There is a growing feeling that seniors and marijuana should go hand in glove. Seniors, that is people over 65 years of age, are those most likely to have acquired medical conditions associated with age. Many of these are just the conditions that cannabis can help to relieve.
There are a few things that may deter seniors from seeking relief by using cannabis products. One of these is that due to historical legal definitions older people tend to think that marijuana is something only young people indulge in as a way to get high. And in the USA, where it is still illegal at the Federal level, marijuana is still felt to be unlawful and to be avoided in any form.
This status has also hampered scientific research into the benefits of the plant, which has over 120 components, which are known as cannabinoids. As a result, many traditional medical practitioners are wary about offering cannabis to patients and prefer to continue prescribing pills they feel comfortable with.
There are several misconceptions about cannabis of which these are probably the most common:
Cannabis Is Harmful To Your Body
Not true! It actually helps your body regulate its natural functions. You’ve heard of your circulatory, nervous, and respiratory systems but you’ve probably never heard of your Endocannabinoid System or ECS. The ESC is responsible for keeping your body well balanced. By working with our body’s existing systems, cannabis is more effective, better tolerated and a healthier option than handfuls of pills or potions.
All cannabis is psychoactive
Also not true! The ‘high’, which is often feared by new cannabis users, comes from a cannabinoid (a cannabis chemical) called THC. But not all products contain THC and even if the one you may need to take does (for example, THC is needed to effectively treat some medical conditions), the psychoactive effects can be prevented by balancing the dosage with another cannabinoid called CBD which counteracts THC’s psychoactivity.
You can overdose on cannabis
Again not true! There has never been a recorded death by overdose of cannabis. It is true that you can take too much and experience some unpleasant side effects like feeling ‘high’. But these side effects are not fatal and will pass relatively quickly, thanks to the fact that our bodies are able to ‘process’ cannabis efficiently. Nowhere near as dangerous as overdosing on some tablets given to help pain or insomnia. Plus, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, if you take too much THC, you can just counterbalance it with some CBD to restore harmony. When it comes to taking cannabis, the best advice is to start low, and go slow!
You can only smoke cannabis
Another misconception! There are many different ways to ingest cannabis that don’t involve smoking. In fact, smoking is usually not recommended by physicians for medical cannabis patients anyway.
Here are some alternative ingestion methods you may want to try:
- Balms, Salves, and Topicals
- Edibles (from brownies to enriched oils which can be used to cook!)
- Transdermal Patches
Common conditions suffered by seniors and medical marijuana treatments.
Cannabis is an anti-inflammatory – swollen joints cause pain and restrict movement for people with arthritis
- Chronic Pain
Cannabis is a known painkiller – pain from any number of medical conditions reduces your quality of life. Imagine a pain-free life!
Cannabis helps induce sleep – falling asleep (particularly when you’re in pain)can be difficult and lack of sleep often compounds other health problems.
Although not limited to older people as PTSD can affect anyone at any age who has suffered a traumatic experience cannabis can calm anxieties, particularly those common in combat veterans. PTSD sufferers find their ability to enjoy life day to day markedly improved through cannabis use.
Speak to Your Physician About Medical Cannabis.
As already mentioned your doctor may be one of those who does not feel that cannabis is an appropriate remedy. But don’t overlook the fact that as a patient you are entitled to a second opinion. If your doctor has no interest in considering medical marijuana as a form of treatment do not be afraid to seek a second opinion from another doctor. That is a far better approach than trying to treat yourself by buying products from an unlicensed source, even if it seems a cost-effective option.
When visiting an alternative medical practitioner be sure to prepare by making a note of all your symptoms and taking with you copies of your current prescriptions (include a photograph of your bottles/packs or the actual packaging). It is important that the doctor can see exactly what medication has been prescribed as well as the dosage.
- Keep track of your sleep patterns. How many hours a night you sleep and any periods of insomnia or reasons sleep is disturbed.
- Write down any side effects you’ve had from the medications you are taking.
- Think about any questions you may have about insurance coverage or legal liabilities.
Don’t expect to be able to stop taking any current medications immediately. This can be dangerous and result in severe withdrawal symptoms but discuss ways to reduce them by replacing them with alternative cannabis treatment.
One of the most attractive benefits of medical cannabis for seniors is what is called the entourage effect. This is because cannabis works in harmony with your body’s ECS. It is possible to significantly reduce your pill intake (or even stop entirely over time) by replacing pills with medical cannabis because the plant provides benefits for symptoms for many medical conditions.
As more and more research is carried out the benefits of medical marijuana are becoming more widely understood and accepted by the medical profession. Certainly, still more needs to be done and it is hoped that as the legal obstacles are removed further progress will be made.
After all, isn’t far better to make use of the properties found naturally in a plant than manufactured chemicals currently in use, many of which are known to have addictive or uncomfortable side effects.