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CBD for Aging Parents

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

As their aging parents’ care watchers, young adults are increasingly turning to CBD oil (cannabidiol) for relief of age-related issues including anxiety, pain, sleep disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and arthritis. “We see really great interest amongst seniors,” Martin Lee, director of the Northern California nonprofit Project CBD, said in a June AARP magazine article ( ). The organization promotes the use of the compound as a natural alternative to traditional forms of drug therapy.

A Harvard health blog ( reports CBD, a derivative of the cannabis plant, is commonly used to address anxiety, may help with falling asleep and staying asleep, and could be an option for treating different types of chronic pain. It has also been shown to be effective in treating certain forms of childhood epilepsy.

The grass-roots CBD movement is part of a larger relaxing mindset on cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, and the medical community is taking note. The New York University School of Medicine is conducting a study to determine CBD’s effectiveness as a treatment for alcohol use disorder in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

At the same time states’ legal restrictions are loosening on marijuana, the adjacent CBD industry is skyrocketing, according to Brightfield Group, which projects a $22 billion industry by 2022. In 2017, the National Institutes of Health pumped $140 million into cannabinoid research, including $15 million on CBD, according to a recent New York Times article ( The F.D.A. has loosened restrictions on CBD research and is considering “pathways” to allow the sale across state lines of CBD in food and beverages, sales that are now confined to states like Massachusetts that have approved CBD use.

That’s good news to Kurt Kalker RN, patient care manager at Cape Ann Botanicals, a boutique CBD shop in Ipswich, Massachusetts, soon to be joined by a sister store in nearby Newburyport. Kalker, a 25-year registered nurse, who completed an American Cannabis Nurses Association curriculum, counsels customers on potential benefits of CBD oil for a range of conditions, along with possible interactions with medications. Kalker discusses customers’ needs during a short consultation and suggests products that could address their symptoms. The store notes that its CBD oils have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and doesn’t claim that CBD oil treats, cures or prevents disease.

Education is a big part of Cape Ann’s charter. “Since it’s a new market, people don’t realize there’s a lot of real clinical data,” Kalker says, referencing some 20,000 studies done on the effects of CBD oil on humans and animals. Because the industry is so young, there’s also a lot of “snake oil” purporting to be miracle cures, he says. Cape Ann Botanicals tests every product it sells, and Kalker regularly attends conferences to keep up on the latest CBD studies.

Kalker is frequently asked the difference between CBD and marijuana, which also derives from the cannabis, or hemp, plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gets people high; CBD is nonpsychoactive. A CBD oil with under 3 percent THC is considered “hemp that can’t get you high,” says Kalker.

CBD treatment has been positive for many Cape Ann Botanicals customers. The leading use for CBD purchases at Cape Ann Botanicals is for anxiety relief, but customers report palliative results for a range of issues. One elderly client who was averaging three hours a night’s sleep is now reporting six, and it’s been successful in relief of minor pain and depression for numerous repeat customers, Kalker reports. One customer’s pain was lessened enough that she could ride a horse again, allowing her to enjoy a favorite pastime.

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