Before she goes to bed, Mavis Upson always takes a drop of CBD oil under her tongue.
The South Cariboo woman has found the cannabinoid not only helps her to sleep but relieves the aches and pains related to her arthritis. She is among a growing number of seniors, or people over 55, who are turning to CBD oil or gummies as a more natural or holistic treatment for chronic aches and pain, insomnia and anxiety since it became legal in Canada three years ago.
CBD oil, which can be extracted from hemp or cannabis plants, does not result in the high sensation of cannabis. Upson herself chooses CBD oil with a low dose of THC, the main ingredient in cannabis that produces a high sensation.
“I just wanted to try it for my hands. I don’t like taking Advil or anything like that,” said Upson, 57, who tried it for the first time last year. “I had to use it for a while to get it into my system. I wasn’t sure if it was doing anything for me until I ran out of it. All those aches and pains are gone now.”
Upson, manager of Club Cannabis – one of two cannabis stores in 100 Mile House – said she has seen a lot of seniors requesting CBD oil since the shop opened last year. While she initially decided to try the CBD oil herself so she knew what she was selling, she said she is also learning a lot from the clientele, who provide insight into what works for them or what doesn’t.
“I would think people are becoming aware of it because it’s not a stigma anymore,” she said, although she added some people will still send in their friends or spouses to pick up products for them. “Some people swear by it.”
M.J. Milloy, a Canopy Growth professor of cannabis science and assistant professor in UBC’s Division of Social Medicine in the Department of Medicine, said he has also heard anecdotally that CBD use is becoming more common among the older set in B.C.
Although more science still has to be done around the effects of the product, he said there are a lot of reasons to believe it can be effective for pain. However, he notes like anything, CBD oil could potentially have different effects for different people, especially if they are on prescription medicines.
He also encourages those using to ensure they are getting regulated CBD oil, as there are many replica oils made from hemp or other products being sold in pet stores and other shops.
“The fact that it isn’t intoxicating – that’s sort of desirable for a lot of folks,” Milloy said. “There is also a reputation that CBD is a therapy for things like pain, sleep and anxiety. It’s got good word of mouth and it doesn’t appear to have a lot of side effects or drawbacks.”
Upson agreed. She said she sometimes wonders if the oil is working, but recently ran out of it and woke up with sore hands. “It changes from one person to the next. It’s relaxing, I would say. It can help with sleep in some cases,” she said. “I’m thinking it really does work.”