Reinhard: Countless seniors exploring medical potential of marijuana

New options available for self-care

With self-care being at the top of our priority list for 2020, let’s look at a new option available to us.

As we grow older, we develop some age-related medical conditions like arthritis, sleep disorders, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, anxiety and depression.

There are prescriptions to help us feel better but may have uncomfortable side effects and possible addiction.

Since marijuana was legalized in Canada, there are countless seniors now exploring the medicinal potential of marijuana and trying to figure out the different compounds called cannabinoids. This is not an easy task and even though more knowledge can be gained as we investigate it, cannabis remains a trial-and-error process.

Cannabis is best known for the psychoactive properties, like feeling high, so some people still associate it with smoking. Now it can take many forms.

New therapeutic applications come in pill form, oils, edibles and topical ointments. The intoxicating effects are produced by the compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is only one of the more than 60 cannabinoids found in marijuana plants.

Research found one compound in this group useful in medical treatments called cannabidiol (CBD).

READ MORE: Seniors see thoughts drift to medical marijuana

We are learning to understand that both CBD and THC have medical benefits, the only difference is that CBD is non-psychoactive. CBD has helped manage severe pain from injuries, arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, migraines and cancer.

Marijuana may still have side-effects, but patients report its side-effects are not as severe as those with prescription drugs.

The downside of cannabis is simply that the medical research is limited, with little focus on long-term effects.

These substances can affect blood sugar, blood pressure and heart rate, besides interacting with other medications. Also, the proper dose is not an exact science yet.

Just because you may have a friend who tells you that a cannabis product is working well for them, it is not a guarantee that it will help you. Symptoms may be similar, however individual reaction to these products can vary.

You can certainly try a product to see if it will help you but remember that the industry is still unregulated as to quality and not guaranteed to help.

Keep an open mind and be prepared to open your wallet because there are no insurance companies covering this type of medication.

In June 2018 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first cannabis-based prescription drug ‘Epidiolex’ (cannabidiol). This milestone gives hope to people suffering from pain and chronic health conditions.

Continuing medical research is needed to bring about any changes to regulation, accessibility and coverage for marijuana products.

Karla Reinhard lives in Qualicum Beach, where she explores seniors’ issues and personalities in the area. For story tips or questions, she can be reached at karlainpqb@gmail.com

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