As a species, humans can oftentimes be quite resistant to change. So for those over 65 or anyone who witnessed the unrelenting propaganda of “reefer madness” throughout the ’60s, ’70s and ‘80s, changing perceptions from marijuana being a dangerous drug, towards medical cannabis as a potential therapeutic alternative can be a difficult corner to turn.
As evidence mounts for the use of medical cannabis in conditions that affect people with a few extra birthdays under their belt, many more medical professionals are discovering medicinal cannabis preparations may have multiple applications for patients of the baby boomer generation.
It’s important to remember that most medical cannabis products are still unapproved therapeutic goods in Australia, meaning they have not been assessed by the TGA for safety, quality and effectiveness. There are, however, legal pathways for doctors to prescribe where clinically appropriate – after conventional treatments have been exhausted.
Whether or not you think ill of this once malaligned plant, clinical research is increasingly investigating the use of medical cannabis in conditions like pain, anxiety and sleep disturbances.
Medical cannabis and pain
As the baby boomers generation reaches the age where aches, pains and arthritic conditions begin to rear their ugly heads many find conventional medicines aren’t adequately relieving pain. Thus there is an increasing number of baby boomers seeking out other treatments.
Chronic pain associated with arthritis, spinal cord injury, diabetic neuropathy, cancer and non-cancer pain is being extensively explored in medical cannabis clinical literature. Initial research shows mixed results but it is clear that medical cannabis and CBD oil formulations can have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties for some patients.
Cannabinoids in medicinal cannabis are believed to initiate pain relief through influence over neurotransmitters and inflammatory mediators that regulate pain responses.
Polypharmacy, the use of multiple pharmaceuticals to manage diseases, in treating symptoms or pain is a big concern in modern medicine. Medications can often interact with each other causing unwanted side effects or deplete nutrient absorption, especially when multiple medications are taken long term.
In some cases, medical cannabis prescriptions may provide the opportunity to modify medication regimes so patients can reduce other powerful pharmaceuticals that may be causing unwanted effects or interactions. Particularly in the case of pain management, medical cannabis is being explored in the area of reducing the need for opioids.
Ageing and medicinal cannabis
For some, the concept of feeling any sense of intoxication from their medical cannabis prescription is not desired, especially by many in the older generation who may view cannabis through the lens of stigma. However, unlike the cannabinoid THC that initiates feelings of intoxication, cannabidiol (commonly referred to as CBD) doesn’t contribute to patients feeling “high” and is used for its therapeutic properties, depending on the conditions, patient and other drug interactions.
For neuropathic pain experienced in the lower limbs and extremities, topical CBD has shown to reduce intense and sharp pains for some patients, as well as uncomfortable cold or itching sensations. For some, applying a CBD-oil based cream or ointment may be an even more tolerable way to treat symptoms than being prescribed an oral formulation.
As we age the systems that regulate our sleep cycle can change, this can result in chronically disrupted sleep or insomnia. Entoura is currently conducting research into whether medicinal cannabis is an option for some people in increasing the duration of sleep and reducing insomnia when applied in the appropriate treatment plan.
CBD also has a growing association as an anti-anxiety medication. Human trials have shown CBD oil to interact with the parts of our brain that regulate fears and anxiety. Ongoing research seeks to gain further understanding of why this is the case and how to make the most of it.
Stats show baby boomers increasingly exploring medical cannabis
Australian research has shown that those seeking out medical cannabis are older than what stereotypes may insinuate. The CAMS-18 study indicated boomers may be increasingly utilising cannabis as medicine compared to research from two years prior, even if sourced from illegal means.
Other data from international markets shows medical cannabis use amongst older adults is consistently growing and outpacing other age groups seeking medical cannabis.
Importantly, medicinal cannabis isn’t the right medication for everyone, and should always be directed through a treatment plan by an authorised prescriber who has knowledge of pharmaceutical-grade medications.
Medical cannabis prescriptions and doses can vary greatly depending on the individual and condition or symptom being treated. It is important to consult your GP or a doctor at a medical cannabis clinic. Entoura can help you find the most appropriate avenue for you to investigate whether medical cannabis is a viable treatment option for your situation. Find out more about patient access in Australia here.