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LIVING: The science, benefits and use of marijuana medication for the elderly

By Sherley Alaba
Special to Cannabis Daily Record

Our recent past had restricted, criminalized and stigmatized the use of cannabis in most parts of the world, yet the culture of consuming marijuana mostly in the form of smokes persisted and flourished.

Today the scenario is much different as research, activism, and the sheer science that makes up the molecule found is marijuana has pushed authorities and industries to revise their outlook on the alleged drug and give their populations more liberty in deciding how they may use this herb for their mental, emotional and physical well-being.

Since the recent legalization of cannabis in some countries over the world and eight U.S states, the perception of the plant and its use has changed in the media and consequently in many people’s minds. One strong case of marijuana use is medical, where cannabis products like cannabis oils, edibles and other product are being used by patients to treat, relieve symptoms of and stop the spreading of conditions like cancer, glaucoma, epilepsy, anxiety, Alzheimer’s and aid in others like muscle spasms, multiple sclerosis and bowel diseases.

Marijuana medication has many health benefits and in many cases it’s used where traditional medicine doesn’t properly treat a disease. It’s particularly helpful for elderly patients who have tried conventional medicine for years without full satisfaction. Research shows that cannabis use by older adults in on the rise and data by National Survey of Drug Use and Health from 2002 to 2014 revealed an incredible increase from 2.9% – 9% in adults between 50-64 years of age. In the elderly above the age of 65, the occurrence of medicinal marijuana use increased tenfold from 0.2% to 2.1%. Projections assume further surge in the usage with the increasing decriminalization in the country and with the baby boomer generation only recently entering the senior status.

A study published in May in the Scientific American Journal can further the acceptance of marijuana use for the elderly which declared that cannabis use may boost rather than inhibit or dull the brain of an elderly person. The study done on mice showed that elderly mice performed much better at the tests after a dosage of 9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Hence the study’s findings can be used to drive more research to test whether the brain of the human elderly can react the same way as the mice’s brain to the compound. The brains of the elderly mice were noticed by the researchers to grow more synaptic spines in neurons of the hippocampus, a part which regulates memory and learning in the brain.

This finding could be related to the findings of the Scripps Research Institute that showed that Marijuana may have a role in slowing Alzheimer’s progression as THC molecules slowed the production of the amyloid plaques by stopping the brain enzyme responsible for its production. The plaques are the killers of the brain cells which then leads to Alzheimer’s.

However, the benefits of Marijuana aren’t just for the brain, the anti-oxidants found in marijuana can provide relief for a number of conditions that are caused by inflammation like Hepatitis C which is caused by inflammation of the liver, irritable bowel syndrome and other health problems involving oxidative and inflammation harm like lupus.

Additionally, cannabinoid compounds are shown to help release chronic pain in the elderly, which may explain the increased use of cannabis in a study from 2011 to 2014 of the last thirty days usage, which rose from 4.4% to 6.1%. Anxiety can also be positively treated by marijuana along with PTSD, and it soothes tremors and pain in people suffering from Parkinson’s and help these patients sleep better.

Keeping the benefits in mind it’s interesting to note that the elderly may be the fastest growing group of weed smokers in the U.S surmounting to around 50% of all the medical marijuana users in the country since the 2004 amendment of the Senate Bill 420 which made it legal to give medical marijuana to senior patients.

The herb’s physically non-addictive properties, lack of side effects, no prospect of overdose harm like normal meds and its ability to assist in conditions where other pharmaceutical meds didn’t work makes it a good choice to help elderly patients in their pains and diseases when given with a healthy nutritious diet to balance its effects on blood pressure and heart rate. However, before using marijuana in any form, but especially with smoking, it’s important that all the risks and concerns are also looked upon and a medical examination followed by advice and prescription by a cannabis expert doctor is sought.

Author Bio:
Sherley Alaba is an eagle-eyed wordsmith; a writer and translator, always interested in ways which can help individuals (especially youth and women) reach their full creative potential. Her focus has been on writing, producing and editing stories on business, finance, interesting personalities, entrepreneurs, culture, the environment, gastronomy, lifestyle, and social issues.

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