The Science of Aging: Can Cannabis Hold the Key to a Youthful Life?
People will go so far as organ transplants and plastic surgery to keep themselves looking young forever. Have you ever heard of Project Blueprint, for example? Tech mogul Bryan Johnson is obsessed with keeping his insides young, so he enlisted the help of his 17-year-old son, Talmage, to engage in blood transfusions.
Blood Boys like Talmage undergo a lengthy vetting process to ensure they’re not prone to diseases, eat healthily and can donate liters of blood. Their blood is then processed into different components, including liquid plasma, red and white blood cells, and platelets. That blood is then infused into older people in a bid to restore health and potentially reverse the aging process.
It’s nuts; you should read more about it. It sounds like some wild sci-fi story, and the worst part is— there’s not really any evidence to suggest that it’ll work at all.
But anyway, that’s not the point.
With so many unconventional approaches to staying young, there are a handful of promising, medically-grounded things people can do instead. While aging is inevitable, diet, exercise, and a good balance between work, rest, and play all help people stay healthier for longer, which keeps them feeling younger. You’re only as old as you feel, after all.
But guys! Diet and exercise sound awful!
I know. Luckily for you, some emerging research suggests that weed might have some anti-aging properties. While it’s not going to Benjamin Button you or anything like that, evidence suggests it might do a lot of good in your body.
Many different factors cause aging— many of them natural, like genetic instability, and others environmental, like oxidative stress or sunlight exposure. Scientists argue that everything ages, and at some point, we begin to fall apart faster than we can repair and replace. It’s natural, baby. Embrace those gray hairs.
While aging is inevitable, there are some areas that we have control over. You’re more likely to stay sharp as an old person if you don’t stress too much, socialize whenever possible, and keep your mind busy. People who exercise regularly are more likely to keep their mobility into their old age and avoid serious health problems.
Either way, aging is challenging. The studies we have on cannabis and aging are limited, but they underscore the potential of cannabinoids for inflammation and oxidative stress, as well as alleviating symptoms like agitation, anxiety, and insomnia, which are often associated with conditions like dementia.
A preclinical study on mice indicated that THC might help reverse some of the cognitive decline linked to dementia. Nevertheless, this effect has not been conclusively demonstrated in humans. Scientists are on the fence, though. One study found that weed actually contributes to the decline of grey and white matter in the brain and limits executive function, memory, and attention.
More interestingly, cannabinoids like THC and CBD seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Chronic inflammation causes your tissues to break down quickly and is a pre-symptom for many age-related conditions. Inflammation also contributes to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is natural but causes an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in your body, which helps break down proteins, cells, and even DNA, contributing to aging.
While there are no concrete studies on the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabinoids in the context of aging, researchers have found that CBD might reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. This is a good sign that cannabis may help with some of the natural aging processes and might help you feel better as you age. Inflammation is a key contributor to chronic pain, so minimizing inflammation may help you feel better physically for longer.
Cannabinoids also play a role in stress and anxiety. Stress can trigger chronic inflammation, which can damage your DNA and tissues. THC mellows people out by making them high, and evidence suggests that CBD has a balancing effect on the endocannabinoid system, helping to reduce anxiety and level out your mood.
Avoiding stress and anxiety (as well as pain) is also essential for sleep. There’s a ton of evidence to suggest that sleep is one of the most important things you can do if you want to take your time aging. Not getting enough sleep doesn’t give your body enough time to repair itself and makes you more likely to face stress, depression, and anxiety. A study by UCLA found that just one night of insufficient sleep can make an older adult’s cells age quicker.
Basically, cannabinoids themselves aren’t going to turn back the clock on aging magically, but they might help support your system. By combatting pain and inflammation, sour moods, stress, and anxiety, cannabis may help improve sleep. Sleep may strengthen your body’s ability to repair and support your mental health. As a result, it may also help reduce oxidative stress and the inflammation that causes it.
Even if you’re already older, getting your med card could benefit you. Age-related changes in metabolism and multiple concurrent medications may make cannabis an attractive choice for managing inflammatory pain, keeping a positive mindset, and getting the rest you need to feel your best.
You’ll definitely want to make sure you’re not getting stoned while you’re taking other medicines that could interact with the weed, though. Smoking weed as an old person comes with the risk of dizziness, falls, and impaired perception— so always start low and go slow, or opt for non-intoxicating CBD. It also helps to have a chat with your doctor before you take anything. Remember, weed can’t cure or prevent any medical condition, so don’t rush into it.
At the end of the day, the pursuit of youthfulness may lead some to unconventional practices like blood transfusions, but there is a growing body of research indicating that weed might offer a more medically grounded alternative for managing the challenges of aging. While we’re still a long way off from being able to say that weed can help with aging conclusively, time will tell.
Although the field still requires further rigorous investigation, it holds promise in addressing issues like anxiety, insomnia, oxidative stress, inflammation, and potentially even dementia, offering hope for anyone seeking healthier and more natural ways to preserve their vitality.
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