CBD & The Human Body
Science & Health
Research Brief - CBD for Seniors
CBD oil is seemingly everywhere nowadays and according to the AARP, it turns out Baby Boomers are in on the movement that has led to the CBD surge1.
The silver-haired demographic is discovering (and rediscovering) the uses of the cannabis plant – hemp-derived CBD oil in particular. This should come as no surprise, given CBD’s researched benefits in alleviating many conditions that mature adults face including inflammation2 (including arthritis3), pain4, sleep5, anxiety6, stress7, depression8, and dry skin9.
CBD stands for Cannabidiol, one of the two major active compounds of Cannabis. CBD derived from hemp does not cause intoxication and has a host of potential benefits that are just coming to light. According to the US National Institutes of Health, CBD “may relieve pain, lower inflammation, and decrease anxiety without causing the ‘high’ of delta-9-THC”.10
It’s possible that CBD may even turn out to be useful in the treatment of mental illness. A study published in the Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences journal, states that “current evidence suggests that CBD has the ability to reduce psychotic, anxiety and withdrawal symptoms by means of several hypothesized pharmacological properties”.11
It has also been found that CBD may help in substance addiction. A study published in the Substance Abuse journal states that “a limited number of preclinical studies suggest that CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction, and some preliminary data suggest that it may be beneficial in cannabis and tobacco addiction in humans”.12
In this article, we will look at some of the promising benefits that CBD may be able to offer for older adults.
Inflammation is a condition that drives many aging-related conditions.
Evidence to CBD’s potential anti-inflammatory benefits had been documented in scientific research, which suggests that CBD suppresses inflammatory response by interacting with receptors in the body’s brain and nervous system13.
While CBD has not been approved to treat specific inflammation-related disorders, there is hope that one day it may hold promise to help alleviate some of the maladies afflicting many seniors that are linked to inflammation, including arthritis, chronic peptic ulcer, periodontitis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, sinusitis, liver disease and active hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, and certain types of cancers.
Many people in their later years suffer from arthritis. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a full 50 percent of those 65 and over have some form of arthritis14. CBD is being tested to see if it can play a therapeutic role in providing relief for the painful condition. According to the Arthritis Foundation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory prescription medication is often the first line of defense prescribed to people with arthritis, and it is known to have a host of side effects including stomach distress and bleeding, easy bruising, and heart and kidney problems15. While the FDA has not yet approved CBD to treat arthritis, early research on animals indicates it may have promising treatment potential. American researchers have found that “topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects”.16 Another study found that “Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis”.17
According to the NIH’s Pain Consortium, some 65 percent of American adults over the age of 65 suffer from some form of pain18. While arthritis was the major cause of pain, back, and neck, joint, nerve and headaches/migraines pain were also maladies they want to address.
Joint pain is something that commonly affects older adults, with arthritis being the most frequent cause. According to an article in the Current Drug Targets journal, cannabinoids displayed promising anti-arthritic effects. The potential pain-relieving properties of CBD are promising, according to an article entitled ‘The Analgesic Potential of Cannabinoids,’ “the rational use of cannabis-based medications deserves serious consideration to alleviate the suffering of patients due to severe pain”.19
According to the National Sleep Foundation, as people get older, they often have a more difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep than when they were younger20. One popular opinion that has refused to go away is that older people need less sleep than younger people, which is simply not the case. Research cited by the National Sleep Foundation shows that changing sleep patterns are partly to blame for the difficulty seniors have with sleep, but it’s also been shown that physical and mental illnesses and the meds prescribed to treat them can cause sleep disturbance21.
While CBD and sleep research is still a new topic for controlled scientific studies, a scientific review found that “preliminary research suggests that CBD has therapeutic potential in treating insomnia”.22
Anxiety, Stress, and Depression
While Americans live longer, healthier lives now than ever before, the World Health Organization estimates that about 15 percent of those 60 and older suffer from a mental disorder23. According to a research published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, CBD has the potential to reduce anxiety24. The article, ‘Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorder,' concluded that “Preclinical research strongly supports CBD as a potential treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder”. 25
For treating depression, an article published in the Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy proclaims CBD to be a “promising compound”. 26
Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are disorders that often strike those over age 65. According to a review by Italian researchers “CBD can produce beneficial effects in AD (Alzheimer's disease ), PD (Parkinson's disease) and MS (multiple sclerosis) patients, but it's employment for these disorders needs further confirmation from well designed clinical studies”.27
A crossover study found that CBD may reduce blood pressure - the researchers concluded that “that acute administration of CBD reduces resting blood pressure and the blood pressure increase to stress in humans, associated with increased heart rate”, adding that “Further research is required to establish whether CBD has a role in the treatment of cardiovascular disorders”.28
Dry skin is another condition that can accompany aging, according to the National Institutes of Health29. Research published in the journal, Experimental Dermatology, has shown that cannabinoids may be able to help with dry skin syndrome, concluding that the cannabinoid compounds “may have potential in the treatment of dry-skin syndrome.”30
A review published in the Skin Therapy Letter journal states cannabinoids
may be a promising treatment for many dermatological ailments because of its anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties. 31
It should be noted that CBD may contraindicated with certain prescription medications. If you are taking any pharmaceuticals, you need to consult with your doctor before you start taking CBD.
- Schaffel, G., AARP, 2018 June 7, https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/cbd-oil-marijuana-health-benefits.html
- Nagarkatti P, Pandey R, Rieder SA, Hegde VL, Nagarkatti M., Future Med Chem. 2009 Oct; 1(7): 1333–1349, 10.4155/fmc.09.93
- Hammell DC, Zhang LP, Ma F,. Eur J Pain. 2016;20(6):936–948. doi: 10.1002/ejp.818
- Elikkottil J, Gupta P, Gupta K., J Opioid Manag. 2009 Nov-Dec;5(6):341-57, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3728280/
- Vigil, J.M.; Stith, S.S.; Diviant, J.P.; Brockelman, F.; Keeling, K.; Hall, B. Medicines 2018, 5, 75, https://www.mdpi.com/2305-6320/5/3/75/htm
- Lee, JLC, Bertoglio LJ, Guimarães FS, Stevenson CW, Br J Pharmacol. 2017 Oct; 174(19):
- Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR, Neurotherapeutics. 2015 Oct;12(4):825-36. DOI: 10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
- Silote GP, Sartim A, Sales A, Eskelund A, Guimarães FS, Wegener G, Joca S, J Chem Neuroanat. 2019 Jul;98:104-116, DOI: 10.1016/j.jchemneu.2019.04.006
- Oláh A, Markovics A, Szabó-Papp J, Szabó PT, Stott C, Zouboulis CC, Bíró T., Exp Dermatol. 2016 Sep;25(9):701-7. DOI: 10.1111/exd.13042
- PDQ Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Patient Version. 2019 Jun 27, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK65875/
- Mandolini GM, Lazzaretti M, Pigoni A, Oldani L, Delvecchio G, Brambilla P, Send to
Epidemiol Psychiatr Sci. 2018 Aug;27(4):327-335, DOI: 10.1017/S2045796018000239
- Prud'homme M, Cata R, Jutras-Aswad D. Subst Abuse. 2015;9:33–38. Published 2015 May 21. doi: 10.4137/SART.S2508
- Nagarkatti P. Ibid.
- Barbour KE, Helmick CG, Boring M, Brady TJ., MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017 Mar 10;66(9):246-253. DOI: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6609e1
- Arthritis Foundation, NSAIDs Overview, https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/medication/drug-types/nsaids/drug-guide-nsaids.php
- Hammell DC, Ibid.
- Philpott HT, OʼBrien M, McDougall JJ. Pain. 2017;158(12):2442–2451, doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052
- NIH Pain Consortium, Chronic Pain in Older Adults, https://www.painconsortium.nih.gov/sites/default/files/aging_and_chronic_pain_infographic_508.pdf
- Elikkottil J. Ibid.
- National Sleep Foundation, Aging and Sleep, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/aging-and-sleep
- National Sleep Foundation, Age and Sleep, http://sleepdisorders.sleepfoundation.org/chapter-1-normal-sleep/age-and-sleep/
- Babson, K.A., Sottile, J. & Morabito, D. Curr Psychiatry Rep (2017) 19: 23. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-017-0775-9
- World Health Organization, Mental health of older adults, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-of-older-adults
- Lee, J., Ibid.
- Blessing, EM. Ibid.
- Silote, G., Ibid.
- Mannucci C, Navarra M, Calapai F, Spagnolo EV, Busardò FP, Cas RD, Ippolito FM, Calapai G, CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2017;16(5):541-553., DOI: 10.2174/1871527316666170413114210
- Jadoon, K., Tan, G., O’Sullivan, S., JCI Insight (2017) Volume 2, Issue 12 https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.93760
- National Institutes of Health, Skin Care and Aging, https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/skin-care-and-aging
- Oláh A, Ibid.
- Marks DH, Friedman A., Skin Therapy Lett. 2018 Nov;23(6):1-5., PMID: 30517778
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