True or false: providing effective healthcare for aging adults consists mainly of identifying a chief sickness or complaint, and then choosing a medicine or procedure to fix it. Based on today’s holistic approach to wellness, the answer is a resounding false. More and more people prefer healthcare strategies that focus on prevention and quality of life, than a fix-it-when-it-breaks mentality.
For older adults in particular, addressing health issues as they arise with procedures and-or medication can sometimes lead to secondary complications such as lengthy, challenging recoveries and unwanted side effects. While it may be impossible to eliminate the difficulties of overcoming surgery or incorporating new medicines into people’s routines completely, we can always do better. So what else can be done?
In two words: holistic wellness. While this trend has manifested itself in a variety of other modalities such as natural, integrative and functional healthcare, these movements’ foundations are more similar than different. Namely, to understand that people’s mind, body, spirit and environment are all interconnected in respect to health.
Achieving effective solutions with fewer added complications has been one of the primary drivers in last decade’s shift toward holistic wellness, and some professionals, from naturopaths to surgeons have reconsidered the ways they treat themselves and their patients. This means an increased focus on healthy lifestyle—including activity and diet—combined with natural dietary supplements, rather than just treating issues as they appear.
CBD a Big Player in Holistic Wellness
One of the biggest new players on the holistic wellness scene is CBD or cannabidiol oil. Commonly referred to today as hemp oil or just CBD, it is available in a variety of forms such as tinctures, capsules, gummies and topical creams. This family of supplements has a wide range of potential benefits, many of which are especially relevant for older adults, such as relief from discomfort during and after physical activity, feelings of calmness, clarity, support for relaxing rest and overall well-being.
But one of this natural remedy’s greatest characteristics is its impressive absence of side effects and secondary complications.
Unlike many medications, studies have shown that CBD is non-habit forming. Research also has shown a distinct lack of side effects in hemp-derived supplements, finding they do not cause changes to digestion, affect heart rate or blood pressure, contribute to fatigue or drowsiness or have intoxicating effects on motor or psychological functions.
In short, the medical consensus is that CBD supplements, on their own, are remarkably safe. Nonetheless, consumers should always check with their physician before trying CBD, especially if they already use a variety of other medications.
Unfortunately, though older adults may benefit the most from CBD, they are in the age group least likely to use them. Surveys have shown that while 40 percent of people ages 18 to 29 have tried CBD, the consumption rate is only about 15 percent for people older than age 60.
A variety of factors can explain this age gap in users. CBD is quite new, with the supplements only becoming widely available with the 2018 passage of the Hemp Farming Act. And cultural taboos aren’t easily forgotten—until the 2018 law’s passage, the Hemp plant was classified under the same umbrella as all Cannabis plants, which included varieties like marijuana, with its high levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating, psychoactive cannabinoid).
Hemp plants today are classified as having less than .3 percent THC, which means they are not intoxicating or psychoactive, and reputable suppliers of isolate CBD will ensure that the final products that go to consumers are THC-free. As with any natural supplement, consumers should look for providers that supply third-party testing data to objectively guarantee the claims made in regards to their products’ source, quality and purity.
As the market for CBD matures, expanded research is providing a better understanding of its potential benefits, and improved regulation is ensuring quality and consistency from select, industry-leading providers. So how to proceed from here?
According to Mayo Clinic Proceedings, “We encourage physicians to not disregard patients’ interest in these therapies and instead to retain clinical curiosity as well as a healthy skepticism when it comes to attempts to explore new options.” Researchers are learning more about these supplements everyday, and signs point to significant potential benefits for aging adults in particular.
Jay Hartenbach is the CEO of Medterra, in Irvine, Calif.