In recent years it has become common to hear about CBD and its use for different treatments of conditions that affect people of different age groups, including older adults, but among the great cloud of information, and misinformation, many questions arise about it: Is CBD a medicine? Is it FDA approved? Is it legal to buy it? What kind of diseases is it useful for? Does it really work? [This article, “Beyond the Hype: How CBD Can Help Seniors Enjoy a Better Quality of Life?” was originally published in HealthXWire]

CBD is taking the spotlight, especially as people are taking it to reduce various types of pain. In fact, a 2019 study, sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, indicated that the most common reason cited for CBD use was pain (68%), poor sleep (62%), and fatigue (38%). Most respondents using CBD for these symptoms reported a significant improvement in pain (82%), sleep (87%), and fatigue (61%).

Cannabidiol, or CBD as most people call it, is one of over 100 cannabinoids that can be extracted from the flower of the cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana. Unlike THC (also known as tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is not a psychoactive compound, and it does not produce a high or hinder driving or other activities.

The compound was originally discovered by chemist Roger Adams in the 1940s, but research on the substance and its effect on the body began in earnest in the 1960s, led by scientist Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Since then, more of the impacts and benefits of what CBD may be able to bring to people have been discovered and analyzed.

Extracts of the cannabis plant, such as CBD, have an effect on humans because they impact our Endocannabinoid System, which, in short, is a complex and important communication system between cells and neurological receptors in the body.

Is CBD legal?

CBD has a complicated history. The cannabis or marijuana plant was made illegal in the mid-20th century and is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law today. But in December 2018, President Donald Trump signed the Farm Bill that legalized hemp at the federal level.

Hemp is the common name for cannabis plants that contain less than 0.3% THC, but that are usually high in CBD. Hemp can now be legally grown and harvested, and its flowers can be used to extract CBD, in a growing number of states.

This means that all CBD products extracted from hemp are legal in almost the entire country, unlike THC, which remains illegal according to the federal government, but is legal for medicinal purposes in more than 30 states and for recreational purposes in 19. And those numbers are expected to continue to increase in years to come.

Are CBD products FDA approved?

Until 2022, the Food and Drug Administration had only approved one drug made with CBD, which is used in the treatment of patients with seizures associated with Lennox Gastaut syndrome, Dravet syndrome or tuberous sclerosis complex. There are no other FDA-approved CBD products on the US market, and the FDA has stated that CBD should not be marketed as medicine.

So why are there so many CBD products for sale everywhere? This is because the vast majority of CBD products available on the market are sold in the health and wellness category. But this is something that can be different depending on the State where one is. In some states there are very strict regulations on which CBD products can be sold and where, while in others, the laws are more open on this issue.

Despite not having the approval of the FDA, there have been no cases of products made with CBD that have been fatally dangerous for consumers, although it should be noted that like many other products intended for human consumption, they could be defective due to poor practices in the cultivation, production or extraction of CBD. Globally, there is a growing trend to require CBD and hemp-derived products to have Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certificates, especially in the more progressive European markets.

For what kind of conditions can CBD be beneficial?

According to data from the World Health Organization, 20% of people over 60 years of age suffer from neurological diseases or disorders, as well from various other types of pain. And some of these conditions have begun to be treated with CBD supplementation by consumers acting directly for their own benefit.

CBD is used as a muscle relaxant and in treatments for conditions such as epilepsy, neuropathic pain, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, as well as to reduce nausea induced by cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. Another area in which cannabidiol is gaining relevance is in palliative care, to treat pain symptoms in people suffering from different debilitating conditions and diseases related to old age.

In recent years, CBD has been increasingly used to treat neuropathic pain, which can be caused by dysfunctions in the nervous system commonly associated with diabetes, shingles, and alcoholism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that there are some studies that indicate that cannabis can help counteract this type of pain.

Compounds like gabapentin and pregabalin are traditionally prescribed for neuropathic pain, but CBD has also been shown to be effective in animal experiments, and there is substantial anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness in humans. CBD and CBD-based products and formulations could become the leading alternative to opioid medications in the medium term.

Another case in which CBD has shown efficacy is in treatments for spasticity, which according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH) is \\\\\\\”a condition in which there is an abnormal increase in muscle tone or muscle stiffness, which could interfere with movement, speech, or be associated with discomfort or pain.\\\\\\\”

One of the main effects of CBD is muscle relaxation, but cannabinoid specialists have highlighted that the effects of CBD are not immediate, and that they generally manifest themselves after consistent dosing; in may require several months of continuous use. With this, it must be understood that consuming CBD once does not generally produce results or benefits.

Some things to know before buying CBD products

Before starting to use CBD to relieve pain or for treating other disorders, it is important to consult a physician trained in the prescription and use of cannabinoids. Not all doctors are suitably qualified or appropriately experienced because the legalization of CBD is so recent that most universities with medical programs still do not have any part of their curriculum focused on the endocannabinoid system.

You’ll also want to look for CBD and CBD-based products from recognized brands. Because hemp production has grown so large in the country (and so rapidly) that many products in the marketplace do not meet the quality standards required by concerned consumers, such as laboratory tests, which are important because the cannabis plant can absorb heavy metals (which can be quite toxic to humans) found in the soil. Recent studies have pointed out that much of the CBD sold online or in stores does not contain the cannabidiol that is stated on the labels, and labeling is a significant problem.

It is important to know the different presentations of CBD. There are three main ones: it can be Isolate (only CBD), Broad Spectrum (which may contain other cannabinoids in small amounts), or Full Spectrum (which may contain up to 0.3% THC). The latter can have some psychoactive effects and may generate a slight high for those who consume it, in addition to causing the consuming individual to test positive in drug tests for the consumption of THC.

Consumers or prospective consumers should know that there are many self-proclaimed “experts” and companies that talk about qualities and properties of CBD that have not been scientifically proven, such as claiming that CBD can be used to treat or cure cancer or Covid-19, which are false statements.

Although, there are scientifically proven benefits around CBD and new studies are emerging every day on the therapeutic uses of this cannabinoid, which is considered one of the great hopes in alternatives for different treatments that seek to provide people with better quality of life, especially in advanced age and treatments for pain management.

An important factor to consider regarding the future of CBD is that hemp production in America is so large that it has caused a greater supply compared to demand, which has been lowering the prices of products made with CBD. In addition to the fact that the compound can be used not only in health and wellness products, whose most popular presentation is oil drops, but it can also be sold in soft drinks, skin cosmetics and more.

What’s next?

The history of CBD as an ally in the health and well-being of the elderly is just beginning and everything indicates that over time there could be enough scientific evidence to allow us greater clarity about the positive and negative effects. around the use of CBD. Meanwhile, it is important to act with caution and under the review of a specialized doctor to avoid any type of unwanted effect.

The legalization of hemp at a federal level in 2018 opened the door for Americans to have access to CBD and other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, but it is still early to measure the true effects of this natural compound ​obtained from a plant that has been demonized for almost a century.


Important Note: The information contained in this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as health or medical advice, nor is it intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease or health condition. Before embarking on any diet or program of nutritional supplementation, it is advisable to consult your healthcare professional in order to determine its safety and probable efficacy in terms of your individual state of health. 


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