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The Pros and Cons of CBD for Older Adults

Of Americans 65+, a whopping 49% say they are unfamiliar with CBD products, while only 8% personally use CBD products, according to a recent Gallop poll. That’s a large number of people who don’t know the possible benefits and, on the other hand, disadvantages that come with this trendy therapeutic product.

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?

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.
Forensic toxicologists at Virginia Commonwealth University examined nine liquids, used in electronic vapes, advertised as being 100% natural CBD extracts but found one with dextromethorphan, used in over-the-counter cough medications and considered addictive when abused; and four with a synthetic cannabinoid, sometimes called Spice, that can cause anxiety, psychosis, tachycardia and death, according to a study last year in Forensic Science International.
The main concern with CBD is that it is a supplement, not a medication, and the FDA does not regulate the purity of supplements. So you cannot know for certain that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed. In addition, the product may contain other elements. 
Also keep in mind that, while CBD derived from hemp was legalized federally December 2018, the FDA is still researching it, and some states are still restricting it. 

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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