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Opioids, Overdoses and Medical Marijuana

Opioids, Overdoses and Medical Marijuana

In the past two decades, the number of drug prescriptions has increased by 85 percent. According to a nationally representative Consumer Reports, more than half of us are regularly taking prescription medications. With that increase and reliance on FDA approved drugs also comes an increase in dangerous addictions and cases of overdose.

In 2013, an estimated 128,000+ prescription drug takers died from adverse drug reactions.

This means that even though casualties from heart attacks, cancer and HIV are seeing a decline, the death rate is on the rise partly because of drug overdoses. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, the national overdose deaths involving opioids went from 8,048 in 1999 to 47,600 in 2017. 

Most Used and Abused

Of course, only you and your medical professional can discuss and decide on the medications that are right for you and your health needs. But what is the most prominently prescribed medication out there right now?

Opioid Painkillers. 

The opioid epidemic is well-publicized by the media and is the stuff of national debates, yet opioid painkillers are among the top 25 most prescribed drugs. It is estimated that the epidemic, kills an estimated 130 Americans every day. 

To restate this, 130 people die in the US every day from a legal and overly prescribed medication. The cycle of abuse is strong within this class of medications. Chronic pain is the most prominent cause of being prescribed opioids, especially OxyContin.

The Medical Marijuana Comparison

Some argue that increased access to cannabis could reduce this devastating toll of opioid abuse. Part of their reasoning? An article published in JAMA Internal Medicine reported lower opioid overdose death rates in states with laws supporting medical marijuana use. 

However, since these studies were conducted there have been more investigation into the correlation between opioid-related deaths and states supporting medical marijuana. The new research finds that the trend has reversed in recent years, with those states now seeing increased deaths. The study’s authors suggest the initial results may now only prove to be loosely related. If nothinging else, the correlation and changes in the legal landscape should push more studies to occur.

Medical Marijuana as the Alternative

A study at Depaul and Rush universities reported that participants said marijuana worked faster to relieve their pain than other prescription medication and had fewer side effects.

Most commonly, marijuana is used as an alternative to opioids but patients also reported cutting down on other medications. Cannabis is showing strong properties in being an alternative to many medications. Check out our Components of Cannabis article to learn more and see the possibilities. 

 

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Diabetic Eye Health and the Cannabis Connection

Diabetic Eye Health and the Cannabis Connection

If you have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, you know that having high levels of blood sugar is a dangerous situation. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation. 

One key area of worrying impacting nearly 80% of diabetics is eye health. If blood glucose levels begin to cause damage to the tissue at the back of the eye diabetic retinopathy can develop. This damage can lead to impaired vision and blindness.

With disease rates continually rising and more that 422 million people having Diabetes, the search for innovative treatments for diabetic retinopathy and other life-altering symptoms is vital.

Can Cannabis Help?

Here are some key areas where Cannabis may be the alternative and innovative solution we are looking for when it comes to Diabetes.

Cannabis the Super Anti-inflammatory 

Chronic inflammation is associated with a lot of very serious diseases, including retinopathy. Inflammation can contribute to pain, illness, and suffering. 

Plenty of medications are out there to address inflammation and plenty of them come with side effects that may create more unpleasantries. Unique compounds in cannabis, called cannabinoids, interact with the body’s cells in the immune system. Cannabinoid molecules may either stimulate or reduce inflammation depending on the needs of the immune system. 

Neuroprotective Properties 

Nerve cells in the retina that help relay messages to the brain can be a major factor in diabetic retinopathy. Early in the progression of the disease, nerve damage occurs and contributes to the continued loss of vision. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) protects nerve cells from damage that can come from stress or aging. Research studies in rodents have shown CBD to protect the retinal neurons from damage.

Potent Antioxidant 

An antioxidant is an agent that prevents oxidative stress in the body, slowing damage to cell membranes and DNA. Cannabis being a superfood produces a variety of compounds, some of which are proving to be potent antioxidants. CBD may be more potent than vitamins C and E.

Research points to antioxidants having a beneficial impact on those with diabetes

Cannabis continues to prove to be a super compound and worth learning more about in its impact on Diabetes and correlated diseases. 

 

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Your Doctor, You and Your Medical Cannabis Usage

Your Doctor, You and Your Medical Cannabis Usage

Going to the Doctor for a routine check up or other medical issue is always filled with a battery of questions. How often do you exercise? Are you a smoker? Do you drink? Are you using any other medications? Do you use drugs? That last one is the catch all, and leaves a lot of current medical cannabis users struggling to find the right words and answers. 

 

Come clean with what is going on and going into your body.

Making the choice to benefit from medicinal cannabis is made based on a healthy mindset and that same mindset should lead you to being completely transparent with your Doctor. Transparency is key to having your care and well-being fully in focus with any medical professional. Whether you are discussing that pesky cough you can’t seem to kick or the pain in your back that cripples you in the morning, you need to present a full picture of your health. Including the supplements you are using to aid in your well-being.

Come clean with what is going on and going into your body.

 

Words Matter

When you are asked, “Do you use marijuana?” Choose to take this opportunity for discussion and education. Being the reply with “I do use medical cannabis for ….” This is where you get to use what you know about the medical choice you’ve made and how you feel it is working for you. Deciding to go the medical cannabis is one that you’ve researched and informed yourself about and now you can share that information with your doctor. 

Using detailed scientific terminology will assist in producing an informative and open discussion. Your medical professionals job is to draw conclusions from the information you present them.

Example: you take medical cannabis for migraines. Those migraines have stopped but you are visiting the Doctor today because you constantly feel nauseous. Could these be related? It’s their job to find the connections. Let them. 

 

Fear of judgement

Fear of being labeled, judged, and scolded are legitimate worries even as a well informed adult. We all live in a place of wanting acceptance and support. Opening up about your medical cannabis usage may bring support from your medical professional or it may bring judgement. Whether they agree or disagree, your doctor should know what is going on with your health to better benefit you. Pushing past fear will put your health front and center. 

Whether your medical professional is in favor of your usage or not is part of the relationship building and connection you have with that professional. You may find an ally who supports medical cannabis usage and may have helpful insights to share with you. If your doctor does not support the usage, you now can decide if this person is the right person to be trusting with your health. Do you feel comfortable? If you need to switch to a different provider you can start looking for Doctors that align with your medical beliefs and practices.

 

Be an informed Patient

Your health is exactly that, Yours. Take charge of it. Be a knowledgeable and informed patient regarding what ails you and what is mending those ailments. Continue to be informed about your rights as a cannabis user/patient. Be open, honest and well versed in the medications you are choosing to live a health filled life. 

 

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