Cannabis is quickly becoming known for its natural health benefits amongst senior citizens. A study conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed that an increasing number of older Americans are using cannabis for a variety of health benefits.

About nine percent of U.S. adults between the ages 50 and 64 used marijuana in the previous year, according to the study. And about three percent of people over 65 used cannabis during that time. Almost one quarter of Americans over 65 in the 2016 survey who had used marijuana in the previous year said they gotten the go-ahead from their doctors.

The cannabis plant is comprised of more than 100 naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids. The most dominant cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both cannabinoids have shown to provide profound benefits in the human body; however THC induces psychoactive effects (gets the user “high”) while pure CBD does not. Both THC and CBD can help with a variety of medical conditions and taken together, the effect can even become enhanced.

Some of the well-known symptoms cannabis can help with include:

Pain. Whatever the root cause–arthritis, neuropathy, migraine, or surgery–chronic pain is by far the most common reason that people turn to cannabis.

Research shows that several of the active compounds in cannabis have analgesic (pain-reducing) and anti-inflammatory effects. And compared to prescription painkillers, cannabis is generally safer.

Loss of Appetite. This is a problem for many seniors, whether it is a side effect of illness, or of the treatment of illness (such as cancer). Cannabis can effectively stimulate appetite and help us maintain or put on the weight we need.

Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia. Whatever the stressor that’s causing you to be anxious or depressed, medical cannabis may be able to help. Cannabis plants come in many different strains and each has a range of effects on humans, from relaxing us to helping us fall asleep. Ask your dispensary staff for guidance about which variety of cannabis might be best for you.

Remember: You don’t have to smoke today’s cannabis. And science is helping us develop dose-specific versions of the plant, making it easier for new patients to safely find their optimal dose.

Vaporizing: When acute pain strikes, you need immediate relief. Vaporizing whole-flower or extracted cannabis can help within minutes. Vaporizing means heating cannabis to a temperature at which the cannabinoids turn to vapor, while the leaf material does not combust.

Edibles: Eating a food or drinking a liquid infused with cannabis will not have immediate effects. In fact, you may not feel relief for an hour or two after consuming, so it’s important to start low and go slow.

Topicals: Balms and salves are another way to use cannabis. Because they do not enter the bloodstream, these products provide localized relief with no risk of a euphoric “high.” Topicals are a great place to start for those with arthritis or neuropathic pain.

At the Wellness Connection of Maine, we cultivate pesticide-free cannabis and test our products for purity and consistency. We require a medical card for the purchase of cannabis products. We recommend discussing your health needs with your physician and discover how cannabis can benefit you!

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