Medical marijuana use has skyrocketed in recent years, including among older Americans. Some assisted living facilities even bus residents to dispensaries for field trips.
Of course, this rise in popularity is understandable, as purveyors make all kinds of wild promises that medical marijuana helps with any number of age-related health issues, including anxiety, arthritis, cancer, chronic pain, depression, glaucoma, and Parkinson’s disease.
But the problem is—there’s very little legitimate scientific evidence to support these claims. And virtually no clinical trial data at all.
So, today, let’s update the record about what we know—and what we still don’t know—about medical marijuana and other related products…
Medical marijuana is an oxymoron
First and foremost, I find the term “medical marijuana” to be misleading, if not downright dangerous. In my view, we simply shouldn’t use it medically. After all, there’s very little science-backed information physicians can offer their patients regarding “treatment” guidelines.
Just imagine a doctor “prescribing” a blood pressure medication to their patient that hadn’t yet been studied in clinical trials. They have no idea if or how it actually works. Nor do they have guidelines they can follow about safe dosing, side effects, counter-indications, etc. Instead, they only have anecdotal information about how it “might” work for the patient. That’s how “medical marijuana” is prescribed today.
And unfortunately, older adults—who desperately need new, effective, and safe treatments—are often excluded from medical research. So, they seem more willing than ever to take the risk with marijuana and related products…
Verdict still out even on available over-the-counter products
Older adults often turn to marijuana for relief from various ailments. Let’s face it, older adults experience more ailments and need help. But more and more are also now trying related over-the-counter products.
So, let’s take a quick moment to go over the key differences…
Marijuana and hemp both come from the Cannabis genus of plants. And they both contain more than 100 different chemical compounds called cannabinoids. (Cannabinoids are actually found in many different plants in Nature, not just in marijuana and hemp. And the human body has receptors to these cannabinoids from the plant world, which alter the release of neurotransmitters in the brain.)
Most notably, marijuana and hemp both contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive cannabinoid that makes people “high.” (Though marijuana is higher in THC content than hemp.) They both also contain cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, which has earned a reputation as a panacea of sorts.
In fact, in recent years, there’s been a gold rush—or perhaps a “green rush” —to cash in on newly legalized CBD products. And they’re easier to purchase than medical marijuana, as you can now buy them without a prescription on the internet, or in just about any drug store! (No wonder sales of CBD products are expected to skyrocket to about $20 billion by 2024!)
Of course, CBD products are especially popular among older adults, who, as I mentioned, are much more likely to experience a medical problem and more willing to seek “whatever works.” In fact, a new Gallup poll found that one in seven Americans are already using CBD. Eleven percent of users are 50 to 64 years old, and 8 percent are 65 years or older. Which means one-fifth of users are middle-aged and older adults.
Now, some say CBD has anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety effects. Other reports claim it relaxes arteries, supports the lining of blood vessels, and helps manage blood sugar. And still others claim that people who take CBD have been able to get off blood pressure drugs.
But I’m still skeptical. Here’s why…
Verdict still out on OTC products
As I’ve reported before, solid scientific studies link marijuana use with a higher risk of heart disease and heart attack and a whole slew of other serious problems. Granted, the higher heart attack risk may relate to the peculiar way of inhaling marijuana smoke, which restricts blood flow to the heart. Of course, taking CBD as an edible, or applying it as a topical cream, doesn’t require smoking.
Yet, I still find there’s very little hard evidence to support CBD’s supposed benefits. And for what it’s worth, neither the American Heart Association (AHA) nor the American College of Cardiology (ACC) have issued statements on CBD. (But that’s not much of a surprise. They’re reluctant to support anything that might facilitate people getting off drugs.)
So, while I hope that CBD does some day open up some new avenues of treatment for these common ailments, I can’t really recommend it until I see more hard data about its long-term safety and effectiveness.
In addition, if pain is your primary complaint, I suggest investigating the many other safe, effective natural options. You can find the latest science on natural pain management in my special report called, Insider’s Ultimate Guide to PILL-FREE Pain Cures. Subscribers to my monthly Insiders’ Cures newsletter can download this report for free from the “Subscribers Sign-In” tab on my website. If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber, now’s the perfect time to get started. Click here now!
“CBD Safety for Seniors.” Forbes, 8/26/19 (forbes.com/sites/abbierosner/2019/08/26/cbd-safety-for-seniors/#427ee82b46ba)