Prescription Drugs: Could CBD Be an Alternative?
In basic terms, CBD can deliver many of the benefits of marijuana, without the associated head or body sensation known as “being high”. This is great news for all types of people who don’t want to get high or experience psychoactive effects but want to take advantage of the variety of positive health effects that CBD can produce—from pain relief to anxiety relief to insomnia.
This is especially great news for the increasing number of seniors who are seeking alternatives to prescription drugs and narcotics to treat their different health ailments as they age. As the Baby Boomers get older, we’re seeing the age group of retirees and elderly people explode in numbers and become the largest demographic in the US.
And Baby Boomers take A LOT of prescription drugs. In a survey done by the AARP, 75% of respondents over the age of 50 said they take prescription drugs on a regular basis. For those 65 and older, the number climbs to 80% taking drugs regularly, with 50% taking four or more. The survey also found that for lower income people those numbers are even higher.
Needless to say, these are copious amounts of drugs that are being consumed—and with all their associated side effects and potential dangers.
Effects of Prescription Drugs
The problem with this elderly-person-prescription-drug-epidemic is that many older people have a lot of different doctors. They have their main doctor and then they have their host of specialists—whether it’s a knee specialist, eye specialist, cardiologist, and the list goes on. And what often happens is that they are prescribed a multitude of prescription drugs from a multitude of doctors, sometimes not realizing (or it getting lost in translation) that drugs from one doctor might not mix so well with drugs from another doctor.
According to an article by the Washington Post, some doctors say it’s not uncommon to see patients taking more than 20 drugs to treat acid reflux, heart disease, depression, insomnia, or other disorders. The same article goes on to point out that at least 15 percent of seniors seeking care annually from doctors or hospitals have suffered a medication problem; in half of these cases, the problem is believed to be potentially preventable. Furthermore, additional studies have linked polypharmacy (i.e. the use of 10 or more medications) to unnecessary death.
What’s even more frightening is that senior citizens often experience greater adverse side effects from prescription drugs than younger people do. This has to do with them having greater difficulty metabolizing medicines, leading to a higher chance of suffering dizziness, confusion, and falls. What’s more is that these side effects are often interpreted as new problems—problems that doctors then prescribe additional drugs for. This phenomenon is known as a “prescribing cascade”.
CBD as an Alternative to Prescription Drugs for the Elderly
CBD as an alternative to prescription drugs for older and elderly people has enormous potential to improve the lives of millions of people. This is not to say that CBD is an all-in-one miracle substance that can replace all of your prescription drugs. But there are many areas where CBD could be used and help elderly people at least reduce the amount of harder, prescription drugs they are consuming.
Here are six applications where CBD could help reduce seniors’ dependence on prescription drugs:
- Pain Relief – Numerous studies and mountains of anecdotal evidence have shown that CBD can be extremely effective as both a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medicine. Many doctors will even say they prefer recommending CBD to prescribing opioids which can cause bleeding, cardiovascular problems, or other issues. This is especially relevant for older patients who suffer frequent joint pain and arthritis.
- Bone Health – According to a study, CBD can help heal fractures and support healthier bones. And because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it can also be very useful for patients with multiple sclerosis. This is obviously a massive benefit for the elderly, who often develop weak or fragile bones as they age.
- Fights Glaucoma – There has been growing research that supports a link between cannabis and the treatment of glaucoma. Glaucoma, which is a neurodegenerative disease (the breakdown of neurons in the communication process from the brain to the body), affects the sight of individuals due to an increase in pressure in the eye known as intraocular pressure (IoP). As we discuss in another article of ours, CBD has been shown to also have positive effects on other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.
- Insomnia and Sleep Issues – CBD has proved to be effective at improving sleep for people of all ages. Specifically, CBD can help in the extension of the deep sleep phase and the reduction of the lighter sleeping phases.
- Appetite Stimulation – Like its cousin THC, CBD tends to stimulate appetite in people of all ages. This is especially useful for seniors who often suffer from a lack of appetite (not least because they are often on a lot of prescription drugs), which can lead to weakness, drowsiness, and more serious health effects.
- Alzheimer’s and Dementia – Although only in its early stages, research looking into CBD as an effective treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s and Dementia is becoming more common. The results so far have been promising. CBD decreases toxic proteins in the brain that can lead to or worsen these conditions, and has been shown to increase the number of CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain—both of which are part of the endocannabinoid system and which are related to Alzheimer’s.
Elderly People and CBD
The point of this article is not to say that all prescription drugs can be replaced by CBD. But because seniors are prescribed drugs at such high rates, and because most of these drugs have serious side effects that can affect other areas of their health, alternatives are worth exploring. And the fact of the matter is, having a regimen of CBD can potentially improve many areas of your health which would render some prescription drugs unnecessary.
Seniors don’t have to suffer needlessly through pain or through prescription drug side effects. Because CBD has no known side effects or harmful effects, elderly people—or really everyone—have nothing to lose by giving it a try. The worst that could happen is that you stick to the drugs you are currently taking. The best is that you find a healthy alternative solution to one or more of your health ailments. You have nothing to lose!