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Study Shows Medical Cannabis Enhances Well-Being in Seniors

Juan Ponce de Leon came to the New World in search of glory and gold. This Spanish explorer became obsessed with finding the mythical fountain of youth. Little did you know, he may have been looking in the wrong place. Instead of a clean, flowing water fountain, he may have been looking for a green, leafy plant.

A new study finds that seniors using medicinal cannabis report significant improvements across all measures of well-being, like general health, mood, and sleep. The UK-based research team suggests their groundbreaking research may shed new light on aging and medicine and that cannabis treatments may be the key to keeping older individuals healthy and happy well into their golden years, enhancing their quality of life.

Cannabis and Aging

There is a lot of wisdom that comes with age. There are also a lot of aches, pains, and chronic health conditions that come with age as well. Staying healthy and happy well into aging can be challenging and expensive. For many seniors, their golden years are anything but golden. These years may get tarnished by chronic pain, significant health conditions, and depression. Many older adults find themselves on fixed incomes, dealing with multiple health concerns, and managing the high cost of drugs. It’s hard to feel good and enjoy retirement and the things you love when pain, health issues, and the constant worry about your finances loom over your head. Could the answer to senior health and well-being issues be consuming cannabis?

A five-person research team out of the United Kingdom thinks marijuana may help improve the overall health and well-being of seniors. The team suggests that there is “a general paucity of high-quality research” and that those over 65 are excluded and overlooked in marijuana clinical research trials. However, older individuals may be one of the fastest-growing demographics embracing cannabis as medicine. One study suggests that nearly one in eight adults use cannabis products. Another publication indicates more and more seniors are turning to marijuana to help combat medical conditions like chronic pain and insomnia, issues that can develop or grow worse as an individual ages.

Need more proof that seniors and cannabis go together like peanut butter and jelly? Florida is a wildly popular retirement state. Today, Floridians are getting their medical marijuana cards at nearly unprecedented levels. Another federally funded study shows that cannabis and other psychedelics were used at “historic highs” among U.S. adults. Teen marijuana use stayed stable by comparison. Some seniors in the state call it their miracle drug. Do older individuals know something that medical science doesn’t?

The new study published in the Journal of Drugs and Aging suggests older adults who continue to consume marijuana show considerable improvement in their overall health and well-being. Study participants reported enhanced health, mood, sleep and an overall increase in their quality of life after consuming marijuana. The study suggests that older individuals may receive multiple health benefits from cannabis-based medicinal products or CBMPs.

Although health improvements were not as significant in those over 65 as in other age groups, the results show that seniors can still benefit from CBMPs and derive pain and insomnia relief thanks to cannabis.

More Research is Needed

Study authors say that older individuals are one of the fastest-growing marijuana consumers. Yet they are frequently excluded from medical marijuana studies and trials, showing the need for more research and “real-world evidence to assess the effectiveness and safety of these drugs for older individuals.” 

More research into the health benefits and drawbacks is necessary, especially since medical marijuana may be a safer and more affordable option for treating specific health concerns in seniors. Popular insomnia medications may not be suitable for adults over the age of 65 because of the risks associated with dependency and the development of dementia. Marijuana could potentially help older adults cope with insomnia and other chronic health issues like pain, anxiety, and depression.

However, as the study authors note, there is still a lot of work to be done to uncover the effectiveness and safety of medicinal marijuana for seniors. A study from the American Heart Association shows that those over 65 with cannabis use disorder may be at an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular issues. The jury is still out on whether medicinal cannabis is appropriate for individuals suffering cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

There are also still questions about what marijuana doses are appropriate for seniors and older adults. How much marijuana is enough, and how much borders on too much? These are all questions that still need to be addressed by researchers and the scientific community.

Recently, U.S. leaders at the National Institutes of Health said the agency plans to use nearly $8.4 million to support clinical trials involving the safety and efficacy of psychedelic-assisted therapy to help treat chronic pain in older individuals. For many marijuana advocates, this move is a small step in the right direction if the U.S. wants to address the health and wellness issues facing millions of aging Americans in need of real-life solutions.

Baby Boomers may make up a significant portion of the U.S. population. With prescription drug costs skyrocketing, more seniors are looking to improve their health, feel better, and cut costs to enjoy retirement. Cannabis may turn into the drug of choice for older Americans, but that only means more research is needed to ensure marijuana is a safe and effective choice for our growing population.

Stay Informed with Cannabutter Digest!

If you are interested in exploring medicinal cannabis as an older adult, talk to your doctor. If you are interested in exploring more cannabis-related topics, bookmark Cannabutter Digest. We are your resource for new, recipes, and product reviews.

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