Integrating Medical Cannabis Into Your Health Regimen
Healthcare in the Western world is dominated by doctors, physician assistants, nurses and other professionals who practice “standard” medical care. There are, however, others that specialize in providing compassionate integrative medicine and use all healing sciences to promote health and prevent illness.
Dr. Donald Abrams, a world-renowned doctor utilizing the latest integrative cannabis therapies with patients, is on the record for saying “I believe people, especially those getting cancer treatments, really benefit from having both a Western diagnosis, as well as a whole-person approach. Good nutrition is an important part of the prescription, but other options are: fitness training, massage, acupuncture, herbs, biofeedback, meditation, guided imagery, integrative psychiatry, yoga, or tai chi.”
“I believe people, especially those getting cancer treatments, really benefit from having both a Western diagnosis, as well as a whole-person approach.” – Donald Abrams, MD
When integrating cannabis into your health regimen, it is imperative that your healthcare team is well informed about the different methods of medicating. They should be learning and keeping current on the subject at all times because things in the industry are changing fast. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get your current team on board as opinions and attitudes toward cannabis in the medical profession range from condemnation to an unwavering embrace.
Finding a doctor who understands the endocannabinoid system, and is willing (or in some cases legally able) to have open dialogue with you regarding delivery methods, dosing, cannabinoid ratios, etc., is no easy task.
Different types of medicine
- Integrative medicine is a total approach to care that seeks to restore and maintain health and wellness by understanding and monitoring a patient’s physical condition, as well as addressing a full spectrum of mental, social, spiritual, and environmental circumstances that may affect one’s overall health. Integrative medicine is not the same as alternative medicine or complementary medicine (defined below). If the defining principles are applied correctly, care can be “integrative” regardless of which modalities are utilized.
- Conventional medicine, also referred to as standard, mainstream, traditional, western, biomedical or orthodox medicine, focuses on treating illness and disease with pharmaceutical drugs, surgery, and radiation.
- Alternative medicine is used in place of traditional medicine. Alternative treatments are generally closer to nature and less invasive than mainstream therapies, but the term “alternative medicine” is often used as a catch-all for any procedure or treatment outside of conventional practices. Not all alternative therapies have been scientifically validated, but anecdotal evidence continues to mount in support of many of these treatments. Traditional alternative medicine includes practices such as acupuncture, Ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathy, and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) just to name a few.
- Complementary medicine is used alongside standard modalities to diagnose and treat symptoms. Common complementary health approaches include yoga, tai chi, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, massage, and special diets. This form of medicine aims to treat your body, mind, emotions, and “energy” together.
Integrating medical cannabis into your care plan
Where does medical marijuana fit in? Choosing a lifestyle that values wellness achieved without a prescription is a viable and effective treatment option for many patients, especially one that includes the practice of micro-dosing THC. Patients want good outcomes with good value, and using cannabis as complementary and alternative therapies can provide both.
How to begin micro-dosing THC from medical cannabis
Micro-dosing THC is achieved by consuming medical cannabis containing the THC compound in smaller doses (i.e., micro-doses) over an extended period of time, allowing a patient to achieve the full medicinal benefits with little or no side effects. The size of a micro-dose varies from patient to patient, and can even vary for the same patient depending on many other factors, e.g., the potency of the product, the patient’s tolerance, severity of symptoms, etc.
Physiological attributes such as your weight and metabolism can also affect your experience, as well as the method of delivery. Ingesting an edible, particularly on a full stomach, will take longer to feel its benefits as opposed to inhalation of cannabis. That’s why some patients have found that simply nibbling on an edible throughout the day can be an effective therapy for treating such things as anxiety, pain, eating disorders and such.
A starter’s guide to micro-dosing THC
- Infused Edibles – 1 mg to 5 mg of active cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc…)
- Concentrates (Extract/Oil) – small dab, e.g., size of a pinhead to a grain of rice, <5mg of active cannabinoids
- Bud (Dried Flower) – one to two draws from vaporizer or smoking apparatus
After a micro-dose session, you should not feel “high” or ready to crash on the couch. When micro-dosing cannabis is done properly, utilizing small amounts of THC or THCa, you should begin feeling relief from some of the debilitating and aggravating symptoms that ail you without significant loss of mental and physical capabilities.
Use the same dose and ratio for several days and then carefully adjust subsequent doses (up or down) to settle into your optimal micro-dose. Don’t forget that individual physiological attributes such as your weight and metabolism can affect your experience. And don’t worry if you overmedicate. This phenomenon, often referred to as “greening out” can be a very unpleasant and even scary experience, but you’ll be just fine.
Cautions and warnings
Cannabis is routinely and responsibly used by millions of happy, successful, and productive individuals – of all ages, color, sexual orientation, professions, and incomes. Patients are encouraged to explore their options and to find medical professionals who have embraced modern approaches in healthcare.
The information contained herein is for educational and informational purposes only for patients exploring using medical marijuana as treatment. The information provided is general in nature. For answers to specific healthcare questions or concerns, consult your healthcare provider, as treatment for different people varies with individual circumstances. This content is not intended in any way to substitute for professional counseling or medical advice.