Cannabis therapy, often referred to as medical marijuana, has garnered significant attention in recent years for its health benefits. However, before considering cannabis as a treatment option, it’s crucial to understand some essential facts. Here are ten key points to consider:

1. Understanding Cannabis

Cannabis is a plant that contains various compounds known as cannabinoids. The two primary cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

THC is often thought about as being responsible for the psychoactive effects, but in reality, is responsible for most of the proven medical benefits as well. THC has been studied intensively for both benefits and harms for over 50 years and has the most robust data to support its use as medicine.  The psychoactive effects (or intoxication) are real and should be viewed in the medical context as a side effect and managed as such.

CBD, while non-intoxicating and much ballyhooed for its potential therapeutic properties, has in fact never been conclusively demonstrated to provide relief for any symptom or disease in adult human beings. Furthermore, CBD can interact dangerously with many conventional medications and may pose some direct risk on its own.

CBD, while interesting to study at this point, is not generally recommended by cannabinoid specialists.

2. Medical Applications of Cannabis Therapy

While many advocates discuss how cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, there are many herbs and flowers that have been used in the past that we no longer use today due to toxicity or lack of efficacy. Based on sound modern scientific research, today, cannabis is prescribed for various conditions such as chronic pain, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, and PTSD.

However, its safety and effectiveness vary depending on the individual, the condition being treated, dose, timing, and other factors. It is essential that cannabis is not used for medical purposes on a DIY (do-it-yourself) basis. Patients should seek the care of a knowledgeable and caring cannabinoid specialist to ensure they’re getting the best and safest treatment.

3. Legal Status

The legal status of cannabis varies by country and region. While some places have legalized medical and/or recreational cannabis, others still prohibit its use entirely. It’s crucial to understand the laws and regulations in your area before considering cannabis therapy.

Furthermore, it is important to discuss the risk of traveling with cannabis medicine with your cannabinoid specialist physician. They should know the legalities of the process and be able to advise you on whether taking cannabis with you is advisable.

4. Potential Risks of Cannabis Therapy

Despite its therapeutic potential, cannabis is not without risks. High doses or escalating doses can lead to dependence, impaired cognitive function, respiratory issues, and mental health problems, particularly in adolescents and young adults (less than 25 years old). Additionally, there may be legal consequences, depending on where you live.

5. Dosage and Administration

Determining the right dosage and administration method is essential for safe and effective cannabis therapy. Both the dosage and the appropriate method of administration will vary based on factors such as genetics, tolerance, and the specific condition being treated.

While cannabis can be used in various forms including smoking, vaping, edibles, oils, and topical creams, most of these forms are either unsafe or ineffective. Your cannabinoid specialist can explain which is safest and most effective for your condition.

6. Side Effects of Cannabis Therapy

Like any medication, cannabis can cause side effects. The most common side effect is intoxication. Other side effects include dry mouth, dizziness, increased heart rate, and rarely chest pain.

It’s essential to discuss potential side effects with a healthcare provider before starting cannabis therapy. Like any medication, these side effects are managed by careful attention to dose and timing.

7. Drug Interactions

Cannabis and its constituent cannabinoids can interact with other medications, potentially causing dangerous effects. THC is generally, but not always, less likely to cause these interactions compared to CBD which interacts with a wide range of dangerous medications.

It’s crucial to inform your healthcare provider about all medications, supplements, and herbs you are taking to avoid any potential interactions.

8. Variety of Strains

Cannabis comes in various types that are often called “strains”. Many believe that these types have unique effects, and the cannabis industry promotes the idea that different strains have different medical value. However, this has never been shown to be true. In essence, this becomes marketing hype to keep patients buying and trying strain after strain.

What is clearly of greater importance to the safety and efficacy of cannabis strains is the potency. This is a case of more is not better. Many cannabinoids are thought to work together to produce the desired benefit, and strains containing a higher percentage THC simply have lower percentages of the other, necessary cannabinoids. Middle of the road potency is actually better. Ask your cannabinoid specialist for more details.

9. Research and Evidence

While there is growing evidence supporting the use of cannabis for certain medical conditions, more research is needed to fully understand its efficacy and safety. Weeding (pun intended) through the maze of scientific literature on this particularly thorny subject is quite difficult and requires a background in both medicine and scientific research. See the next item below.

10. Patient Education

Unfortunately, it is difficult to find reputable sources of information online, with one recent study showing that only 3% of online information was correct and from reputable sources. Ultimately, your best source of cannabis guidance, as with all medical issues, is to consult with healthcare professionals (cannabinoid specialists) who are knowledgeable about cannabis therapy.

Cannabis therapy holds promise as a treatment option for various medical conditions, but it’s essential to approach it with caution and informed decision-making. Understanding the facts outlined above can help individuals make educated choices about whether cannabis therapy is right for them.

As with any medical treatment, it’s crucial to consult with healthcare professionals and adhere to the prescribed regimen to ensure the best possible outcome.

Consult with a Qualified Boston Medical Marijuana Expert Today

Those considering using THC, CBD, or any type of medicine found in cannabis to help manage their condition should consider speaking to a trained medical expert who is knowledgeable about using cannabis therapeutically. Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler, M.D. sits on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has years of experience helping patients treat pain and other ailments using cannabis. He and the team at InhaleMD stand ready to assist patients in determining whether medical marijuana is right for them.

For more information, or to set up a virtual consultation with the team at InhaleMD, call us at (617) 477-8886 today.

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