In the UK, medical cannabis is currently only available on a limited basis and only for certain conditions. A small number of patients with severe, treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting may be eligible to receive medical cannabis on prescription from a specialist doctor. It is important to note that the UK has strict laws regarding the use of cannabis, and recreational use is illegal.
If you’re wondering whether your condition qualifies you for a medical cannabis prescription in the UK, you might find answers to your questions in this blog. But before we discuss the eligibility criteria of the treatment method, let’s look at what medical cannabis is, how it interacts with the body and why it is slowly gaining popularity as a medical intervention.
What is Medical Cannabis?
Medical cannabis refers to the use of cannabis and its constituent cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, for medical purposes. The plant Cannabis Sativa contains over 100 different cannabinoids, each with its own potential therapeutic properties. Medical cannabis can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. It can be administered in various ways, including vaporising, as an oil or tincture, or as a pill or capsule. The form and dosing will depend upon the condition being treated, the individual patient’s needs and the country’s laws.
How Does Medical Cannabis Work?
Medical cannabis works by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS consists of a complex system of receptors and signalling molecules found throughout the body, including the brain, immune system and various organs. The ECS plays a role in regulating a wide range of physiological processes, including pain sensation, mood, appetite and immune function.
Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids, the most well-known of which are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These compounds interact with the ECS by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors. When THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain, it can reduce pain, inflammation and spasticity. Whereas CBD has a more complex mechanism of action and is thought to modulate the effects of THC and other cannabinoids, it can also have anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects.
The specific way that medical cannabis works will depend on the condition being treated, the type and ratio of cannabinoids used and the individual patient’s needs.
Why is Medical Cannabis Gaining Widespread Acceptance?
So far, 30 countries have legalised the use of medical cannabis in the past decade. As of November 2018, medical cannabis was legalised in the UK, but only for very specific conditions and under the recommendation of a specialist doctor. What is the reason behind this sudden acceptance of the controversial treatment, especially after it had been banned for years?
CBD, the extract from the cannabis plant that has little, if any, intoxicating properties, was one of the first compounds to gain widespread acceptance. CBD-dominant strains with little or no THC have pain-relieving properties without the high that comes with THC use. CBD also has many other benefits, including relieving insomnia, anxiety and spasticity. The use of CBD for back pain and other types of chronic pain has also been found to be beneficial.
Regular use of small amounts of THC may prove beneficial for patients suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS. A large systematic review conducted in 2015 that studied the effects of cannabis on patients with chronic pain found that THC increased pain thresholds by up to 40%. Another study conducted on chemo patients taking THC medication in addition to standard medication showed that patients receiving THC had less nausea and vomiting when compared with patients who only took the standard treatment. Finally, THC can also help people suffering from sleep disturbances sleep better.
Is Medical Cannabis Right For You?
To find out whether you are eligible to receive THC or CBD for pain relief in the UK, get in touch with a registered medical cannabis specialist. Not only can these specialists help you determine your eligibility, but can also create an individual plan for you based on your needs. Every medical condition being treated with medical cannabis requires different levels of THC and CBD, which is why working with a specialist is so important. These individuals can ensure you get the right dose of your medication, any side effects are closely monitored and your individual plan is modified based on changes in your condition.