February 26, 2021 10:21 am ETEstimated Read Time: 6 Minutes
With cannabis still breaking free from the chains of stigma and propaganda used to ruin its reputation, many who are using cannabis as a substitute for other medication may be doing so without consulting with a physician first. This is causing concern throughout the medical industry cannabis as it’s unknown if it can disrupt established treatment plans. It is for that reason that we will uncover why you should consult your doctors before substituting medication with cannabis.
The Importance of Discussing Cannabis With Your Physician Beforehand
According to research published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, consuming cannabis without prior consultation is considered a ‘lack of integration’ in the eyes of your primary health physician. This leads to serious concerns since treatment options have already been established. The same study revealed that patients generally had low confidence in the physician’s ability to integrate cannabis treatment into their existing treatment plan. However, patients shouldn’t integrate cannabis into treatment plans without consulting physicians beforehand because they may not fully comprehend the interactions between cannabis and certain medications. For example, cannabis has been found to negate certain medications, while acting complementary to others but the average person wouldn’t be able to determine this while a physician can.
Boehnke, Litinas, Worthing, Conine, and Kruger were the researchers on the aforementioned study that explored “communication between healthcare providers and medical cannabis patients regarding referral and medication substitution”. This study found that 64% of patients began medical cannabis use based on their own past experiences, rather than based on the advice of a physician. It seems that most patients would rather not consult their physician due to the lack of confidence in their physician’s cannabis knowledge. Despite that, physicians are experts in pharmacology, know how to access cannabis education to form a professional medical opinion, and should be consulted first anyway.
Why Consult a Physician First:
Perhaps the most important reason for consulting a physician before substituting medications with cannabis is to ensure your safety as well as to ensure treatment efficacy.
To establish a treatment plan with cannabis where the medication and cannabis are working synergistically.
To select a more appropriate method of consumption with the lowest risk to you.
To ensure that your doctor is aware of the cannabis consumption, should something change in your condition. Especially since we still have much to learn over the interactions between cannabis and types of pharmaceuticals.
Depending on your state, you may need a prescription from a physician to access medical-grade cannabis. You will want to do this to ensure quality and safety. Cannabis obtained through illegal channels is unpredictable and riskier. Not to mention that this is the only way to do it legally.
By consulting with your primary care provider first, they may be able to point you in the direction of a more knowledgeable physician in your state, or even towards medical cannabis trials- which you may qualify for.
Lastly, another study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine stated that 24% of their respondents found that their healthcare providers were the most influential sources of information since they were less likely to endorse incorrect beliefs regarding cannabis, such as those regarding cannabis use problems. In other words, consulting a physician first can provide clarity and certainty in an industry that is plagued by misinformation, as long as they aren’t biased.
Tips for Discussing Cannabis With Your Physician
Do understand that, despite the federal status of cannabis legality, you and your physician are fully protected by confidentiality laws which make talking about cannabis safe. Consulting your physician, or care-provider, over the consumption of cannabis is protected by the First Amendment, which means that there will be no punishment for physician-patient communication. But do take these suggestions into consideration:
Why You Should Get Your Medical Marijuana Card
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Have your complete medical history and prior treatment plans ready- especially if the physician does not have these already.
One needs to come prepared so that you may be able to support your desire for cannabis to be included in treatment plans, since many physicians may push back against cannabis. The same study which was published in the Journal of Cannabis Research stated that,
“Although most participants disclosed cannabis use with their PCP (primary-care provider), their perceptions of PCP knowledge ranged widely and many obtained medical cannabis licensure from an outside physician. Our results highlight the need for standardized physician education around appropriate medical cannabis use”.
It is for reasons such as this that medical patients should come prepared, ask many questions and not be afraid to seek out more professional advice from other physicians. Additionally, you could put your health in jeopardy if you switch and swap pharmaceuticals unbeknownst to your physician because it leaves you at risk for potential adverse effects. So, when considering cannabis as the effective, botanical alternative, it is in your best interest to consult your doctor beforehand to ensure a smoother transition with the least amount of negative implications. In the same vein, it’s also imperative that physicians and healthcare providers become educated on medical cannabis to promote confidence in patients who wish to pursue cannabis therapy.
Fortunately, Veriheal has made the process much easier for you. Our team includes ready-to-consult doctors who are knowledgeable about cannabis and who will try their best to advise you on cannabis treatment, instead of trying to steer you away from it. It is still recommended that you consult your primary care provider first but remember that the Veriheal team is ready, waiting and worthy of your trust regarding our expertise.
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