Medicinal Cannabis works It's can be a natural potent option for many conditions with a really manageable side effect profile. Often my clients say the improvement feels seamless. Getting the right formulation, dose and recognising when to adjust as circumstances change is an important part of prescribing. Medicinal Cannabis not only addresses symptoms of concern but may support a system of wellbeing. I believe that Medicinal Cannabis can support the process of lightening and thus providing a deeper understanding of harmony between mind and body. This is what interests me endlessly. The neuroplasticity that comes with easing symptoms allows for other ways of self care to take place. It is all part of the holistic way.
How it works The use of medicinal cannabis and medicinal cannabinoid oils (often called CBD) is being used all over the world for the treatment of a wide variety of conditions and illnesses. Australia has one of the most highly regulated systems for access to medicinal cannabis.
To gain access to a prescription of medicinal cannabis, an application must be submitted to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as well as the state or territory department of Health.
Eligibility and Approved Conditions To be eligible, there has to have been side effects or not effective control with usual recommended treatments for the condition. Also requires assessment to not have contraindications such as heart, kidney, liver, significant mental health disorders or addictions. There needs to be more research done in the area of Medicinal Cannabis but for some, when conventional treatments have not worked, it may be an option worth considering. For a prescription to be granted, a Patient must have a condition approved by the TGA for treatment using Medicinal Cannabis.
Understanding the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) Many people don’t know that your body produces its own cannabinoids, also called endogenous cannabinoids. Cannabinoids (more specifically exogenous cannabinoids) are also found in the cannabis plant! Endogenous cannabinoids work on your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is believed to have appeared 500 million years ago and is found in every living creature, even sea squirts!
The ECS may be the most important biological discovery of the 20th century. It has its’ hand in the regulation of multiple biological processes including stress, emotion, memory, cognition, sleep, digestion, inflammation, movement, pain, psychomotor behaviour, and metabolism to name a few.
It works by regulating the release and degradation of neurotransmitters within both the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral immune system. These neurotransmitters allow signals to propagate which in turn allow us to continue to function and keep our body systems in balance.
As touched upon previously, there are both Endogenous cannabinoids (made within our bodies) and Exogenous cannabinoids (made outside of our bodies). The cannabis plants’ two most well-known exogenous cannabinoids are THC and CBD. But there are hundreds more. The cannabis flower also contains other active ingredients which include terpenes and flavonoids that have their own unique therapeutic properties as well.
These cannabinoids fit by lock and key mechanism into two types of receptors found throughout our bodies; The CB1 and CB2 receptors. These are located in the cell walls of nerves, and when activated allow them to communicate.
CB1 receptors are found mostly in the brain and spinal cord. They are among the most abundant G protein-coupled receptors in the CNS. They are 10-times more common in the brain than opioid receptors. CB2 receptors are found mostly in the immune system which hints at the potential ECS immune-modulatory role.
Understanding Cannabinoids Cannabis plants are plants from the botanical genus Cannabis. There are different species and numerous strains of cannabis plants, all of which contain cannabinoid compounds with varying effects. The most common cannabinoid compounds are (delta-9) tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabinol (CBN).
The term medicinal cannabis also covers a range of dosage forms such as capsules, sprays, dissolvable wafers, oils, and tinctures.
Cannabinoid properties that might be of therapeutic use include pain relief, anxiety and depression relief, muscle relaxation, immunosuppression, anti-inflammation, anti-allergenic, sedation, improvement in mood, appetite stimulation, treatment of nausea or vomiting, bronchodilation, neuroprotection, and cancer symptom control.
Potential side effects include altered thinking, judgement and sensation reduced coordination, panic, paranoia, and slowed reaction time. Caution should be taken in patients already on medications that are metabolized in the liver or have liver, kidney or cardiac dysfunction.
If the decision is to treat your chronic illness with medicinal cannabis, it will be with the ‘Whole Plant Medicine’ approach. This is due to the evidence-based on what is called the ‘Entourage Effect’. In other words, they work better together than without each other - the perfect marriage. The treatment will not only have both THC and CBD in variable concentrations based on the product chosen but will also include cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids - all found within the cannabis plant. This approach is essential in maintaining balance in your body.
Research and Resources We have some positive findings so far, but far more needs to be done. Take a look and let’s have a chat! Resources include:
FAQ 1. Do I get a script with my first appointment? If you are eligible, yes! A script gets emailed to the pharmacy and the medication gets posted to you free of charge. The first script is either oil or capsules or cream. It is not routine to prescribe THC dominant flower initially.
2. How often do I need to see the doctor? After the initial appointment, follow up is usually 1-2 weeks until the optimal dosing is reached. This may vary require a few weekly or fortnightly appointments initially depending on your how you respond. It may take 2-4 weeks for medication to take full effect.
3. Can I drive with medicinal cannabis? If the formulation is CBD only then yes! For more info Click here. 4. What do I need to tell my employer? It is important to know what your rights are when disclosing medical information to the employer. Click here for more information.
5. Repeat Scripts? Repeat scripts are given once you reach a steady state of managing symptoms well with the formulation prescribed. Make sure you make an appointment at least a week before your Medicinal cannabis runs out so you can get a script on time. All repeat scripts need an appointment.