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Article by Cannadoc

Getting a Referral: How to Talk to Your Doctor About Medical Cannabis

Opening up to your doctor about alternative treatments such as medical cannabis might be daunting for a number of reasons. You might be anxious about the fact that medical cannabis is a very new type of treatment in Australia, and both you and your GP might not have much experience in this area.

What this means for you as a patient is that you should undertake a bit of preparation before approaching your GP about medical cannabis and asking for a referral to our clinic. Because, as there are a few hurdles to clear when applying for medical cannabis, being prepared in this area is important.

Improving your health and getting your symptoms treated shouldn’t be stressful, but if you are concerned about how to talk to your GP about medical cannabis as a potential treatment, the information provided here will point you in the right direction.

Why Being Prepared for Your Consultation is Fundamental

Although talking to a GP about medical cannabis and being referred to a medical cannabis clinic in Australia might fill you with worry, being prepared always helps. Even though many doctors might be reluctant to prescribe medical cannabis, some patients are finding it is changing their lives for the better every day. And by approaching your doctor with the following facts, the appropriate mind set, and these tips, you will soon be on your way.

Gather as Much Information on Your Condition as Possible

The more you know about your health condition and the ways that medical cannabis might affect you, the better. So begin by researching your illness as much as possible. Be knowledgeable about your condition before approaching your GP and being referred to a medical cannabis doctor – this way, you will have more of an insight into your GP’s responses and questions.

You should also look into the benefits and potential disadvantages of using medical cannabis, specifically in relation to your illness and symptoms, and be prepared to potentially answer questions about your choice of treatment.

Approach Your GP with Appropriate Questions

Your list of questions will act as a guide and help you to find out more about the uses of medical cannabis in relation to your condition. They will also show that you are serious about this line of treatment and are committed to finding out more. Asking about things like side effects of medical cannabis, or its potential interactions with other medications you might be taking, are both important questions that shouldn’t be forgotten. Being familiar with these things will also assist the Cannadoc doctors during your initial consultation.

medical doctor

You might also go a step further and ask about the most appropriate form of medical cannabis to take. If your GP is unsure ours doctors are experts in this space and will educate you thoroughly. Ask the right questions, as their referral to a medical cannabis clinic in Australia is important for your treatment.

Let your doctor know that you considering specialist medical cannabis doctor seriously.

Study Up on Types and Effects of Medical Cannabis

You might find it a challenge to discover information on the effects of medical cannabis but learning about its properties is another important step to take. As a relatively new treatment, medicinal cannabis has many unknowns. Learning about the way it affects the endocannabinoid system, for instance, requires a lot of research.

By being aware of the clinical trials and studies that have been undertaken into medicinal cannabis you will be able to understand the advice of your medical cannabis doctor at Cannadoc more easily. You will also be able to actively participate in the discussion concerning your quality of treatment.

It also helps to be conscious of the range of forms that medical cannabis can take and the possibility of ingesting it via different types of food.

Being knowledgeable on the pros and cons of medical cannabis can even go a long way to informing your GP where they might lack information. So, not only is approaching a medical cannabis doctor advised for further information via a referral, you should also provide your GP with the details of your medical cannabis clinic. This way, your GP can gain more information about medical cannabis.

Remind Your GP that Medical Cannabis is a Legal Medicine

The fact that your GP might not be completely knowledgeable about medical cannabis means that reminding them it is a medicine is sometimes necessary. The fact that it helps alleviate patients’ symptoms on a daily basis means it is a useful medicine that is regulated and approved by a medical body.

The fact remains, though, that medical cannabis was only legalised fairly recently in 2017. This means that reminding your GP that it is legal might also be important in some cases.

Highlight that Past Treatment Plans Have Been Unsuccessful

Once you have sufficient knowledge of your condition, medical history and ways that past treatment has been unsuccessful, you should use this as a basis to consider medical cannabis as a treatment.

The fact that past treatments have been unsuccessful is a requirement to be eligible for medical cannabis treatment, so being prepared with a log of your previous treatments is highly recommended. Having details on your past treatments, why they have provided slight relief versus why they have for the most part failed is a useful approach. With these details, your GP may refer you to a medical cannabis clinic in Australia, will also help you.

This means you should come prepared with your notes to help you explain each of your unsuccessful treatments. By describing the negative psychological and physiological side effects, for instance, you can make your GP aware that medical cannabis could be a better alternative to your past treatments.

Think About What You Expect from Medical Cannabis Therapy

 

As your GP will refer you to a specialist medical cannabis doctor such as Cannadoc, not only should you discuss your symptoms, you should consider your expectations of medical cannabis based on your research. Your medical cannabis doctor will validate your symptoms, and the more information you provide them with, the more of a case you can build to access a better quality of life.

Sharing what you expect to get from a medical cannabis treatment reinforces your commitment to alleviating your symptoms.

People Also Ask

What should I do if my GP knows little about medical cannabis?

If you find that your GP doesn’t know enough about medical cannabis, inform them that there are various sources and information available. You can carry out your own research and provide your GP with the details of a specialist medical cannabis clinic in Australia.

What should I do if my GP declines to support my requirements?

If your GP declines to help, don’t worry. You still have other options. You might choose to go to a different local GP and present your research to another doctor, or call our medical cannabis clinic in Australia directly to gain further information.

Webinar Education Series: Q&A and Latest Trends

Back by popular demand, we are hosting another Q&A webinar and this time including a discussion on the latest trends happening in the field! There are some exciting updates to discuss!

If you are a current patient or have any questions about medicinal cannabis then please join us. Maybe you have a success story you would like to share or are wondering if medical cannabis is right for you? Or perhaps you wanted to get a better understanding of cannabis therapy?

All these questions and more will be answered by a qualified medical doctor. We look forward to seeing you at the event!

Please enter any questions or topics you wish to discuss during registration and we will do our best to get through as many as we can over the hour.

Register here:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HPlUtrtFR7aK0rbiAsGtyA

You can also register and send us questions by emailing us at info@cannadoc.com.au.

Is Cannabidiol (CBD) effective in the treatment of Autism in children? Part I: the evidence.

Is Cannabidiol (CBD) effective in the treatment of Autism in children? Part I: the evidence.

by Dr David Feng

Most people have heard by now the therapeutic benefits of a medicine derived from cannabis call cannabidiol or CBD. Perhaps the most well-known indication for the use of CBD in children is for severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy. Cannabidiol appears to work particularly effectively in this clinical setting and is generally well-tolerated by patients.

There is also growing evidence in scientific literature (Russo 2011) that CBD may have a host of other therapeutic benefits, such as being:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic
  • Anti-nausea
  • Antipsychotic
  • Anti-anxiety.

However, the research is somewhat sparce when it comes to CBD in the treatment of children with Autism, a complex clinical condition that often produces a host of troubling symptoms such as aggression, hyperactivity, and anxiety.

One study conducted by Barchel et al. in 2019 prompted me into looking at this further for such patients presenting to our clinic. In this study, researchers in Israel trialled CBD in 53 children aged 4 – 22 years old with Autism. They found that 67% of treated patients exhibited lower levels of self-injury and rage attacks, and 68% showed a reduction in hyperactivity symptoms. Sleep problems and anxiety also improved in 71% and 47% of children treated, respectively. One downside was that 8.8% of children in this trial showed increased behavioural issues (self-injury and rage attacks), and 23.5% showed increased anxiety levels. This shows that this medication may not work for all patients, so good clinical judgement is recommended.

The researchers in this trial discovered that CBD was generally-well tolerated, but some occasional mild side effects were noted. These were most commonly sleepiness and change in appetite, but these all resolved over time.

Armed with this knowledge, I began to experiment with CBD treatment in children within our clinic over the last year, and the results have been astounding. Many of the patients we have seen thus far have had dramatic improvements in their Autism symptoms, ranging from improved sleep and reduced aggressive behaviours, to reduced anxiety, improved cognitive function, and reduced hyperactivity. Every patient I have seen so far have had no significant issues with side effects that necessitated them to stop. Suffice to say that I was blown away by how successfully this medication has worked for this patient cohort.

In part II of this article, I will run through a case study which exemplifies some of the results we have generally seen in our clinic. Hopefully, this will shed more light into the therapeutic benefits of this amazing medicine.

References:

Russo E. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 2011. (163) 1344–1364.

Barchel et al. Oral cannabidiol use in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder to treat related symptoms and Co-morbidities. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2019. Volume 9; Article 1521.

Medicinal cannabis in Spinal cord injuries: A clinician’s perspective

By Dr David Feng

I work as the Medical Director for Cannadoc Health, and in recent months I have been receiving more referrals from doctors about helping their patients with spinal cord injuries. Many of the patients who I consult have a very similar story.

After the initial trauma of the injury, many spinal cord injury patients develop a Chronic Pain Syndrome that tends to worsen with time. This happens as the injury itself causes permanent nerve damage to the spinal cord. The damaged neurons can send off abnormal, irregular, and high intensity pain signals irrespective of any ongoing injury. Over time, such patients become more ‘sensitised’ to the pain, setting off a cascade of secondary symptoms that inevitably worsens their discomfort.

As the pain condition progresses, these patients begin to lose sleep, their muscles start to waste away, and they begin to suffer intermittent cramping and spasms of their muscles. They often describe anxiety, depression, and insomnia because of the chronic nature of the pain, which further drives their distress. This becomes a vicious cycle of pain leading to emotional distress, leading to more pain. Eventually, such patients can become so physically and emotionally worn-down they no longer have any quality of life.

By the time such patients come to see me, they are often at the end of their tether. The majority will have tried a host of traditional front-line therapies such as strong narcotics (or opiates), nerve pain medications, anti-spasm medications, anti-inflammatories, as well as other more invasive treatments. If they come to see me, it means these therapies have not worked well. In such situations, it may be worthwhile exploring a trial of medicinal cannabis.

I have seen spinal cord injury patients that go from severe and daily debilitating levels of pain (often quoted as “15/10” pains) with poor quality of life, to “less than a 1/10” pain within a month of starting cannabinoid therapy. Initially, I thought this was too good to be true, but when this continued to happen consistently, I realised this was no fluke. This is the reason I decided to pursue this relatively new field of medicine; I wanted to find and help others who are suffering similar tragic circumstances.

Therefore, if you are suffering from chronic, debilitating pain, and you have tried and failed traditional therapies for pain relief, consider seeking advice from your doctor about the potential therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis.

In a decade of medicine, I have yet to find a better pain medication than medicinal cannabis in terms of its risk to reward profile. No, it is not going to work for everyone, but for those it works for, the results can sometimes be simply astounding.