Blog10 top tips for the first month of medical cannabis

10 top tips for the first month of medical cannabis

13 min read

Lucy MacKinnon

10 top tips for the first month of medical cannabis

We know that starting a new healthcare treatment plan, especially one that has only recently been made available, can feel daunting. When patients first consider trying medical cannabis, many aren’t quite sure of what to expect or know who to turn to for answers to their questions. 

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While there are a number of patient support communities available online where people can connect with others using the same medicine and exchange tips and tricks along the way - not everyone is aware of these, and they may not be to everyone’s liking. 

So, we’ve put together this guide of 10 top tips to help patients during their first month of medical cannabis treatments, so they know what to expect, and are supported throughout their journey.

Educate yourself

Just like when making any decision about your health, it's important to do your research, quite simply, because it's important to know what you’re putting in your body. But, unlike most other pharmaceutical products, when specialist doctors prescribe medical cannabis products to a new patient, they are usually openly discussed and explained.

This means during a patients initial consultation for medical cannabis, their prescribing clinician is likely to explain the formulations, variations, or concentrations that may be best suited to their symptoms, or advise them on how to administer their medication and recommend a particular dosing routine.

But, it never hurts to know a little more.

At Releaf, we’ve put together an extensive education section that contains over 200 articles related to medical cannabis, and we update our blog every working day to provide the right resources and information for patients. 

From an explanation of the rules and regulations surrounding its use, to the effects cannabis-derived medicines can have on specific symptoms or health conditions, to an investigation of the clinical evidence and patient generated data available, you can find it all at www.releaf.co.uk.

Do your due diligence

Unlike a lot of other controlled medicines, there are a number of rules that surround the administration of medical cannabis in public spaces. As a new patient using cannabis based treatments, it is important to do your due diligence to ensure you are aware of these rules and recommendations.

For example, if you need to carry your medical cannabis on your person - always ensure you have an up-to-date copy of your prescription, or if you are a Releaf patient your medical cannabis card, so that you can prove you have a legal and legitimate reason to be carrying cannabis, and that it has been legally sourced.  

If you administer medical cannabis using a vapouriser, consider where is safest to do so. Medical cannabis vaporisers are classed as medical devices, and so, they are not covered by the indoor smoking and e-cigarette ban - but it is important to be considerate of others, and so perhaps try to only vape inside public spaces when it is strictly necessary.  

It’s also essential to do your due diligence when it comes to travelling with medical cannabis. Whether this is driving your own car, travelling on public transport, or travelling aboard via aeroplane, make sure you are aware of the rules and restrictions in place that relate to impairment, possession of cannabis-based medicines, and importing controlled substances like medical cannabis.

Start low and go slow

The ‘start low and go slow’ mantra has been engrained in the minds of many and is also commonly advised, and associated, with CBD usage. 

This advice is clear, straight forward and means what it says on the tin: start with a low dosage, or a low concentration, and gradually build up until you reach the desired effect. 

Because everyone is unique as an individual, there are a large amount of variables that come when trying any new kind of medicine or treatment option - and when it comes to medical cannabis this is no different. We all have a slightly different metabolism and tolerance that impact how sensitive our bodies are to cannabis, and so everyone’s ideal dosing routine, quantities, and formulations will look slightly different. 

Most of the time, it's a process of trial and error. Follow the start low and go slow mantra to avoid unwanted or unpleasant side effects, and try to be patient as you increase your dosage or concentration.

Write down your routine

Keeping a journal to note down your dosing routines is a great way to track your progress, and also helps you to keep track of how much medication you have used and discover your preferences.

If you vape medical cannabis flower, write down the temperature you set the vapouriser too, the quantity and concentration of the flower you vaped, and the time you administered your medication. For cannabis oils, write down the quantity and concentration of the oil administered, and how and when it was taken.

Add notes to reflect how quickly you felt relief from your symptoms, and how long this lasted, and do the same if you encounter any side effects. It may also be useful to include notes on what you’d eaten that day, how you slept, and how the day went in general, for example were you able to undertake everything you had planned for the day?

This way you can generate your own patient data, and start to personalise your dosing routines, quantities, or frequency. As we said before, starting cannabis-based medicines is often a process of trial and error, but keeping thorough notes throughout the first month of treatment can make this process more streamlined. 

When you meet with your doctor for your first follow-up appointment these notes will be very useful, and at Releaf we can use this feedback to tailor your subscription so that you can get closer to reaching your optimal health goals. 

Be aware of interactions

Like any kind of medicine, medical cannabis has known interactions - especially when it passes through the digestive system. So when consuming prescribed cannabis oil, this is something to be particularly aware of. 

Foods can either enhance, or negatively impact the effects medical cannabis can have - especially if they are both in the digestive tract at the same time. Fatty foods like olive oil, avocados and oily fish can effectively aid absorption of cannabis-based medicines, and it's often recommended to incorporate foods like these into your diet if they aren’t already. 

Other medicines may also interact with cannabis derived medicines, and although your prescribing doctor should have explained this to you - it is important to reiterate. 

If you take medications or supplements have similar side effects to medical cannabis, such as drowsinesses and fatigue, there is a higher likelihood of these effects will occur, and so it's important to take precautions. 

Make sure your doctor is aware of the other medications you are already taking when you are first starting cannabis based treatments, and ask for their advice. Implement their feedback and adopt the start low, go slow policy to avoiding any unpleasant side effects and receive the most benefit from your medication. 

Seek support when needed

Although cannabis-based treatments are generally well tolerated and if a person does experience side effects they are usually minor or low risk, some side effects can be more serious, and it's important to seek support in these cases. 

If you are experiencing unpleasant side effects that are unmanageable, stop using your medication and contact your doctor or prescribing clinic to see what they advise for you as an individual. If you do experience serious side effects like hallucinations or hyperemesis syndrome, stop using your medication immediately and seek urgent medical attention.

At Releaf, our team of clinicians can assist in adjusting your prescription or tailoring your treatment plan to ensure you get the most out of your medicine, and our patient support team are also on hand to help guide patients throughout their journey with medical cannabis.

If you have any questions about your new treatment plan you can’t the answer to, contact our patient support team, and they can point you in the right direction. 

Discover your preferences

After you’ve been using medical cannabis for a few weeks, you will start to discover your preferences as a patient. This can relate to your dosing routines and quantities, where and when you prefer to administer your medication, and how you take your medication. 

When medical cannabis is first prescribed, your doctor will advise you on when formations and concentrations may be able to assist you best for specific symptoms, or help you get the most benefit at a certain time in the day, but everyone is unique. 

If you have been prescribed both cannabis oil and medical cannabis flower, you may discover you prefer one over the other, or find one to be more effective for you and your lifestyle. 

This is important feedback to give to your doctor during your follow-up consultation. At Releaf we want to ensure everyone’s treatment plan is designed to suit their needs and lifestyle, and so, discovering your preferences as a patient is an important step in this process. 

Reflect on your progress

Within 30 days of medical cannabis treatments starting, patients should always have a check-in with their clinic, to ensure their medication is working effectively. Before this appointment, it's best to reflect on your progress so you can make the most of the time you have with your clinician. 

Think back to what you discussed during your initial consultation and see how things have changed since then. If you’ve kept a journal, this will be a lot easier, and you can use your own words to determine how effectively medical cannabis is working for you. 

Reflect on any changes in your symptoms, health condition and general quality of life, but also remember to take into account any adaptations you may have had to make to your lifestyle to incorporate CBPMs. 

This will help you to decide whether to continue with CBPM treatment, or not, or see if your prescription may need adjusting to reflect this feedback when you attend your follow-up consultation. 

Create a list of questions

Although we pride ourselves on providing the answers to all your questions before you even need to ask them, during the reflection process you may discover questions you haven’t yet come across the answers to. If this is the case, write a list of the queries or concerns you may have, and check out our FAQ, blog, and education section to see if we’ve already covered the subject. 

Contact our patient support team if you are a Releaf patient and have any questions about your subscription, appointments, or the services we offer. If you have questions regarding your medication, note these down for your follow-up consultation so you can discuss them with an expert. 

Remember, curiosity is key, and understanding your medication is imperative. Reaching an optimal health outcome is the end goal, and there is no such thing as a silly question. 

Advocate for yourself 

It’s up to you how much you’d like to disclose your use of medical cannabis to those around you, but you should never be ashamed, and it's unfortunate many feel the need they need to hide this because of the stigmas associated with cannabis’ recreational usage. 

Ultimately, it's up to you whether you want to declare your use of medication to your employer, but there could be ramifications if you fail to do so and work in a safety critical role. Read up on your patient rights for further information about the legislations in place that may protect you in your place of employment, place of residence, and public spaces, to help you advocate for yourself, and spread awareness of medical cannabis to remove the stigma. 

Our research shows 50% of UK adults were unlikely to feel comfortable disclosing if they were a medical cannabis patient, or not, but, 86% of were likely to support a loved one who had been prescribed medical cannabis.

But, having a conversation about your choice of treatment with friends and family will look differently for everybody. These conversations should take place at your own pace, and if you’re looking for guidance and advice on how you can approach these conversations, don’t worry we’ve got you covered. 

Final thoughts

Unfortunately, despite its legalisation in 2018, there are still people in the UK who feel there is still a twinge of taboo surrounding medical cannabis and so, discussions about CBPMs typically happen behind closed doors. But when you’re just starting cannabis-based treatments, or are considering these options, this isn’t helpful - and in fact, it can be detrimental. 

That's what we created this blog, to help open up discussions about medical cannabis in a public, accessible platform. We think being open and honest about the processes involved in medical cannabis treatments is the best way to educate others, spread awareness of these options, and reassure or support those who are new to the process. 

And we hope this blog has helped to do just that. 

Remember: educate yourself, do your due diligence, and start low and go slow. When you start cannabis-based treatments, write down your routine, discover your preferences and create a list of questions to help you reflect on your progress. Remember to be aware of interactions, and seek support when needed - but always, always advocate for yourself.

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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Authors

With five years of journalism and healthcare content creation under her belt, Lucy strives to improve medical cannabis awareness and access in the UK by producing high quality, credible content.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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