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Seniors are using weed to treat anxiety, arthritis and back pain

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Seniors are using weed to treat anxiety, arthritis and back pain

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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If someone told you a few years ago that medical cannabis use among seniors would soon emerge as a trend, would you have believed them? Probably not, what with cannabis carrying such a negative stigma in the past.

However, things have changed and the truth is that the 50+ group are beginning to constitute a sizeable chunk of the consumer market for medical cannabis.

According to a recent report from Strainprint Technologies Ltd. about medical cannabis use among seniors, the older generation is choosing cannabis as their preferred method of treatment for relieving a broad spectrum of symptoms.

Strainprint app collects data about medical cannabis use among seniors

Based on data gathered from the 50-and-above crowd that is actively using Strainprint‘s journaling app, arthritis, anxiety and back pain are the most common conditions that patients are using cannabis to treat.

Notably, if we look closely at the details of the report, 67 percent of weed-medicating sessions were focused on treating back pain, while 63 percent were for anxiety disorders and 58 percent for arthritis.

Also included in the report on cannabis use among seniors was data that pointed to the various other ailments/conditions that older individuals are using the green stuff to treat. Here’s an overview of the data:

  • Chronic pain – 43 percent
  • Depression – 40 percent
  • Insomnia – 35 percent
  • Stress – 25 percent
  • Lower back pain – 24 percent
  • General pain – 24 percent
  • Fibromyalgia – 22 percent

Data on medical cannabis use among seniors was gathered over a 10-month period

Based on the user data gleaned from Strainprint’s free cannabis journaling app, consumption trends among Canadians aged 50+ are noticeable. The app is specially designed to simplify the process of selecting a suitable strain for relief from widespread medical conditions and symptoms. The data listed above was collected from October 2017 to August 2018.

Approximately 1,000 individuals aged 50+ inputted their personal information into the app over a total of 82,608 sessions. Once the data was accumulated, it was unveiled in the form of a report on cannabis use among seniors during an event series called “Green + Silver: Cannabis and Optimal Aging.” The event was launched by Business of Cannabis and was sponsored by The GrowthOp.

“The 50-plus group is small, but dynamic,” reads the report in regards to the use of cannabis to treat mental and physical conditions. Of the 82,608 sessions, 14 percent involved individuals aged 50 and above.

Just a little less than a quarter of the sessions – 24 percent – were inputted by females aged 50-54. When compared to the 19 percent of males in the same group, senior women come out on top as the most frequent users of medicinal cannabis. Regardless of the 50-plus age range, women always came out on top. The age ranges were 50 to 54, 55 to 59 and 60+.

Why were the seniors using medicinal cannabis?

Based on the outcome of this report on cannabis use among seniors, the most commonly reported physical health symptom was joint pain – 15 percent of females aged 55-59 used cannabis for this purpose, as well as 18 percent of males aged 55-59.

When seniors used cannabis to treat other types of medical symptoms, percentages appeared to fluctuate depending on gender and age.

Let’s take a closer look at those percentages:

  • 15 percent of females aged 50-54 used weed to treat muscle pain
  • 10 percent of females aged 55-59 and 10 percent of males aged 60+ used weed to treat inflammation
  • 11 percent of females aged 50-54 and 17 percent of males aged 55-59 used weed to treat joint stiffness
  • Eight percent of females aged 55-59 and 15 percent of males aged 60+ used weed to treat nerve pain

Turning our attention to the mental health end of the spectrum, males constituted the most significant portion of Strainprint sessions. Anxiety and depression were the two most common mental health problems being treated by male medical cannabis consumers, whereas female medical cannabis consumers made up the largest percentage for insomnia. In regards to age groups, 13 percent of males aged 50-54 used cannabis to treat anxiety, 10 percent of females aged 60+ used cannabis to treat insomnia and 12 percent of men aged 50-54 used cannabis to treat depression.

“I was really surprised that our data showed that 50- to 54-year-old men are using cannabis to treat anxiety and depression as much as they treat their top physical symptom,” said the vice president of Strainprint research and insights, Michelle Arbus.

Cannabis use among seniors indicates a “growing trend”

Arbus described the use of weed among individuals aged 60+ as a potential “growing trend” and she claims to be quite surprised by the results of the report on cannabis use among seniors.  

“Anecdotally, I have heard from seniors who are 75-years-old and up, who are interested to try cannabis to treat their medical issues since they either want to reduce the amount of molecular drugs they are taking or they want to see if cannabis can offer relief that their current drugs are not providing,” she said.

To sum up, the findings of this report demonstrate that females used medical cannabis more than men. However, the report findings indicate women were the most engaged, while the men seemed to be more satisfied with the results of using cannabis for treatment.

“Generally, women are more proactive and engaged in their health,” proposed Arbus. “Women also tend to make the decisions for the health care for not only themselves but for their families,” she added. Arbus’ specific background in research related to health-related behaviors.

She drew attention to the fact that females can advance their caregiving skills if they medicate properly using a natural treatment like cannabis.

“The more a woman is doing to get relief of her own symptoms and take care of herself, it will allow her to be a better caregiver to others,” she concluded.

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Seniors are using weed to treat anxiety, arthritis and back pain