Monthly Archives: February 2021

How Medical Cannabis Helps HIV Patients

LGBTQ+ Month – How Medical Cannabis Helps HIV Patients

February is LGBTQ+ history month and, with TV programme ‘It’s A Sin’ taking the UK by storm and highlighting the AIDS Crisis in the 80s, we wanted to take a moment to show our support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Thanks to medical research, a positive HIV result is no longer the death sentence that it used to be. A key area in which medical cannabis has useful clinical application is around the management of symptoms relating to a wide range of conditions, notably those that require extensive therapy, and often in cases of chronic disease.

While there is now an effective pharmaceutical approach to the treatment of HIV, cannabis has been investigated for its potential in managing both the direct symptoms of the disease, in addition to the side effects of frontline treatments. These are mostly concerned with improving appetite, reducing nausea and relieving neuropathic pain.

Studies have indicated that up to a third of HIV patients use medical cannabis, and of these a range of benefits were reported, including improved appetite (97%), muscle pain (94%), nausea (93%), anxiety (93%), nerve pain (90%), depression (86%), and paresthesia (85%).

These sorts of findings support a more comprehensive study of medical cannabis for HIV treatments, with the aim of determining whether or not they can be introduced into public healthcare.

If you’re sexually active, it’s important to get tested regularly. Catching any diseases early are key to treating them successfully. We’ll be continuing to share research on how medical cannabis has helped treat symptoms over the rest of the month, and are proud to stand with the LGBTQ+ community.

Charles Cumming my legal cannabis journey first steps

My Legal Cannabis Journey | The Second Legal Prescription

In the third article of this four-part series, Charles Cumming continues to tell us about his journey with medical cannabis and how the second prescription continued to help with his Crohn’s disease symptoms:

“My second prescription arrived in two separate deliveries, due to stock levels and the pharmacy having to order in one of the medicines. Within a few days, I received a balanced flower called Pedanios 8/8 from Aurora, which contained 8.4% THC and 8.4% CBD. Around a week later, two higher THC products from Spectrum, named No.2 and No.4 arrived. Both of these contained higher levels of THC, at 17% and 21% respectively, and as these were stronger medicines I was advised to use less.

After using the previous balanced CBD:THC medicine, I was keen to try a higher quality product at a similar strength. Instead of being pre-ground this time, the prescription arrived in whole flower form. This product had a dry, dull scent which left me wondering how this might affect the vapour. It was fairly fast acting, taking around ten minutes to give me pain relief without making me feel overwhelmed or high. However, I found myself feeling more lethargic and it didn’t help as much with my depression or appetite as the previous prescription had. I also found the vapour slightly harsh, which left my throat drier than before – but I continued to use it despite this as the psychoactive effects were reduced and it still assisted well with the pain.

The Spectrum No.2 medicine, however, was almost perfect. Although this was a higher THC product at 17%, its effects suited my condition incredibly well. Doses were much smaller at around 0.8g and took around six to eight minutes to take effect. Any pain was almost instantly alleviated, energy levels were boosted, my depression disappeared and my appetite was boosted. The vapour was also smooth and had a pleasant taste, so I knew that this was a variety that I would be coming back to.

The Indica, or No.4, was well suited for night time use and was also extremely effective for pain and body aches. I weighed around 0.08g into my vaporiser, and within ten minutes the effects became very noticeable. My eyes felt heavy and it put my body into a very relaxed state, but it wasn’t overwhelming and most importantly, allowed me to get to sleep very easily. Any side effects were moderate, with the usual dry mouth and increased appetite, but the vapour was smooth and didn’t irritate my lungs. I felt tired the next morning, but this disappeared within a few hours.

When my prescription started running low, I emailed the clinic and booked in for my next appointment. My doctor’s focus was, again, on offering me the best quality available and the best prices available. I chose the Spectrum No.2 again, but this time in a slightly larger quality, and a new night time medicine which was cheaper from Israel – this hadn’t had much feedback from other patients, but with the cost difference I was happy to try it out.”

To see how Charles is now doing on his medical cannabis journey, come back to read the final instalment of his experience.

Charles Cumming my legal cannabis journey first steps

My Legal Cannabis Journey | The First Legal Prescription

After moving over from the black market to getting legal prescriptions of medical cannabis through The Medical Cannabis Clinics, Charlie Cumming continues to share his journey and how his first legal prescription helped his Crohn’s symptoms:

“When my first prescription arrived, it was in a discreet black envelope which contained two pots, each containing 5g of cannabis in different varieties. This was Bediol, a balanced THC:CBD variety of cannabis and Bedica, which was specifically for night time use. As it was late morning when this arrived, I started with the Bediol to help with the abdominal pain, nausea and depression that I was experiencing at the time. I wasn’t very experienced with balanced cannabis flowers, so I assumed the strength would be fairly mild as the levels of THC were around a third to a quarter of the usual black market cannabis I had been using. However, the initial effects were surprisingly powerful and, for the first twenty minutes, I actually felt the need to sit down after feeling quite light headed and dizzy. This only happened from the first dose, and subsequent doses in the days following didn’t show a repeat of this experience. After allowing myself to adjust to these new effects a much more balanced, calming effect took place.

I found that the treatment was effective for pain relief and the additional energy it gave me provided a considerable boost, allowing me to get on with things that I wouldn’t normally be able to. As well as its anti-emetic effects, it also helped calm my anxiety and distract me away from depression, and this lasted for a couple of hours before I needed to top up the dosage again. I kept the dosage amount fairly small, at around 0.2g. This was the lowest recommended dose on the label and also the most that would fit into my vaporiser cartridges. I found Bedica to be the most effective with the pain, and also good for other additional effects. The night time use recommendation was appropriate, as it helped me to feel deeply relaxed and managed the pain and stress symptoms so I could easily get to sleep.

I experienced a couple of side effects, with some fatigue the following morning and a dry mouth after use but these weren’t unbearable. The Bedica would sometimes make me feel ‘high’, but this feeling was manageable and contributed to the relaxation and sedation that it was intended for. I found that the Bediol even contributed to a more mindful approach to dosing, whereas higher THC products can be somewhat ‘moreish’, I didn’t find the Bediol addictive. I even noticed an increased focus after taking the Bediol, as it helped me block out the pain and allowing me to get lost in creative activities and household chores.

When my prescription ran out, I emailed The Medical Cannabis Clinics to book a follow up appointment, which cost £65. This seemed expensive as I’ve not been used to private health care, but I understood the importance of it once I was then prescribed a higher quality of cannabis, with three new varieties to try. Once again, I was able to make payment a few days later through a very simple online system and my prescription arrived in the following week.”

To carry on reading about Charles’ journey with medical cannabis and how his second prescription affected his symptoms, stay tuned for the third instalment of this series.

Charles Cumming my legal cannabis journey first steps

My Legal Cannabis Journey | Taking Those First Steps

Whilst medical cannabis is completely legal and a great method of treating pain symptoms, it’s still something that is available on the black market and there are still people self-medicating through this method. In the first of a four-part series, we caught up with TMCC UK patient Charles Cumming, who opened up about his struggles with Crohn’s disease and his journey into the legal cannabis market to treat this.

“After experiencing the symptoms of abdominal cramping, depression, low energy, anxiety, diarrhoea, bloody stools and weight loss, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2012. My condition seemed to be specifically exacerbated through high levels of stress, with flare ups happening after specific intense points in my life.

One of the most unpleasant symptoms of Crohn’s is diarrhoea, and this often inflicted severe pain in my abdomen and resulted in blood stools. Inevitably, this also contributed to water and nutrient loss and, eventually, malnutrition – which also meant that I lost weight, which wasn’t helped by the added loss of appetite that comes with the disease. The constant, and often very frequent, occurrence of this left me feeling like my body was being stripped of everything and I was left exhausted, sore, anxious and depressed.

Varying levels of chronic pain can be one of the hardest symptoms to deal with, from the low level pain to the more severe ‘stabbing’ abdominal pain. When the disease is active, I find myself feeling like a passenger in my own body, unable to control what’s happening but feeling everything throughout. It leaves me feeling completely helpless, which is a definite trigger for my anxiety and depression. The condition also often leaves me with chronic fatigue for long periods, sometimes due to the anaemia that can occur and also due to the inability to properly absorb food when the disease is active. My joints ache, my fingers feel stiff and I get sporadic muscle pain and headaches.

The first medication I was prescribed for my condition was a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) called ‘Asacol’, which I then developed a kidney condition called ‘Interstitial Nephritis’ through as a rare side effect. After coming off this medication for a few months, I did see some improvement, but then discovered through one of my routine blood tests that my estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) had dropped to 26. Due to this, it was advised for me to have a kidney biopsy, which confirmed Interstitial Nephritis. This particular condition held no obvious symptoms, but unfortunately had made some lasting and irreversible damage to my kidneys which halved the function that I once had. This diagnosis meant I was immediately put onto a high dose of steroids (Prednisolone), starting at 60mg a day to try and bring the inflammation  in my kidneys down. This gave me headaches, nausea, hot flushes to my face, insomnia, increased appetite and noticeable acne – with my facial appearance then causing me further anxiety and depression. This dosage was gradually reduced, eventually down to 10-15mg a day which I took for just over a year. My kidney function did improve slowly, and I was eventually stable around January last year.

Over the period of tapering steroids from 5mg to 0mg, I once again experienced daily chronic fatigue, abdominal pain and nausea. However, most distressingly, I also experienced extreme mood disturbances. Two weeks after completely coming off Prednisolone, my Crohn’s flared up severely and I was prescribed further medication with a four month course of Budesonide. This caused more extreme mood swings, together with tremors, muscle and joint pain, low mood and a general feeling of malaise. Then after quite an extreme panic attack, I decided that the drugs were doing me more harm than good and stopped taking them.

Most recently, I was prescribed further medication (Mycophenolate) as an attempt to further improve my kidney function before coming off the prescribed drugs. On this, I experienced tremors, muscle twitching, chills and shivering, dizziness, fatigue and more of a feeling of malaise. When I then collapsed on a busy train, I once again wondered if I would be better off coming off the medication.

At this point, I had experienced so many challenging and damaging side effects from pharmaceutical drugs, I started looking for a more natural option to manage my condition. After some research, I saw that cannabis had been a successful aid to others with Crohn’s, so I decided to purchase a small amount on the black market to try it for myself. However, I didn’t know the variety or quality and my methods of smoking it weren’t ideal, but it still did instantly make me feel better. At this point, I had insomnia, nausea, anxiety and was generally not feeling very well. I was expecting the cannabis to help me sleep, which it did, but it also calmed me down and helped with the anxiety and depression. It also seemed to manage my headaches and nausea, depending on the variety I purchased.

When my Crohn’s is active, my quality of life declines, and this is something that can drastically change with cannabis. It gives me the ability to function on a basic level and find comfort, distracting me from the distress and low moods and helping me eat when I’m struggling with my appetite. However, due to how I was purchasing this and the association of cannabis as a recreational drug, I would often be questioned by some of my peers as they struggled to see it as a safe treatment, despite my first hand experiences of the positive side effects. The black market contains a small percentage of people who are genuinely passionate about cannabis, who have an apparent focus on helping to improve health conditions. I’ve tried to meet suppliers through local cannabis clubs, but outside of that it’s difficult to know who or what you’re funding when the reliable sources dry up. The cannabis flower available on the black market is also normally high in THC, with very little availability for balanced varieties including levels of CBD. This is where the legal market really stands out, as all these concerns were then eliminated for me and any additional stress associated with trying to get my medication was also removed.

Using a legal prescription of cannabis helps me show others that it’s a legitimate and effective medicine, as when it’s legally prescribed it shifts the perspective from me ‘self-medicating’ an illegal black market substance to being prescribed a treatment via a trained doctor and a legal supply. I also allows me to consistently access a safe, balanced, high quality and reasonably priced product that I can use under professional guidance without breaking the law and putting myself at risk.

When I decided to book an appointment with The Medical Cannabis Clinic, it was a fairly straightforward process that was similar to a lot of other online booking systems I’d used previously. After registering, I received an email that I was able to click a link through to follow up with a confirmation of booking a time, date and specialist that I would be seeing. I was then able to pay for my initial appointment. I was sent a consent form to complete, which allowed TMCC to access my medical records from my local GP, as well as an additional form that allowed me to outline my conditions and current cannabis use. I even received a reminder email the day before my appointment, which told me exactly what I would need to bring as well as providing the link for where I would be meeting the specialist online.

In my appointment, the doctor was friendly, relaxed and explained how cannabis is currently prescribed. We talked honestly about the controversial nature of the medication, and he advised that I start with two different types of ‘granulate’, with the understanding that this prescription could then be changed if I found it to be ineffective. I was happy to be able to have the change to obtain a legal prescription, and greatly valued the care and advise of a medical professional on the matter. I was also advised that the initial prescription could take up to a week to be confirmed, and the delivery of the flower could take up to a month. However, a few days after my appointment, I received a notification from Dispensary Green that my prescription had been accepted and that a payment link would soon follow. After around two weeks, I received a text message from the courier telling me that my medication would arrive the next day.

When it did arrive, it was discretely packaged in a plain black envelope. Inside this, there were two single pots of cannabis ‘flos’, labelled with dosage advice and giving information on the strength of the product. My prescription was a balanced daytime granulate, and one to help me sleep at night which had a higher percentage of THC. I was surprised to see that it was pre-ground when I opened the lids, but It smelt very green with a light hint of citrus and orange, despite still looking similar to the black market products. I was intrigued to see how different this would be, and if the effects would be more specific to my needs.”

To find out more about Charles’ journey and see how the medical cannabis helped his symptoms, stay tuned for the next instalment of this series.

77% of medical cannabis patients see quality of life improvements 

Patient survey reveals 77% of medical cannabis patients see quality of life improvements.

Following up on last month’s TMCC patient database publication, in which we provided an overview of the initial 1,500 medical cannabis patients under our care, it’s perhaps even more meaningful to have a look at the feedback provided by some of these patients. 

The headline figure from our latest patient survey is fairly clear and compelling. Of more than two hundred respondents, across the range of treatable conditions and symptoms, 77% of patients reported that medical cannabis care improved their quality of life to a substantial degree, or that they were feeling better. 

Only 18% of patients reported that care had little or no impact on their health or well-being, and a very small minority, 1.5%, reported that treatments had an adverse impact. Where patients did not receive a clear clinical benefit from medical cannabis care, treatments were discontinued. 

While generalised data, this is a highly positive finding that only adds strong support to the established case for medical cannabis care. 

As TMCC continues to open access for patients, we’ll be able to provide further and deeper analysis into patient survey results, and hopefully create the impetus needed for the NHS to take a more inclusive and supportive approach to medical cannabis. 

These results are an excellent benchmark for TMCC in the meantime. We are proud to be leading the medical cannabis field, and helping our patients with safe and effective care.

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