Unlocking Comfort: How CBD is Helping Seniors Solve Pain and Discomfort
Since time immemorial, humans have relied on nature for sustenance as well as to ease all kinds of ailments. However, with the advent of modern medical science, humanity veered away from the use of plant-based traditional medicine in favor of synthetic forms of pharmaceutical drugs that relieve various ailments. Not only are they more accessible and convenient to ingest since material preparation is no longer needed, but synthetic ones are also far easier to produce. These drugs, however, are not entirely original inventions. Rather, they were patterned and derived from the molecular structures already existing in nature’s medicinal plants.
And while synthetic drugs have their advantages, studies have shown that their prolonged use has been associated with adverse effects in the long run. Chronic users of synthetic drugs – especially the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are typically used for pain and inflammation relief – often develop gastrointestinal and renal problems such as peptic ulcer disease, acute renal failure, and even stroke/myocardial infarction. As a result, many people are now seeking a better alternative to these synthetic drugs, and in doing so, we are now rediscovering the wonders of medicinal plants that have been used since ancient times. One such example is cannabis, more commonly known as marijuana. This panacea – particularly its cannabidiol (CBD) component – offers plenty of therapeutic benefits, one of which can be long-lasting pain relief with little to no adverse drug effects.
In this guide, we will delve into the benefits of CBD and how older adults can use quality CBD solutions for pain to improve their quality of life.
A Primer on Cannabidiol
CBD is one of the many naturally occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant. This cannabinoid has gained attention for its immense potential therapeutic properties, particularly when it comes to easing pain and discomfort, especially among the elderly. The best part is that unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD does not produce psychoactive effects or a “euphoric high” when consumed.
Cannabidiol is a class of cannabinoids that works by interacting with our body’s endogenous cannabinoid system (ECS). It binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors of the ECS, which exerts profound effects on physiological processes including regulation of pain sensation, immune function, mood, appetite, and even smooth muscle tone.
CBD relieves pain by inhibiting pain sensation via its modulatory actions on the pain processing pathways. Particularly, it inhibits cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) receptors, which then prevents the release of prostaglandins – the lipid autacoids that cause feelings of intense pain. In fact, several studies show that CBD has demonstrated potential in remedying neuropathic pain, which is immensely difficult to treat.
How CBD Helps Relieve Pain and Discomfort in the Elderly
The therapeutic benefits of CBD are indeed promising, but most of the existing studies on CBD are lacking long-term implications. As such, there is a need to conduct more longitudinal studies and clinical trials to fully understand the effects, benefits, and overall safety of CBD. But at present, there are plenty of studies and anecdotal evidence suggesting that CBD may be useful for addressing pain and discomfort in older adults.
Pain and Inflammation Relief
CBD exerts its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects by interacting with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a significant role in regulating pain. It modulates pain receptors in the nervous system and potentially provides relief from chronic pain conditions such as arthritis, neuropathic pain, and musculoskeletal pain. In fact, a 2020 meta-analysis of 11 randomized controlled trials with 1,219 patients found that CBD provided relief from chronic neuropathic pain. Thus, improving the quality of life of those who suffer from chronic pain due to fibromyalgia, Chron’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and osteoarthritis, among others.
Anxiety and Stress Reduction
Dealing with chronic pain and physical discomfort every second of every day often leads to anxiety and stress – quite understandably. The good news is that aside from its potent analgesic effects, CBD also demonstrates potential anxiolytic and anti-stress properties, which may help reduce anxiety and stress. CBD effectively alleviates anxiety by activating various receptors in the ECS and nervous system, as well as in the limbic and paralimbic regions of the brain. To top it all off, CBD also elevates one’s mood via the stimulation of the dopamine and serotonin receptors.
Many elderly individuals sleep less and struggle with sleep disturbances. Not only do they produce less melatonin – the hormone that promotes sleep – but they also often deal with chronic conditions that exacerbate pain and discomfort that disrupt their nighttime sleep. Fortunately, CBD may help improve sleep quality, which can indirectly alleviate pain and discomfort. On the other hand, it is possible that because CBD alleviates pain, discomfort, and anxiety, the elderly can relax and sleep better.
CBD may have muscle-relaxing properties, which can be particularly beneficial for elderly individuals dealing with muscle spasms, cramps, or tension. CBD oils with terpenes can also be used for this purpose because they contain anti-inflammatory agents such as delta-limonene and beta-myrcene, which act as muscle relaxers.
Potential Alternative to Opioids
Chronic pain significantly impairs one’s quality of life, which is why some patients opt for potent and long-lasting analgesics such as opioids. However the opioid epidemic has raised concerns about the use of these powerful pain medications. Thankfully, CBD may be used as a safer alternative for managing chronic pain as it has fewer risk factors for addiction and adverse side effects.
Fewer Adverse Drug Reactions
Generally, it is safe to say that CBD has fewer side effects than most prescription medications for pain. This can be especially important for older adults who may be more sensitive to the side effects of drugs.
The best part is that CBD is highly bioavailable and well-tolerated by the body, so only small doses are needed to elicit the desired effects, Additionally, it has a high therapeutic index, which means that it has a high safety margin. You would need an excessively high dose of CBD before it can result in toxicity. Hence, you can generaly consume intermediate to higher-than-normal doses of CBD without risking your safety.
Moreover, in low to moderate doses, CBD poses no major adverse drug effects. However, it can cause some minor discomfort such as dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness, and fatigue. However, as mentioned earlier, more longitudinal studies are needed to ensure the long-term safety of using CBD for chronic pain relief.
CBD for Fast-Acting Pain Relief
It is essential to note that while CBD holds promise for managing pain and discomfort in the elderly, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and its pharmacodynamic effects can vary from person to person. As such, it is crucial for the elderly to consult with a healthcare provider before using CBD, especially if they are taking other medications or have underlying health conditions because CBD may interact with other medications such as blood thinners. A medical professional must also provide guidance on dosage, and potential interactions, and monitor its effects to ensure that taking CBD is safe and effective for the patient.
Most importantly, it is imperative to choose high-quality CBD products from reputable sources to ensure purity and accurate dosing. And remember that it is always best to start with a low dose and gradually increase it under medical supervision if needed.
This article is for information only. Please consult your medical practitioner if you have any concerns about your health. Regulations around cannabis-related products vary globally.