The new explosion of cannabis products has caused understandable confusion among those of us who grew up back in the day. What’s the difference between marijuana and cannabis? What’s all this talk about cannabinoids? And—more to the point—what’s all this fuss about CBD? What is it? What does it do? Is it legal? And what’s in it for me, anyway?
Glad you asked.
CBD, Seniors and You
To understand what CBD is, some definitions are in order. Cannabis is actually a genus of plant, with several different species, only one of which is marijuana. An entirely different species of cannabis is hemp.
The two plants—marijuana and hemp—look different, are grown differently and have entirely different chemical compositions.
Cannabinoids are plant chemicals found in all species of cannabis. The cannabinoid that gets you “high” is called THC (tetra-hydro-cannabinol). It’s found in marijuana—but not in hemp (at least no more so than the trace amounts of alcohol in non-alcoholic beer. The cannabinoid that does not get you high—but does all the other really cool things that people are talking about—is called CBD (cannabidiol). And you can get CBD from hemp, a plant that is now, as of the 2018 farm bill, 100% legal in all 50 states.*
It’s CBD from hemp or, as it’s sometimes called, “full-spectrum hemp oil,” that we’re going to talk about in this blog.
And now for the 64 million dollar question: What does it do? And why should I take it?
CBD: What’s In It For Me?
CBD really has a lot of things for which it should be commended—especially for anyone 40 or over, and certainly for baby boomers! Amazingly, it has been researched for its effects on 50 different conditions. Those interested can see that research compiled here: https://cbdorigin.com/cbd-benefits-many-conditions/.
CBD has an amazing safety profile, a considerable upside and—for most people—there’s no serious downside to giving it a try. I did an informal, non-scientific survey of some of the (many) older people who frequent dispensaries in my neighborhood. The things I heard most frequently were, “It’s relieved my pain”, “It’s great for my anxiety”, “I sleep much more soundly” and—more frequently than you might imagine—"My dog doesn’t limp anymore!” (Draw your own conclusions!)
My own experience with hemp-derived CBD started when I was diagnosed with severe arthritis of the right shoulder—a real liability for a competitive tennis player like myself. Now don’t get me wrong—CBD has not “cured” my arthritis—nothing makes cartilage grow back! But using CBD—along with some other terrific supplements like Omega-3s, known to have anti-inflammatory effects—made it possible for me to do physical therapy. The result of the physical therapy, the supplements and the CBD is that I now play pain-free tennis five or six times a week. A big part of that, in my opinion, was the CBD.
There is research showing that CBD may have promise in supporting bone health(1), a big concern for those of us over 50. There’s also research showing that it (CBD) has great therapeutic potential in the treatment of complications arising from diabetes, possibly by “attenuating oxidative stress, inflammation, and cell death”(2) And, because CBD interacts with receptors that help to regulate our mood—i.e. adenosine and serotonin receptors—it may help calm stress and anxiety and have a pretty stunning effect on your mood(3).
People over 50 are turning to CBD because they’ve heard—from neighbors, friends, colleagues—that it’s helped with many challenges that crop up a lot in the later decades. And they believe it might be helpful for them.