeed, cannabis can help them cope with age-related problems, resulting in an overall improvement in quality of life.

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