An alternative to opioids with medical cannabis and CBD oil29 July 2019
View of Dr. Leon Barron, GP at The Medical Cannabis Clinics
As a GP working in primary care, I regularly see patients who present with challenging and difficult to manage conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, mood disorders (including anxiety and depression), neurological diseases and chronic pain. Over the years, I’ve also cared for palliative patients on end of life pathways with the overall aim to relieve their suffering and improve quality of life.
An alternative to opioid painkillers
As a GP, I am responsible for overseeing and coordinating medical treatments together with managing day to day symptoms and prescribing regular medications. I have a broad understanding of complex overlapping chronic illnesses and the quality of life issues facing patients who have exhausted all conventional drug options. Some patients find that current licensed medications do not work well for them even when carefully managed, and can sometimes cause side effects and adverse reactions. There are a large number of patients who become tolerant to medications such as opioids – including morphine and tramadol, which stop working effectively for them, leaving few alternative long-term options.
Medical cannabis clearly can offer hope and should be considered for patients who have exhausted all other treatment options. My position as the GP for The Medical Cannabis Clinics allows me to work with patients who are unable to be referred by their GP or medical team.
A holistic approach to medicine
My experiences of working in both hospital medicine (throughout my medical training) and primary care have enabled me to adopt a holistic approach by considering the combined impacts of both physical and mental health on a person rather than focusing on one system or disease in isolation. I strongly believe in patient-centred care, which involves making my patients part of every decision and also sharing my goals as well as my targets for every treatment. Full partnership with patients results in the best treatments after considering all available evidence.
As GPs, we regularly encounter patients who are suffering from debilitating conditions such as neurodegenerative disorders or cancer who have not responded well to conventional treatments. At this point, it seems entirely appropriate that medical cannabis should be offered as an alternative or add-on for symptom control. The current poor access to medical cannabis on prescription in the UK has pushed desperate patients to travel abroad to receive medical cannabis prescriptions, which is often at high financial and personal cost. As medical practitioners, we must offer our patients the very best treatments. Medical cannabis clearly has an essential role in relieving suffering and enhancing the overall quality of life when more conventional medications and therapies have failed.
Medical cannabis treatments overseas
On a recent trip to Israel, I met cutting-edge researchers and clinicians who are prescribing medical cannabis for their patients. I was also able to meet patients suffering from a range of conditions including autism, epilepsy, disabling neurological conditions and chronic pain and heard their stories about the positive benefits they’ve experienced from using prescribed medical cannabis products for symptom control. Listening to these specific cases and how patient’s lives have been transformed, reinforces the need for high-quality medical cannabis and CBD oil therapies to be available here in the UK.
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