If you are like most people, you have no idea how to talk to your doctor about cannabis!
In this article we will suggest three ways to help start the conversation. However, first there are some facts you should know about this amazing plant.
Cannabis is an arid plant and an adaptogen. It adapts to both its environment and the needs of the people who use it via manipulation during cultivation. Cannabis is directly related to Hemp, whose main purpose has traditionally been industrial. Hemp was legalized in the United States via the Farm Bill of 2018. While cannabinoids are present in cannabis and hemp, it is Hemp from which nearly all CBD is extracted. You see CBD is sold everywhere and it is helpful for spasms, neuropathy, seizures, pain, relaxation, anxiety and sleep to name a few of its uses. Your doctor does not have to recommend CBD which can be purchased over the counter.
Another fact which will help your understanding when you speak with your doctor, is that the cannabis plant in its raw, untreated/unheated state doesn’t produce intoxication and may be juiced or eaten raw. It is only when heated that the cannabinoids, notably THC changes chemically and becomes mind altering. THC is the only psychoactive major cannabinoid and works positively on (among other things) pain, nausea, lack of –appetite, sleep, cancer and level of energy.
Traditionally, there are two main cannabis plants namely Sativa and Indica. Sativa is known as uplifting while Indica often creates fatigue and sleep. Nearly all cannabis sold in dispensaries are hybrids of both Indica and Sativa. You may request “indica or sativa leaning hybrids” depending on the action you are seeking from your medicine.
Finally, know that in a legal state your doctor is protected from the federal laws against recommending cannabis by several statutes, however cannabis remains in a Schedule 1, federally illegal and not recognized by the federal government as having any medical value.
Now you are ready to talk to your doctor!
If you are new to cannabis have an idea of what you are seeking from this plant and how you’d like to take it. While most people don’t want to smoke, inhalation is rapid onset, non-cancer causing and easiest to dose via one inhalation at a time. Edibles can take an hour or more to start working, a tincture can be fast acting if you can hold it under your tongue for three minutes but becomes an edible upon swallowing. Creams work in the area they are applied. Creams, salves do not cause euphoria and ones containing THC can be very effective against pain. Think about how you’d like to consume. It is possible to use different methods, topically with a cream, an edible before bedtime and smoking for a very quick onset. All new users should start low and increase dosing slowly.
The three things we recommend you discuss with your doctor are the following:
Number one. Ask yourself what you’d like to achieve by using cannabis. Write down what your health needs are and their treatment. Do this for each medical problem.
Second, although we have outlined some important points on cannabis, educate yourself further. The Human Endocannabinoid System, which is the largest system in the human body, is a great start. It regulates balance by utilizing your own cannabinoids which you make internally and are identical to the cannabinoids in the plant. Visit informational websites like United Patients Group who have an extensive library of articles, podcasts and information.
Third, in order to have a conversation with your doctor, ask him/her what their opinion of cannabis is. Don’t be afraid to ask, it is not illegal to ask, nor is it illegal for the doctor to discuss cannabis.
It’s important to note, while doctors in legal states may have no objections to cannabis use, they may opt not to write cannabis recommendations for patients. In some states this requires special education. If they are a recommending physician, ask them to write one for you. If not, many states have a list of recommending doctors and companies who provide this document which allows the medical purchase of cannabis.
These three important steps will help you discuss cannabis and perhaps give you access to this amazing plant. Keep your primary care doctor “in the know” about your cannabis use and how it is helping you. Keep a journal as you may also be educating him or her! Additionally, cannabis can create a need for adjustments or changes in medication. The doctor or NP who is writing for your cannabis should be in touch with your primary doctor to discuss the effects cannabis may have on you, your medications and your health.
If your doctor doesn’t agree with your use of cannabis, ask them why. It may become a teachable moment or you may need to find a new primary physician.
In conclusion, this should be the beginning of a pathway to successful cannabis use! When discussing cannabis with your doctor, remember, not all doctors understand or know much, if anything, about the Human Endocannabinoid System, the Entourage Effect and cannabis. Always be kind, and respectful.
It’s your health!
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