Cannabis and the Elderly

When you picture the average cannabis user, what do you imagine? Chances are you’re not imagining a senior citizen. Due to cannabis’ reputation as a counter-culture recreational drug, many people assume the average cannabis user to be young and liberal. While this seems like a reasonable assumption, the truth is that a large portion of medicinal cannabis patients are elderly. In fact, a recent Israeli study found that “of 279 cancer patients receiving medical cannabis, 50% were aged 60 or older”! In other words, perhaps the largest group of medicinal cannabis users is the senior citizen population. Why? Surely this percentage reflects the basic fact that older individuals are more likely to develop cancer and other diseases that may be treated by cannabinoids. Additionally, elderly populations are more likely to seek cannabis legally, while younger medical cannabis users are more likely to have other avenues of procurement. Moreover, perhaps the specific suite of ailments faced by the elderly fits the target profile of cannabis treatment. Regardless of the reason, however, the population of elderly medicinal users is far from negligible; at Cornerstone it makes up one of our major patient groups! In response to this high concentration of elderly medicinal cannabis use, one research group, led by Itay Katz from the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, has conducted a review of cannabis research relating to elderly populations. This review, published February 2017 in the Israel Medical Association Journal, highlights several common areas of use, as well as Western medicine’s current…

How Cannabinoids Can Beneficially Interact with Neurodegenerative Disorder Treatment

Neuroinflammation is known to play a significant role in essentially all neurodegenerative processes. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Huntington’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease all involve hyperactive microglia, which are the live-in macrophages of the brain, spinal cord, and central nervous system. Macrophages are immune cells that capture and dissolve foreign substances, germs, and cancer cells within the body. The microglia in the brain and spinal cord form the first line of immune defense in the central nervous system. Unfortunately, in the case of aforementioned diseases, these cells have become overactive causing them to secrete excess substances, such as cytokines (cell signals that regulate cell group growth and response), glutamate, and harmful free radicals. This excessive production of chemicals causes inflammation, which leads to further cell death. Cannabis and the family of chemicals it produces are known to act on two major cell receptor types named CB1 and CB2 respectively. The CB1 receptor is most commonly found in neurons throughout the brain. The psychedelic effects of cannabis come from this receptor’s function, which re-wires the way neurons signal each other. The CB2 receptor on the other hand, is found throughout the body, especially within the immune system cells. The effects of activating the CB2 receptor are more myriad, but within the immune system specifically four groups of effects have been identified: 1. induction of apoptosis or forced cell death 2. suppression of cell proliferation 3. induction of regulatory T cells 4. inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokine/chemokine production and increase in…