Everything Seniors Need to Know When Trying CBD for the First Time

By: Cyrus Sepahbodi

Osteoarthritis runs heavily in my family. My mother deals with pain in her hands, knees, and lower back every day. My grandmother spends most of her day lying down or seated because her knees are swollen to the point, she can barely stand for more than five minutes. Both feel the physical and emotional strain of day to day life because of their conditions. But it goes beyond the pain on most days. My mother and grandmother are proud women. They’ve both raised families, taken care of children, and worked accomplished careers. But to see them in the elder years fighting pain and not being able to do the simple tasks of life is heartbreaking. If you ask my grandmother about her pain, she would tell you, ‘I can’t cook anymore. I can’t help your mother around the house. Life with non-stop pain is hardly worth living.’ 

Prescription painkillers also run heavily in my family. My mother, a strong woman of 67, has a regular routine of opioids and steroid-based transdermal patches on a weekly basis. My grandmother, a powerhouse of intelligence and strength at 85, applies a steroid patch onto her knees every three days besides the painkiller cocktail she takes daily. The side effects are the most harrowing part to witness— dizziness, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, opioid induced pain, and disorientation. But recently, in the last six months, they have both turned to cannabis and hemp-derived medicines and remedies to combat their pain and reduce their need for opioids. The effects have been astounding. By using a CBD pain balm, my mother’s back pain has been reduced to the point where with regular use she can continue functioning normally at her job. My grandmother has started supplementing her medications with CBD & THC patches, capsules, and balm. The swelling in her knees has reduced and her need for the steroid patches has decreased to only twice per month. 

Seniors Are Turning to CBD for Pain Relief

Like many elders and seniors in the United States, my family has turned to cannabis for pain relief. In fact, a recent survey by Remedy Review found that, “9% of seniors have tried CBD for health-related reasons and 51% of those that have tried it reported having an improved quality of life afterward.”  The Population Reference Bureau has tabulated that, “The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent.“ With the population of elderly growing more rapidly in the last decade, it is no wonder why CBD and cannabis products have become increasingly popular to fight pain. 

For seniors and elders who are looking for a more natural way to fight their pain and improve their lives, cannabis and hemp-derived CBD products can be life-changing. And I know that many have concerns, and this article will serve to address the efficacy of CBD, how to find a quality CBD product, and how CBD can help reduce inflammation and fight pain for seniors.

Is CBD Safe? Will CBD Get Me High?

Many seniors have lived with the stigmas and drug-war rhetoric surrounding cannabis and are concerned if the plant and products that are derived from it are safe to consume. This is an understandable feeling. Let me assure you, CBD is safe. It is important though to consult your physician before incorporating it into your pain management routine.  Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-intoxicating component of cannabis. CBD will not get you high, unlike it’s more known counterpart THC. 

Is CBD Legal?

The massive shift in the health and wellness communities towards CBD over the last three years has had an impact socially, medically, as well as legally. People everywhere are finding natural relief for their pain by taking CBD. Last December, CBD was legalized on the Federal level. The 2018 Farm Act legalized the cultivation of hemp and was signed into law. There are numerous CBD-based products that have become available on the market, but a large majority of seniors are not yet familiar with CBD. Those who do use CBD have reported a significant increase in the quality of life when used to treat pain, anxiety, and sleeplessness.

How CBD Works in the Human Body

CBD is a non-intoxicating component of cannabis. There is significant interest among scientists and physicians in recent years about the therapeutic impact. The science behind CBD’s ability to combat pain is based around the human Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is a system of receptors throughout the body that regulates appetite, pain sensations, mood, and memory. The ECS consists of two primary cannabinoid receptors: CB1 receptors (most abundant in the central nervous system) and CB2 receptors (more abundant in the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and peripheral nervous systems). CBD interacts directly with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, acting on the parts of the ECS that regulate pain and inflammation. 

How to Use CBD

There is a common misconception that THC is bad, and that CBD is good. Yet both molecules have a very important place in treating pain for seniors. While THC has received a lot of notoriety because of its association with getting high, it has more immediate benefits than CBD. But if you are concerned about intoxication, it may be best to stick with CBD rich products. When choosing what product is best for you, it is important to note which type of medium you prefer. 

CBD is available to be consumed topically, transdermally, or as an ingestible. For people who need more localized pain relief, a topical such as a CBD balm, oil, or soak can be useful. For seniors who need whole body relief, CBD tinctures (drops) work remarkably fast and can be ingested directly under the tongue. You’d be surprised to learn that for seniors who take CBD regularly, many prefer drops. A recent survey states that 54.4% of the seniors surveyed tried CBD by putting CBD drops directly in their mouth. 21.1% of the serious opted to put those drops in a beverage instead, and another 21.1% got their CBD through a CBD-infused edible. 

For seniors who want localized pain relief and are used to transdermal (on the skin) mediums, CBD patches are a great option. Transdermal CBD patches are great at providing pain relief locally, but also for longer-term relief, such as Papa & Barkley Releaf patches, which slowly release through the skin over a 12 hour period. If you prefer ingestible, a discreet and easy delivery method are CBD capsules.

What to Consider When Trying CBD for the First Time

Everyone’s body, metabolism, and tolerances are different, and if you’re on a certain number of medications that will potentially affect the metabolism of CBD it is important to consult your physician. Starting small is the only way to know if CBD is going to work for you. Take a standardized approach, starting low and going slow. Pain and anxiety are two of the main issues that older adults face, and CBD can make an impact on your quality of life. 

Here are some other things to consider: 

Sourcing Matters

Look for CBD extracted from USA-grown plants, since U.S farmers must be certified by state departments of agriculture. Most companies will display where they source their hemp, but if you cannot clearly see where they source their plants, call the manufacturer and ask.

Pay Attention to How the CBD was Manufactured

Low priced products may use questionable methods when extracting CBD oil, such as using toxic solvents like propane, hexane, pentane or butane. Safer methods include Whole Plant Infusion, which infuses CBD into MCT Oil using only heat and pressure, without any of the harsh chemicals usually associated with extraction.

Has the Product Been Tested?

Third-party testing not only verifies the milligrams of CBD, but also reports levels of heavy metals, and pesticides. Reputable brands, using third-party testing will make this known on their packaging. If there is no label present, call the manufacturer directly and ask for their testing results.

When in Doubt, ASK YOUR DOCTOR

You and your physician will know what is best for your body and the ailments you are trying to treat. Always consult your physician before beginning a new pain management technique such as CBD or cannabis. 

Plant-Based Pain Management

Six months ago, my mother and grandmother started incorporating cannabis into their pain management routines. The effects were life-changing for both, and I can see the difference in their day to day lives. If you are a senior who deals with chronic pain, it may be worth it to try a CBD product for pain. I would suggest starting with Papa & Barkley CBD. We go through rigorous testing from soil to shelf, manufactured with all-natural processes, and source from the best cannabis plants available in the country. I highly recommend their award-winning balm, it worked wonders for my back pain, my mother’s arthritis, and my grandmother’s knee inflammation. 

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