September is Healthy Aging Month: Here’s How Cannabis Can Help
This September is “Healthy Aging Month,” and there’s no better time to focus on an age-old question: How do I support my long-term health with minimal, gentle, and sustainable effort? Increasingly, many of us are turning to cannabis for an answer.
Because it’s so uniquely attuned to our body’s own regulatory system, cannabis has real potential to help us support and maintain our health as we age. And increasingly, it’s those best positioned to take advantage of the cannabis plant’s medicinal properties—America’s senior citizens—who are flocking to it. Let’s run down a few of the major reasons cannabis and aging are so well suited to one another.
Cannabis and Aging: The Endocannabinoid System
Much of what we know about how cannabis interacts with our bodies can be traced back to 1992, when an Israeli researcher named Dr. Raphael Mechoulam—already famous for being the first to identify the major cannabinoid in cannabis, THC—reported his findings on the endocannabinoid system. A neural network responsible for many of our self-regulatory functions, it may, in fact, be the most important such system in the human body.
That word—endocannabinoid—should serve as a hint. Incredibly, in a very real sense, our body’s regulatory system “speaks the same language” as the cannabis plant. That’s one reason cannabinoids like THC and CBD have such powerful anti-inflammatory, pain-fighting and other effects on our bodies. This finding helped establish a firm scientific grounding to the theory that cannabis can have an important role to play in regulating our health, our moods, and much more.
Cannabis and Aging: Treating Inflammation and Other Symptoms
That natural synergy with our bodies becomes even more important as we age and our bodies naturally begin to experience a variety of symptoms like inflammation. Historically, many senior citizens have turned to pharmaceuticals for relief, but it’s an imperfect (and far costlier) option: While they account for roughly 14% of the population, seniors account for some 30% of all prescription drug use.
A growing body of clinical studies supports the use of cannabis for inflammation. Besides being one of the body’s natural responses to pain, for many seniors, inflammation in joints, limbs and extremities is a serious and uncomfortable symptom in and of itself. THC, CBD and other cannabinoids can be an effective treatment for such inflammation. And once you find your optimal dose—typically the smallest amount to still be effective—we believe cannabis is a far better long-term solution than pharmaceuticals.
Cannabis and Aging: More Medical Benefits, Less Psychoactivity
Cannabis can help with more than inflammation. Studies suggest it may improve brain function in seniors, ease some types of anxiety, and combat insomnia. And for those concerned with negotiating the psychoactivity—or the “high”—produced by ingesting cannabis, the current shift towards cannabis high in the cannabinoid CBD may change the equation.
As interest in CBD’s therapeutic properties grows, an ever-increasing number of high-CBD products is coming to market. While it’s associated with a number of medical benefits, CBD doesn’t impart the psychoactivity of THC. For many of us who find this psychoactivity distracting, disorienting, or otherwise unwelcome, the promise of cannabis that leaves you clear-headed is especially appealing.
We’d love to tell you more about cannabis, and how it can help support a healthy aging process. If you have any questions about cannabis and aging—or any other cannabis-related topic—stop by one of our dispensaries. Our expert staff is excited to help!