The Evolution of Medicine & Cannabis by Nicole Fox, MPH, RD
The evolution of medicine has begun, and not a moment too soon. You aren’t imagining it, it isn’t just your friends and family that have minor health woes,In our modern society, we have a significant level of chronic our hands. From one in six women being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease to back pain that causes millions of dollars in lost time from work and depression, migraines, and blood sugar disorders, we Americans, living in the wealthiest country in the world, are losing our greatest asset— our health.
The good news is that more people than ever are turning to wellness professionals to replace or augment visits to their conventional physicians. If you don’t currently work with a nutritionist, an acupuncturist, bodyworker, Ayurvedic doctor or herbalist, I bet you know someone who does. It is encouraging that the practice of medicine is being reclaimed by a new breed of health professionals, who have trained over and above the programs required in medical school, in a field called Functional Medicine.
Functional Medicine uses a root cause approach with advanced biomarker testing to diagnose and personalize treatment options. Instead of symptom amelioration that pharmaceutical interventions offer, a Functional Medicine approach asses a person at a deeper level to create a personalized treatment program. This program may include some pharmaceuticals if created by an MD, but is more often grounded in lifestyle change, with support from diet, plantbased supplements such as cannabis, while also helping patients change their mindset when it comes to recovering from chronic illness.
Treatment approaches in Functional Medicine are oriented around helping a person’s physiology correct itself. A core tenant of this approach is that if the body has all of the compounds, enzymes, nutrients and rest that it needs, it is a master healer that knows what to do to correct itself. The problem is that we humans are often too impatient to wait on nature to do her work.
Cannabis is becoming more widely accepted by Functional Medicine providers as more work is being done to show that the endocannabinoid system is a master homeostatic regulator, or constant internal environment. The body produces our own endocannabinoids; anandamide, and 2-AG. Early studies are beginning to show a correlation between a patient experiencing depression and low levels of anandamide. Because of this, the growing field of Functional Medicine-based health care providers are incorporating cannabis as a powerful plant in treatment regimens that support their patients being free of pharmaceuticals and supporting their bodies to correct and naturally heal.
As a Functional Medicine oriented dietitian in practice for over ten years, I see cannabis as a powerful healing botanical and have been quietly recommending CBD and cannabis products for over a decade. However, I’d like to clarify that it is not a one-stop-fix-all, as some cannabis and CBD companies would have us believe. Cannabinoids belong as a part of a personal wellness program. When we are also taking care of ourselves through a simple organic, plant-based diet, sleeping enough, hydrating, managing stress, cannabis can come in and increase her healing effects at a greater level.
We are fortunate to be living in a time when wellness and Functional Medicine is on the rise, repositioning cannabis as a powerful supplement in our personal medicine cabinets is how we lift the stigma of cannabis and the “stoner mentality.”