When it comes to CBD and your health, you most likely have questions. Dr. Swathi Varanasi, Doctor of Pharmacy, and Sagely Naturals’ Medical Cannabis Consultant, has answers. Read the article below to learn how to talk to your doctor with tips from the health practitioner herself, Dr. Varanasi.
CBD seems to be everywhere. As an integrative health practitioner and medical cannabis consultant, I have experienced the influx of patient questions about hemp firsthand, and, as the popularity of cannabis continues to increase, the number of questions seem to follow.
Asking your doctor about CBD could seem intimidating whether you are already taking it or you want to add it to your health regimen, but it is essential to have a supportive practitioner-patient relationship. Studies show that patients with a positive relationship with their provider, defined as one based on the shared responsibility for a patient’s well-being, have more successful health outcomes.
Don't worry about the stigma
Healthcare practitioners understand that it may be difficult for you to ask about this new option and should approach these conversations with this in mind. The established rapport in a practitioner-patient relationship enables patient-centered shared decision-making with the goal of improving your overall health and wellness.
Come prepared with a list of questions
Before your doctor’s visit, you may feel more at ease by preparing a list of questions on topics of concern to you, such as CBD formulations, potential drug interactions and adverse events. You should be prepared to discuss how long you have suffered from your condition and its associated symptoms, what type of product you are looking for, what else have you tried without success and what other non-CBD lifestyle modifications that could facilitate your healing process. One of my colleagues, cannabis physician, Dr. Sherry Yafai of the Releaf Institute, also appreciates when patients bring props, like bottles or photos of their medications, to their appointments.
When starting the conversation with your practitioner, do not be afraid to ask them about the education they have pursued to better understand medical cannabis. Bearing in mind that the endocannabinoid system is not a required part of any health professionals’ didactic or practical curricula, your provider may not have training in cannabis therapy; if that is the case, you can request the name of a practitioner in their professional network with such expertise. However, if your provider is well-versed in cannabinoid medicine, you can both move on to the next (and most exciting!) part of the consultation.
Be ready to talk about your medical history
Healthcare practitioners should not only know what questions to ask but also know how to ask them. While at your visit, you may be asked about your past medical history, social history, substance use history, family history, medication history, and other diagnoses; you may be asked more questions than other doctor’s appointments, but all of this information is key for the provider to recommend the appropriate cannabis product and to avoid any drug interactions and/or unwanted exacerbating effects.
When discussing the treatment plan, be sure you understand the dose, route of administration, formulation, possible side effects, and expected therapeutic benefits. Before leaving the practitioner’s office, request a printed copy of the treatment plan for your reference as well as a list of suggested cannabis resources. Consider keeping a cannabis journal to track adherence to your revised medication regimen, your symptom relief, and unwanted side effects to be discussed at the next visit.
Through a collaborative effort between you, your practitioner and the transformative power of CBD, we hope that these tips can empower you to do more of what you love.
About Dr. Swathi Varanasi
Dr. Swathi Varanasi is a pharmacist based in Los Angeles, California. She serves as a medical consultant for CBD/hemp companies, a clinical cannabis researcher, a natural medicines educational platform business co-owner, and a content creator for print & online publications. Emphasizing an evidence-based approach, she is passionate about educating practitioners, students, and patients on the intricacies of the endocannabinoid system and the power of food as medicine. Through the many modalities of integrative medicine and patient-centered shared decision-making, she believes that health and wellness are achievable for everyone.