The decades-long stigmatization of cannabis can make initiating conversations about its use awkward and difficult, particularly with a doctor. Add to that the knowledge — or even a hunch — that the doctor in question may be skeptical about the benefits of cannabis, raising the topic can be downright intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.
A medical doctor is among the most educated and trained professionals a person invites into his or her circle of trust. In addition to four years of undergraduate school, another four years in medical school and three to seven years of residency, being a doctor requires constant continuing education and recertification.
But throughout his or her education and training, doctor are taught that natural remedies have limitations, and when the body can’t function on its own, it needs therapies beyond natural remedies to make a person better. What’s more, the U.S. federal prohibition against cannabis — which has until recently included all forms of CBD — physicians have not been exposed to a lot of credible research and clinical trials.
In other words, if a doctor is a cannabis-skeptic, it’s not entirely his or her fault. Years of training combined with the law of the land shaped those opinions.
But it’s also important to remember that a person’s physician is invested in his or her patient’s health. Long before he or she embarked on the long journey to becoming a doctor, there was likely a desire to help people.
After doctors put in the long hours at school and hands-on training in residency, they all swore an oath to help and do no harm. They want a good health outcome for their patients as much as their patients do. Both doctors and patients, as well as others in a patient’s support network, are a team working to achieve one goal: the patient’s well-being.
If you feel reluctant to discuss the possible benefits from CBD or cannabis use, here is some advice on raising the topic with your doctor.
Be your own advocate
If a patient won’t raise this important question, who will? It’s important to ask all the questions and present all your ideas. Helping a patient manage his or her health is a doctor’s job, and he or she wants to answer questions.
Do your own research
As noted earlier, doctors are continuously learning, with a great deal of their education coming directly from patients. While there may not yet be a great deal of research or clinical trial data at a doctor’s fingertips, there is a tremendous amount of good information on the internet.
As a patient does his or her own research, try to match one’s particular condition to the data being found to ensure its relevance. Gather the research and share it with your doctor, helping them to know your seriousness about trying cannabis as a therapy.
Engage in a conversation
If a doctor is reluctant to recommend or prescribe cannabis, understand his or her reasons to ensure you consider the points being made. For instance, what if cannabis or CBD isn’t suitable as a therapy for the condition in question? Sometimes a side effect can be more problematic than the condition being treated.
In the U.S., some jobs test for cannabis use and a positive test can lead to being fired. It’s important to understand all possible options, as well as all of the ramifications of those options on the table. Take care to avoid needlessly putting yourself or your job at risk.
Discuss what cannabis can treat specifically
While there appears to be a body of anecdotal evidence claiming that some conditions have been “cured” or gone into remission thanks to cannabis use, cannabis and CBD can also provide relief from symptoms. Inflammation, which is common in a great many conditions — ranging from a bad cough to autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis — is one such symptom that CBD has been shown to help alleviate.
Some research shows cannabis and CBD can not only offer therapeutic benefits on their own, it has been reported to also make drug therapies prescribed by a doctor more efficacious. So, the conversation with a doctor need not be about replacing current therapies with weed or CBD, but rather how the therapy regimen can be tweaked or augmented.