By Stephanie Johnson, senior communications strategist at The Skyline Agency.
Nearly 50 million Americans are over 65 years of age. That means that seniors make up over 16% of the total population in the United States.
By 2050, studies expect that group to reach a share of over 22% of the citizenry in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 49.6% – nearly half – of all seniors suffer from Arthritis. The most common form of which is osteoarthritis (OA), currently affecting over 30 million adults in the United States. This degenerative joint disease affects the joints because “the cartilage within the joints breaks down and the underlying bone begins to change” (4)
The pain, swelling and stiffness is felt mostly in the hands, hips and knees but it can be felt in many areas of the body where bones meet. This will often get in the way of being able to feel the complete freedom of lifestyle that most wish for.
“Chronic pain associated with OA is a major concern for which there are few viable treatments. The first-line therapy used to treat osteoarthritis pain is nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); however, with long term use, their efficacy declines and they can lead to major adverse gastrointestinal and cardiovascular events… Thus, a therapeutic which can block inflammation, neuropathy, and pain is sorely needed.” (1)
This could be why many Americans over 65 have turned to CBD.
Revealing this – the most recent Gallup poll shows about 8% of people over 65 have admitted to currently using CBD products. That means that about 4 million seniors have taken a leap into a product that, at one point in their life, they may have feared or been told to fear.
Where does that fear come from?
Much of the fear comes with misinformation.
Thankfully, with many studies executed over decades, knowledge of this naturally-occurring substance is more available and showcases a part of nature that has long been misunderstood.
WHAT IS CBD?
CBD is the acronym used for Cannabidiol. It is a phytocannabinoid that was discovered back in 1940 and is one of over 100 identified cannabinoids inside cannabis plants.
While CBD is in cannabis (marijuana), CBD is also in hemp.
What is the difference?
Hemp and Cannabis are two different plants. Yes, both plants have CBD and THC in their make up. THC is the part of cannabis that makes you feel “high”. The difference maker is in the ratio of CBD to THC. In hemp, the CBD is the main ingredient with very little THC. Hemp has a THC percentage of less than 0.3%. This means that hemp-derived CBD will have a non-effective amount of THC in it.
In fact, many studies have concluded that CBD counteracts the psychoactive element of THC, thus rendering the THC from hemp non-psychoactive.
In Cannabis, that percentage of THC can range from 5 – 25%. By comparing and contrasting that percentage to the 0.3% that is in hemp, one can see a glaring difference in how they can affect the body and mind.
In the United States, once the Hemp Farming Act was passed in 2018, hemp went from being classified as a controlled substance to being accepted as an agricultural commodity. By legalizing hemp on a national level, people can get hemp-derived CBD in all 50 states or have it shipped to them no matter which state they may be ordering from.
In places like Kentucky, hemp is grown by American farmers and used with companies in these United States to make CBD based products for multiple benefits.
YOU ALREADY HAVE IT IN YOU
The human body has its own cannabinoids and they are a part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is made up of three parts: Cannabinoid receptors, endogenous cannabinoids and the enzymes that are responsible for making and breaking down the cannabinoids in the body.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a “widespread neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in central nervous system (CNS) development, synaptic plasticity, and the response to endogenous and environmental insults.” (2)
A neuromodulatory system is one where a given neuron uses one or more chemicals to regulate diverse populations of neurons. A neuromodulator is designed to tweak the signal message to affect what the signal does. A common neuromodulator that is in the world today – one that many people have heard of – is Botox. Botox changes the message of the signal, keeping the muscle from moving.
The process happens quickly within the body as “endocannabinoids are liberated in one or two rapid enzymatic steps and released into the extracellular space.”
The effects of endocannabinoids are primarily mediated by CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. (2)
The active components the plants “activates the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, thus mimicking the action of endogenous cannabinoids” (3) All of that to say: when you take in CBD, they play like your body’s own (endogenous) cannabinoids. They’re good friends.
But what of this CB1 and CB2? If they’re in the body – and also in CBD – how do they match up in the system?
CB1 Receptors for endocannabinoids are “abundant in the central nervous system (CNS), particularly in cortex, basal ganglia, hippocampus and cerebellum. CB1 receptors are highly abundant in medium spiny neurons in both dorsal and ventral striatum” (2)
“The CB1 receptor is present mainly in skeletal sympathetic nerve terminals” (3)
Receptors for CB2, however, are expressed at much lower levels in the nervous system compared to CB1 and “is primarily present in microglia and vascular elements.” Interestingly, studies have found that CB2 does increase 100 times “following tissue injury or during inflammation.” (2)
Another bonus of CB2 is how it is found in the bones and is “expressed in osteoblasts and osteoclasts”. This means that they have found CB2 stimulates bone formation, and inhibits bone resorption.” A study at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that “the main physiologic involvement of CB2 is associated with maintaining bone remodeling … thus protecting the skeleton against age-related bone loss” (3)
All of this to say, they have found that the CBD in the body, coupled with that which is taken in from the plant extraction, they work together to help the body fight inflammation – a main source of pain and discomfort. This is especially true for those dealing with arthritis.
In an extensive study done by the Departments of Pharmacology and Anaesthesia at Dalhousie University (Halifax), CBD was used in various scenarios of living with osteoarthritis. After much testing, the researchers concluded that CBD supplementation “may be a beneficial therapeutic” and that the study “shows for the first time that CBD is an effective anti-inflammatory agent” and “thus, CBD may be a safe therapeutic to treat OA pain locally as well as block the acute inflammatory flares that drive disease progression and joint neuropathy.” (1)
While many people are still learning what CBD does (and can do) for humans, multitudes have already realized how their lives can be made better with this amazing, naturally-derived substance. As the population of the U.S. ages, and the number of people learning about the benefits of CBD grows, the number of persons who will manage pain through natural resources and remedies will only grow.
(1) Philpott, H. T., OʼBrien, M., & McDougall, J. J. (2017). Attenuation of early phase inflammation by cannabidiol prevents pain and nerve damage in rat osteoarthritis. Pain, 158(12), 2442–2451. doi:10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001052
(2) Lu, H. C., & Mackie, K. (2016). An Introduction to the Endogenous Cannabinoid System. Biological psychiatry, 79(7), 516–525. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.07.028
(3) Itai Bab, Andreas Zimmer & Eitan Melamed (2009) Cannabinoids and the skeleton: From marijuana to reversal of bone loss, Annals of Medicine, 41:8, 560-567, DOI: 10.1080/07853890903121025
(4) Centers for Disease Control statistics – CDC.gov
Feature image by Matthew Bennett on Unsplash.
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