A UK medical cannabis clinics group has supported more than 1,500 patients to access treatment in 2020.
The Medical Cannabis Clinics (TMCC) has revealed it recently reached the significant milestone of consulting and prescribing for over 1,500 patients in the last 12 months.
This works out at 60 percent of an estimated total of 2,500 cannabis patients in the UK, for which pharmacy Dispensary Green, owned by LYPHE Group, fulfills almost all medications.
At the end of 2019, despite the change in legislation to allow for medical cannabis prescriptions being then a year old, only a few dozen patients had been able to access treatment.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the milestone represents a “dramatic improvement” in the state of care in the UK, according to TMCC – with predictions of up to 15,000 patients in the UK by the end of 2021.
While there is still more to be done in creating a deeper evidence base for wider access broader to medical cannabis, TMCC, which is led by a team of twenty-five prescribing specialist doctors, is hoping for another year of “exponential growth”, and “expanded and improved care” in 2021.
“Everyone at TMCC is delighted to have made this much progress in 2020,” said TMCC medical director, Dr Sunny Nayee.
“From almost a standing start in the previous year, we’re now providing patient care to many who need it. This is a great foundation on which to grow, and that means helping even more patients still.”
TMCC provided a snapshot of medical cannabis patients in the UK, revealing that almost three quarters of patients are aged between 25 and 54.
Around 40 percent of patients are based in London and half are receiving treatments for chronic pain conditions, with 24 percent using medical cannabis for mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and PTSD and only three percent of patients receiving medical cannabis primarily for the management of intractable childhood epilepsy.
Who is accessing medical cannabis treatment?
- Demographics of treatments are revealing, with 73 percent of prescriptions being written for patients between the ages of 25 and 54.
- Only 11 percent of prescriptions have been written for patients aged 24 or under, of which only 4 percent are written for patients 17 or under, reflecting the greater degree of caution and scrutiny in prescribing for younger patients.
- Considering the substantial clinical potential of medical cannabis in managing later life ailments, there is still clearly work to be done in opening up treatments to elderly categories, with only 15 percent of prescriptions being written for patients over the age of 55.
- Further evidence to support the use of CBMPs for relevant conditions, as well as more education to remove prevalent misconceptions of medical cannabis in older age groups, will likely improve this picture.
- The gender distribution of patients is predominantly male (66 percent) over female (34 percent).
Where are patients from?
- London remains the main centre of activity in the UK with around 40 percent of patients coming from this area.
- Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol account for 22 percent of other patient activity and Leeds, Nottingham and Liverpool a further 12 percent, with the remaining quarter of consultations distributed outside of urban areas throughout the country.
What conditions are most commonly being treated?
- Reflecting one of the primary areas of interest in and application for medical cannabis, around 50 percent of patients are receiving treatments for chronic pain conditions. These are often conditions like lower back pain, arthritic pain or pain relating to conditions like MS.
- A further 24 percent of patients are receiving medical cannabis care for psychiatric conditions. Often used as an adjunct to psychiatric care, treated conditions range from PTSD to anxiety and depression.
- Adult neurology represents around 11 percent of TMCC care to date, and these prescriptions are usually written for the management of symptoms relating to MS and other movement disorders.
- Complex care patients, such as those in palliative care or those needing combined clinical support to treat difficult conditions, represent six percent of patients.
- Gastroenterology conditions make up three percent of prescriptions, for conditions such as Crohn’s or IBS. This proportion is the same for oncology patients, where medical cannabis can be prescribed to manage chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV)
- Paediatric neurology patients complete the picture, with around three percent of patients receiving medical cannabis care primarily for the management of intractable childhood epilepsy.
The Medical Cannabis Clinics is a telemedicine clinic specialising in innovative cannabis-based medical therapies. For more information visit themedicalcannabisclinics.com
Fibromyalgia and cannabis: What does the latest research say?
Cannabis Health rounds up the latest research into the impact of cannabis on fibromyalgia.
There are thought to be around 1.5-2 million people in the UK currently living with fibromyalgia, a condition which causes chronic pain around the body, muscle stiffness and fatigue.
With no cure for the illness and symptoms severely affecting day-to-day life, research is focusing on therapeutic treatments – including medical cannabis.
In 2019, research published by Sagy, Schleider, Abu-Shackra and Novak showed that cannabis can help reduce fibromyalgia pain. The study of 367 patients found that pain intensity decreased when treated with medical marijuana, leading the team to state that “cannabis therapy should be considered to ease the symptom burden among those fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard care”.
Chaves, Bittencourt and Pelegrini further supported these findings in October 2020, concluding that phytocannabinoids can serve as an affordable yet well-tolerated therapy for fibromyalgia symptom relief and quality of life improvements.
After the randomised controlled trial, the researchers went as far as to suggest that the cannabinoid therapy “could become an herbal or holistic choice of medicine for treating fibromyalgia as part of Brazil’s public healthcare system”.
A study in Italy, published in February 2020, also demonstrated that medical cannabis improves the efficacy of standard analgesic fibromyalgia treatments.
Researchers concluded: “This observational study shows that medical cannabis treatment offers a possible clinical advantage in fibromyalgia patients, especially in those with sleep dysfunctions.”
Published in the Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology journal, the study followed 102 fibromyalgia patients who had not responded well to conventional treatments. These participants were given two forms of medical cannabis oil extracts and researchers then collected data over a six-month period from patients, who self-reported fibromyalgia symptoms, how well they slept, and feelings of fatigue, as well as depression and anxiety levels.
While only a third of fibromyalgia patients reported reduced symptoms of the disease overall, cannabis did improve overall quality of life for some. Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety were found in around half of patients, too.
Despite fibromyalgia being more common amongst women – up to 90 per cent of sufferers are female – one study has found that cannabis may provide better pain relief for men.
The preclinical studies, conducted in 2016, compared the analgesic, subjective and physiological effects of active cannabis and inactive cannabis in male and female cannabis smokers under double-blind, placebo-controlled conditions, and measured pain response through the Cold-Pressor Test.
Among men, active cannabis significantly decreased pain sensitivity relative to inactive cannabis. However, in women, active cannabis failed to decrease pain sensitivity relative to inactive, indicating that in cannabis smokers, men exhibit greater analgesia compared to women.
Researchers concluded: “Sex-dependent differences in cannabis’ analgesic effects are an important consideration that warrants further investigation when considering the potential therapeutic effects of cannabinoids for pain relief.”
While further research is necessary, it is clear to see that medical cannabis can make a huge difference to treatment and relief of pain caused by fibromyalgia.
The best ways to take CBD for pain relief
CBD is becoming a popular tool for pain management, but with so many options out there, how do you know where to start?
With research constantly emerging to support the health benefits of CBD, more and more people are turning to the remedy – especially when it comes to alleviating pain and discomfort.
But how does it actually work? There are several ways to take CBD, each offering various pros and cons – we’ve rounded up some of the best methods.
In terms of pain relief, one of the most common methods is on the skin. Topical products like lotions and balms can be applied to skin over painful joints or bones and are particularly effective when used to relieve symptoms of arthritis.
However, research is still ongoing to determine whether these products deliver CBD below the skin. It is also difficult to pinpoint the exact effect CBD delivers – with many including common over-the-counter ingredients such as menthol, capsaicin and camphor, it’s uncertain whether the positive relief is solely due to CBD, or if these other ingredients play a significant role.
Several studies have hailed CBD oil as one of the most helpful methods when it comes to relieving pain symptoms, especially when combined with other forms such as topicals.
Medical nutritionist and health author Dr Sarah Brewer said: “Cannabidiol oil has direct effects on the endocannabinoid system in the brain. This enhances the effects of other brain chemicals, such as serotonin and anandamide, to reduce pain perception. It is also a powerful antioxidant which suppresses inflammation.”
Something to digest
Another well-known method for using CBD is by mouth. Whether in capsules, food or liquid, CBD that is swallowed is absorbed through the digestive tract.
Despite its popularity, this method does have its downfalls. Absorption is slow and dosing can be tricky due to the delayed onset of effect (it can take one to two hours to fully have an impact), plus many believe there isn’t enough research into how recent meals and other factors affect consumption.
But it has been widely reported that after a safe and effective dose has been established, capsules can work for daily use.
While it may not taste particularly pleasant, CBD can also be effectively absorbed directly into the bloodstream by holding liquid from a spray or dropper under the tongue. Research shows effects can the be felt in as little as a few minutes.
Give the vapors
CBD can also be inhaled via a vaporising, ‘vape’ pen. However, it’s possible that inhalation can carry unknown risks, particularly in those with respiratory issues and ailments such as inflammatory arthritis, and so isn’t widely recommended as a method for use.
With all methods, the common downfall is wavering dosage guidelines. Measures can change depending on a number of factors including age, weight and reason for use, however resounding guidance from experts is to ‘go low and slow’. Start with just a few milligrams twice a day, and if relief is inadequate after one week, increase the dose by the same amount, in small increments over several weeks if needed.
It’s clear that more research is needed to determine exact details into these methods, but this is only set to increase as the number of people turning to CBD for pain relief continues to grow.
CBD distillates, isolates & full spectrum – what’s the difference?
With so many CBD products on the market, do you know your distillates from your isolates? The experts at US manufacturer Fresh Bros break it down.
Las Vegas manufacturer Fresh Bros have nearly a decade of experience in the hemp industry.
But with so many products on the market Fresh Bros want to help consumers find the best products for their needs.
Here they explain the differences between CBD distillate, CBD isolate, and full-spectrum CBD products, as well as highlighting the key differences between Delta 8 THC and Delta 9 THC.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most researched compounds of all the known phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
CBD isolates are, unsurprisingly, isolated forms of CBD. During the extraction process, cannabidiols are removed or filtered out of the hemp plant except for CBD, resulting in a pure product.
CBD isolate is great for anyone who struggles with the original earthy flavors of other conventional oils or edibles, so if you’d prefer a high-potency CBD product that is tasty, doesn’t contain THC and or any “extra” cannabinoids that are found in a distillate or full-spectrum product — CBD isolate may be the way to go.
Unlike CBD isolate, CBD distillate (aka broad-spectrum CBD) typically contains an array of cannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, and fatty acids that are very beneficial to the body. CBD distillate contains only negligible amounts of THC after going through special processing.
CBD isolate is an incredible healing source, of course, but there are hundreds of other beneficial cannabinoids found in the hemp plant besides CBD – cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) to name a couple.
Therefore, if you want to reap all of the potential benefits of CBD without the high, and you don’t mind the stronger taste, CBD distillate may be the best option for you.
Full-spectrum CBD products contain all cannabinoids, terpenes, and plant materials – including the naturally occurring small amount of THC in hemp.
Delta 8 THC vs Delta 9 THC
The cannabis plant has more than 120 cannabinoids, but only a fraction of these have really been studied and marketed. Delta 9 THC is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and has received a lot of attention over the last few years.
However, consumers are slowly noticing the lesser-known Delta 8 THC (a less available double-bond isomer of the more common Delta 9 THC, also derived from hemp) due to its unique properties. The main differences between these two types of THC are found in the molecular structures of both, and it’s worth noting that Delta 8 THC is capable of producing a milder, more manageable, and more enjoyable high compared to Delta 9.
Delta 8 also has added therapeutic benefits and less severe and functionality-impairing side effects.
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