How can medical cannabis resources improve the quality of life for today’s senior citizen? There are few topics that stir up more controversy and debate among sectors including law makers, the public and scientists. Aside from the emotion that is often tangled up in the debate, medical cannabis has demonstrated itself to have some very positive health benefits, many of which directly apply to how our bodies age and medical conditions that tend to develop with age.
Cannabis refers to the Cannabis sativa plants. Among its more than 100 compounds, 5 of these are called cannabinoids. These are active molecules that include THC (the component that is psychoactive or causes a high), and CBD which is also known as cannabidiol. Because of the emotional debate around THC, it is the lesser studied of the two. CBD has received much more attention lately. Both have shown the promise of very beneficial health effects in a wide range of conditions and situations.
Age is one of the most significant risk factors for hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Several studies have shown that THC does not increase blood pressure and that CBD can have a protective effect in the body to reduce inflammation, reduce stress, manage chronic pain and other comorbid risk factors related to hypertension. THC can also help people to lose weight, and being overweight or obese is another significant risk factor for hypertension. CBD and THC found in medical cannabis, studies have shown, can have act together to control the risk of getting high blood pressure.
It is quite possible that a person has hypertension without knowing it. Often secondary hypertension happens slowly over many years and does not show itself until it is already quite severe. Studies have shown that both THC and CBD can have a positive impact on blood pressure, including maintaining a steadier blood pressure during stress, and also by acting on receptors in our bodies known as CB1 and CB2 to encourage our own immune systems to respond to stresses within.
Melanogenesis and Your Skin
Part of what ages our skin are the stresses that we expose it to everyday including stresses from UV radiation, pollution and contaminants that we come into contact with. Oxidation stressors also play a large factor in causing skin to age earlier than it could. Melanogenesis is the body’s mechanism for protecting the skin from stressors. One study in particular has shown that CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid system to trigger its function, thereby boosting melanogenesis. It is still early but CBD may well be the key to preventing the premature aging of our skin. Wear sunscreen but also look forward to further research in this regard.
CBD and Your Brain
Let’s face it, our brains age along with the rest of our bodies. As we age, we increase the risk of developing a neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, neurodegeneration due to alcohol abuse, stroke, or glutamate toxicity. A drug class called nabiximols, which contain THC and CBD on a 1:1 ratio has reduced spasticity in patients with MS. In other cases CBD has shown some improvement or control over symptoms of Parkinson’s and dementia related conditions like Alzheimer’s. More study needs to be done but there is significant home that while not a cure, CBD may slow the progress of neurodegenerative disorders giving patients more quality time in reasonable health.
Multiple studies have shown that nabiximols can be very effective for neuropathic pain, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer pain, especially in cancer pain that has not responded to opioid therapies. Combination therapies in particular, that involve both CBD and THC look very promising.
In Cancer Treatment
The cannabinoids have been demonstrated to be effective in a number of ways during cancer treatment. First, medical cannabis resources can reduce nausea associated with chemotherapy. It can also increase appetite which is very important for both radiation and chemotherapy patients. And it can help with the pain of cancer and cancer therapies. Studies have also found that CBD oil may have anti-tumor effects. Including increasing cancer cell death, and inhibiting metastasis. These results are probably a result of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the cannabinoid. There are multiple trials underway to further study CBD for potential benefits to cancer patients.
CBD does not have the psychoactive effects of THC and behaves differently because it has different pharmacological properties. The two have very different safety profiles. A very large number of studies have now been done on the safety and efficacy of CBD. None of these studies identified significant side effects, at both low and higher doses, whether in an acute or chronic dose and in a variety of methods of administration. It has been tolerated very well by patients with a wide variety of conditions, safely.
Medical cannabis is proving beneficial and safe to a number of people as they age, for a variety of reasons from protecting skin to being a part of cancer therapy.