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You can't teach an old dog new tricks, says a well-known proverb. Yet more and more seniors are taking advantage of the healing benefits of cannabis, a herbal medicine tested over thousands of years and now stigmatised by decades of prohibition. Those who have tried it confirm: cannabis enhances the quality of life in the elderly.

We recently wrote about what it is about the endocannabinoid system in our bodies that makes the effects of cannabis so wide-ranging and without significant side effects. It should be added that this system, which affects many bodily functions, begins to decline in old age and can no longer produce the endocannabinoids that a healthy body produces on its own. The elderly are therefore the group of patients who could be helped most by cannabis, as the body needs to be supplied with so-called phytocannabinoids.

Relieves physical suffering

Seniors' weakening bodies are often supported by prescription drugs with numerous side effects for which they need to take more and more medication. Many illnesses are accompanied by pain, which is usually relieved by opioids, on which it is possible to develop an addiction and overdose. None of this has been demonstrated for cannabis, especially the medicinal CBD (cannabidiol), one of the two main cannabinoids in cannabis, which has proven anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. On the contrary, cannabis is a pain killer.

In the Czech Republic, medicinal cannabis can be obtained on prescription to control the pain that accompanies many diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, these drugs are not covered by insurance, so such palliative (supportive) treatment is usually unavailable to the elderly. even sends free medical cannabis seeds to seniors who request them. In addition to pain, the use of cannabis reduces the lack of appetite and with it the frequent weight loss and general weakening of the body, tremors and especially insomnia.

More mental well-being

The end of life is often accompanied by feelings of loneliness, fear of death, sadness at the passing of friends, depression and anxiety. Cannabinoids also have a beneficial effect on the psyche, and have been shown to have a beneficial effect on the development of Alzheimer's disease. Abroad (for example in Israel and California), cannabis is a hit in retirement homes. And in our nursing homes, too, the acceptance of cannabis could lead to a reduction in pain and psychological distress, in addition to the possibility of growing cannabis together in the garden.

Many seniors believe that cannabis only works when inhaled. This myth needs to be dispelled. There is no need to take psychoactive THC, for example CBD oils, cannabis ointments for pain, tinctures, cannabis tea for calming or raw juice from the cannabis plant are very effective. And in many countries there is already a well-trodden path for making the end of life not about drugs, but about the joys that life brings. Who will make it happen here?