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The Pros and Cons of CBD for Older Adults

More and more adults and older adults are turning to CBD for pain relief. In 2013, Health Canada figures showed that two-thirds of Canadians registered to purchase medical marijuana were taking it to treat severe arthritis, which is more prevalent among older adults. However, there is still much that researchers do not understand about CBD.
"The evidence has not caught up to the story that's in the public. It's tricky. It's one of the first times in Canadian history where a medication has made it to the population without the science actually leading us there," said Dr. Hance Clarke, director of pain services at Toronto General Hospital in an article from the CBC.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis (marijuana). While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant. While CBD is a component of marijuana (one of hundreds), CBD does not cause a “high,” that would be tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that receives and translates signals from cannabinoids. The ECS helps to regulate functions such as sleep, immune-system and pain receptors. The body produces its own cannabinoids called endocannabinoids. CBD seems to cause the body to use more endocannabinoids to help with pain relief, inflammation, etc.

What conditions can CBD help with?

The only proven health benefit of CBD is for Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (two forms of epilepsy). Other purported health benefits for CBD include relieving:
  • Acne
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis pain
  • Depression
  • Inflammatory pain
  • Muscle-spasticity in multiple sclerosis
  • Nausea and vomiting associated with cancer
  • Nerve-related pain
  • Sleep disorders
However, there are numerous studies being conducted currently to prove these benefits.

How do you buy CBD products?

According to the Government of Canada, CBD and products containing CBD are subject to all of the rules and requirements that apply to cannabis under the Cannabis Act of 2018 and its regulations. This includes CBD derived from hemp plants and other varieties of cannabis. Under the Cannabis Act, activities with phytocannabinoids (including CBD) remain illegal, unless authorized.
Of course, before trying a new type of health product, you should always consult with your primary care physician first.
CBD products are sold in stores and online. CBD can be taken orally, such as a capsule, candy or oil. It can also be used topically, such as a cream. But, make sure you vet the product and the company before buying. A research letter published in 2017 in JAMA found nearly 70% of CBD extracts sold online were mislabelled.

The side effects of CBD

Side effects, from what is known, seem to be mild among adults. Side effects of CBD include nausea, fatigue and irritability, according to Harvard Health Publishing. CBD can also negatively interact with coumadin/warfarin and grapefruit juice. 
Again, it is crucial to speak with your doctor before starting and CBD products.
As researchers discover more about the positives and negatives of CBD, hopefully we’ll also learn more about our bodies and more natural, alternative ways to keep them healthy beyond copious amounts of prescriptions.
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