50to120 - Living Your Best, Healthy Senior Life

CBD and THC - All The Rage, But Is It Safe & Effective for Seniors?"

July 27, 2021 Mark Burright Season 1 Episode 31
50to120 - Living Your Best, Healthy Senior Life
CBD and THC - All The Rage, But Is It Safe & Effective for Seniors?"
Chapters
50to120 - Living Your Best, Healthy Senior Life
CBD and THC - All The Rage, But Is It Safe & Effective for Seniors?"
Jul 27, 2021 Season 1 Episode 31
Mark Burright

Special Guest: Dr. Jennifer Anderson - Family Medicine, Cannabinoid Medicine

Dr. Jennifer Anderson joins Seniors50to120 to discuss CBD and THC. Dr. Anderson brings a unique perspective to the discussion.

Her passion for Cannabinoid medicine started 4-years ago when her son with intractable epilepsy had failed all treatments and she was forced to close her practice. Seizing multiple times per hour the outlook was dire. However, after one dose of CBD, she saw dramatic results. 

Over the past four years, she has committed to helping other patients and physicians explore their options with cannabinoids. 

Mark and Dr. Anderson will be discussing both CBD and THC cannabinoids for seniors. Which cannabinoids are safe and effective, and which are not? Dosages, possible negative interactions with other medications, potential side effects, and more. 

Show Notes Transcript

Special Guest: Dr. Jennifer Anderson - Family Medicine, Cannabinoid Medicine

Dr. Jennifer Anderson joins Seniors50to120 to discuss CBD and THC. Dr. Anderson brings a unique perspective to the discussion.

Her passion for Cannabinoid medicine started 4-years ago when her son with intractable epilepsy had failed all treatments and she was forced to close her practice. Seizing multiple times per hour the outlook was dire. However, after one dose of CBD, she saw dramatic results. 

Over the past four years, she has committed to helping other patients and physicians explore their options with cannabinoids. 

Mark and Dr. Anderson will be discussing both CBD and THC cannabinoids for seniors. Which cannabinoids are safe and effective, and which are not? Dosages, possible negative interactions with other medications, potential side effects, and more. 

Unknown:

Folks, we're excited to have Dr. Jennifer Anderson joining seniors 50 to 120 today to discuss CBD and THC. The question we hope to answer today is CBD and THC safe and effective for seniors. Now, folks, we've got Dr. Anderson with us today. And one of the things I want to point out is Dr. Anderson is from Canada, where THC is legal. She has a much broader perspective on what has happened since THC was legalized, as far as Medicinal Products are concerned. So this is exciting. I think this is going to bring some interesting conversation to the interview today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you got involved as a doctor in looking into the benefits and the risk of both CBD and THC. Thank you so much for having me today. Yes, I am very involved here in Canada in medical cannabis for all ages. My journey started in 2016. I have a son with cerebral palsy, intractable epilepsy who had been in hospital probably 80 90% of the time, having different types of seizures. And in October of 2016, he was seizing three, four or five times an hour and we were in the hospital most of the time. And at that time, his neurologist basically asked me if I wanted him resuscitated after we'd been in hospital all summer and denied to you. And at that point, it kind of hit me that we were at the end. I'm a single mom. So I went home and I quit my practice mid October, I had two weeks to close it up. And I didn't really know what we were going to do. I thought this was probably the end and you know features every feature has the opportunity to to kill somebody in something called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. And when you're seizing a lot, those chances increase. So I didn't think he would make the next summer and I was planning my life around that. So I quit everything. And I just started working in emergency because I could do shift work and run to and from the hospital. Nevermind the fact that I have a he had a twin, who also was four years old at the time, and I had a daughter that was a few years older as well. So at that time, cannabis was illegal in Canada. And I had asked my neurologist about it, she had trained in the states and she basically said, I can't help you with it, it might work you need to go find a family doctor who will help you with this because medical marijuana in Canada has been legal since 2001, but only through acquisition. And so she said I can't help you. You need to go find a family doctor who's a specialist in epilepsy and cannabis. Good luck. They're looking for a unicorn and I knew that wasn't going to happen. So I trained her I went to all of my friends and pediatric oncology and palliative medicine and I thought of somebody there must be able to help me but the answer was, you know, a Jen, we're just not going to get involved. And so at that point, I had a blog on social media. And I just sort of expressed my the fact that I wanted to try this. And I had a friend who basically had had some products and just said, You know what, why don't you give this a try and happened to be Charlotte's Web. And so I hadn't based and no one really knew a lot about hemp here. And so I gave it to him on a Friday night. He had been seizing all night, he had something called electrical status, epilepsy and sleep, which meant when he goes to sleep, he seizes until he wakes up. And so times, you know, he'd wake up in the middle of the night seizing and he'd be bought, he has vomiting seizures, so if you're not right beside him, he would be aspirating. And he was already on breath stacking masks because his lungs were so bad from aspirating. In any case, I gave, I gave him one drop the first night and he slept the whole night. And of course, I was up watching him. And he woke up and he still had seizures in the day. I gave him the drop in the morning and a drop at night on the Saturday and the Saturday night he slept again. He had never done this in years, he was always up at least at 10pm and 3am was seizures. And Sunday night the same thing. And I brought them to daycare on them on Monday morning. And they looked at him and said, What What did you do? And I said, well, we're trying some alternative therapies. And in any case, my I found neurology that week because even my respite worker had noticed a change. And I said Nicholas will stop seizing in the middle of the night. I said like we need to continue this and their question was does he have a prescription for this attempt? And I mean, I didn't know anything about this. I wasn't involved. As a physician. I knew we could do it. But I was a recent grad and I didn't want to get involved. So nobody really knew that hemp came under our cannabis laws. In any case said you know, you have to stop it and get a prescription. And I said but if I stop it, he could start seizing and die and And their response neurology was, yeah, he might. And at that moment, something in me changed as a physician, my perspective on medicine and how we treat patients, and how we look at things changed, because here I had a son that could die. And I had something that was working, when he had he gone the traditional medical route. And that didn't work. But I was being told that I couldn't give this to my son, when it was potentially like saving. So at that point, I went into mom, overdrive, you want to be scared, but a physician and a mom in the same body. And, and let her go. So I, I begged everyone to help with a prescription. And finally, one of my colleagues that I worked with, it wasn't she only did emergency medicine, like general health, because obviously it's working. And from that day on, Nicholas improved dramatically, year to year, his hospital visits declined by at least 50%. I can say now that coming in September, we have not been into a hospital for seizures or anything related. For three years. It has been absolutely life changing for my son from that. So that was in 2016. I started with my own son clinic here in where I live came and found me in my rural community because they heard about my story, and they sign and they said, you know, we have all these kids coming in, and not even the cannabis, doctors want to touch them. Um, can you please come and help? And I have my initial response was no, I'm not going to be the hot dog for kids. And he said that just because of the struggle that I went through, but as I sat and I thought about it, the next few months, and I met some colleagues who really understood cannabis and how it worked in the body, I realized there's a science behind this, and I can actually help people. So I started seeing kids in 2017. And from that, it just exploded. And I saw amazing results. I took Dr. michelins approach, which I didn't know him at the time, I just treated all the seizures, I treated everyone who had failed traditional medical therapy, which is to anti epileptics, and still seizing on a daily basis. And I saw dramatic results. From there I started seeing adults started seeing all the way up to I think 102 is my oldest patient, and my youngest patients probably three months old. And I'm happy to say that now in my community, in my province, neurology and pediatrics now refer all the kids to me, they prefer not to do it themselves, they refer them to me. So we have now come full circle from basically threatening my license because I was giving my child a hemp based product to now referring every all the kids to me. That's my story in a nutshell. But yeah, so now I'm very passionate about cannabinoid medicine but also passionate about teaching physicians, because one big struggle we have as physicians is what do you do when everything else fails? How do you look at people and and this whole situation? And so that's sort of where I am today. Okay, so now you're helping both adults and kids from around the world find the help that they need. You're the lead on a website that you have, can you tell us a little bit about the website, the people, the educators that that you work with? Yeah, I do have a website. It is Dr. Jennifer Anderson cannabis, MD calm. And on that site. It is basically a portal for people to be able to communicate with me. And it's used by physicians and patients all over the world. And I try to connect them with someone in their area to help them I do have a little bit of a blog on there as well, in terms of the clinic that I work out of. It's not related to my website, it is just a clinic here where I live, and we do consults for other doctors and help them to navigate cannabis with their their patients. So basically, we're family doctors who have a special interest in cannabis. And we take concepts from other doctors, too. Now I'm going to switch subjects on you a little bit. And there's a lot of confusion out there. So can you explain the difference between CBD and THC? Absolutely. So cannabis has a lot of compounds in it. And of course, we're just sort of exploring them now. One of the first compounds that we found was a cannabinoid called THC. There are over 100 cannabinoids in there. And that's a class of molecules. The two main ones are CBD and THC. So those are the ones that we talk about a lot. THC is traditionally the one that people use to get that high feeling. It's the only psychoactive cannabinoid CBD does not have any psychoactive effect and so that can add noid we can use a lot in kids and we can avoid the psychoactive effect. THC. I should say though the psychoactive effect really depends on how you ingest it and and how you introduce it to your body. THC goes through the liver and becomes active and makes you sort of have that high ceiling, introducing it small amounts and possibly in a way that just dissolves in your mouth really helps to mitigate that effect. And that's usually what we're using because our goal is never to get a patient high. The difference between the two basically as that one is psychoactive the THC and CBD is not. Okay, now we talked about hemp earlier. Where does hemp fit into this. So hemp is basically a cannabis plant that has less than point 3% THC. hemp was actually used a lot in the early 1900s. And pre 19 hundred's for many different things. It's used for textiles for paper, food, building materials, body care, it was actually there's a lot of political thing driving why hemp went underground. And that's a whole different discussion. But hemp is very valuable because it actually has a lot of CBD in it so we can use it when we don't want or when we want a plant that has lots of CBD but very little THC cannabis like marijuana and other varietals. They have higher THC. So they're basically classified as clients that have more than the point 3% THC. And just in terms of growing hemp can be grown in a variety of conditions. It's very forgiving. Marijuana has to be carefully controlled with growing conditions in order to get the plants that you want in Canada now that THC is legal. Are you seeing more of these products being developed from cannabis plants versus hemp plants? Does that have any effect on anything? Yeah, so things were very interesting in the last 10 years, pre 20 teams could only legally access marijuana for medical purposes. And there were a few revisions to the laws over the last 20 years that made that possible. You could go to a physician get an authorization to either grow or or access plants. In 2018, our federal government made cannabis legal that meant any anything THC CBD and so we all kind of thought that the medical side would sort of deteriorate because everybody could just go down the history and go to a dispensary and buy whatever. In fact, though, the opposite happened, what's happened is that because there's so much interest in cannabis, at every age level, people will go to the local dispensary and they will get things but what they they are not able to educate at these dispensaries or say anything about what it's used for or not. And so people end up going there and not being able to find what they want, or they find something that works, but they need help with it. So then what they end up doing is going to their doctor and asking for that authorization to access the medical. And so it's really put pressure on the physicians to become more knowledge knowledgeable about it, but also to acknowledge it and as an up and coming medicinal product. So physicians like myself, who take console now have realized that this has really caused other physicians to console us to help with this. And when I see a patient most of them have tried something on the recreational or retail dispensary market. And then they come in and we switch them to something in the medical. And in Canada, the benefit of having medical is that a lot of insurance companies are covering it now. You can claim it as a tax exemption. And also say if you're working and you are using a CBD or THC product, you have a medical authorization to use it. There are still some laws revolving around that that are evolving but it has really pushed the issue it is allowed access. And it's really forced people to kind of decide if they're using cannabis recreationally or using it medicinally that is very Yeah, so I think everybody thought that it was just going to be a free for all but it actually wasn't and it really it was really beneficial to the medical community. I'm going to change things up a little bit. CBD and THC is effective against seizures, appetite control, nausea, stress and other ailments, possibly then anxiety and depression. Why is that? That's a really great question. And I get that a lot, especially from physicians because the main comments I get is Oh, it just works for everything. Everybody just wants it for everything. But the reason is because there is a system in our body. That is called the end of cannabinoid system. And there are two main receptors that we've discovered are Dr. Michelle Lim and his team have discovered in Israel that are called CB one and CB two receptors. Now the CB one receptors exists in your brain and your nervous system and a few other tissues. The CB two receptors are in most of the rest of your body and THC interacts with these receptors directly and CBD does indirectly. And actually, we have found that our bodies create substances that are very similar to teach the end CBD called Amanda mind by ht these naturally bind to these receptors, but the the cannabinoids from cannabis actually can mimic these. And so every indication that you mentioned whether it be seizures, appetite, depression, anxiety, and all the different things that we use cannabis for there is actually a physiological mechanism for how it works. And they interact with these receptors to produce a cascade of events in your body that results in decreased seizures, increased appetite, increased sleep, and all of those mechanisms are evolving as we research them. And remember, we couldn't research these things. And because things were schedule one, and you couldn't do research. So the other comment I got is that oh, well, there's no research Well, there wasn't research because it was banned. So now there is legal, we're actually able to do a lot of research. So the research is just exploding on that. Very, very exciting time to be in the in the cannabis space. CBD and THC extracts are being touted for their health benefits. And what we're seeing you walk into a dispensary here and you see this huge array of products and all kinds of things. We also are seeing this here in America on just the CBD products and health food stores, pharmacies, supermarkets. We have some restaurants here locally that you walk into that that's their big thing. Now they're selling CBD products as well. There's pills, there's oils, they're tensors, there's bonds, there's vaping, devices, edibles, gummy bears, honey coffees, we even have alcoholic beverages, among other things. When you're looking at the all these different products. How in the heck does a person decide which product is for them? That's a really good question. Here in Canada, it's a little bit less to navigate, we don't have it's not legal to have all those products yet, although it is coming. The main difference in our recreational or retail side, which is the dispensary, dispensary's that you see just sort of going around on the street corners. And the medical side is that in Canada, the medical has to be very controlled. So the variability in the amount of CBD and THC on the medical side is much less than on the recreational side. But in Canada, you can't buy CBD or THC products anywhere except a dispensary or on the medical side. So we don't have the corner shops selling things. But the other the other thing is that when we are picking those products, the dispensaries get products from everywhere. And so when you're in the dispensary, you really want a certificate of analysis that is legitimate because this certificate of analysis should be done on every batch product that is made by a company and that will say all have the pesticides that it was tested for all of the the amount of the cannabinoids in it as an every detail of that oil in that batch. If you can't get that for a product, then you really don't know what you're taking. And so that's when you're looking at the the medicinal value of it that's really important to look at. And I know in the States, you do have Certificate of analysis for lots of those products. Now when you're you're going in and you're looking do I get gummies? Do I get a drink? Do I get tinctures or do IV, it really depends on what you're trying to treat. I never prescribe gummies or edibles because those products tend to make people feel high and because it goes to the liver. And from my clinical experience, I find that people often come to me and say, Oh, I can't take any THC. Because I've had these edibles and they just get high. I take those same patients and I give them a THC spray. And they don't get high because it dissolves in their mouth and it bypasses the liver and they get pain control, they get increased sleep, and they get all the medicinal value without a high and it can be almost the same amount of THC. It just depends how you take it. And so for the recreational side, I believe with the drink in Canada and that are all sort of more recreational the medicinal side we're a little we're able to really cater things to what we're trying to treat. And so the value of having a physician involved is to try to help you navigate that and really follow up and see how you're doing, especially when we're dealing with seniors and people that are more vulnerable. Makes sense. Here in America, the FDA has approved a drug called Epidex. What is that? And does again, back to confusion, what's in that pill? Does it contain like cannabis extracts or what is it Epidiolex is a new FDA approved drug from GW Pharma who also makes another drug called Sativex, which is for Ms. Very similar constitution in terms of they both have natural cannabinoids meaning they come from a plant, they are not synthetic, like some things like NAB alone, and different products that are are manufactured by other companies. Now epidiolex was created and it is approved for Linux gift syndrome, as well as durveys. And which are very, they are pediatric conditions where kids are having multiple seizures that are very life threatening. And so that is why it came to the forefront. Now it is a liquid, and it's got 100 milligrams of CBD per ml. And it's the base in it is a sesame seed oil, and it's got a sugar called sucralose in it. And it's kind of got a strawberry flavor. So this is something that was approved for kids with seizures in the state. We do not have this in Canada for many reasons. It is very expensive. I'm don't have access to it, but from what I know it's over $30,000 a year or somebody and it may or may not work. The thing with cannabis is that it's not just the THC and the CBD that are in cannabis that helps with with things. There are other compounds in the plant called terpenes, and flavonoids, those work together with the CBD to help in something called the entourage effect. And that really supports the CBD and gives it the different effects that we look for whether it be a stimulating effect, or sedating effect. And so this at the dialects is one medication. And what I've seen is that once that's available, that's the one that to use, and that's the one that physicians go to. But in Canada, we don't have that and and so the benefit I see to not having it is that we have so much more variety to use. So if I have a child that's not responding to one, I can switch to another there's not an insert of an FDA approved one that we have to go to and that I think is super beneficial to not only kids, but all the ages that I work with because the body is just so everybody's body is so different in how they interact with the cannabinoids and the terpenes. Are there any other Canadian or FDA approves CBD or THC products that are available or close to becoming available that you're aware of. So there are synthetic products in Canada Sativex is also made by GW Pharma and it is a natural cannabinoid based medicine. It is used for Ms. And I did a little bit of research on that when recently because I do have some MS patients that have been coming and looking to try and other forms of medical cannabis. I thought of x is unreachable for lots of MS patients because it's $125 plus per vial, which lasts about 10 days if you're lucky. It contains 2.5 milligrams of CBD and 205 milligrams, approximately a THC and it's a spray. Now there are a lot of medical cannabis producers here that create have created sprays that are very similar at a fraction of the cost. And so there's there are these FDA approved ones but there are now all these other ones that we have in Canada that actually are very similar and actually making it so these patients can afford it. But yeah, I think Sativex is the only other product that I have used or been aware of that is a naturally occurring that uses natural cannabinoids in it. Well, from what I'm learning from you this morning, it sounds like you really don't need all of these prescription approved type stuff in Canada because you again you have such a large array of potential possibilities that can treat the patient we do. Yeah, the way it works in Canada is if you want to use the medical a physician has Put in an authorization to one of our Health Canada licensed producers. And there is probably about 600 plus of them there are more pretty much every month. Now, some are big companies, some are small companies, some they're all sort of finding their own niche. But you can have an authorization to any of those and multiple ones. And so then what happens is that you register with that company. And your authorization lasts for six months a year, whatever you and your doctor decide. And then you have to renew that at the very minimum every year. And that's how you access medical cannabis here. You order it from that Health Canada licensed producers website and it comes to your door. Interesting. Are there any potential interactions with CBD or THC with other medications that a senior might be on definitely do find it is tricky. Sometimes navigating medications with seniors, there are some blood thinners that are important to watch for. There are also some other medications that are in are used for say breast cancer, there are medications, there are some benzos as well, benzodiazepines, so all medications that seniors may be on, especially the blood thinners. And so it is very important to know and work with somebody that is aware of those interactions so that we can help mitigate those health risks. And as a physician, when I get a patient that is in a better is on one of these medications, it doesn't mean that we can't use cannabis, it's just we have to be aware of the interaction and watch to make sure that the risk benefit favors the benefit in that patient. CBD does go through the liver in a pathway that a lot of other medications do as well. So in terms of being aware of medications, it's very easy even online to find more and more information on which medications have potential interactions going through the people if it's the system of deliver. Interesting, I think that what people you can correct me if I'm wrong, people really need to understand is that when they're looking at CBD or THC, it is a drug. They are drugs, and they can have interactions. So we really need to think about that. Often I'm talking to physicians and their advice to their patients, when they're interested in cannabis is to just go down the store to the dispensary. And I think that's a very dangerous thing just for just because of what we talked about. I think that if if a patient wants a medical authorization, they're looking to have physician involved in that. And to help them navigate that to make sure that it's a safe experience for them. And saying, Oh, just go down the street to the dispensary really puts them at risk. If they are on a medication that within Iraq, they can they can have excessive bleeding, if they're on a blood thinner, they can have more sedation if they're on benzo. But also, if they're on oncology meds, they may not work as well. So I think here in Canada, providing that console service is super important because I understand most physicians don't want to get involved. But they can still sort of refer to a physician that can help them with it and make sure that that patient doesn't just go down, go down the road and get what they want anyways, they can have the medical help that they want. Okay, now just kind of continuing along this same subject. About two years ago, I started taking a liquid magnesium supplement, because I thought I had a magnesium deficiency, which we hear about this all the time down here with it, you know, we've all got magnesium deficiencies, and we have doctors that are really pushing products that they've come out with themselves. Now, after about two years of taking the supplement, I read about a test that could be done called an RBC blood test. And that test came back and we found out that my magnesium level was off the charts high, very, very high. And my doctor immediately got ahold of me and told me to drop that supplement before any damage was done. Now, the problem is without this test, I would have happily continued to take this magnesium supplement. Is there a way that people can properly manage their CBD and THC usage without potentially causing any harm? Are there tests or how do you go about doing that? There aren't any tests available here for people to test levels of CBD and THC. I think the safety involved with it really goes back to having physician involvement and being able to monitor the potential risks of that patient taking taking a product, the body is, is very smart. It conserves like magnesium phosphate calcium that it needs, and it gets rid of things that it needs that it doesn't need. And so is very important to monitor taking extra supplements. And that becomes more and more important as people are unwell or have health issues. I think just having physician involvement with the cannabis products definitely helps to mitigate some of those risks. Dr. Anderson, I'm just going to open the mic up to you. And how would you like to conclude our time together today? I would just like to thank you for having this discussion. I feel very strongly about advocating at all levels. I'm involved with advocating in politics, advocating in the medical community as well as supporting patients and just raising general awareness on the need for the medical knowledge around cannabis and actually making laws that support patients that need it and making it available in a safe way for patients whether they be three months old or underdone to perfect. And I'm very, very happy to be involved in this area. Great. Well, can you do one more thing for me? Can you repeat your website address so people have a have a way to get ahold of you after this podcast? Yeah, I'm available in a few different areas. My website is Dr. Jennifer Anderson cannabis MD, calm that website, it will update that often. But it is a way to get ahold of me the other areas, or the other places I'm on are LinkedIn. And also on Instagram at Confessions of a single doctor mom. And that really follows my journey with my son. Fantastic. Well, thank you for your time today. I again know you're extremely busy. So I appreciate you taking time on a Saturday morning to do this. I know that the information you share today are going to assist listeners and the seniors that are out there. Now they can take this information and hopefully make some informed decisions about what they're doing with both CBD and THC rather than just running out to a one of our dispensaries here and hoping for the best. So we're going to get the guessing out of this, hopefully, Dr. Anderson. And I hope that there's going to be some people listening to this that understand the need for legalization federally here in the United States so that the medical profession can get involved in the research can be done that needs to be done so that people have access through the medical profession here. I think it's really, really important. Thank you again, I really do appreciate your time today. Yes, well thank you so much for having me.