Taking Care of an Aging Body
Cannabis plants and their derivative products are more accessible than ever before. But for many consumers, including seniors, cannabis products that offer healing benefits are often also high in THC concentrations, which can produce overwhelming psychoactive effects that detract from the benefits. CBD, cannabis’ other well-known cannabinoid, is offering hope.5
Nearly 51% of seniors who have tried CBD report an improved quality of life, and anecdotal evidence suggests CBD could help with a variety of issues impacting quality of life.6,7 Due to the quasi-legal status of this cannabinoid in the U.S., much of what we know about CBD is limited to anecdotal report, but studies are beginning to catch up.
Nearly 51% of seniors who have tried CBD report an improved quality of life.
How CBD Can Help Seniors
CBD has been shown to help relieve aches and pains as an effective anti-inflammatory and has also been shown to help with anxiety, sleep disorders, and depression, cases that increase in prevalence with age.3,4 Conditions such as depression and other mood disorders can negatively impact quality of life, often leading to physical and cognitive issues, frailty, and even low self-esteem.1 CBD has been shown to be helpful with psychosis as well, offering some relief to those who may already be in cognitive decline.
3 CBD Options for Non-Psychotropic Cannabis Relief
1. Topical CBD – Topical products such as skin creams and massage oils take advantage of the body’s largest organ (the skin) to offer targeted relief. For many who do not wish to eat, inhale, or ingest a product which could affect their entire body, topical products allow for relief where and when you need it. Apply infused products directly to the areas that are aching or in pain, as well as for certain skin conditions such as dryness or sunburn. Make sure to read the ingredients before applying to irritated skin.
2. Edible CBD & Tinctures – Edible CBD options and tinctures offer a discrete form of CBD administration that allows for gradual delivery throughout the body as needed. Edible offerings have a longer onset (due to digestion) and can offer sustained benefits over a longer period of time. Many consume a regimented amount of CBD using edibles and tinctures in the same way that they consume their daily vitamins.
3. Concentrated CBD (For Inhalation) & CBD Vapes – CBD is also available in concentrated forms such as waxes, distillates, and isolates, many of which are designed to be vaporized using a water pipe or handheld vaporizer. These products are designed for rapid relief, as inhaled cannabinoids enter the bloodstream much quicker through the lungs and respiratory system.
Current Limitations of CBD and Supporting Research
It is important to note that while a variety of CBD products exist on the market, there is still a significant lack of regulation and clinical evidence of efficacy. A lack of federal legality has prevented most research to date, and resulted in a lack of consistency on the market. Most of what we know is purely based on anecdotal evidence and animal trials, since human trials have been limited to extremely small sample sizes, if conducted at all.2
If you’ve been considering CBD as an option for improving your quality of life, make sure to talk with your physician or care provider for specific recommendations unique to your situation. Each ECS is unique, and your needs may not be fulfilled in the same way as your neighbors. For more information on CBD, its benefits, and the science supporting its applications, make sure to follow this column each month.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-44462005000400003 1 ANTUNES, Hanna Karen Moreira et al . Depression, anxiety and quality of life scores in seniors after an endurance exercise program. Rev. Bras. Psiquiatr., São Paulo , v. 27, n. 4, p. 266-271, Dec. 2005 .
https://www.nationalelfservice.net/treatment/antipsychotics/cannabidiol-cbd-an-effective-antipsychotic/ 2 Rains, Luke. “Is Cannabidiol (CBD) an effective antipsychotic?.” The Mental Elf. August 24, 2018.
https://www.rxleaf.com/cbd-as-an-antibiotic-against-drug-resistant-bacteria/ 3 Hayes, Sarah. “CBD as an antibiotic kills strep, MRSA, and more.” RXLeaf. June 27, 2019.
https://seniordirectory.com/articles/info/benefits-of-cbd-for-senior-citizens 4 Duke, Andrew. “8 Benefits of CBD for Senior Citizens.” Senior Directory.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/abbierosner/2019/08/26/cbd-safety-for-seniors/#17cd908846ba 5 Rosner, Abbie. “CBD Safety For Seniors.” Forbes. August 26, 2019.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/emilyprice/2019/02/24/51-of-seniors-that-have-tried-cbd-report-an-improved-quality-of-life/#38ad8c5d6b7f 6 Price, Emily. “51% Of Seniors That Have Tried CBD Report An Improved Quality Of Life.” Forbes. February 24, 2019.
https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2018/cbd-oil-marijuana-health-benefits.html 7 Schaffel, Garrett. “Boomers Fuel Boom in Popularity of CBD.” AARP. June 7, 2018.
CBD + Plant Medicine
Herbal medicines are defined as “the art or practice of using herbs and herbal preparations to maintain health and to prevent, alleviate, or cure disease.” By this definition, cannabinoids derived from hemp and cannabis plants would be classified as herbal plant medicines. Cannabinoids and other compounds found within the cannabis plant have been proven to work better when used together, but what other plant medicines contain natural benefits that work synergistically with CBD? While the research has a long way to go on synergistic efficacy of plant medicine combinations, herbalists and naturopaths have long recommended specific herbs and plants for certain symptoms.
What does the research say about CBD along with other natural plant medicines?
As of this writing, there is not much research on CBD’s role in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), nor on its synergistic effects when combined with other herbal remedies. While there is no specific research on which herbs are most beneficial when combined with CBD, there has been research done on specific herbs’ benefits as well as research on the benefits of using CBD that we can use to make educated guesses as to which herbs would provide synergistic effects. Additionally, traditional herbalism practitioners and naturopaths who have been trained in herbal remedies and natural medicines can recommend specific combinations based on the symptoms being treated.
5 Herbs Recommended for Use with CBD
While scientific studies may have some ground to cover when it comes to herbal CBD combinations, naturopaths, herbalists, and CBD brands are already combining herbs in products like tinctures and topicals. ”Pairing herbs or natural plant medicine with cannabinoids just makes sense,” explains Jordan Person, fellow GRAM writer, herbalist and CBD manufacturer. “Often the plant medicine that you are working with provides a synergistic affect or often even the same effect that a cannabinoid can.” These points are reiterated by naturopaths like Dr. Pepper Hernandez ND, CNHP. These herbal recipes and recommendations are based on existing research on the benefits of CBD as well as traditional plant medicines that would work well with CBD, including common herbs like lavender, rosemary, echinacea, holy basil, and ginger.
Lavender’s main terpene is linalool, a terpene that is also present in hemp and cannabis, and known to be effective at helping with anxiety. “Anxiety is higher than ever and lavender is rich in the terpene linalool,” explains Person. “This terpene has been scientifically proven to reduce anxiety. CBD has also shown to lessen these stress-filled symptoms. Combining this cannabinoid with this herb may provide a beneficial effect for anxiety.” Studies back up these claims, suggesting that tinctures and infusions that combine lavender with CBD may help mitigate anxiety.
According to Hernandez, rosemary may pair well with cannabinoids as hemp, cannabis, and rosemary plants all contain beta-caryophyllene, a terpene known for its analgesic effects and ability to help reduce inflammation. Rosemary is known to offer similar benefits as well as possessing anti-cancer properties similar to those of CBD. As both rosemary and CBD offer similar benefits, it would be logical to infer their synergistic interaction with one another.
Both Hernandez and Person recommended echinacea in combination with CBD. Echinacea, or purple coneflower, contains “certain endocannabinoid-like fatty acid N-alkylamides” that can “potently activate CB2 cannabinoid receptors.” Additionally, evidence suggests that plants with high concentrations of these alkylamides and fatty acid amides could have synergistic interactions with cannabinoids like CBD.
Studies have shown that both CBD and non-psychoactive cannabinoids may be effective in the treatment of nausea. Herbs known to help with nausea work great in conjunction with cannabinoid regimens. “Ginger, for example, is great for relieving nausea the same way that THC and CBD can,” explains Person, and research backs up these claims, further indicating that ginger and CBD would be an effective synergistic combination for treating nausea.
As with rosemary, holy basil or Tulsi, possesses many anti cancer properties like THC and CBD. Additionally, both CBD and tulsi possess anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and antioxidant properties that parallel known benefits of cannabinoids, suggesting a highly synergistic relationship between the two plant medicines.
While the research on specific combinations may still be in its early stages, traditional medicines and herbal teachings suggest that what we know about certain herbs like ginger, holy basil, and lavender, may work well in combination with cannabinoids like CBD, as we learn more about the effects of these cannabinoids. For now, looking for herbs whose benefits parallel those of cannabinoids like CBD will be your best bet at finding synergistic combinations that work for your needs.
CBD + Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects 10 million people worldwide, and cannabinoids such as CBD are being studied for their neuroprotective properties as well as their efficacy with symptom management.1-9 Parkinson’s can have a noticeable impact on quality of life due to symptoms such as tremors, spasticity, and pain that can make everything from walking to talking difficult, which can lead to anxiety—all symptoms that CBD has shown to be helpful in managing.10 Early studies are showing CBD can specifically be effective for managing life with Parkinson’s.1-8
While CBD’s legality on a national level is still relatively new, there are quite a few studies already on CBD’s ability to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s, helping to improve quality of life for those living with the condition. As discussed at length in previous issues of GRAM, CBD has proved to be helpful in managing muscle spasticity often experienced by patients. Additionally, CBD has been shown to mitigate pain and the inflammation that causes it, also be a source of damage to nerve networks within the body in patients with neurodegenerative diseases. Additionally, CBD has been found to be helpful with anxiety that can arise from a variety of situations, including those where symptoms may become noticeable.
In addition to general research supporting CBD’s efficacy in symptom management for conditions such as Parkinson’s, researchers are specifically studying CBD’s ability to help Parkinson’s patients with sleep-related issues and psychosis.1-3 In a pilot study, researchers studied a small sample of men and women with Parkinson’s who had psychosis for at least three months. Participants were given 150 mg of CBD every day for four weeks and showed a “significant decrease” in psychosis during treatment without worsening motor function or other adverse effects.1 Another study examined four Parkinson’s patients experiencing REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) who were treated with CBD and found the treatment had “prompt and substantial reduction in the frequency of RBD‐related events without side effects” and indicated “CBD is able to control the symptoms of RBD” in those with Parkinson’s.2 Furthermore, a larger sample of 21 patients examined the effects of various daily dosages compared with a placebo and found CBD could improve quality of life in Parkinson’s patients, but the authors reiterated that larger samples in future studies are needed to corroborate these early findings.3
A literature review of current research on CBD and neurodegenerative disorders suggests CBD’s neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties could prove promising for treatment of neurodegenerative disorders across the board, including Parkinson’s.5 This review found that “at preclinical level, accumulated findings appear more exhaustive and convincing for a possible medical utilization of CBD to improve symptoms and/or delay disease progression” as well as helping to prevent damage to nerve cells.5 These neuroprotective properties are mainly associated with CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and early investigations have found that CBD might have a neurorestorative component as well.4 CBD’s ability to target the CB2 receptors without activating CB1 receptors, in addition to its other properties, has suggested that CBD could prove to be helpful in the treatment of Parkinson’s.7
Early studies are showing CBD can specifically be effective for managing life with Parkinson’s.
Specific to Parkinson’s, CBD has also been shown to be effective with dystonic movement disorders and the motor and cognitive impairments often brought on by the disease.6,8,11 In a small pilot study of five patients with dystonic movement disorders, patients were administered “oral doses of CBD rising from 100 to 600 mg/day over a 6 week period” and found “dose-related improvement in dystonia was observed in all patients.” The authors conclude that “CBD appears to have anti-dystonic and Parkinsonism-aggravating effects in humans.”6 Animal studies designed to model the effects of Parkinson’s disease resulted in findings that suggest CBD is effective in treating motor and cognitive impairments in Parkinson’s patients.8
To date, most of the research available has been done in preclinical settings with small sample sizes. These findings need to be corroborated by much larger clinical studies for accurate generalization, but these early results suggest CBD could be effective in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and the management of its symptoms. If you’re considering CBD as an alternative or complementary treatment for Parkinson’s for you or someone you know, talk with a physician who is familiar with the patient’s case and treatment program to see if CBD may be an option that could help improve quality of life.
1. Zuardi, A.W., et al. Journal of Psychopharmacology 23, no. 8. 2009.doi:10.1177/0269881108096519.
2. Chagas, M.H.N., et al. Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, 39. 2014. doi: 10.1111/jcpt.12179
3. Chagas, M.H.N., et al. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 28, no. 11. 2014. doi: 10.1177/0269881114550355
4. Santos, N.A.G., et al. Toxicology in Vitro, 30(1B). 2015. doi: 10.1016/j.tiv.2015.11.004
5. Iuvone, T., et al. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 15: 65-75. 2009. doi: 10.1111/j/1755-5949.2008.00065.x
6. Consroe P., et al. International Journal of Neuroscience, 30:4. 1986. doi: 10.3109/00207458608985678
7. Fernández‐Ruiz, J., et al. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 75: 323-333. 2013. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04341.x
8. Peres Fernanda F., et al. Frontiers in Pharmacology, 28 September 2016. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2016.00343
9. Devore, C. Fatal Employment: Men 10 Times More Likely Than Women To Be Killed At Work. Forbes. www.forbes.com
10. “Symptoms of Parkinson’s.” American Parkinson Disease Association. www. apdaparkinson.org
11. Lastres-Becker, I., et al. (Abstract) Neurobiology of disease, 19(1-2), 96–107. 2005.
CBD + MS
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a disease that affects more than 2.5 million people worldwide.1 Typically treated with prescriptions for symptoms, many living with MS seek alternative treatments. As CBD has become more accessible, many MS patients are looking to this non-psychotropic cannabinoid as an option for easing the impact of symptoms like fatigue, spasticity, and emotional anxiety and depression that stems from living with the disease. Studies have started to show CBD is effective in aiding in the treatment of the symptoms of MS, helping to improve the quality of life.2,3,4
CBD + MS: Studies show promise for cannabinoid treatments
Studies are showing that CBD has a variety of applications and can be helpful with symptom management, helping with fatigue, pain, spasticity, and mobility, making it a potential alternative to pharmaceutical symptom management. One of the most common and most distressing symptoms to MS patients is spasticity, or involuntary, uncontrollable movements of the body. Cannabis products containing significant amounts of CBD have been shown to be effective at reducing muscle spasticity in addition to pain and other symptoms.9,10,11,12
In small preliminary trials, CBD has actually been tested on MS patients and has been found to improve neurogenic symptoms that are typically unresponsive to standard treatments.10 Additionally, CBD has been found to be an effective anti-inflammatory,11 which could prove helpful not only with painful symptoms of MS, but also in the treatment of inflammation in the CNS before damage is done.
Another common symptom of MS is a change in emotional and mental state, often as a result of stress and social anxiety about the condition that can even lead to bouts of depression. In fact, CBD has been found to prevent “long-lasting anxiogenic effects.”13 Preliminary reports on an anxiolytic effects of CBD for social anxiety disorders report “CBD was associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety.”14 Trials involving CBD administration to mice found CBD to be a quick-acting antidepressant, helping to combat depressive actions.15,16
As more studies are done on the efficacy of CBD in MS treatment, the more comfortable physicians will be offering advice and insight to patients. Currently, the preliminary body of evidence suggests CBD could be an effective treatment option for symptom management of MS. If you have access to CBD and are considering adding a CBD supplement to your treatment regimen, talk with your doctor or consult a health professional who is familiar with your condition. He or she may recommend specific products and offer advice on titrating a dose to fit your needs.
1. Lisak, Robert P. et al.“Multiple Sclerosis.” National Organization for Rare Disorders. 2017. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/multiple-sclerosis/
2. “Medications.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
3. Malfitano, A. M., Proto, M. C., & Bifulco, M. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 4(5), 847–853.2008.
4. Rudroff, T., & Sosnoff, J. Frontiers in neurology, 9, 183. 2018.
5. “What is MS?” National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
6. “Definition of MS.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
7. “Types of MS.” National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
8. “MS Symptoms.”National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
9. “Cannabinoid Spray Effectively Relieves MS-Related Spasticity.” MD Edge. November 2015.
10. Wade D.T., Et. al. Clinical Rehabilitation 2003; 17: 18– 26.
11. Malfait M, Gallily R, Sumariwalla P, et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2000; 97: 9561– 6
12. Malfitano, A. M., Proto, M. C., & Bifulco, M. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 4(5), 847–853. 2008.
13. Campos, A.C. Et al. Journal of Psychiatric Research. Volume 46, Issue 11.2012,
14. Crippa, J. A. S. Et al. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25(1), 121–130.2011. doi: 10.1177/0269881110379283
15. “Treating Depression with CBD Oil.”CBD Psychiatrist. February 13, 2019.
16. Linge, R., Jimenez-Sanchez, L., Campa, L. et al. Creative Commons. 2016.