Arianna Welsh’s father worked in construction his whole life. When his body started hurting worse and worse, his children searched for solutions beyond prescription medication.
The siblings credit the CBD products they found with increasing their father’s mobility, reducing pain and improving his sleep. The products worked so well that he was even able to cut back on the prescribed painkillers.
In 2016, Arianna and her brother, Tory, founded Mother Earth Natural Health, a CBD wellness shop designed to help others the way it had helped their father. The Welshes refer to themselves by the trademarked moniker “The CBD Experts” and operate three Mother Earth locations in Royal Oak, Shelby Twp. and New Haven.
“We got into this business to find products for our dad at the time, and now we’re doing that for our customers,” she says. “There’s a lot of information out there, and we find a lot of folks get confused, so we work through finding the right solution with them.”
The Welshes aren’t alone. A recent study by researchers at New York University School of Medicine found the use of cannabis products for folks over 65 “increased sharply” from 0.4 percent in 2006-07 to 2.9 percent in 2015-16, the latest year available in the study.
What are the risks?
As an emergency physician and medical toxicologist at the Detroit Medical Center, Andrew King says he’s aware he often sees the worst-case scenario when it comes to ingesting cannabis products.
“A couple of times I’ve seen elderly patients who eat a cookie or brownie left out and they become high without knowing what it is,” King says. “They feel dizzy, lightheaded, cloudy and they wonder if they’re having a stroke.
“A lot of THC products can cause people to feel lightheaded when they stand up, and combined with diuretics or blood pressure medication, they could stumble and trip or straight up pass out,” he adds. “Any time someone falls, it could result in minor or major injury.”
The number one thing King recommends is to always consult with a physician before using CBD or THC as an elderly patient for two reasons: it can interact with other medications and there could be complications due to health issues that come with aging.
“Seniors are usually on multiple medications, and with both CBD and THC you have to think of them as drugs, because it can have side effects and it can interact with another drug,” he says. “Planning and having an open discussion with a physician is my first recommendation.”
Due to more complicated medical histories, the decision to use the products is always complicated.
“If they do start, it should be at the lowest possible effective dose to avoid problems.”
Adult children looking to keep their aging parents safe should steer them to meet with a physician and make sure they’re armed with the most accurate information. Those looking to use only CBD products to avoid the feeling of being “high” should know that some CBD products do not undergo third-party testing and could contain THC (the part of cannabis that produces a head high).
What are the benefits?
CBD products can do more than just relax muscles. They can also reduce anxiety, help with sleep issues and other more specific health issues, Arianna Welsh says. A lack of reputable studies makes figuring out the true benefits a bit trickier.
Most of the customers who visit Mother Earth are over 40 and looking for something to help them manage the psychological and physiological aspects that come with aging, Welsh says.
“Many people are looking to be proactive on healthy aging and are looking for natural options and solutions,” Welsh says.
She says she often works with older customers who want to use CBD products to improve their quality of life.
“A lot of customers who are older are looking to have relief with say, joint pain, back pain or sleep issues,” she says. “There’s topical options, oils, capsules, gummies and tea – it’s really about working with what that person is looking for, especially if they have other prescribed topicals.”
She says she hears a CBD success story from an older customer “daily.”
While many of the purported benefits are anecdotal, studies do support the following effects: