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How to Talk to your Doctor about Medical Cannabis

By August 23, 2018 January 14th, 2019 No Comments
"how to talk to your doctor about medical cannabis"

As more clinical trials and scientific studies are completed, more doctors are opening up to the truth about cannabis. Cannabis has been used for thousands of years therapeutically in many cultures around the world. While much of the evidence regarding its medicinal and therapeutic evidence has been anecdotal, science is finally able to back up many anecdotal claims. In this guide, we’ll help you figure out how to talk to your doctor about medical cannabis and if it’s the right approach for you.

Ask about your Doctor’s Personal Position on Cannabis

Why is your doctor’s personal stance important? This section will explain it. One of the first questions you should ask your physician is how they personally feel about cannabis. This will help you gauge their true feelings on the plant and if they’d be open to a discussion at all. A doctor that favors cannabis is more likely to be open to discussing how the natural approach could benefit your health condition.

If your physician is adamantly against cannabis or just isn’t educated, it is okay to follow up with a question like, what do you know about cannabis? When a doctor says that they don’t know much or haven’t read up on it, make a few suggestions. Should you receive an answer that only reiterates the negatives that have been instilled in the minds of people for decades from the government, approaching the topic may not be a great idea.

asking a doctor about cannabis use

Bring References with You

It may impress your doctor if he or she can see that you’ve done some research yourself. Take references with you that show actual scientific and/or clinical information that is specific to your symptoms or health condition. If your doctor is not educated on how cannabis can help your condition, the information you provide may be helpful.

Make sure that the information is from a reliable source. A study, journal publishing or accredited doctor should be the main source. The more credible the resource, the more likely your doctor will be to consider the information.

Do your best to find information from the past three years. Technology and science both advance rapidly. The newer the information, the better. It is also ideal to include references that use actual cannabis and a placebo and show the results of both. Double-blind studies are also acceptable. It is best to use information that is current, valid and uses a larger group of participants.

Cannabis research has been very limited, but more is being able to be conducted as laws begin to loosen. Studies from international sources are also acceptable since a great deal of cannabis research takes place in Israel.

Discuss Side Effects Experienced from Pharmaceuticals

Side effects from pharmaceuticals is a common reason that medical cannabis users make the switch. Pharmaceuticals often have long lists of side effects. While some can be mild, others can be bothersome or lead to additional health problems. This can lead to the prescribing of additional pharmaceuticals to combat the symptoms of the previous side effects. For some, it can begin a downward spiral of adding medications just to combat side effects.

It is important to stress to your doctor how the side effects are impacting your overall quality of life and how they really make you feel. Stressing that you’d like to take a more natural approach to your treatment plan is ideal. While it is your doctor’s job to take your best interest into consideration and use the information he or she has learned through education, the doctor must also listen to what you, the patient, wants.

When discussing the side effects, do not exaggerate just because you’d prefer to use cannabis. Be honest and open. Some pharmaceuticals just make you feel “off”, it might be unexplainable, but you might just not feel well.

If the side effects have gotten worse over time or you feel like you’re taking too much medication – bring that up too.

cannabis capsules and pills

Discuss Products you think would be Beneficial

Some doctors may think that a patient just wants to smoke cannabis and enjoy a legal high. If you are in a recreationally legal state, there are no worries. Some doctors, however, will not prescribe certain medications if you do use cannabis recreationally.

It is important for you to look into the available products in your local area and bring some suggestions to your doctor. Along with these products, discuss why and how you think they would work better for control of your symptoms. Research the strains, cannabinoids, terpenes and additional ingredients of a product. Make sure the information you provide to your healthcare provider is factual and not anecdotal.

For example, if you’d like to start using a tincture for inflammation or anxiety, explain that a cannabis tincture starts to absorb sublingually and may start providing relief in minutes, not an hour or more like a pill-form medication.

If edibles would be more to your liking, explain that the cannabinoids in the edible digest as food does and do not produce immediate effects. The symptom relief experienced could be multi-hour depending on the dose of the edible. An example of using edibles effectively is ingesting them to combat insomnia. You’d consume the edible one hour before your planned bedtime. The cannabinoids will start to take effect as you’re lying down, helping your mind and body relax. This prepares your body for sleep. It may help you fall asleep faster and may be more successful in helping you get a full night’s sleep without feeling any residual effects upon waking.

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Discuss the option of using CBD products with your doctor. CBD is non-intoxicating, so your doctor may be more open to a conversation about this instead. Most CBD products are derived from hemp. Not all states have approved medical cannabis. In some states, only CBD products are allowed. 

Be your Own Advocate

It is important that you advocate for yourself. If necessary, seek a second opinion. It is important for your health conditions to be controlled in a proper manner. Some health conditions will still require the use of pharmaceuticals, but you may be able to reduce your dose with the inclusion of cannabis.

If your doctor is resistant to the inclusion of cannabis, ask that he or she listen to your reasons for wanting to include it as part of your treatment. You may have already experimented with medical cannabis to see if it gave you relief before talking to your doctor. If you have already found relief through cannabis, your doctor needs to know that the natural approach produced better results than the medications you were taking.

researching about strains of cannabis

Closing Thoughts

When approaching your doctor about medical cannabis, make sure to keep an open mind. Not all doctors are open to this discussion as some may just not be comfortable out of fear of retaliation from the federal government. Make sure that your condition is one that could benefit from using cannabis and that it is a medical cannabis qualifying condition in your state. The more prepared you are for this conversation, the more open your doctor may be to having it.

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