CBD Oil for the Elderly and Older Adults: Benefits & Uses
The Cannabis Sativa plant has at least 104 chemical compounds—also referred to as cannabinoids—of which cannabidiol (CBD) is a notable one. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD isn’t intoxicating as it does not give the highly stimulating feeling that cannabis is known for.
CBD has a wide range of properties that are being studied for their potential clinical benefits. Certain studies show that CBD could be helpful in a wide range of conditions, such as pain, inflammation, epilepsy, anorexia, schizophrenia, and more.
CBD oil is a liquid extract that’s usually derived from hemp. It is typically extracted with pressurized CO2 and then infused into carrier oils, such as MCT oil, hemp seed oil, or olive oil.
You can find CBD oil over the counter in many countries. Hemp-derived CBD oil is legal in all 50 states and you don’t need a prescription to buy it.
Moreover, CBD oil can be useful in certain conditions affecting older people. As such, it’s essential to determine exactly how helpful it is in treating these conditions and how to use it to minimize side effects and other potential health risks.
What Are the Different Types of CBD Oil?
CBD oils have three main variants based on chemical composition. These variants are CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD oil, and broad-spectrum CBD oil.
This is the purest form of CBD, having no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content or other hemp compounds. The isolate is usually found in a crystal or powder form of CBD and is cheaper than the other variants.
Full Spectrum CBD
Full-spectrum CBD contains other cannabinoids that occur in the cannabis plant — also known as whole-plant CBD — including trace amounts of THC. Full-spectrum CBD has been shown to have more medicinal benefits than the other variants as it evokes the entourage effect — a mechanism where all cannabis compounds work together in synergy to amplify each other’s effects.
Broad Spectrum CBD
The broad-spectrum CBD also has all the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant but doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol. This variant is not as easily obtainable as the other versions, although the extraction process is similar to the other two.
How Effective Is CBD Oil?
In our bodies, the endocannabinoid system works to promote and maintain homeostasis — a state where everything functions optimally. It works irrespective of our external environment so that changes or fluctuations do not affect our normal body balance.
When that balance is breached, perhaps due to a sickness or injury, CBD oil helps the endocannabinoid system adjust so that it can resolve the problem faster and more optimally. CBD oil achieves this by slowing down the breakdown of endocannabinoids already present in the body.
This allows the body to use them longer and regulate balance more efficiently in all other systems throughout the body.
How Safe Is CBD Oil?
CBD oil has shown itself as a rising and promising treatment for older people.
It provides an alternative for older adults who are prescribed medical marijuana by their doctors. Medical marijuana is legal in some states, but some older people would prefer not to experience the buzz when taking their medicine.
CBD does not intoxicate or produce a feeling of euphoria when used; however, this is also dependent on the THC content.
CBD is usually tolerated by most people with very few side effects. A consultation with a holistic doctor experienced in CBD use will help you get a bigger picture of the pros and cons of your treatment.
Speaking of which…
What Are the Health Benefits of CBD Oil for Seniors?
There are several health benefits of CBD oil. Although research is still in development, certain studies show that CBD might become an alternative treatment option for seniors with different health conditions, such as:
Arthritis is one of the major causes of disability in the United States.
Recent reports from the Arthritis Foundation have shown that two of the most common types of arthritis — rheumatoid and osteoarthritis — may be successfully managed with the use of CBD.
Further research has also shown that CBD helped in reducing pain, improving sleep, and reducing anxiety among arthritis patients.
Although not many clinical studies have been conducted, the arthritis foundation has urged the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to regulate the use of CBD products such as tinctures and topicals for arthritic pain.
2. Chronic Pain
CBD can be used for pain management too. Its anti-inflammatory properties help in reducing joint pain associated with arthritis (1).
Its antioxidative, antiemetic, antipsychotic, and neuroprotective properties have made CBD a reliable option for many.
It can be used for health conditions such as lupus, nausea, post-traumatic stress, fibromyalgia, cancer pain, and even neuropathic pain.
3. Anxiety Disorders
Studies have confirmed that CBD may be an alternative solution for anxiety. A study carried out by the national institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) showed that CBD helped in reducing stress in animals.
CBD has also been recommended for people with post-traumatic stress disorders and it can also be used to treat insomnia caused by anxiety.
On top of that, CBD can help with the following conditions:
- Sleep disorder
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Lung conditions
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
Things to Consider Before Buying CBD Oil
You should consider certain factors such as safety, transparency of your vendor, and the product’s quality to avoid common mistakes when buying CBD Oil.
Here are a few important things to look for:
- Certificates of Analysis (COA): this is the document that confirms the product’s chemical profile and the lack of contaminants, such as pesticides, heavy metals, and mycotoxins.
- The company’s reputation can be determined based on reviews, warning letters from the FDA, health claims made by the company (if it is unsubstantiated or not), and its certification status.
- MCT oil helps improve CBD’s absorption because CBD and other cannabinoids are fat-soluble.
In some countries, CBD oil is classified as a nutritional supplement rather than a drug. This makes it harder to know if it contains the exact quantities of cannabidiol, as regulation may be a bit lax.
Is CBD Oil Safe?
Although CBD oil can improve the quality of life of the elderly, it also comes with some benign side effects. Some of the risks associated with CBD oil include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue and Drowsiness
- Reduced appetite
- Weight fluctuation
In addition to these side effects, there’s also a risk of CBD-drug interactions. Some medications come with a “grapefruit warning”. These are drugs that interact with even small quantities of grapefruit, affecting the enzymes that break down these drugs. CBD also affects these enzymes and, as such, should not be taken alongside these medications due to possible complications.
Drugs that shouldn’t be taken with CBD include:
- Cholesterol medications (Statins)
- High blood pressure medications
- Heart rhythm medications
- Anti-infection medications
- Mood medications
- Blood thinners
- Pain medications
- Erectile dysfunction and prostate medications
- Organ transplant rejection medications
- Crohn’s disease medications
Key Takeaways on the Benefits of CBD Oil for the Elderly
Old age comes with its own quirks as well. Lots of health conditions have been more prevalent among the older population. CBD has shown itself as a natural and safe alternative to pharmaceutical medications when it comes to addressing the problems linked to aging.
A good number of studies, surveys and other scientific evidence show that CBD does help in the treatment of conditions associated with seniors, such as pain, inflammation, arthritis, and even sleep disorders, and neurodegenerative conditions.
That said, it’s important you speak with your physician and do some research before you try any CBD oil product.
Do we have any seniors among our readers? Give us a shout in the comment section and tell us how CBD has improved your quality of life!
- Zuardi AW. Cannabidiol: from an inactive cannabinoid to a drug with a wide spectrum of action. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. (2008).
- Campos AC, Moreira FA, Gomes FV, Del Bel EA, Guimarães FS. Multiple mechanisms are involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. (2012).
- Martin-Santos R, Crippa JA, Batalla A, Bhattacharyya S, Atakan Z, Borgwardt S, et al. Acute effects of a single, oral dose of d9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)administration in healthy volunteers. Curr Pharm Des. (2012).
- Schier A. R., Ribeiro N. P., Silva A. C., Hallak J. E., Crippa J. A., Nardi A., E., et al. . Cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent, as an anxiolytic drug. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. (2012).
- Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Zuardi AW, Crippa JA. Safety and side effects of cannabidiol, a Cannabis sativa constituent.Curr Drug Saf. (2011).
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
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What Is CBD Oil?
This cannabis extract may help treat nerve pain, anxiety, and epilepsy
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Meredith Bull, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor with a private practice in Los Angeles. She helped co-author the first integrative geriatrics textbook, “Integrative Geriatric Medicine.”
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is an extract from hemp plants called Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa . You might be more familiar with cannabis plants because they are grown for marijuana. However, CBD is not the same thing as marijuana.
CBD oil contains CBD that’s mixed with a base (carrier) oil, like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. These are called tinctures. You can get tinctures in different concentrations. The oil can also be put into capsules, gummies, and sprays.
People who support using CBD oil say that it can treat pain and anxiety; can help stimulate appetite and may help manage some types of seizures.
This article goes over what CBD is used for, the possible side effects, and what you should look for if you choose to buy CBD.
CBD vs. Marijuana
CBD is one component (called a cannabinoid ) that’s found in a hemp plant. Marijuana is a separate plant but it’s from the same species that hemp belongs to. Marijuana has CBD and hundreds of other compounds in it.
The main difference between hemp plants and marijuana plants is how much of a compound called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in them. Hemp is grown to have less than 0.3% THC, while marijuana has more.
THC is what’s responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis—in other words, it’s what makes you feel “high.”
CBD oil generally does not have THC in it; however, a very small (trace) amount might be in products sold in certain states.
What Is CBD Oil Used For?
We’re not sure exactly how CBD works. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t have a strong connection with the molecules in the brain that THC binds to create psychoactive effects. These are called cannabinoid receptors.
Instead, CBD works on other receptors, like the opioid receptors that help control pain. It also affects glycine receptors that control a brain chemical called serotonin which helps control your mood.
People that support the use of CBD claim that CBD oil can treat a variety of health problems, including:
- Chronic pain
- Drug use and withdrawal
- High blood pressure
- Muscle spasms
- Poor appetite
As CBD has gained popularity, researchers have been trying to study it more. Still, there has not been a lot of clinical research to look for evidence in support of these health claims.
CBD is not a safe option for everyone. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to try it for managing a health condition.
A 2015 review of research that was published in the journal Neurotherapeutics suggested that CBD might help treat anxiety disorders.
The study authors reported that CBD had previously shown powerful anxiety-relieving effects in animal research—and the results were kind of surprising.
In most of the studies, lower doses of CBD (10 milligrams per kilogram, mg/kg, or less) improved some symptoms of anxiety, while higher doses (100 mg/kg or more) had almost no effect.
The way that CBD acts in the brain could explain why this happens. In low doses, CBD might act the same as the surrounding molecules that normally bind to the receptor that “turns up” their signaling.
However, at higher doses, too much activity at this receptor site could produce the opposite effect.
There have not been many trials to look at CBD’s anxiety-relieving effects in humans. However, one was a 2019 study published in the Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry.
For the study, 57 men took either CBD oil or a sugar pill with no CBD in it (placebo) before a public-speaking event.
The researchers assessed the participants’ anxiety levels using measures like blood pressure and heart rate. The researchers also used a reliable test for mood states called the Visual Analog Mood Scale (VAMS).
The men who took 300 mg of CBD oil reported less anxiety than the men who were given a placebo; however, the men who took 100 mg or 600 mg of CBD oil did not experience the same effects.
CBD oil might help people with substance use disorder, according to a 2015 review published in the journal Substance Abuse.
The review looked at the findings from 14 published studies. Nine of the studies looked at the effects of CBD on animals, and five studies looked at the effects on humans.
The researchers reported that CBD showed promise for treating people with opioid, cocaine, or psychostimulant use disorders.
However, the effects of CBD were quite different depending on the substance. For example, CBD without THC did not decrease withdrawal symptoms related to opioid use.
On the other hand, it did reduce drug-seeking behaviors in people using cocaine, methamphetamine, and other similar drugs.
Some experts suggest that CBD could help treat cannabis and nicotine dependence, but more research is needed to provide this theory.
High Blood Pressure
A 2017 study found that CBD oil may reduce the risk of heart disease because it can lower high blood pressure in some people.
For the study, nine healthy men took either 600 mg of CBD or the same dose of a placebo. The men who took CBD had lower blood pressure before and after experiencing stressors like exercise or extreme cold.
The study also looked at the amount of blood remaining in the heart after a heartbeat (stroke volume).
The stroke volume in the men who took CBD was lower than in was in the placebo group, meaning their hearts were pumping more efficiently.
The study suggested that CBD oil could be a complementary therapy for people with high blood pressure that is affected by stress and anxiety.
However, there is no evidence that CBD oil can treat high blood pressure on its own or prevent it in people at risk. While stress can complicate high blood pressure, it does not cause it.
In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a CBD oral solution called Epidiolex.
Epidiolex is used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy in children under the age of 2: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These are very rare genetic disorders that cause lifelong seizures starting in the first year of life.
Other than for these two disorders, CBD’s effectiveness for treating seizures is not known. Even with Epidiolex, it’s not clear if the anti-seizure effects are from CBD or another factor.
However, there is some evidence that CBD interacts with seizure medicines like Onfi (clobazam) and raises their concentration in the blood. That said, more research is needed to understand the link.
Possible Side Effects
Clinical research has shown that CBD oil can cause side effects. The specific side effects a person has and how bad they are varies from one person to the next and from one type of CBD to another.
Some common side effects people report from using CBD include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in mood
- Dry mouth
CBD oil may also increase liver enzymes, which is a marker of liver inflammation.
People with liver disease should talk to their healthcare provider before taking CBD oil. They may need to have their liver enzymes checked regularly if they are using CBD.
Can You Use CBD If You’re Pregnant?
You should not use CBD oil if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Even though the effects of CBD are not fully understood, it does pass through the placenta.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) further states that pregnant people should not use marijuana because of the potential risks to a developing fetus.
Do not drive or use heavy machinery when taking CBD oil—especially when you first start using it or switch to a new brand. Remember that some products do contain THC, even in small amounts.
CBD oil can interact with medications, including many that are used to treat epilepsy. One of the reasons for this has to do with how your body breaks down (metabolizes) drugs.
Cytochrome P450 (CYP450) is an enzyme your body uses to break down some drugs. CBD oil can block CYP450. That means that taking CBD oil with these drugs could make them have a stronger effect than you need or make them not work at all.
Drugs that could potentially interact with CBD include:
- Anti-arrhythmia drugs like quinidine
- Anticonvulsants like Tegretol (carbamazepine) and Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
- Antifungal drugs like Nizoral (ketoconazole) and Vfend (voriconazole)
- Antipsychotic drugs like Orap (pimozide)
- Atypical antidepressants like Remeron (mirtazapine)
- Benzodiazepine sedatives like Klonopin (clonazepam) and Halcion (triazolam)
- Immune-suppressive drugs like Sandimmune (cyclosporine)
- Macrolide antibiotics like clarithromycin and telithromycin
- Migraine medicine like Ergomar (ergotamine)
- Opioid painkillers like Duragesic (fentanyl) and alfentanil
- Rifampin-based drugs used to treat tuberculosis
Always tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about all the medicines you take, including prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, or recreational drugs.
The interactions between these medications and CBD are often mild and you might not have to change your treatment.
However, in some cases, you might have to change medications or space out your doses to avoid a reaction. That said, never change or stop medication without talking to your provider.
Dosage and Preparation
There are no guidelines for using CBD oil. Each product works a bit differently, depending on the form.
For example, putting the oil under your tongue can produce effects more quickly than swallowing a capsule that needs to be digested.
Here are a few ways that you can take CBD oil:
- Placing one or more drops under your tongue and holding it there for 30 to 60 seconds without swallowing. You can also use a spray that is spritz in your mouth/under your tongue.
- Taking a capsule or chewing a gummy
There’s no “correct” dose of CBD oil. How much you take and the form you choose will depend on your needs and what you hope to get for effects. The average dose range is from 5 mg to 25 mg.
Most oils come in 30-milliliter (mL) bottles and include a dropper cap to help you measure.
That said, it’s hard to figure out the exact amount of CBD per milliliter of oil. Some tinctures have concentrations of 1,500 mg per 30 mL, while others have 3,000 mg per mL or more.
How to Calculate CBD Dose
To determine an exact dose of CBD, remember that each drop of oil equals 0.05 mL of fluid. This means that a 30-mL bottle of CBD oil will have about 600 drops in it.
If the concentration of the tincture is 1,500 mg per mL, one drop would have 2.5 mg of CBD in it. The math to figure that out looks like this: 1,500 mg ÷ 600 drops = 2.5 mg
What to Look For
CBD oil comes in different forms: isolates, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum.
- Isolates contain only CBD
- Broad-spectrum oils nearly all of the components of the plan (e.g., proteins, flavonoids, terpenes, and chlorophyll), but does not have THC oils have all the compounds including THC (up to 0.3%)
Alternative medicine practitioners believe that the compounds provide more health benefits, but the is a lack of evidence to support these claims.
Remember that CBD oils are unregulated. There’s no guarantee that a product is what it claims to be on its packaging. You also can’t know for sure that it’s safe and effective.
A 2017 study reported that only 31% of CBD products sold online were correctly labeled. Most had less CBD in them than was advertised, and 21% had significant amounts of THC.
If you are interested in buying CBD products, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Buy American: Domestically produced CBD oil might be a safer option than those that have been imported.
- Go organic: Brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are less likely to expose you to pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
- Read the product label: Even if you choose a full-spectrum oil, don’t assume that every ingredient on the product label is natural. CBD products can also have preservatives, flavorings, or thinning agents in them. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, ask the dispenser what it is or check online.
Hemp plants can be grown for different purposes. Some species are made for marijuana but others are used to make CBD products.
Unlike marijuana, CBD oil does not “get you high.” Instead, it may help relieve stress, anxiety, drug withdrawals, and nerve pain.
While there are many claims about the health benefits of using CBD oil, the evidence is lacking. A lot of studies were done with animals, not humans.
If you want to try CBD oil, you should learn about the different dosages and preparations first.
You should also know that the products are not regulated, which means you can’t know for sure that a product will work and be safe.
Before you use CBD oil, talk to your provider. If you take certain medications or have a health condition, you may not be able to use these products.
Frequently Asked Questions
It would be hard to overdose on CBD oil. Research has shown that human tolerance for CBD is very high. One study reported the toxic dose would be about 20,000 mg taken at one time.
It depends on where you live, the type of product, how it was sourced (e.g., is it from hemp or marijuana), and its intended purpose (medical or recreational). In many states, you must be 18 or 21 to buy CBD oil. Check your state’s laws.
Not necessarily. While the names are sometimes used interchangeably, hemp oil can also refer to hemp seed oil, which is used for cooking, food production, and skincare products.
CBD oil is made from the leaves, stems, buds, and flowers of the Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa plant. It should contain less than 0.3% THC.
Hemp oil is made from the seeds of Cannabis sativa and does not have TCH in it.