If you’re new to medical cannabis and cannabinoids, you may be wondering what options are available to you for treatment. In some cases, the form of treatment will depend on the condition or symptoms you wish to address with medical cannabis.
Prescription cannabinoids are one form of cannabis-based treatment many patients tend to overlook. Most people tend to think of dried marijuana or even cannabis oil when they think of medical treatments. Prescription cannabinoids tend to be less well-known.
Certain prescription cannabinoids may be the right choice for you, depending on your condition and your concerns about using medical forms of cannabis.
Two Types in Canada
Currently, Health Canada has approved two prescription cannabinoids for sale and use in Canada. These are nabilone (under the name Cesamet®) and 1:1 THC/CBD (marketed as Sativex®). Although there are some other prescription cannabinoids, none of them are available in Canada. Health Canada will continue to review and approve medications.
If you’re interested in any form of medical cannabis, including prescription cannabinoids, you’ll need to consult with your doctor or another medical professional. In most cases, cannabinoid treatments will only be considered if you’ve tried other treatments and they’ve failed.
Do They Work?
Research is still investigating the potential uses for medical cannabis and cannabinoids in virtually any format. While studies have indicated some potential uses, more research is needed.
Nabilone, in particular, has been indicated for the potential use in managing the side effects of chemotherapy for cancer patients. Other uses, particularly for THC/CBD combinations, are generally in line with the research on these cannabinoids’ effectiveness in treating certain medical conditions.
Compared to conventional dried medical marijuana, it seems as though prescription cannabinoids may have some benefits. For example, they tend to act more slowly. They also have a longer active period than inhaled cannabinoids. You can think of them as a “slow-release” form of cannabinoids.
There’s also some evidence the effects are not the same as with inhaled cannabis. The “high” typically associated with medical cannabis is uncommon with prescription cannabinoids. This may have something to do with the THC content of various formulations, as THC is the psychoactive compound in many strains of medical marijuana.
Another advantage is the thorough quality testing prescription cannabinoids undergo. While medical cannabis strains are also tested for quality, prescription cannabinoids are subject to greater scrutiny prior to approval for use.
Side Effects Still Exist
Despite the reduction of a THC “high” with prescription cannabinoids, they were still associated with some side effects. Patients and scientists agree that prescription cannabinoids should not be THC-only formulations, as more evidence demonstrates CBD and other cannabinoids play essential roles in medicinal usage. They contribute to the overall beneficial effects of the cannabis plant.
In some studies, patients who took nabilone stated they experienced at least one side effect. Common side effects included drowsiness, dizziness, and dry mouth. Others reported headaches, a sense of being disco-ordinated, and problems with concentration. Some reported a “high” feeling, although this was rarer.
Some recent studies have been conducted to determine whether there are any cardiovascular dangers associated with medical cannabis and prescription cannabinoids. Although more research is needed, those patients who currently suffer from a cardiovascular condition may wish to avoid prescription cannabinoids.
Are They Right for You?
Prescription cannabinoids could be right for some patients. It depends in large part on the condition you wish to treat. Some prescription cannabinoids, such as nabilone, are indicated in the management of chemotherapy side effects. They may not be as effective in treating or managing other conditions.
Consult with a medical professional about your options for treatment and which form of medical cannabis could be right for you. Prescription cannabinoids could be one option to consider.