Dear Nurse Susan: Getting Good Medical Direction

Dear Nurse Susan,
I have an autoimmune disease and I told my doctor I’d read that cannabis may help my disorder. He said he did not want to discuss cannabis and wouldn’t give me any information on what to buy or how much to take. I went to the dispensary near me but there were no medical professionals to guide me. If I wanted to try medical marijuana, what should I do? Thanks for your help.
- Janice J.

 

Hello Janice,
I hear this from my clients all the time. Unfortunately, this is the current state of affairs because cannabis is still illegal on the federal level, so many physicians are not willing to discuss cannabis with their patients, in an effort to protect their federal DEA number that allows them to prescribe medicine.

Doctors that do prescribe medical cannabis cards typically spend little time with patients once the card has been authorized and the patient is again on their own. As a result, patients are falling through the cracks and will seek help on their own at their local dispensary.

What commonly happens is the staff at the dispensary – budtenders- don’t know what to recommend for a medical issue, so they recommend too much THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis), and as a result, the patient has a bad experience and abandons cannabis as a therapeutic option. What a shame, because it is quite possible that cannabis may be the most effective nontoxic medicine for their condition. Also note, that you can benefit from cannabis without the “high”.

If you want to explore cannabis as an option for managing your symptoms and disease processes, there is a lot of information on the Internet. If you prefer the one-on-one approach, find a cannabis nurse in your area by going to the American Cannabis Nurses Association website: http://cannabisnurses.org. They will educate you on the endocannabinoid system, the components of cannabis and how they work in your body, dosing (the most important aspect of a successful cannabis regimen), modes of administration, and safety. An excellent introduction to how cannabis works in your body is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-OEpwgv6aM. There is also a resources list on my website at dearnursesusan.com.

Finally, if you prefer your information delivered in bite-size pieces, stay tuned to this column for weekly “Green Bites.”

All the best in your search for good health,

Nurse Susan


Dear Nurse Susan: Is It Snake Oil?

Dear Nurse Susan,
Does medical cannabis (aka marijuana) really do all the things that I’ve been hearing about lately? It sounds more like snake oil to me. I’ve heard it helps cancer patients, it helps insomnia, it helps kids with autism….REALLY? I think it just gets people high and they forget about their problems. What’s the real story about “medical” cannabis?
- Curious about Cannabis

 

Dear Curious,
As more states legalize either medical and/or recreational cannabis it seems that both the facts and the misinformation continue to grow. Given that cannabis is a political hot potato with decades of stigma surrounding it, separating fact from fiction can be a challenge.

I understand your skepticism about the broad and almost unending list of symptoms and diseases that benefit from the use of cannabis. Our society is so conditioned to pharmaceutical interventions that are single focused, i.e., antidepressants for depression, anxiolytics for anxiety, opioids for pain, etc., not to mention the drugs they prescribe to manage the side effects caused by the pharmaceutical drugs and any interactions between those drugs! It’s almost unheard of to be able to take one medicine (cannabis) that does all these things: kills pain, reduces depression and anxiety, plus much more. And by the way, that one drug is nontoxic with only minor side effects such as dry mouth, when used strategically and responsibly. Also note, that you can benefit from cannabis without the “high”. Sounds too good to be true, huh?

Cannabis and the science around it has grown exponentially in the past 50 years. There are more than 25,000 medical studies on cannabis that support most of the claims you read on the Internet or see in the media. If you are interested in reading them, go to the National Center for Biotechnology Information website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and search the terms: cannabinoids, cannabis, marijuana, etc. There is also a resources list on my website, dearnursesusan.com.

Finally, if you prefer your information delivered in bite-size pieces, stay tuned to this column for weekly “Green Bites.”

I hope this helps balance your skepticism a bit,

Nurse Susan