CBD for the elderly - does it work?

Researchers say that older adults, and especially seniors over 65, are the fastest growing user base of CBD-based products like oils, edibles, and tinctures. But is CBD good to take if you are elderly? And more importantly, is it safe? Read on to find out.

Old hands

What are the benefits of CBD for the elderly?

According to a 2019 UK CBD survey, 71% of people surveyed for CBD say that chronic pain was the primary reason for using CBD. Another 38% also say they use CBD to treat anxiety and depression. Problems with sleep is often another reason cited. 

This certainly tallies up with older adults reason to use CBD where arthritis is often cited as a very common reason that people consume CBD. Although arthritis isn’t only an older adult problem, according to arthritis Ireland, the average age of diagnosis for Rheumatoid arthritis is actually 35. 


CBD and Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition whereby the immune system attacks the body’s joints. Many patients with RA are prescribed immune system modulating drugs such as methotrexate.

Over a course of 4 years, nearly 3,000 users of cannabis were surveyed for pain and RA. Results were really encouraging with 100% of arthritis users reporting positive effects - ‘much better’ (72%) or ‘a little better’ (28%). (Note however, this was medical cannabis which contains THC, not just CBD).

For rheumatoid arthritis and CBD, we are really at the cutting edge of scientific research. In late 2020, a study was published showing that CBD is effective in killing rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts.

Another study on looking at the safety and efficacy of CBD and on patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis is on-going and we hope the results will be published soon.

CBD and Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is inflammation of the joints due to wear and tear. 

At the moment, most studies on OA are pre-clinical, that is that studies are with animals and not humans. 

However, regardless of this, the studies are very positive. For example, a study in 2020 with dogs with osteoarthritis showed that “CBD significantly decreased pain and increased mobility in a dose-dependent fashion among animals with an affirmative diagnosis of OA”

Anecdotally we hear from patients that CBD topical creams are very effective at reducing joint pain and swelling. 


In summary, arthritis is one of the most common reasons for taking CBD for the elderly and the research is very encouraging. The fact that CBD has such strong anti-inflammatory properties makes it very promising for arthritis sufferers. 

Hopefully as more studies get published, we will be able to conclude just how CBD is working for people with arthritis. 


Is CBD safe for elderly?

In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a report stating that CBD is well-tolerated in both humans and animals.

However, many older adults are on medication. It should be known that CBD can interact  with many medications. In most cases, it either slows or speeds up their metabolisms, and these changes can significantly impact how well your medication works.

Specifically, CBD interacts with a family of enzymes called cytochrome P450.  Many medications like blood thinners have this same interaction too. 

Medication with this interaction usually says “Grapefruit warning” on the box. So please check your medication to see if it says - ‘Grapefruit warning’, because if it does, it is likely to interact.

Of course, regardless of grapefruit warning or not, if you are taking medication, we always recommend you discuss taking CBD with your doctor anyway.


Final tips for taking CBD for the elderly

  • Always follow the general rules of ‘Go low, start slow’ 
  • Take it consistently, CBD works best with a slow and steady build up in your body.
  • Finally, you should check in with your doctor if you are taking any medication