Dr. Dave Hepburn says research conclusively shows that cannabis improves many aspects of the aging process in seniors. (Photo contributed by Dr. Dave Hepburn)

Dr. Dave Hepburn says research conclusively shows that cannabis improves many aspects of the aging process in seniors. (Photo contributed by Dr. Dave Hepburn)

Cannabis finds a place in grandmother’s cupboard

Former Greater Victoria doctor says studies show benefits of cannabis on aging population

If you don’t believe cannabis improves memory functions in older folks, you may be amazed by the mice in the maze.

“There’s a great study out of Germany that shows cannabis helps prevent memory loss in the older generation,” said Dr. Dave Hepburn, who was a family physician in Greater Victoria for 30 years

“The bottom line is the study on mice showed that the THC-impaired younger mice in a maze didn’t do as well as the older mice who had taken cannabis, Hepburn said in a telephone interview with Black Press Media from Peru.

That study on mice and cognitive decline highlights how THC boosted the genes that control memory and learning by restoring them to the same level observed in younger animals, Hepburn explained.

“I did a complete 180 on cannabis in 2016 and came to appreciate it,” he said. “The senior population benefits the most from medical cannabis.”

He has worked as an international medical cannabis consultant since.

Check out ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326663/ for more on mice and men.

READ ALSO: Victoria ElderDog program seeking more seniors, pups to support

In order to appreciate how cannabis improves a variety of conditions as people age, it’s important to understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS), Hepburn noted.

“It’s a highly pervasive system throughout our bodies that affects how our internal balance system works,” he said. Numerous parts of our body such as pain management, stress and anxiety levels, sleep patterns, weight and sugar levels are governed by ECS.

“Everyone makes natural cannabinoids,” Hepburn said. “Those neurotransmitters are responsible for many systems. As we begin to age, our ECS diminishes and everything else drops. Many symptoms of aging result from our ECS diminishing. Cannabis has a completely different effect as we age. That’s why cannabis aids older people by replacing their ECS. It makes a tremendous difference in many conditions like pain management, arthritis, insomnia and anxiety.”

In the U.S., research shows that states that have legalized medical cannabis have seen improvements in the overall health of older people, Hepburn said. “States with medical cannabis see a nine per cent increase in the probability of employment in people over 50, and a five per cent increase in hours worked. That’s really profound proof of how replenishing a diminishing ECS system benefits older folks’ cognitive decline and overall health.”

READ ALSO: Landlord terminating Victoria cannabis compassion club lease following pressure from province

Visit nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w22688/w22688 for more on the study on employment.

As a physician, Hepburn says he would never advocate smoking, but vaporizing for certain conditions like migraines or nausea provides a quick response where needed. Ingestion creates a slower, longer action that’s more beneficial in the long term without damaging the liver. Creams, oils, tinctures and salves are other options. Because salves and creams aren’t ingested, they aren’t absorbed into the system, but help with many joint and skin issues, he added.

“A lot of people say ‘I don’t want to get high, I want to get help,’” Hepburn said. “This is where topicals are most beneficial. You don’t have to get high to realize the medical benefits.”

Hepburn is quick to stress that young people should not use cannabis because they are still developing and do not reach complete physical maturity until 22 years of age.

“I strongly advise against it for average youth because of the way it affects the development of their ECS system,” he underlined.

Hepburn contributed to the Goldstream Gazette for a number of years before writing a syndicated column that has appeared in more than 100 newspapers in Canada and the U.S. He has also hosted a radio show, Wise Quacks, with his on-air partner, Dr. Robert Sealey.

Visit kylasquest.com/blog?offset=1477690 for more information and a look at a presentation he made at a medical cannabis convention in Penticton in 2016.

READ ALSO: B.C. senior health indicators show strain as numbers grow

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

cannabis

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Acclaimed author Eden Robinson hosts a virtual conversation and reading from her latest book, Return of the Trickster, on Friday, April 23, in conjunction with the Vancouver Island Regional Library. (Photo courtesy of VIRL)
Island author brings Trickster in online library event

Fans of the work of Eden Robinson will get the opportunity to… Continue reading

A Sooke man died Tuesday afternoon after his car left the roadway in 7500-block of West Coast Road around 1:30 p.m. and hit a tree. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke man dies in Tuesday crash on West Coast Road

The man’s SUV left the roadway and struck a tree

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

The Latoria South section of the Royal Bay development in Colwood could include a new long-term care facility. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood’s Royal Bay could be home to new long-term care facilities

Capital Regional Hospital District board approves $8M land purchase for purpose

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth gets combative with police at Victoria hospital

VicPD officer injured, youth kept in care under Mental Health Act

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Amandalina Letterio - Capital News)
Kelowna demonstrators show support for Vancouver Island logging activists

Two Kelowna men stood atop a pedestrian bridge on Harvey Avenue to raise awareness about old-growth forests

City workers from Duncan were busy recently putting up street signs in both Hul’q’umi’num’ and English. (Submitted photo)
Hul’q’umi’num street signs installed in downtown Duncan

Partnership with Cowichan Tribes sees English street names twinned with Indigenous language

Most Read