Before you try it, you need to understand the dosage, the types of CBD and the way to use it.

Peer into an older person’s medicine cabinet and you may be surprised. CBD is growing in popularity among those 54 and older. What’s more, those who have started taking it have no plans to stop anytime soon.

CBD is the second-most-active ingredient in cannabis, but it is derived from the hemp plant. On its own, CBD does not cause a high, and it is not addictive.

CBD is available throughout the United States, with varying degrees of restriction. A recent study of 1,000 Americans 54 and older found that 9 percent had tried cannabidiol, and more than half who tried the substance said it improved their quality of life.

CBD may help with everything from insomnia to aches and pains, but before you try it, you need to understand the dosage, the types of CBD and the way to use it.

CBD uses

There are three main reasons why people take CBD, according to Maia Reed, head of member success at Chicago-based Equilibria: as a mood elevator and regulator (to help with stress, anxiety and depression), to manage sleep and to help with pain (inflammation falls into this category). The company sources its CBD from a 1,100-acre organic farm in Colorado.

Much more research is needed on CBD, but studies have found that it’s effective in treating some seizure syndromes and may help with anxiety and insomnia. One animal study published in the European Journal of Pain found that CBD can help with inflammation. Even so, more studies on CBD overall are needed.

Results are mixed when it comes to its effects on sleep. Research about CBD’s use for pain and anxiety is promising, but further studies are needed.

CBD types

Not all CBD is the same. Full-spectrum CBD contains trace amounts of other naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids found in the hemp plant, which potentially boost its therapeutic effects, says Michael Donnelly, founder and CEO of the CBD Path. It also contains no more than .3 percent THC.

There’s also isolate, which is CBD in its purest form. To make this, all the other compounds in the plant are removed (it’s the opposite of full spectrum). Some people mix this into their smoothies, says Matthew Janz, director of marketing at the Source dispensaries, based in Las Vegas.

“But the general consensus is that the whole plant CBD will have a stronger effect than the single molecule,” Janz says. “I’d try the broad or full before the isolate.” Broad-spectrum CBD is a mix between full spectrum and isolate. It contains other compounds, but the THC is removed.

CBD delivery options

CBD can be enjoyed in several ways: oils, capsules, topicals, gummies and oral sprays. These options offer flexibility, Donnelly says. “Most people prefer CBD oils and sprays for their effectiveness, discreteness and ease of use, while others prefer capsules and gummies for their long-lasting effects.” CBD topicals can be applied to trouble areas to reach deep inside muscles and may provide major relief from aches and pains.

Dosage

While you can’t overdose on CBD, you should start low and go slow. “There’s no need to overdo it — you may find that a smaller dosage works just as well for your personal needs,” Donnelly says. Your ideal CBD dosage depends on your body weight, the condition or symptom you are attempting to treat, and the concentration (CBD content) of the product.

Need to know

Don’t expect results immediately. Realistically, it may take up to several weeks of regular use before you really feel CBD’s effects, Donnelly says. Check with your doctor before taking any CBD product, especially if you are on prescription medications, as it can occasionally interfere with their effectiveness, Reed cautions. And some medications should not be taken with CBD at all, Donnelly adds.

Where to buy

You need to be very careful with this purchase, says Jeff Yapp, CEO of Golden Leaf Holdings, which operates Portland, Oregon–based Chalice Farms dispensaries. Ideally, you should be able to trace the CBD back to the farm; look for a QR code on the product, Yapp says. “The manufacturer should be able to tell you exactly the farm it came from and the manufacturing process.”

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