Medical cannabis products are being increasingly used to help patients manage symptoms associated with a variety of physical and psychological conditions. The medication has not always been legal; it was not until 2018 that it was rescheduled from schedule 1 to schedule 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in the United Kingdom. Plenty of other countries around the world have made similar changes. Medical cannabis can now be accessed (under strict circumstances) for patients in countries across Europe, North and South America, and the Oceania region.
But how does the prescription medication actually work? And how does medical cannabis differ from illicit street cannabis? Read on to find out!
History of medical cannabis
Medical cannabis is by no means a new invention. The medication has been prescribed by doctors for thousands of years to help manage symptoms associated with everything from epilepsy to chronic pain. Here lies an important distinction — medical cannabis does not cure any of these conditions. Rather, it can be used as a strategy to help reduce symptoms.
Unfortunately, politicians and governments have not always seen eye to eye with medical cannabis advocates. In the United Kingdom, for example, the medication was prohibited in 1928 as part of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1920. It was then further criminalised in 1971 when it was added to the Misuse of Drugs Act as a Class B substance.
Only following extensive campaigning from advocates and medical cannabis specialists was the medication rescheduled in 2018, making it more widely accessible. Despite this, there are still barriers to prescription, both in the United Kingdom and across the world.
The cannabis plant
The cannabis plant is a member of the Cannabaceae family and is a flowering herb. It originated in Central Asia but is now grown all throughout the world for a variety of purposes.
The plant itself contains more than 400 molecules, many of which are known as cannabinoids. Two of these cannabinoids — THC and CBD — are used for medical purposes.
Depending on the medical cannabis product you are prescribed, your medication may contain other ingredients from the cannabis plant, including minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant compounds. Keep in mind, however, that medical cannabis is very different from illicit cannabis. It is grown in a highly regulated environment under strict conditions. As such, it is free from pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants.
If you have been prescribed medical cannabis and have any concerns about the active ingredients in your medication, speak to your consultant.
Medical cannabis and the endocannabinoid system
But how does medical cannabis actually work?
Well, to understand medical cannabis, you have to get a handle on what’s known as the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a widespread biological system that is believed to be involved in a wide variety of body functions, including everything from mood to appetite.
A number of CB1 and CB2 receptors are found throughout the body: CB1 primarily in various brain structures (including the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus) and CB2 in immune cells. Interaction by medical cannabis with these receptors can help patients manage the symptoms associated with a variety of psychological and physical conditions, including anxiety, depression, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and more.
It’s important to note that medical cannabis is not a cure. Rather, it’s a strategy prescribed to help patients manage symptoms of these disorders. However, the fact that many of these conditions are chronic in nature and don’t currently possess a cure makes medical cannabis a valuable therapeutic option.
Accessing medical cannabis
Rules and regulations surrounding the availability of medical cannabis vary depending on where you are in the world. In the United Kingdom, medical cannabis can only be prescribed by a doctor listed on the Specialist Register of the General Medical Council. The NHS recommends these medications are not prescribed as first-line treatments, meaning they are generally more appropriate for patients who have been diagnosed with a chronic condition and have tried numerous treatment options without success.
If you are interested in accessing a medical cannabis prescription, try first speaking to your general practitioner. They may be on the Specialist Register or know of a doctor in your area who is. Alternatively, keep in mind that there are plenty of CBD doctors online who can conduct an eligibility test and appointment via telehealth. Telehealth offers many advantages, not least that it increases accessibility of services to people all across the country.
A CBD doctor online will take into account a range of factors when deciding whether medical cannabis is the right treatment strategy for you. These factors include your medical history, how you have responded to other types of medication, and your symptoms.
For more information about how medical cannabis works or to discuss whether a medical cannabis prescription is an appropriate option for you, contact a CBD doctor online or in-person medical cannabis consultant today.
Author Bio:- Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.