Care Beyond the Conventional
FITCHBURG -- Nancy Little has been looking for answers about how medical cannabis can help her husband who has dementia.
After attending a Wednesday “Cannabis as Medicine” event hosted by Canna Care Docs at the senior center and speaking with a nurse practitioner, Little has a better idea of what kind of dose to try for her husband and how often to administer the CBD oil.
“I felt good about it,” she said. “It’s a learning curve. We’re learning more about it.”
Little was among the 30 people who attended the discussion hosted by the Medical Marijuana Evaluation Center, which has locations in New England and other states that have medical marijuana programs.
Nurse practitioner Julie Battel and marketing coordinator Callie Farmer gave a presentation about how cannabis works in the body, the kind of relief a patient can receive, and how to use it.
There are many types of cannabinoids -- the chemical compound found in cannabis -- that can be useful for different medical conditions, they said.
THCA doesn’t give people a “high” feeling and can be a good anti-inflammatory. CBD can act as an antioxidant and help protect brain structure and functions. THC works for pain management.
Farmer said she uses cannabis-infused creams on her feet that hurt from past injuries and arthritis. On her hands, it can help manage skin conditions.
For Battel, she also uses topical cannabis products on her hands. Sometimes she’ll use drops with CBD and THC to help her sleep or will smoke for pain management.
People can choose how to take medical cannabis through smoking, ingestion, or topically.
Farmer and Battel don’t recommend smoking because of the carcinogens that can be inhaled and because people can feel the effects almost immediately, but it’s an option.
They also said what when ingesting edibles, start out with a dose between 1 and 4 milligrams and wait at least two hours for your body to process them.
“It’s individualized,” Farmer said. “Not all bodies are the same and react differently.”
There are also considerations patients should have, like how cannabis can interact with medication. Battel and Farmer recommended letting a doctor or patient advocate know about what medicine they take when considering medical cannabis use.
After the presentation, attendees asked questions about health effects and shared reactions they have gotten from doctors about medical cannabis.
One attendee, whose husband has dementia, took him to a Canna Care Docs evaluation center where he got a medical card to buy from a dispensary. This was after they couldn’t get information about cannabis from doctors.
“It’s fear,” Battel said in response. “Doctors say ‘I don’t believe in it’ and my response is ‘It’s not a religion.’”
Ester Forget, 84, said she is interested in using topical cannabis to help her hip pain, which makes it difficult for her to walk and move around.
She often takes Tylenol, yet it doesn’t always work. Her doctor suggested giving her a shot for the pain, but Forget would have to return for subsequent shots.
“I’m already on enough medications as it is,” she said, “but maybe (medical cannabis) can help.”
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