Green is the new black

Written by: Graham Adams

Medicinal cannabis is becoming increasingly popular in treating a range of health conditions. Graham Adams explores what that means for women’s health and how it is changing our treatment of pain and anxiety. 

Sometimes, the best things in life are hiding in plain sight. It might be a beautiful item of clothing you stashed in the back of a cupboard that you’ve forgotten you bought or a quiet friend who you’ve overlooked as a potential partner.

Discovering the benefits of medicinal cannabis can provide a similarly pleasant surprise. While most people are at least vaguely aware of its existence, they are often uncertain about exactly what it is, the range of benefits it may offer you, and how to get hold of it.

Many will be surprised to learn that medicinal cannabis is easily available – and that Helius’ extract products are New Zealand-grown and made in Auckland.

It’s also not widely appreciated that any doctor can prescribe medicinal cannabis for any condition. A prescription can be for a range of medicines containing cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or a combination depending on your needs. Any pharmacy can dispense it.

It is mainly prescribed for pain, sleep and anxiety. As just one example, recent research from Australia has shown increasing numbers of menopausal women — including those who prefer not to use hormonal therapy — are turning to medicinal cannabis for symptom relief.

Others with endometriosis- related inflammation, pain and anxiety are turning to prescribed cannabis too. Because cannabis acts through a different mechanism to traditional treatment options, it may provide a viable alternative where other treatments are not well tolerated.

Often, one of the first questions put to us is how you take it. By now, most understand they’re not going to smoke it, but how is it delivered?

The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme allows a variety of options, including:

  • Oral drops, lozenges or capsules.
  • A mouth spray.
  • A form that can be inhaled via a medical vaporiser device.
  • Gel or patches that are applied to your skin.

Oral delivery generally offers slower release and longer duration, whereas inhalation is designed for rapid relief (5-15 minutes). Patches deliver the product directly into the bloodstream.

Helius Therapeutics is New Zealand’s largest Medicinal Cannabis producer.

CEO, Carmen Doran says “One question that women often ask is about the purity of the ingredients in medicinal cannabis.”

“Careful oversight of the supply chain and trust in the product are important to us at Helius. New Zealand has some of the most stringent quality requirements in the world, which is great for our patients. At Helius, we have a focus on ensuring the highest quality and as our extract products are grown and made right here in New Zealand, we touch every single part of the process and know the utmost care goes into it.”

The CBD in their Helius products comes from our strategic supply partners Puro New Zealand, who grow on the beautiful Kaikoura coast overlooking the ocean. They are one of the few organically certified growers of medicinal cannabis in the world. The THC is grown in the Helius facility in Auckland under highly controlled conditions dialled in for consistent outputs. Doran says “When using medicinal cannabis products from Helius, you can feel safe in knowing that the products are consistent every time, tested rigorously and free from contaminants.”

Their flower products are sourced from Denmark, through a high-quality supplier of medicinal cannabis with strong family values. They grow the flower indoors in a glass house and do not use pesticides, which is one of the key things our patients asked for.

Not all doctors feel they know enough about medicinal cannabis to confidently prescribe it. If your GP doesn’t feel comfortable, then a specialist cannabis clinic may be a good option.

Your doctor may be able to make a recommendation of a clinic in your area, or perhaps direct you to a reputable online supplier if the convenience of a consultation from your home suits you better. And also remember your local pharmacist, who may be familiar with available products and be happy to help.

Some of those turning to medicinal cannabis for any of a variety of ailments will be keen to understand in detail how this plant-based treatment works and the pharmaceutical mechanisms behind its effectiveness.

Others will have no interest in becoming an “expert patient” and will be happy to be guided by their doctor or pharmacist to find a cannabis product that helps meet their medical needs — no matter how it all works at a pharmacological level.

The ultimate test for everyone, however, will be the satisfaction that comes from an improvement in your quality of life. 

This article first appeared in WOMAN Magazine, on sale now at all good magazine retailers.

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