Medical Marijuana: Ease Pain, PTSD, Insomnia & More

  • Topic Info:During Dr. Rachna Patel's time spent in the ER, she frequently ran into two medication-based issues: patients who had overdosed on pain (opioid) medications, and drug seekers who were looking for those same medications. 

    Her goal, as a doctor, was to help people... not put them in a position where they could harm themselves.

    Unfortunately, the traditional approach to easing chronic pain is a failing solution.

    That is when Dr. Patel began her research on medical marijuana as an option and subsequently opened up her practice.

    Now, she is helping patients suffering from chronic pain of all sorts (fibromyalgia, back pain, arthritis, migraines, MS). Other conditions marijuana has been effective in treating include:

    • Epilepsy. Reduces duration and frequency of seizures.
    • Autism. Addresses anxiety.
    • PTSD and panic attacks, particularly in veterans. These individuals no longer have to be hyper-vigilant but may still feel that way (especially in large crowds).
    • Insomnia. Individuals fall asleep easier and stay asleep (or fall back asleep quickly). They wake up feeling refreshed and with no "hangover," which is often linked with OTC or prescription sleep aids.

    Methods of Treatment

    Dr. Patel's goal is to provide relief without patients having to smoke marijuana, suffer negative side effects, or become addicted to it. The avenues of treatment she offers include:

    • Vaporization. Heats instead of burns, avoiding a combustion reaction. 
    • Tincture. Drops under the tongue.
    • Edibles. Gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan options.
    • Topical formulations. Salve, ointment. 
    • Vaginal and rectal formulations. Used for very specific purposes.

    The key is to create the appropriate balance of THC and CBD, avoiding a "toxic range" in which one would experience adverse side effects.

    With children, Dr. Patel teaches parents how to dose, as well as indicators of side effects (dizziness, heart racing, paranoia, anxiety, grogginess/fatigue).

    Legal Considerations

    In the few states where recreational use is approved, individuals are free to purchase marijuana, just as they would any other tobacco product (as long as of age).

    In states that approve use based on medicinal purposes, individuals need to be seen by a physician and receive a prescription. It varies from state-to-state as to how quickly you'll be approved. 

    Is Addiction a Concern?

    Whether or not there is a chance for addiction often depends on your tendencies. Do you have an addictive personality to begin with? Your likelihood might increase. If used for medical reasons, patients typically only use once a day or once every few days, which reduces the risk.

    Marijuana Munchies

    One of the most common questions Dr. Patel receives is "will I gain weight?" If you overdo THC, you're more likely to experience the stimulation in appetite (aka "the munchies").

    However, this effect can be advantageous in patients who have a loss of appetite, such as those going through chemotherapy.

    Listen in as Dr. Patel joins host Andrea Donsky to explain the myriad of ways medical marijuana is helping people overcome health struggles in a safe, healthy manner.
  • Host: Andrea Donsky, RHN and Lisa Davis, MPH