Is there any habit besides vaping that triggers more righteous indignation among people who know next to nothing about the topic? Maybe. While we're not experts, it's worth examining the emerging data, since there might actually be health benefits to be gained by vaping. Seriously. So let’s step back consider two distinct vaping trends:
- Recreational vapers, blowing billowing clouds of bubble-gum flavored vapor that often includes nicotine.
- Medicinal vapers, sucking in vapor that contains cannabidiol (CBD) and / or THC.
Regarding the former, as detailed recently by the New Yorker, Juuling is a form of vaping that has become massively popular among teens and 20-somethings. The Juul is a pod-style vape pen that contains nicotine, which everyone knows is extremely addictive, but it’s not (apparently) as bad for you as the tars in tobacco.
Juul of the nihilists
Indeed, Juul users are apt to see cigarette smoking as a vile habit, even as they become addicted to the nicotine in their Jules. Instagram is full of Juulers who celebrate the fact that they are cultivating a costly bad habit, as they flaunt their disdain for common sense.
Contrast the Juul craze with medicinal vaping of CBD, a cannabis compound that does not get you high, but may in fact relieve anxiety, and help with other conditions, including:
- Neuropathic pain
The obvious difference between these two types of vaping? Juulers are young, medicinal vapers are mostly not. Pretend we’re in a video game (some people believe we are). Young people have health points to burn. Baby boomers have spent the bulk of their health points and are trying to make wise choices, and you know, conduct a raid on the Black Temple so we can advance to the next level.
Smug boomer bias aside, if Juuling prevents youngsters from smoking, that's a good thing, as we know that smoking kills about 1,300 people in this country every day, day after day. As noted by the New Yorker, this a bona fide public health calamity, but those who are dying are just old boomers expiring 40 years after they started a bad habit, so no one really cares. Still, the kids hitting their Juuls might want to consider what the health consequences might be four decades from now. No one knows yet, as the vape craze really took off in the last decade. One thing we might see happen: If these kids can ever kick the nicotine, they might eventually switch to vaping CBD.
The old man and the CBD
Boomers are at a point where our bodies require more care. To get it, we have to navigate a broken health care system. It would be cool if we could get it together and fix it by the time millennials are our age — that's another story. But today, achieving sustainable good health often means discovering hacks that will not deplete our health points, and might even let us accrue a few. That’s a big reason that boomers are medicinally vaping CBD, which:
- Has anti-inflammatory properties, useful against the aches and pains we have from inflammation.
- Is a neuro-protectant, and may help stave off Alzheimers and dementia.
- Reduces anxiety without poisoning you, which makes it uniquely precious in the chronically messed up times we live in.
Your doctor is not apt to prescribe CBD, much less ever have heard of it. But if you accept the notion that CBD could be good for you — and if you take responsibility for your own health — you might want to at least try it. CBD can be taken by tincture, capsule, balm and paste. Why convert it to vapor and suck it into your lungs? Because vapor bypasses your digestive system, obviously, including your liver, and allows the medicine to instantly enter your bloodstream, where it can act upon your endocannabinoid system and start giving you immediate relief.
Still… it makes some people nervous to use their lungs as a drug-delivery system, because, you know, emphysema and such are pretty horrific. Not that there's any evidence that vaping causes lung disease. But there hasn't been a lot of study, and remember all those old people dropping dead four decades after they became smokers.
So, if you are going to vape, you'll want to pay attention to the carrier liquids in your CBD formulation (pure CBD will crystallize, it has to be broken down into liquid form via an additive) and practice vaping CBD experimentally, more or less, until we get the all-clear on exactly how safe vaping is.
Unless… you already have a chronic disease and CBD gives you relief. In that case it makes sense to get as much in you as fast as you can, right now. Or, if you're already old enough that it doesn't matter to you what vaping might do to your lungs. Because if CBD works for you, you could clear out most of your medicine cabinet, and probably flush the opioids down the toilet.
Pen-style cartridge vs. mod
Experimentally, I have vaped two brands of CBD:
- VapeBright, a pen-style cartridge that comes pre-loaded with a CBD oil formulation that uses MCT oil as a carrier liquid, and includes aromatic terpenes from the hemp plant.
- Respira, a hemp oil from Elixinol, which uses vegetable glycerine as a carrier liquid and can be consumed sublingually, or in a tank-and-coil style vaporizer known as a mod.
My impressions? Each has a distinct flavor that will remind you of cannabis. That’s to say, dank and grassy, and not unpleasant. Neither made me high, but after hitting on the Respira about 10 times one day, I noticed a definite sense of relaxation.
I don’t have a chronic condition, but I do have aches and pains occasionally. Has vaping CBD helped with those? I can’t say yet. For me, the CBD balm I use has been more impressive in terms of pain relief.
Over the long term, could the neuroprotectant properties of CBD help maintain brain health and even protect against disease and aging? Former NFL players are among those who are betting that it will. I'm giving it a try, and honestly, I'm not a dedicated vaper yet. Not to say I won't become one. But I'm a runner, and my lungs are precious to me. Any time I vape, I listen closely to my lungs. If and when they make me cough, I cool it.
On the other hand, my mother has Alzheimer's, and so did her mother, and I'm serious about taking any steps I can to avoid that dreaded disease. Studies like this one, which concludes that “cannabidiol exerts a combination of neuroprotective, anti-oxidative and anti-apoptotic effects against beta-amyloid peptide toxicity,” while far over my head, give me hope: If a little CBD every day keeps the beta-amyloid plaque away, I'm down.
Stay tuned; the long strange trip continues…
For more detailed information on vaping, download our Guide to Medicinal Vaping for Boomers, available at the bottom of this page.