While the use of cannabis in the medical field has only seen a surge in the past decade or so, cannabis has been used in Chinese medicine since as far back as 4000 B.C. Today, there are over 330,000 individuals registered as medicinal cannabis patients in Canada.
The stigma surrounding cannabis stems from the population of recreational users. Unfortunately, these negative connotations keep many individuals with chronic pain and debilitating illnesses from seeking medical cannabis for its therapeutic properties.
Some also may not be aware that cannabis has a non-intoxicating element called cannabidiol (CBD) that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and a muscle relaxant. Individuals who suffer from osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain conditions often experience relief from some of their symptoms by using CBD oil. They also note the absence of unwanted side effects that can accompany pharmaceutical painkillers.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the element in cannabis that causes that psychoactive or euphoric feeling, but it is not without its medicinal benefits. THC can alleviate neuropathic pain, ease nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy, treat PTSD, and aid sleep.
Our bodies have an endocannabinoid system that produces endocannabinoids within our body. When we introduce cannabinoids into our system from cannabis, the cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid receptors in our body to help treat symptoms associated with illness. This is just to say that our bodies have a built-in system designed to interact with the elements found in cannabis plants.
Having said that, medical cannabis does not work for everyone and should only be used if traditional medical treatments have failed. Medical cannabis should be sought as a third line of treatment only. Our physicians take care to ensure that health and medical history are thoroughly assessed to ensure that medical cannabis is a safe and constructive choice for the patient. Our goal is to afford our patients the ability to make an informed decision about medical cannabis so that they feel in control of their treatment.
According to the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), dried cannabis should only be considered for patients with neuropathic pain that has failed to respond to standard treatments. The CFPC also states that cannabis is not appropriate for patients under 25, patients with a history of psychosis, patients with an active substance abuse disorder, patients with cardiovascular disease, nor patients who are pregnant or breastfeeding. For an in-depth look into the CFPC’s position on medical cannabis, visit College of Family Physicians of Canada site.
Moreover, the Pain Society of Alberta asserts that medical cannabis is a reasonable option for patients with intractable chronic pain, and that a complete physical and history should be performed in order to accurately assess a patient’s indications for medical cannabis. For more information on medical cannabis as a treatment for chronic pain, visit Pain Society of Alberta site.
It is important to keep in mind that medical cannabis is very individualized; what works for one person may not work for another. Medical cannabis treatment plans are generally tailored to the individual patient based on symptoms, needs, lifestyle, etc.. It’s all about what works best for you.
If you are interested in trying medical cannabis or would simply like to learn more about it, ask your family doctor about a referral to Imagine Health Centres for a Medical Cannabis Consultation. Our knowledgeable physicians will address any questions or concerns you may have regarding medical cannabis.