Your Common Medical Cannabinoid Questions, Answered
2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the legalization of medical cannabis in Canada. For the past 20 years countless Canadians have turned to cannabinoids to support their well-being, but many of us still have questions about the role of cannabinoids in healthcare. To learn more and help you make informed decisions, Zoomer spoke to Dr. Lionel Marks de Chabris, Chief Medical Officer at ZYUS Life Sciences, a Canadian company that is focused on providing a compassionate, science-based approach to pain management – an issue that directly affects more than one in five Canadians1 every day.
Q: How do cannabinoids work to manage symptoms such as pain?
Dr. Marks de Chabris: There is a vast and rapidly growing body of scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of cannabinoids to improve well-being and manage pain. This research shows that cannabinoids may improve communication with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), helping to alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life.
The ECS is a unique system in our body that is responsible for maintaining a healthy balance, known as homeostasis, and supports processes from organ system development and regulation, to memory formation and sleep regulation. How well our ECS functions determines our overall health. When something goes wrong with these internal signals, it can contribute to a range of conditions, including chronic pain, psychiatric disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases. Cannabinoids support this vital system in the body, providing a potentially effective method to manage chronic pain without resorting to opioids or over the counter pain medicines that can cause side effects that make them unsuitable for long-term use2.
Q: Will cannabinoids make me high?
Dr. Marks de Chabris: The short answer is “not if you don’t want them to”. Cannabinoids are the active ingredients of the cannabis plant, and while there are over 100 naturally occurring cannabinoids made by the cannabis plant, THC and CBD are the two that patients are most likely to encounter.
THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the cannabinoid responsible for many of the effects people feel when they use cannabis, including the intoxication or “high” sensation that some people feel. CBD (Cannabidiol) is the other main cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. It has almost the same molecular structure as THC but has a very different effect on the body and doesn’t produce the same “high” sensation as THC, which can be a benefit for medical patients who want to manage their symptoms throughout the day. By talking candidly with your healthcare practitioner (HCP) about your desired outcomes, you can work together to determine the right cannabinoid formulation to support your good health.
Q: Are Cannabinoids Addictive?
Dr. Marks de Chabris: Unlike opioids and even some over-the-counter pain medicines, cannabinoids are low-risk substances as there are no known studies in which cannabinoids were determined to be the direct cause of overdose death3. The healthcare crisis in Canada fueled by opioid addiction is severe, with dangerous repercussions. According to a National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) report4, NIDA ranks the risk of cannabinoid addiction as lower than tobacco and alcohol, and about as addictive as caffeine. For many patients struggling to manage their symptoms, cannabinoids may offer an alternative to opioids and over-the-counter medication. To determine if cannabinoids are right for you, speak to your healthcare practitioner.
Q: What will my friends and family think if I start taking this as medication for pain?
Dr. Marks de Chabris: I recommend having a conversation with your loved ones to educate them about the science that supports cannabinoids as a therapeutic option, and to focus on a couple key points:
1) Cannabinoids sourced from Licensed Producers are approved and regulated by Health Canada. You need a prescription (authorization) from your HCP, or through a virtual healthcare provider such as HelloMD, just like any prescription medication.
2) This is a therapeutic authorized by a HCP. The purpose is not to get high; it is to improve your quality of life. Look for a reliable licensed producer that is committed to producing high-quality products that undergo rigorous testing to ensure precise and consistent therapeutic formulations.
To learn more about ZYUS, visit ZYUS.ca.
1 Anderson, M., Campbell, F., Choinière, M., El-Gabalawy, H., Hudspith, M., Laliberté, J., Swidrovich, J., Wilhelm, L. (2019). Chronic Pain in Canada: Laying a Foundation for Action. Canadian Pain Task Force Report: June 2019. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
2 Lucas P, Walsh Z. Medical cannabis access, use, and substitution for prescription opioids and other substances: A survey of authorized medical cannabis patients. Int J Drug Policy. 2017 Apr;42:30-35. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.01.011. Epub 2017 Feb 9. PMID: 28189912.
3 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 12. 9, Injury and Death. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425742/
4 NIDA Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 1994.