CBD & Medical Cannabis: Breaking The Stigma

Streets Of Toronto X Apollo Cannabis Clinics

Since the legalization of recreational cannabis in 2018, CBD (cannabidiol) has become a much more openly discussed topic in terms of medicinal uses. But did you know that medical cannabis has actually been legal in Canada since 2001? What started as a treatment option for end-of-life diagnoses has turned into a research-driven phenomenon that is allowing patients with a variety of varying conditions to reduce, and sometimes even completely eradicate, their reliance on pharmaceutical medications. The reason this is such a win for patients is that not only does medical cannabis act on our naturally occurring endocannabinoid system, but the side effects are much safer in comparison to pharmaceuticals such as opioids.

How does medical cannabis have the ability to assist with so many different conditions?

To be clear, medical cannabis does not cure any conditions or diseases (that we know of) – it is a medication that can help patients best manage unwanted symptoms (such as chronic pain) and improve their overall quality of life. To explain how, we first have to discuss something called The Endocannabinoid System.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is found in all mammals and is made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors – more receptors than any other system in the human body. Human bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids, which in turn act on the receptors to produce a physiologic response. Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant (such as CBD) introduce extra cannabinoids into the ECS and can help to regulate many of the body’s functions including mood, pain, sleep, hunger, inflammation, and more. Because of this, many of the same symptoms from differing conditions can be treated and managed – chronic pain, insomnia, inflammation, etc.

Does using medical cannabis mean I have to get high? What will my friends and family think?

The stigma that used to be associated with marijuana was definitely not a positive one, but that has since changed. In fact, the highest-growing demographic of Canadians using CBD or medical cannabis has actually been older adults and seniors. The main reason for this is because of its effectiveness in treating inflammation and pain while having a very low side effect and drug interaction profile.

One of the most common concerns is that a patient needs to “get high” in order to utilize cannabis as a medication; the answer is absolutely not. In fact, patients are not even recommended to smoke cannabis, as better options exist including easily ingestible soft gel capsules and oil. The main goals of medical cannabis physicians, such as those at Apollo Clinics, are to work with each patient to find a personalized dosing strategy that allows them to best minimize their unwanted symptoms, and is never to intoxicate someone. CBD by itself is non-intoxicating, while high doses of THC (which is what is used at recreational levels) is what can cause the feeling of euphoria or the “high” associated with cannabis. That said, THC definitely does have its uses in the medical world at low doses. A medical cannabis physician will work with each patient to ensure they feel safe, informed, and only use what strains, products, and ingestion methods they feel are right for them personally.

What conditions can medical cannabis best help with?

With such a wide range of conditions that medical cannabis physicians see patients for, it is hard to list them all here. The most commonly treated include chronic pain, sleep issues, arthritis, anxiety, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Irritable Bowel Disorders, PTSD, autoimmune disorders, epilepsy, and cancer.

With continual clinical research being published around the use of medical cannabis for varying conditions, we expect to continue to find new ways in which it can help improve people’s quality of life who may be struggling daily with unwanted symptoms. One of the most common anecdotes heard in clinics is that an individual started to take medical cannabis for something like pain, but then found their anxiety went down and sleep quality went up all at once. This may also be in correlation with being able to reduce other more harmful pharmaceuticals that were being used to manage the same symptoms.

Like anything, there are always risks and side effects to be aware of when starting any new medication. While medical cannabis is relatively safe, it is always recommended to speak to a medical professional to ensure you are a candidate and that it won’t interfere with any existing medications.

Where do I start? Is a clinic different from the store down the street?

Recreational stores that you pass on the streets and can buy from in person are recreational only, and by law are unable to provide any medical guidance or advice around the use of cannabis.

If you are interested in learning more about medical cannabis and speaking to a healthcare practitioner, free specialty clinics are available to all Canadians, free of charge with no referral needed. Apollo Cannabis Clinics has a wide range of general practitioners, specialists, nurse practitioners, and support staff. To learn more visit Apollocannabis.ca or give them a call at 1-877-560-9195.

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