Dr. Nisha Cooch PhD, PMP
In this article, we’ll discuss what the existing research suggests about how CBD may help with ailments that commonly come with aging, including neurodegeneration, chronic pain, and skin disorders.
As with all our CBD science articles, we’re keen to share an objective view of what the science says, so you can make the best choice regarding your health and wellness.
How CBD Helps With Common Conditions of Aging
CBD use is growing. What is surprising to some is that seniors are turning to CBD oil and other CBD products, like CBD lotion, at rates comparable to millennials. According to a recent Gallup poll, nearly one out of every five seniors is now using CBD in some form.
CBD research has exploded as people seek to understand the potential value CBD may offer in a health context. Some researchers have begun pursuing investigations at the intersection of CBD and conditions that are often associated with aging, such as neurodegeneration, chronic pain, and visual signs of aging.
The results may help to explain the popularity of CBD across older populations.
Can CBD Relieve Inflammation and Chronic Pain?
Drugs containing CBD have been shown to help with neuropathic pain and pain that occurs as a result of spasticity, a condition in which certain muscles are continuously contracted.
The drug Sativex, which contains CBD, is currently being investigated as a therapeutic option for pain management. How CBD may contribute to or produce analgesia is debated, but aspects of the likely mechanisms have been clarified through scientific research in recent decades.
There are two main types of cannabinoid receptors present throughout the body, known as CB1 and CB2.
CB1 is present in higher abundance and is concentrated in areas of the central and peripheral nervous systems that deal with pain, so these receptors are more relevant than CB2 receptors when it comes to pain perception.
While its action on CB1 receptors may account for potential analgesic effects, CBD may also help to alleviate pain by reducing inflammation, which characterizes many ailments like arthritis and fibromyalgia.
Does CBD Help With Skin Disorders?
Over the last couple of decades, it has become clear the endocannabinoid system affects the central nervous and immune systems, and also plays a role in skin homeostasis. This includes the maintenance of skin barriers and skin regeneration.
As such, dysregulation of the cannabinoid signaling has been implicated in disorders of the skin that often follow with aging, including psoriasis, dermatitis, scleroderma, acne, and pigmentation disorders.
Research into the potential benefits of CBD lotions and CBD creams for those with chronic skin diseases has been promising. Data from one recent study led researchers to conclude the topical application of CBD ointment was an effective and safe way to improve quality of life in this set of patients.
How Does CBD Impact The Brain?
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common form of neurodegeneration associated with aging, trumped in prevalence only by Alzheimer’s disease. People with Parkinson’s undergo substantial changes to their endocannabinoid system – the system with which CBD interacts.
Interestingly, research indicates that by using molecules which interact with receptors of the endocannabinoid system, some of these changes can be altered.
These findings have led scientists to speculate that CBD may offer a potential way to treat aspects of Parkinson’s disease.
Studies into this phenomenon have demonstrated that, of the many cannabinoids present in hemp, CBD appears to be among the most therapeutic in the context of Parkinson’s disease. In particular, it may be helpful in treating the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Can CBD Impact Alzheimer’s Disease?
Preclinical investigations into opportunities for using CBD to treat other neurodegenerative disorders have shown that CBD can combat inflammation in models of Alzheimer’s disease as well.
Other research on such models suggests that CBD may slow Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the activation of certain cells known as microglia.
Because CBD can fight inflammation and oxidative stress, its capabilities with respect to protecting the brain from neurodegeneration continue to demand much attention from the medical research community.
The Conclusions on CBD and Aging
According to the AARP, seniors are major consumers of full spectrum CBD oil and other CBD products, contributing significantly to the popularity of CBD products. Many diseases and disorders that increase with age involve inflammation and oxidative stress. Given that CBD has both anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, researchers have suggested CBD may provide therapeutic opportunities. They are also encouraged by the lack of toxicity and unwanted psychotropic effects associated with CBD.
There is still much research to be conducted before we are to understand the full and true potential of CBD’s benefits for aging, an even more research to grasp the mechanisms by which CBD may confer these benefits.
However, in addition to the scientific data, anecdotal evidence is accumulating that suggests the majority of seniors who try CBD report that, if nothing else, they experience improvements in quality of life.