Monthly Archives: July 2020

Who Do We Treat with Medical Cannabis Clinics

Who do we treat & what do we prescribe?

The clinicians who make up the Medical Cannabis Clinics’ network of prescribing doctors treat patients suffering from a wide range of conditions, symptoms and disorders across all ages and genders. Medicinal cannabis has such incredible pharmaceutical potential, there’s almost no limit on its benefits, no matter how complex or rare a condition may be. With this in mind, let’s take a detailed look at exactly who our patients are and how we treat them:

Which conditions do we treat?

By breaking down the diagnoses of our patients, it’s clear that the overwhelming majority suffer from pain conditions, including chronic pain, regional pain and named disorders such as fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and spinal cord injuries. However, what should be noted is that pain is often a complex condition and will present as a symptom alongside other diagnoses such as spasticity and anxiety. As a result, many of our patients are treated for multiple diagnoses.

Anxiety accounts for another 21%; a condition which is often co-morbid with depression and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). In this category, social anxiety, insomnia and even eating disorders can be treated with cannabinoid medications.

A further 10% of our patients suffer from epilepsy. When the use of medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in 2018, the very first cannabinoidal medication (prescribed by our own clinical director — Professor Michael Barnes!) was given to a young boy suffering from PCHD-19, which is a rare type of epilepsy that can result in up to 30 seizures a day. This disorder, alongside many other forms of epilepsy, does not respond well to traditional medications but can be treated extremely effectively with medical cannabis.

Our patients also suffer from disorders which fall under the oncological, psychiatric and gastroenterological categories. Whilst it’s not always easy to define complex diagnoses, our team of expert doctors, who are specialists within their respective fields, are here to provide the highest-quality care to every single patient.

What do we prescribe?

Your treatment will follow an assessment consultation; after an initial appointment, patients discuss a treatment plan with their prescribed clinician which works for them and their lifestyle as it’s important to always take into account pre-existing medications and activity cycles. There is no ‘one size fits all’ — every case is fully-assessed to ensure the most effective results. 90% of all of our initial appointments will result in a prescription.

38% of our patients report that they have previously tried managing their conditions with illegal cannabis which, because of its unknown and greatly-varying levels of THC (the psychoactive substance found within cannabis), can be incredibly dangerous. A further 16% also said they had bought over-the-counter CBD oils. These unregulated products pose their own risks and are often completely ineffectual as medical treatments.

We prescribe 66% of our patients oil-based medications, which can come in the form of capsules, tinctures and even topical lotions. The specific dosage and strain depends on the conditions and symptoms the patient presents but any medication we prescribe is legal, safe and fully-regulated.

Cannabis flower-based medications and over-the-counter products can also be prescribed. In order to provide the most effective treatment possible, our specialists are committed to guiding and supporting patients through the entire treatment process and provide medication adjustments where required.

What are the results?

Once they have begun treatment, the overwhelming majority of our patients report good results. To be more specific, in follow-up appointments:

  • 47% of patients will continue with their prescribed medication
  • 19% continue on a higher dose
  • 19% will be prescribed a slightly different product or strain in order to maximise their treatment’s effectiveness

Patients usually report significant improvements in their conditions and symptoms with little or no side-effects, especially compared to traditional medications they have used in the past.

If you would like to learn more, you can read through our full range of conditions. We accept all patients, whether you are referring yourself or another person. To book your first appointment, simply book using our form.

Medical Cannabis Terminology

Understanding Medical Cannabis Terminology

Understanding how to get the best medical cannabis care is hard enough in our current legislative environment without having to deal with an array of complicated terms too. 

Fortunately, we’re here to help you out with this so you know your THC from your terpenes. Read on to get clued up on all the terms you need to know.  

Cannabis

Cannabis refers to the genus (family) of plants that includes cannabis indica, cannabis sativa and cannabis ruderalis. 

This is the term that the medical and corporate cannabis sectors are most frequently adopting, as it legitimises the use of the plant by consumers by avoiding the racially problematic or stoner subtexts associated with the word: ‘marijuana’.

Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that act on the body’s cannabinoid receptors and often alter the neurotransmitter release of the brain. CBD and THC are some common cannabinoids you might already know. 

CBD

This is the most common cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, also known as Cannabidiol. CBD is also, notably, the most prevalent non-psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is practically pure CBD (often 99.9% pure) that’s separated through extraction from the rest of the cannabis plant’s terpenes, flavonoids and other cannabinoids.

CBD isolate is one of the purest forms of CBD you can get, with it being made up almost entirely of CBD alone, but it may still contain extremely small amounts of other cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes sometimes.

Dronabinol

Dronabinol, often marketed as Marinol, is a drug used to treat nausea and vomiting experienced by people going through chemotherapy. As is typically the case with other cannabis-based medicines, dronabinol is typically given after conventional medicines have been used and proved ineffective.

Dronabinol is also sometimes used to treat the loss of appetite and weight loss experienced by those who have developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Entourage Effect

Without getting too in-depth on this topic, the ‘entourage effect’ is the theory that cannabis may be more effective when it’s in its natural state than when specific cannabinoids are singled out and used alone. 

While the supposed effect is not entirely confirmed, although many researchers and professionals believe the theory to be true, the term was coined back in 1999 by scientist Raphael Mechoulam who theorised that when the various compounds of the plant are used together they elicit more therapeutic effect than when the compounds are used in isolation. 

The well-known example of Mechoulam’s entourage effect is the way in which CBD seems to mitigate the psychoactive effects of THC – cannabis products with a high CBD to THC ratio appear to have less detrimental psychoactive effects upon patients for instance.

Epidyolex

Epidyolex is a cannabinoid-based medicine used to treat seizures from certain epileptic conditions like Dravet or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. These forms of epilepsy are particularly rare early childhood forms, with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome affecting between 1 and 5 out of every 100 children with epilepsy whilst Dravet syndrome affects 2 or 3 children per 500 children with epilepsy. Both forms are also often resistant to typical forms of treatment.

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are natural phytonutrients and compounds that are found both in the cannabis plant and in a large number of fruits and vegetables.

Full-spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD contains CBD as well as a number of other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids found naturally in the cannabis plant. This may, in some cases, include THC. Basically, it is not pure CBD, it is CBD and a mixture of other constituents of the cannabis plant. 

Hemp

A form of the cannabis plant has a particularly low THC content (below 0.3 percent) typically used industrially. Hemp cannot elicit a high due to its low THC content. 

Herbal Medicine

Herbal or botanical medicine is defined as any herbal remedy that has biological activity which is shown to support health and wellness. Indeed, as defined by the NHS: Herbal medicines are those with active ingredients made from plant parts, such as leaves, roots or flowers’. 

Marijuana

This definition is more complicated. 

Many still see the word simply as a shorthand for conveying that the cannabis being mentioned is psychoactive. Indeed, as described by the National Geographic in their cannabis issue, when referencing recreational cannabis use (likely with psychoactive strains) in laws such as California Proposition 64, the term marijauana is typically used over cannabis, with this case in particular ‘frequently using the term “marijuana”, including using it in the full title of the act, while rarely mentioning “cannabis”’.

Additionally, some prefer to use the term ‘marijuana’ to describe ‘a high THC variety of [the] cannabis plant’, with Self magazine defining marijuana as: ‘Specifically the cannabis sativa species; [which] typically has high amounts of THC and moderate amounts of CBD, depending on the strain.’.

However, the word itself has a problematic racialised history, so many companies and professionals are now choosing to use the term ‘cannabis’ only. 

Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis is the term for plant derived cannabis products that are prescribed specifically by medical practitioners.

Phytocannabinoids

Phytocannabinoids are compounds naturally occurring in the cannabis plant that are distinct from synthetic cannabinoids that are man-made and endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids naturally occurring in the body.

Recreational Cannabis

Recreational cannabis is defined as any cannabis used for non-medical purposes. Throughout Europe, recreational cannabis is mostly illegal.

Sativex

Sativex (clinical name- nabiximols) is an oromucosal spray containing cannabinoids and is the first cannabis-based medicinal product to be licensed in the UK. Sativex is currently the only licensed drug in the UK for the treatment of spasticity caused by Multiple Sclerosis.

Like with many other cannabis-based medicinal products, Sativex is only recommended for use when other conventional treatments have proved ineffective.

Synthetic cannabinoids

Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made chemicals that act like THC, cannabis’ main psychoactive cannabinoid, as they affect the same receptors in the brain. 

However, synthetic cannabinoids are considered to be far more dangerous and unpredictable than naturally occurring cannabis as they affect the brain in a more powerful way, creating far more serious side effects.

Terpenes

Terpenes are compounds that are responsible for giving cannabis its distinctive smell, with these fragrant oils being deemed responsible for the plant’s flavour, with different strains of the plant possessing distinct tastes dependent upon their terpene content.

THC

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the most prevalent psychoactive cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. It generally constitutes between 12 and 20 percent of the dried content in some strains of cannabis and up to 25 to 30 percent in more potent varieties.

THC is most well-known as the compound that creates the high typically associated with recreational cannabis use.

If you’d like to book a consultation, you can find our form here.

Medical vs Recreational Cannabis

Medical vs recreational cannabis

The global cannabis landscape is something that’s changing all the time. And in different corners of the world, there’s different laws being put in place and different attitudes towards the substance being exhibited. All this varying legislation and opinion can understandably leave those new to the scene confused about what it all means, particularly considering the wide array of jargon that’s used without explanation in the numerous news articles being published on the subject daily. 

So, we thought we’d address one of the fundamental cannabis basics that many remain confused about when coming across cannabis literature and debate for the first time: the difference between medical and recreational cannabis.

What is medical cannabis?

The term ‘medical cannabis’ is used to reference cannabis-based products that are prescribed by medical practitioners to relieve or help with the management of medical conditions. These medical cannabis products may come in many forms like oils, tinctures, edibles or capsules. 

Basically, the defining quality of medical cannabis is that it’s used solely for the treatment of medical conditions, and it’s given with the authorisation of a medical professional, typically as a prescription.

Two cannabis-based products that are fully authorised by NICE and are available for prescription by medical specialists in the UK are Epidyolex and Sativex – which are used to treat patients with severe epilepsy syndromes and spasticity related to multiple sclerosis.  

However, more medical cannabis products than this should be possible to prescribe. Medical cannabis in general has been legal in the UK since November 2018 and the advisory body NICE specify that although doctors should take their guidance into account, the choice to prescribe medical cannabis lies within the discretion of individual specialists. So theoretically, GMC-registered specialists within the UK could be prescribing medical cannabis products much more frequently than they currently are.  

Doctors operating with The Medical Cannabis Clinics are consistently working to make prescribing medical cannabis in the UK a more commonplace practice, so stigma within the country can be eroded and more patients can get access to medical cannabis care for a wider range of conditions

To sign up to become a patient with us click here, or to learn more about prescribing with us click here

What about recreational cannabis?

Recreational cannabis is defined as any cannabis used for non-medical purposes. In many parts of the world, recreational cannabis remains illegal. 

Recreational cannabis is also unregulated and this could be a very serious issue in a lot of cases as this may lead to people unwittingly consuming cannabis that has very high levels of THC, as the cannabinoid ratio in recreational cannabis can vary immensely from strain to strain. You never really know what you’re getting with recreational cannabis, whereas with medical cannabis you be be sure of the content of what you’re consuming.

Another issue with recreational cannabis is that, in some cases, harmful pesticides may have been used when cultivating the plant, which could lead to you inadvertently consuming toxic chemicals when smoking. With medical cannabis though, if traces of pesticides are detected in the cannabis being used, this will most likely lead to a health and safety recall.

Many are under the impression that recreational cannabis may be legalised in many areas across Europe in the coming years. While Portugal acted ahead of the curve by decriminalising cannabis along with other drugs back in 2001, other European nations like Germany, Croatia, Greece, Switzerland and Spain now seem to gradually be making steps towards decriminalising recreational cannabis too, as the punishments in place for possession appear to be changing from more severe penalties to lesser punishments like rehabilitation treatments or fines.

We only recommend taking cannabis-based products following a consultation with a medical professional, and do not advise patients on the recreational use of any cannabis-based products. 

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, our GMC registered specialists will identify the appropriate cannabis medicine care plan and products for patients following a comprehensive assessment which includes an in-depth evaluation of the main symptoms being targeted, current medications, pattern of symptoms and lifestyle factors such as safety-sensitive occupations. 

They will also monitor and adjust the medication on a regular basis to ensure the best effect with the fewest side effects. There is also a carefully designed process in place to monitor patients’ well-being, with follow-up appointments after a week and then every month, for three months after receiving a prescription.

To register for treatment with our specialists click here