With cannabis use on the rise among elderly individuals, it’s natural to be curious about the comparative safety of different types of cannabis products. For various reasons, it turns out that edibles might not be the best types of cannabis products to use if you’re getting older. Find out why and learn about alternatives to cannabis edibles in this guide.
What are cannabis edibles?
Cannabis edibles are food products that have been infused with cannabinoids. The term “edibles” most commonly refers to food products that contain THC, and cannabinoid products containing CBD are more commonly called by their actual names (e.g. “CBD gummies”)
Edibles are not inherently more potent than other types of cannabis products—in fact, due to the liver’s filtration mechanisms, less of the cannabis you use ends up in your bloodstream when you take edibles compared to smoking or vaping. Since edibles often include extremely high doses of THC, however, they can often provide effects that are unpleasantly intense or even dangerous to seniors.
Are edibles more potent?
While edibles are not actually more potent than other cannabis products, they often contain higher doses of THC, and they last much longer than smoking or vaping. Therefore, the effects of edibles often feel more potent—especially for new users.
Do cannabis edibles help with pain?
Some users find that taking cannabis edibles helps with chronic pain. Both THC and CBD have been investigated for their potential pain relieving properties, and taking edibles is a convenient way to use either cannabinoid. Just make sure you take a reasonably small dose of edibles unless you’ve built up a tolerance.
Do cannabis edibles help you use opioids less?
Some researchers have noted a decrease in opioid use among individuals who start using cannabis. With the epidemic of opioid overdose continuing unabated, it’s natural to seek ways to reduce your dependency upon these toxic, pain-relieving medications. CBD, in particular, has been intensively researched for its potential ability to reduce opioid use.
What are the best edibles for seniors?
If you’re an elderly person who wants to try edibles for the first time, choose a low-dose option, and consider trying CBD instead of THC. Avoid making edibles yourself since it’s very easy to use too much cannabis during the process. In general, 5-10mg of cannabinoids per dose is a reasonable amount to start with, and keep an eye out for edibles with natural or organic ingredients.
Edibles for seniors: Pros and cons
Let’s summarize the viability of seniors using edibles by listing out the pros and cons:
- Easy, convenient way to use cannabis
- Lots of different product options
- Great for seniors who don’t want to inhale smoke or vapor
- Effects last a long time
- Edibles can be overwhelming for seniors
- Using high doses of edibles can have negative effects
- Can offer reduced potency over time compared to smoking or vaping
- Effects don’t kick in for around 30 minutes
Side effects of edibles for seniors
Some of the following side effects of edibles might be mere myth, but others could prompt you to try a different approach. Now that you know something about the potential benefits edibles might offer seniors, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you might want to choose different cannabis product types instead:
Do edibles cause dizziness?
Yes, cannabis edibles have been known to cause dizziness or lack of balance in some users, which is especially problematic in seniors since it can lead to falls. If you decide to take cannabis edibles as an elderly person, do so while sitting or lying down, and avoid moving around too much until the effects have dissipated.
Do edibles dehydrate you?
Cannabis edibles do not usually cause dehydration even though they can make your mouth feel dry. A rare condition called cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS), however, can cause severe dehydration after cannabis use since it causes prolonged bouts of vomiting. If you experience severe nausea after using cannabis, discontinue use, and consult with your doctor.
Can edibles hurt your heart?
Depending on which cannabinoids they contain, cannabis edibles might be harmful to your heart. According to Harvard Medical School, using THC may increase your risk of experiencing adverse cardiac events. If you’re already at risk of heart attack or stroke, definitely avoid edibles due to their increased dose and long-lasting effects.
Do edibles affect the kidneys?
Recent scientific research indicates that cannabis use has a negligible effect on kidney functioning. Whether you smoke it or consume it in edibles, using cannabis does not appear to pose any risk to your kidneys. If you already suffer from a kidney disease, though, consult with your doctor before taking cannabis edibles.
Do edibles affect the liver?
Evidence regarding the impact of cannabis edibles on your liver is inconclusive. Some research, for instance, indicates that using cannabis may protect your liver from the damage caused by alcohol use, but there’s also evidence that using large amounts of cannabis on a chronic basis may cause or exacerbate liver disease. If you’re at risk for liver conditions, consult with your doctor before taking cannabis edibles.
Can edibles lead to erectile dysfunction?
If you use too much cannabis at a time by taking a large dose of edibles, it’s possible that you’ll experience erectile dysfunction. Cannabis has been used as an aphrodisiac in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, however, so it seems this substance can either aid or hinder your sexual performance depending on the circumstances.
Alternatives to edibles for seniors
If you’ve concluded that the high-potency effects of edibles aren’t right for you, there are still plenty of ways you can enjoy the effects of cannabis. We’ll discuss three popular options below:
Cannabis flower is one of the simplest and most accessible types of cannabis products for seniors to try. Without involving any complicated electronic gadgetry, flower allows you to experience the benefits of cannabinoids instantly, and there are tons of different ways to use it.
If you don’t want to smoke, for instance, you can use a dry herb vape. As far as smoking goes, you have bongs, pipes, and joints. Pre-rolled joints are the easiest types of cannabis flower products to use.
Some seniors find vaping cannabis preferable to smoking it, and you have plenty of product options to try in this category. Disposable vapes are extremely easy to use—just put it in your mouth, inhale, and throw it away when the tank is empty. Cartridges are slightly more complicated but can be equally rewarding if you put the effort in.
As we mentioned above, you can vape cannabis flower if you’d like, and there’s another type of vaping we haven’t covered—dabbing. Taking dabs requires the greatest investment both in hardware and in know-how, but it also results in the most potent effects.
As a senior, you might not need to inhale or orally ingest cannabis to experience its benefits. Elderly individuals with arthritis, for instance, commonly apply cannabis topicals to the site of their arthritic pain as a way of seeking relief, and some cannabis topicals may even improve your skin health.
Edibles for seniors FAQ
If you have any further questions about using edibles as a senior citizen, check for the answers below:
What are the best strains for seniors?
In general, seniors will most likely prefer indica cannabis strains like OG Kush over sativa strains like Lemon Diesel. That’s because indica strains are the most relaxing while also often providing greater pain-relief benefits. There’s no strain of cannabis that’s specifically bad for seniors, however, so feel free to experiment at your discretion.
Is smoking a joint a day considered a heavy user?
There are no official guidelines regarding what consists of “heavy use” of cannabis. Some experts suggest, though, that if you use enough cannabis to become intoxicated on a daily basis, you are a heavy user. Since a single joint is sufficient to cause intoxication in most users, smoking a joint a day might be considered heavy use.
Do stoners live longer?
There isn’t enough evidence to determine the impact of cannabis use on your lifespan. The limited longitudinal studies that have been conducted so far, however, indicate that using cannabis doesn’t make you die any sooner than non-users.
Is CBD good for seniors?
Many seniors who use CBD report excellent effects. Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating, so you don’t need to worry about getting too high after using this cannabinoid. Research into CBD indicates that this cannabinoid might be useful for a wide variety of conditions that commonly affect seniors, so it’s definitely worth giving CBD a try if you’re getting on in years.
Do CBD gummies interact with medications?
Yes, CBD is known to interact with certain prescription medications. Generally, medications with “grapefruit warnings” on their labels are incompatible with CBD. Consult with your doctor before trying CBD if you’re currently using any prescription medications.
What is the right CBD dosing for seniors?
There are no official guidelines regarding CBD dosing for elderly people or individuals in any other age group. Most seniors who use CBD, however, ingest around 50-100mg of this cannabinoid per day.