Medical cannabis can be a useful tool for seniors struggling to maintain a healthy appetite.
While not all marijuana strains give users “the munchies,” seniors and their caretakers can experiment to find a product that helps them achieve their goals.
Plus, it’s easier than ever to request a recommendation for medical cannabis online: TeleLeaf is here to help patients achieve their health and wellness goals at any age.
As we age, our lifestyles, routines, and health needs change—and so can our appetites and nutritional needs. For many seniors, struggling to maintain a healthy appetite is a daily reality.
What can seniors and their caretakers do to support a healthy diet and proper nutrition? While some lifestyle changes might help, medical cannabis is an excellent, customizable option for appetite support.
In this guide, we’re breaking down potential causes of appetite changes with age, the implications of missing nutritional benchmarks, and key considerations for people looking to use medical cannabis for appetite stimulation. We’ll also touch on how seniors can apply for a recommendation for medical cannabis online; the process is simpler and faster than ever before.
Seniors and Appetite Changes: Potential Causes
There are multiple reasons why seniors might experience appetite changes later in life:
Illnesses – Many illnesses have the potential to impact appetite—kidney disease, liver disease, and certain types of cancers, for instance. When your body’s processes change in response to an illness, these adjustments can take a toll on hunger and thirst.
Medications – Changes in appetite are a common side effect of many medications: stimulants and some type 2 diabetes drugs, for instance, change how your body signals hunger and thirst.
New food sensitivities – As we age, our bodies can develop food sensitivities (or even allergies) that we didn’t experience in our earlier years. Left uninvestigated, discomfort or pain after eating certain foods can impact our routine or make us hesitant to eat in the first place.
Changes in routine – Change is a constant across our life cycle: losing a spouse or other aging friends, moving to a new home or care facility, or adjusting to a new healthcare regimen can be stressful, and these changes in routine have the potential to impact our meal rituals and appetite.
Aging – Simply put, aging changes our bodies. We simply may not be as hungry or thirsty as we get older.
Implications of Low Appetite
In many cases, decreases in appetite and thirst also cause decreases in eating and drinking—because we’re simply responding to our body’s decreased demands for food and water. But when our appetite doesn’t match our actual nutritional needs, this can lead to real health challenges like:
Digestive challenges, including pain and discomfort
Malnutrition or nutrient deficiency
Loss of muscle mass
Changes in demeanor or mood
Difficulty tolerating medications or medical treatments
These changes can have distressing consequences for both seniors and their caretakers.
Long-term muscle mass, for instance, can decrease functional strength, putting seniors at a higher risk for falls and injuries.
Plus, losing strength is frustrating: activities as simple as carrying in groceries can become challenging when we lose muscle mass.
Marijuana for Appetite Stimulation: Demystifying the Munchies
You’ve likely heard that cannabis can stimulate appetite: a phenomenon affectionately called “the munchies.” Seniors (and anyone struggling to maintain a healthy appetite) can use marijuana’s appetite and thirst stimulation effects to their advantage to support their overall health.
Does Marijuana Always Make You Hungry?
There are two important things to know about the munchies before you consider starting medical marijuana treatment:
Everyone responds to cannabis differently – Not everyone gets the munchies—marijuana produces highly individual responses, and it’s hard to say how you’ll react to a certain medical cannabis product until you try it yourself.
Not every strain induces appetite – Some strains (subtypes of the marijuana plant) simply aren’t known for stimulating appetite or thirst. Strains are carefully cultivated by expert growers to hone specific chemical compounds, so different strains produce different effects.
As a result of both of these realities, you may have to experiment to find the right medical cannabis product: not every strain will enhance appetite or thirst, and it can take trial and error to find your ideal product and dose.
How Can You Find Out Which Strains Induce Appetite?
What does that trial and error process look like for medical cannabis patients? Here’s a quick step-by-step guide new patients can use to find their ideal product:
Consult with the pros – The first step on your journey with medical cannabis is getting a recommendation from a medical marijuana doctor—an expert who understands how cannabis works in your body, your state’s requirements, and other critical information. Your provider can recommend some products as a starting point and help you hone your routine to produce your ideal results consistently.
Document everything – As you try new products, strains, and doses, keep track of how you feel. You can use this data to identify trends and work with your provider to choose new products.
Embrace repetition – Trying a product once only creates one data point, but using a product consistently a few days in a row can help you develop a more well-rounded understanding of how your body reacts to a specific strain, dose, and administration method.
Does Administration Method Impact Appetite Regulation?
Speaking of administration methods, you might be wondering: do edibles make you hungrier than smoking a joint does? What about using tinctures or oils? Smoking vs. vaping?
It’s hard to predict how your body will react to a specific administration method: the best approach is to try multiple types of cannabis to see which one works best for you. While strains produce similar effects whether they’re smoked, vaped, or consumed, two elements of the administration conversation might impact your appetite:
Timing – While smoking and vaping typically offer fast results, ingestion methods (like eating edibles or dissolving a few drops of oil under your tongue) typically produce longer onset times. So, seniors who want to induce their appetite before meals will have to tweak their timing to optimize their chosen treatment’s effects.
Physical implications – For some patients, smoking may be uncomfortable. Discomfort while smoking or vaping may discourage them from eating or drinking. This is an important factor to consider for people using medical cannabis primarily for appetite stimulation: choose an administration method that makes you the most comfortable.
Again, this comes down to experimentation: it might take time to find your ideal method for administering medical marijuana.
Cannabis and Wellness: Nutrition Tips for Medical Marijuana Patients
You’ve found your ideal strain, dose, and method: what’s next? Here are some tips to optimize your treatment and prioritize a healthy appetite along your medical cannabis journey:
Keep healthy, calorie-dense foods on hand – If you’re trying to prevent malnutrition, you’ll need to eat nutritious foods during treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider about which foods will help you reach your nutritional goals.
Log your appetite and food intake over time – Logging your meals and overall hunger can help you track your results over time—this will help you and your providers determine whether or not your treatment is producing the results you’re looking for.
Don’t forget to hydrate – Luckily, marijuana often also stimulates thirst. Make sure to prioritize hydration on your medical cannabis journey.
And remember: if something isn’t working, talk to your provider about trying a new or different product. With so many options on the market, there’s truly a medical cannabis product out there for everyone.
Unlock All-Natural Relief with TeleLeaf
For seniors struggling with appetite, medical cannabis can be a game-changer: its appetite and thirst stimulation properties can be leveraged to help seniors maintain a healthy diet as they age.
With all of this in mind, you might be asking, “Can I get a medical card online?” In many states, the answer is yes. And TeleLeafis here to guide you through the process.
We’re passionate about connecting patients in need with expert providers—all from the comfort of home. All you need to do is make an appointment, and our medical marijuana doctors will reach out via telehealth. We’ll get to know you, learn more about your health goals, and determine whether or not medical cannabis may be right for your wellness journey.