Cannabinoids are a core part of the RM toolkit because they are such powerful natural molecules for creating change in so many different aspects of wellbeing, health and resilience as well as helping enhance life experience for many people. The reason cannabinoids are so helpful is because they work within our natural endocannabinoid system, or ECS for short. The ECS function is so crucial to our brain and body balance, or homeostasis.

Our endocannabinoid system controls some of the most critical systems in our body, from movement, pain control and immune system to our gut, mental health and sleep. It does this by controlling homeostasis, which is the overall balance of our brain and body. Endocannabinoids are chemicals made by our bodies similar to CBD, THC and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.

Like breathing, the endocannabinoid system takes care of itself, working away in the background without us thinking about it. However, research tells us that many diseases and symptoms may be related to or involve something going wrong with the endocannabinoid system- like chronic pain, anxiety and depression and IBS. This is why it can be helpful to add cannabinoids from the cannabis plant to help restore balance and reduce symptoms with very few side effects.

If you are well already, many people find cannabinoids can be used to enhance mental and physical wellbeing and life enjoyment and are healthier alternatives to alcohol for many people.

Medical Cannabis

In the UK, medical cannabis was made legal in 2018 and is now available as a prescribed medicine. In addition, it is legal for medical use in Canada, Israel, Australia and parts of the USA. We know that cultures across the globe successfully used cannabis for medical reasons throughout history to significant effect, but much of this knowledge was lost. The research is finally catching up now that it is again legal to research cannabis as a medicine in many parts of the world. We are rediscovering its many benefits for maintaining health and fighting disease.

It’s fantastic to see that medical cannabis use is becoming more widespread globally and providing life-changing relief to people living with chronic conditions, including epilepsy, pain and mental health conditions. In places where adult cannabis use is now legal many US states and Canada, many people are utilising cannabis for a wellness purpose outside of the medical model too as part of self care, especially for stress, sleep and womens health.

Cannabinoids, medical cannabis and CBD are incredibly powerful tools, especially when combined with other synergistic tools to support our brain and body balance. Cannabinoids are a pillar of RM for this reason since Dr Dani found that in most chronic conditions, cannabinoids in some combination offered enormous benefits in terms of symptom control and quality of life even when many other drugs and approaches were not effective. Of course, each person’s ideal dosage and the combination will be slightly different, but the main principles are the same-start low and go slow and track your symptoms and how you feel (which you can do using your RAW score) to assess what is working best for you over time.

The Cannabis Sativa has Multiple Medicinal and Wellness Uses

Over 100 cannabinoids, including CBD and THC, and terpenoids and flavonoids, work with our bodies to fight inflammation, help with stress, anxiety, sleep, immune system function, and various other chronic issues like pain and brain health.

Safe, Effective, and Natural

Many of you will be very aware of one of those cannabinoids – CBD – as millions of people now use it worldwide for health, wellness and beauty. THC, which at high doses has an intoxicating effect, is the compound that can make people feel ‘high’ when taken recreationally. However, when used in medical cannabis, usually in low doses as part of a whole plant extract, it is highly beneficial for conditions such as chronic pain, muscle spasm and helping control symptoms in conditions such as multiple sclerosis, insomnia and nausea and vomiting as a side effect of chemotherapy, among others.

Preliminary research shows that THC in ultra-low doses or microdoses are taken daily may also help prevent Alzheimer’s dementia and other diseases of brain aging in healthy older adults as part of a preventative strategy.

Cannabis is a very safe medication that is used to significant effect by doctors as a quality of life medication, as it is so good at reducing pain and alleviating the symptoms of severe health conditions. Though people with a history of psychosis, schizophrenia and mania generally should avoid medical cannabis containing more than trace amounts of THC, medical cannabis and CBD is safer than many over-the-counter medications and herbal remedies that many people take without a second thought.

New Medicines

In addition to cannabinoids, there are multiple other plant medicines and psychoactive molecules which are now being investigated and used in as new medicines. Most have been legally prohibited for many decades but are now coming back into mainstream medicine as fast acting therapeutics for many mental health conditions. These compounds are most often used in psychedelic therapy settings using a guided safe setting with a doctor. Traditionally, these substances have been taken under the guidance of an experienced, guide, traditional healer or shaman or trained therapist. These compounds offer tremendous hope and potential for treatment of conditions such as treatment resistant depression and other mental health conditions without good western medicine treatments. They also offer potential for self discovery and personal growth (where legally permitted). These molecules include:

Psilocybin-recently approved by the US FDA as a breakthrough drug for treatment resistant depression, not yet available int he UK outside of a research study

Ketamine-used already clinically with patients for treatment resistant chronic pain and depression currently in the UK in a medical setting

MDMA-in clinical trial phase for treatment of PTSD, alcoholism

Ayahuasca and other traditional plant medicines containing DMT (where legal)

DMT-currently in early clinical trial phase for depression

LSD-in clinical research trial phase currently for guided use in depression, anxiety and cluster headache

The emerging research on psychedelic medicines is the most exciting development in mental health for many decades, since current drug therapies are often ineffective and non offer a cure for chronic conditions like major depression. Drugs such as SSRIs for example may be helpful for decreasing symptoms in some people but in others they don’t seem to work and even when they do, they merely treat some of the symptoms rather than the cause. Via multiple brain mechanisms that enhance novel thinking and brain flexibility, these molecules with therapy can help people to recover from trauma and addiction. They can also help heal treatment-resistant depression and provide hope for people with terminal cancer, allowing them to improve their quality of life and mental wellbeing in ways traditional drugs cannot. There is also emerging evidence that psychedelic medicines may work on the brain’s immune system and reduce neuroinflammation.

These biological effects can help explain the science behind the many anecdotal reports of dramatic healing experiences people experience after using these substances in a therapeutic but non doctor or medical setting, often after years of suffering from hard to treat chronic conditions. This is something Dr. Dani has experienced from working with patients who have had such recoveries after seeking out these alternatives and were willing to share their experience often for the first time with a medical doctor.

Learn More

Dr Dani is a medical cannabis expert and has been prescribing for patients in Canada since 2015 officially, although she was helping her patients who already used cannabis medicinally since 2011. She trained some of the first medical cannabis doctors in the UK, and it was her personal experience of dealing with chronic pain and her patient’s incredible successes with using it that led her to begin formally prescribing it as part of an integrative medicine approach.

“In 2015, I experienced a severe hand injury to my hand. I saw top hand surgeons on two continents who told me that I would inevitably develop early arthritis, that I would probably need strong pain pills for the rest of my life, and that eventually, I may need to have the hand bones fused to control the nerve pain. Finally, a fellow doctor suggested I try a CBD-based cream. After seven days, my hand no longer hurt constantly or woke me up at night. It felt like a small miracle.

This experience was my final push to get over my initial hesitation about prescribing medical cannabis to my patients. I had hesitated as though medical cannabis was legal in Canada, many doctors were against it.  

I had already seen how it had helped some of my patients come off opioid painkillers, improving their quality of life both physically and mentally. My patients looked to me as an integrative medicine doctor to guide them on this plant medicine the same way I did when I added other botanical medication and herbal supplements into their plans.  This real-world evidence and the emerging scientific data made it impossible not to offer this medicine to my patients, despite the stigma that still existed – a stigma I realized was based on politics, not science. As a result, cannabis has become one of my most powerful tools.”

Dr Dani Gordon, Founder of Resilience Medicine