This is a snapshot of the event on Medicinal Cannabis presented by Associate Professor Kylie O’Brien from the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne:
- Cannabis is a complex plant with over 400 chemical constituents. These include the cannabinoids, terpenoids and many other plant nutrients.
- There is a difference between recreational and medicinal cannabis. Medicinal cannabis is the judicious use of the plant medicine to treat and prevent illness. Ideally, it is prescribed and individualized to the patient and their condition by a practitioner trained in its use.
- There are many strains of cannabis (‘cultivars’), with varying amounts of the two main active constituents (both cannabinoids), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the active constituent that produces known psychoactive effects including euphoria, and the strains grown for the ‘adult use’ or ‘recreational use’ market are high in THC. In contrast, CBD and the other cannabinoids do not produce the typical euphoria and other psychoactive effects. Many cannabis cultivars grown for the medicinal cannabis market are bred to contain high amounts of CBD and little or virtually no THC, whilst others may be bred to contain a balanced ratio of THC and CBD, and others high amounts of THC and lower amounts of CBD. There are over 140 different cannabinoids which probably have specific therapeutic effects.
- Forms of medicinal cannabis include: oils (which are ingested orally as a liquid or in capsule form or vaporized using a vaporizer), suppositories, external ointments and the raw form which may be smoked. Some people juice the leaves of the plant.
- Scientific evidence exists for the positive effects of medicinal cannabis. A major report published in the US in 2017 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found substantial or conclusive evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids were efficacious in the treatment of chronic pain, spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and moderate evidence for sleep disorders associated with a range of conditions. Other research suggests it may be efficacious in the treatment of range of diseases including epilepsy, Dravet Syndrome (severe form of childhood epilepsy), Parkinson’s Disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, inflammatory bowel disease, anxiety, depression and many others.
- The WHO (World Health Organization) published a series of reports in 2018 on cannabis, cannabis resins, CBD and THC. Currently cannabis and cannabis resins are listed in Schedules 1 and IV of the Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs (1961), which are the strictest schedules for substances with little or no recognized therapeutic value. The WHO recently recommended that CBD should not be scheduled and this recommendation will be considered by the United Nations at the end of this year.
- In Australia, access to medicinal cannabis by patients is difficult. In Australia, CBD is contained in Schedule 4 and THC in Schedule 8 of the Standard for the Uniform Prescribing of Medicines and Poisons. This means only a medical practitioner may prescribe it.
- There are main two pathways by which a medical practitioner may access and prescribe medicinal cannabis. The first is via the Special Access Scheme, whereby the medical practitioner must apply to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for approval to prescribe a specific product for a specific patient. The doctor must also gain approval from their State or Territory Health Department. The second pathway is via the TGA’s Authorised Prescriber Scheme. Under this scheme, the medical practitioner may apply to prescribe specific products for a particular class of patients or conditions eg. chronic neuropathic pain. They must first be approved by a specialist college or human research ethics committee (HREC) then apply to the TGA for final approval. They must also gain approval from the State/Territory Health Department. The National Institute of Integrative Medicine’s HREC are accepting applications from medical practitioners who wish to be approved as Authorised Prescribers of medicinal cannabis under the TGA Authorised Prescriber Scheme. The paperwork involved is extensive and onerous for busy doctors.
- In the US, 31 states have legalized the use of medicinal cannabis. Canada has recently legalized adult use cannabis, the law coming into effect on the 17th October 2018.
- Australia is lagging a long way behind. Access to medicinal cannabis, a plant medicine, is a human rights issue.
- What can we all do to help? “It’s all about education”, says A/P Kylie O’Brien who has been an advocate for Medicinal Cannabis for the past 10 months and has been very involved with doctor and public education about medicinal cannabis. She has been scheduled to speak in the Victorian Parliament on this issue near the end of October and encourages all supporters to talk to their local MP to bring to her/his attention this most important issue. She believes that in light of the good safety profile of CBD, the findings of the WHO report and their recommendation that CBD should not be scheduled, there is no logical reason why CBD products should continue to be Schedule 4 medicines in Australia. She believes that the regulation of CBD could be handled under the TGA’s world class, stringent system for regulating complementary medicines. This would open up access to, at least, CBD products.
Medicinal Cannabis is a very safe, effective herbal medicine that has been made legal in Australia since 2016 BUT is virtually inaccessible to the millions of Australians who could benefit from it.
If you are interested in keeping up to date with this topic, Medicinal Cannabis Education www.medicinalcannabiseducation.org.au runs practitioner training events as well as public events. In addition, United in Compassion is a patient advocacy group set up by Lucy Haslam www.unitedincompassion.org.au which provides information to the public also.
Safflower Chinese medicine clinic is pleased to now have a GP working alongside their Chinese Medicine practitioners. Dr Carol Head started in August and is loving working on Phillip island. Carol has been a GP for over thirty years and worked in a variety of practices both in Melbourne and rural Victoria, including in San Remo. Carol is excited to join Safflower Clinic because it gives her the opportunity to spend longer with patients and take a much more holistic approach than in conventional general practice.
New patients can enjoy a relaxed first appointment with plenty of time to discuss their issues. Follow up appointments can also be longer when necessary so patients won’t feel rushed.
Carol treats a wide range of issues using both conventional and complementary therapies and is especially interested in laser acupuncture which is a form of acupuncture where low energy laser is used instead of needles. It is useful to treat all sorts of ailments including musculoskeletal problems, pain, arthritis, depression and anxiety.
Carol has an interest in chronic health issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic fatigue and irritable bowel as well as a mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. She is happy to see patients with any general practice issues, but Safflower clinic is not equipped for emergencies or trauma.
Carol is happy to bulkbill pension and HCC holders. Private patients will pay between $75-170 depending upon the length of consultation, with Medicare rebates available. More details are available on the Safflower website and appointments can be booked online – www.safflowerclinic.com.au or ring 59567011.
While we haven’t seen the end of winter, spring is certainly on its way. The warmth of the sun is breathing life into us once again, birds are nesting, flowers are blooming, and we are beginning to awaken from the deep slumber brought on by the cold winter days – it’s time to get moving again!
In Chinese medicine springtime is attributed to the wood element and the liver and gallbladder systems. The nature of wood is to spread, grow and reach new heights. Once the seed is planted it is destined to become a tree and although it may encounter obstacles on its path, it does not stop pushing and it never considers giving up. This is the wood energy and as such the liver and gallbladder system is responsible for this smooth spread and flow of Qi within the body. Any congestion or restriction can cause the wood energy to stagnate and backfire which can lead to symptoms like pain, PMS, menstrual irregularities, emotional outbursts or digestive problems. The spirit of the liver is said to be the planner and the gallbladder is the general who executes those plans. Therefore, issues concerning lack of direction, setting goals for the future and the inability to focus and complete tasks to reach those goals, can be seen as a disruption in this system.
With acupuncture and herbs as well as implementing a healthy diet and lifestyle we can promote the smooth flow of Qi and bring a sense of wellbeing and balance back into the body and mind. Foods that help to encourage the healthy functioning of the liver and gallbladder include dark leafy greens, sprouts, herbs like parsley, basil and rosemary, fennel and citrus fruits as well as whole grains like rye. Avoid eating too much refined and processed foods, sugars, fats as well as dairy as these tend to weigh heavy and are congesting to the body.
Book your consultation today at safflowerclinic.com.au or call us on 5956 7011 to learn more about how Chinese medicine can help you stay in your flow this spring.
Have you always wanted to speak to a GP who also embraces complementary medicine? Have you
had laser acupuncture provided by a local GP before? And are you longing for a conventional doctor
to have plenty of time for you to discuss all your health issues and incorporate mind, body and
Wait not much longer as we are thrilled to announce that Dr Carol Head is joining our team and will
start consulting on Monday, 20 th August 2018. She will be working three days a week (whilst
completing her Master’s degree in Chinese herbal medicine at RMIT). Dr Head will be available for
consultations on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at Safflower clinic in Newhaven.
We see it as a great opportunity to integrate conventional medicine with the ancient principles of
Chinese medicine. Acupuncture, which is one of the modalities of Chinese medicine is a powerful
treatment to tackle many issues such as: pain, neurological conditions, pregnancy and labor support,
digestive disorders, gynecological problems and much more.
Carol offers laser acupuncture which is a modern form of acupuncture (without the needles) but
with a low-energy laser beam. It’s for all of those who have not ventured into acupuncture
treatments due to their fear of needles. Mind you, acupuncture needles are only as thick as a hair…
Dr Head has a special interest in chronic health issues – diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic
fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome as well as mental health issues (like stress, anxiety and
depression). She will be offering conventional medicine appointments (long and routine),
but our practice is not equipped for emergencies or trauma.
The Safflower team: Brigitte Linder, Eryn Morgan, Vicki Iliopoulos, Dr Carol Head and our
new medical receptionist Sharon Edwards is thrilled to be offering you years of combined
expertise in health and wellbeing.
We can’t wait to meet to help you achieve your health and wellbeing goals.
Call us on (03) 5956 7011 or book online
Rheumatological conditions like arthritis are commonly encountered in a Chinese medical clinic. This
time of year many people experience a worsening of their condition and seek help from alternative
therapies like acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Research has shown acupuncture to be
promising in relieving symptoms of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and may be able to slow
the progression of these diseases.
Arthritis is traditionally viewed as an invasion from external pathogenic factors like wind, cold, heat and
dampness. Due to an already existing weakness, these pathogens easily enter the body causing disease.
Once inside they block the channels preventing the smooth flow of Qi and blood and lead to symptoms
such as pain, stiffness, swelling, inflammation, and deformity. It can be debilitating to live with arthritis
and difficult to manage at times.
Acupuncture and herbs are traditionally used to free the blocked channels, move Qi and blood, warm or
cool down the body and strengthen the immunity. Utilising holistic methods which include diet therapy,
exercise and mindfulness we can help bring our patients back to a state of balance with less pain and
Adding fresh ginger, a variety of berries and high doses of vitamin C to the diet has been shown to aid in
the reduction of symptoms in some people suffering with osteoarthritis. Essential fatty acids like fish
oils, selenium and zinc supplements and chicken bone broth have an anti-inflammatory effect within the
body which may assist in relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
It is always recommended to consult your health care practitioner before beginning any new
supplements or medications.
Book your consultation today at safflowerclinic.com.au or call us on 5956 7011 to learn more about
how Chinese medicine can help you be healthier, happier and pain free.