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Cancer and medical cannabis: “I saw the positive effects, even after just a few days”

A cancer patient and young mother, reveals how medical cannabis has given her some quality of life back

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medical cannabis and cancer patient
Medical cannabis has meant Terri can look after her daughter

Terri, a young mother and patient at Integro Medical Clinics, reveals how medical cannabis has helped her manage the symptoms of incurable cancer. 

Terri was first diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 30. The diagnosis came with a lot of complications, including being told that she wouldn’t be able to have children, which had a huge impact on her family life. 

However, miraculously at 36, Terri found out that she was pregnant. Throughout her pregnancy, she felt unwell and didn’t put on any weight at all. She went to see her doctor about it but was told it was simply a result of her being a geriatric mother. 

After giving birth to her daughter, Terri’s sickness did not stop and she felt sure that something else was going on causing her to feel so unwell. 

Eventually, Terri saw a doctor in the private sector where she was diagnosed with stage 4 incurable bowel cancer, which had spread to her lungs. As a result, Terri had to take various medications which had exhausting side effects, leaving her feeling weak and completely drained.

“At one point I was on seven medications that basically just made me end up feeling worse,” says Terri.

“It got to the point where, on some days, I just couldn’t get out of bed because the pain was so unbearable. Between the cancer that I had and the peripheral neuropathy as a result of my chemo and radiotherapy, most days I ended up in tears.”

Terri then spoke to a friend and found out about cannabis medicines which could help with her being unable to sleep and constantly feeling unwell. 

After trying to self-medicate for a while, she consulted a doctor at Integro Medical Clinics who had helped her to manage her cancer. 

Taking medical cannabis allowed Terri to get on with her life and look after her daughter. She noticed a significant change for the better, no longer having to take so many conventional medicines, which meant she wasn’t suffering from draining side effects anymore.

Terri continues: “The doctor I chose was Dr Ordman and he helped me through every step of the way, he worked with my oncologist and this meant that I could stop taking fentanyl, diazepam and sleeping tablets to help me get through the day or get to sleep at night.  I found that the cannabis medicine was giving me an appetite throughout the day and I actually enjoyed my food.”

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Dr Anthony Ordman, senior consultant and lead clinician at Integro Clinics has seen many patients with various conditions do well on cannabis medicines.

“I was delighted to help Terri when she asked about the benefits of cannabis medicines,” he says.

“I was able to see the positive effects it had on her, even after just a few days. Her cancer medications were sapping her energy and discomfort and understandable worries were depriving her of sleep.”

He continues: “Having discussed the case with Terri’s oncologist, who was fully in support of cannabis medicines, I started Terri on a low dose of cannabis medicine. Within a very few days, Terri was able to report back that she was now sleeping so much better every night and feeling so much less anxious than before.

“Her days were more comfortable and productive (she was able to carry on with some professional work). She’s now on her third month of cannabis treatment. There were no unwanted effects and Terri understands that she can stop the cannabis medicines any time she wants.”

Terri recently found out that her cancer has spread further throughout her body and has started on an aggressive chemotherapy treatment to tackle it. The chemotherapy has taken a toll on her from the very first day and has left her feeling extremely unwell, sick and dizzy and unable to focus at all. She had also completely lost her appetite and could barely eat at all, let alone enjoy food.

“From day one I’ve been feeling discombobulated and disorientated with different pains coming and going throughout my body,” she says.

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“I’ve been having hot flushes and a dry cough throughout the day. I struggle to sleep at night and have been having really strange dreams and waking up feeling my whole body ache.”

Having been on chemo for over a week, Terri is now taking medical cannabis again and has experienced the benefits of it even while undergoing aggressive chemotherapy treatment. 

“I took my dose of medical cannabis in the morning and was able to eat a whole piece of toast with butter and marmalade, and I actually enjoyed it,” Terri adds.

“I started to slowly get my appetite back and actually had some cravings for food.

“I took a full dose of cannabis medicine and was able to sleep through the night for the first time in a week and managed to get about 10 hours of sleep. The following morning was the first time I hadn’t thrown up.”

Terri is a strong advocate of medical cannabis and currently works in the field to support access to the medicines which have had such a huge impact on her and her family’s life. 

She believes that medical cannabis can have positive impacts and help sufferers ease their pain and manage their conditions whilst being able to get on with their lives.

Integro Medical Clinics Ltd always recommends remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition while using cannabis-based medicines. The Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them.

If you would like further information or to speak to Dr Anthony Ordman please contact Integro Clinics at www.integroclinics.com 

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Email: Contact@integroclinics.com

Twitter: @clinicsintegro

Epilepsy

BPNA publishes new guidance on prescribing medical cannabis in epilepsy

The updated guidance has been described as ‘unethical’ by medical cannabis experts.

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The BPNA has been accused of trying to “block private access” to cannabis-based medicines

New guidance published this month by the BPNA on the prescribing of medical cannabis, has been described as ‘unethical’ by experts.

The British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA) this month updated its guidance for clinicians on the prescribing of cannabis-based medicines for children and young people with epilepsy.

It’s the first time the framework has been updated since 2018 and comes following the amendments to the NICE guidelines earlier this year, clarifying that clinicians can prescribe medicinal cannabis in appropriate cases.

The BPNA’s view that it must be a paediatric neurologist who prescribes, is not supported by national guidance, with the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS) recently highlighting that it is “legal and acceptable” for a paediatrician with an interest in epilepsy to prescribe, under a shared care arrangement with a trained cannabis physician. 

This, along with its insistence that there is “no evidence” for the safety and efficacy of medical cannabis products and “concerns” about the effect of exposure to THC on the developing brain, is widely blamed for the lack of access to NHS prescriptions for children with epilepsy. 

Blocking private access

But while many would hope any new guidance would make things easier for doctors wishing to prescribe cannabis-based products, the BPNA has been accused of making things worse for patients and even trying to “block private access”, as well as that through the NHS.

The BPNA has now put the onus on the prescribing doctor to ensure families can afford to carry the financial burden of accessing this medicine privately.

“If a paediatric neurologist prescribes an unlicensed CBPM in private practice they should also be certain that the family can sustain the cost of ongoing private prescriptions,” the BPNA states.

We consider it unethical to initiate a treatment in private practice for which funding is not available in the longer term. The NHS is unlikely to meet the cost of future prescriptions of an unlicensed medicine that has no Level 1 evidence of efficacy and safety.

It comes following reports of parents being forced to sell their home and rely on fundraising to pay for these medicines privately, an average cost of £2,000 per month.

The Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS) has slammed this move as “totally unacceptable” and accused the BPNA of driving patients to the black market with its “outdated” stance. 

Professor Mike Barnes

Its chair, Professor Mike Barnes, told Cannabis Health: “It is not in any way standard practice for a doctor to enquire whether a family can support funding in the long term. Such an inquiry is unethical and such a situation would of course not arise if a doctor prescribed it on the NHS, as is legal. 

“The stance of the BPNA is driving patients and their families into private practice and in some cases into the black market.”

Hannah Deacon, director of the MCCS and mother to Alfie Dingley, agreed, saying this would leave patients denied access in every avenue. 

“The BPNA now appears to be trying to shut down private access as well as NHS access,” she said.

“This new guidance is placing all the onus onto the private doctor to be responsible for ensuring that families can afford to pay for the prescriptions before they’re issued. There would be no way that any private doctor would do that for any other medication. This guidance causes harm and all it’s going to do is push people to the black market.”

Real world evidence

The BPNA claims that the prescribing of cannabis medicines is “largely untested”, despite the fact that there are now over 10,000 patients prescribed for in the UK including around 200 children with treatment-resistant epilepsy. 

The MCCS also points out that there is a “significant volume of efficacy and safety data” in the form of real world evidence. 

Members of the BPNA have been trained in the prescribing of pharmaceutical products which have RCT data behind them,” Deacon said.

“What we would urge them to understand is that this is a botanical medicine with many hundreds of compounds which cannot go through the randomised control trial process effectively, and real world evidence very much has its place here to prove safety.”

The impact of not prescribing

Prof Barnes added that the new guidance has failed to recognise the “downsides of not prescribing” which include a poorer quality of life, brain damage and even death.

“There is no recognition of the fact that these children have uncontrolled, drug resistant epilepsy by definition. They have a poor quality of life, often difficulties in school and in play and at home and the whole family suffers from the consequences,” he said.

“Recurrent seizures are damaging to the developing brain and such severe seizures are associated with a risk of status epilepticus and death. Every avenue must be explored in an attempt to alleviate the seizures. Cannabis is not a cure-all and is not the right medication for every child (or adult). However, it has been shown to have efficacy in many cases and is generally remarkably safe.”

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Pain

71% of CBD users self-determine dosage without professional help

A large percentage of of those who use CBD for pain determined the dosage through trial and error

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A new survey has revealed that 31 per cent of respondents use CBD to treat pain – but found that 71 per cent of those do not check the dosage with professionals first.

The dosage survey conducted by industry watchdog, Leaf Report, reported that 22 per cent of 1360 respondents did not check their dose before taking CBD.

Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said they do not seek professional advice while 29 per cent did. A further 44 per cent decided the dosage themselves based on trial and error.

Dosage: A banner advert for Medical Cannabis Clinic

CBD-infused gummies, edibles, and beverages were the most popular method of taking CBD with a further 26 per cent preferring oils or tinctures. Vapes were the least favourite method of consumption at 10 per cent.

The survey asked a series of eleven questions about dosage and use. Among the findings, it revealed that 48 per cent of participants took the same dosage every time while 26 per cent do not check the concentration of their CBD products.

Just over half the respondents used CBD for pain with 31 per cent using it every day.

Lital Shafir, head of product at Leafreport said: “After our team reviewed the findings from the dosage survey, we realized that most users are not seeking out the opinions of professionals when trying CBD, which can lead them to negative experiences.”

“Our mission at Leafreport has always been to educate consumers on the many aspects of the CBD industry, and we want to offer educational tools like extensive reports for those who want to get away from ‘trial and error’ tactics when taking CBD.”

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Correct dosage and misinformation

This survey findings are similar to another conducted on cancer patients earlier this year.

The earlier survey of 100 cancer patients at an oncology care clinic revealed they are interested in trying CBD to allievate symptoms but lack information about how to take it. Both set of findings highlight the need for more education around CBD. The main symptoms listed were uncontrollable pain, depression and anxiety.

The survey of 100 patients at an oncology care clinic showed participants were interested in CBD as a way to alleviate symptoms. They listed their main symptoms as uncontrolled pain, depression and anxiety.

When asked about their understanding of CBD, 45 percent said they were unsure if there were any risks. A further 17 percent believe there was no or low risks but 25 percent “reported uncertainty of the alleged benefits of using CBD.”

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Events

Menopause: Could CBD offer relief from symptoms?

Increasingly women are finding cannabinoids helpful in managing some of the menopause symptoms.

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Menopause: A small bottle of oil on a surface surrounded by cannabis leaves

Ahead of a new webinar on cannabis and menopause, we share the stories of women who have found cannabinoids helpful in managing symptoms.

Rachel’s story

At first, Rachel had struggled to conceive naturally and was delighted when her first round of IVF was successful and went on to give birth to her son. A year later, after going to the hospital for a routine check-up, she was surprised to have received a call asking her to come for an emergency scan. She then found out she had a 12cm tumour on one of her ovaries. She then had surgery to remove it and was left with half an ovary.

“After my initial surgery, I was advised to get a hysterectomy to fully deal with the tumour. At first, I had resisted, but eventually, I felt I needed to go through with it. Having the hysterectomy meant that I went into premature menopause. I had really struggled to come to terms with this as I wanted to have a second child. But I knew I had to carry on and help other women who have had the same experiences as me.

Rachel had already been using CBD to help her deal with poor sleep and anxiety. She found that CBD was really helpful in dealing with her menopausal symptoms such as low mood and hot flushes.

“The CBD was transformational, I found that I could sleep through the night and my anxiety levels had gone way down. It has completely changed my life helped me to deal with my symptoms and the stress and anxiety associated with menopause.”

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Cannabis medicines and menopause

Cannabis Health, Integro Medical Clinics and Cannabis Patients Advocacy and Support Services (CPASS), PLEA and Primary Care Cannabis Network present a webinar that will focus on the challenging experiences of women who have found cannabis medicines helpful in managing the symptoms of menopause.

Menopause: An event image advertising a panel discussion around women's cannabis and menopause

Menopause and perimenopause symptoms are chronically poorly managed in the modern healthcare system.

Many women are simply told to ‘manage their stress better, lose some weight’ or ‘do more exercise’ when seeking medical treatment for symptoms that can have a huge impact on their day to day lives, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, low libido, headaches and hot flushes.

This is due to several factors, both cultural and medical. While women often feel ashamed to speak openly about their experiences due to stigma, many doctors lack the training and time to treat symptoms effectively.

Increasingly women are finding cannabinoids helpful in managing some of the menopause symptoms.

Since the legalisation of cannabis-based medicines two years ago, female patients have been able to discover that the rebalancing of their endocannabinoid system can be incredibly helpful in the management of conditions ranging from endometriosis, bladder and nerve pain, gynaecological pain and PMS to mental health conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Aimed at both the general public and caregivers, the event will explore the experiences of women who have lived with perimenopause and menopause symptoms and how they have found cannabis-based medicines helpful.

We will discuss openly and candidly the realities of the transition and the stigma surrounding it in society.

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Expert speakers include:

 

Menopause: Dr Sally Ghazaleh

Dr Sally Ghazaleh – Female Health Consultant at Integro Clinics. She specialises in managing patients with lower back pain, neck pain, neuropathic pain, abdominal pain, cancer pain and complex regional pain syndrome.

 

Menopause: Dr Mayur Bodan

Dr Mayur Bodani – A neuropsychiatrist with over 25 years of experience, he has successfully treated many patients with psychiatric disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, psychosis, dementia and many other conditions.

Patient speakers include:

Lauren

Lauren CB – having been a successful mental health nurse for 30 years, Lauren had to give up her career after being diagnosed with primary progressive MS. She has found cannabis medicines helpful in dealing with her MS symptoms and menopausal symptoms.

Rachel Mason

Rachel Mason – founder of ‘Our Remedy‘, a wellness brand for women. She has found CBD to be very helpful in dealing with her menopausal symptoms.

The webinar is completely free of charge, click here to register 

 

For more information visit www.integroclinics.com

Email: Contact@integroclinics.com

Twitter: @clinicsintegro

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Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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