Cannabis Patient Care - August 2021


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22 cannabis patient care | vol. 2 no. 2 nurse focus I N 2012, JANNA Champagne, BSN, RN, was introduced to the cannabis industry as a patient when she experienced an immune health collapse. After this traumatic health ep- isode, Champagne became a regular medical cannabis pa- tient herself (1). Through using cannabis as a treatment, she was able to wean herself off of the pharmaceuticals she had become dependent on. What Champagne went through next was miraculous—she experienced a complete reversal of her autoimmune disease. Champagne's cannabis journey didn't end there. A few years later, her autistic daughter entered her puberty years and suddenly began developing very extreme behaviors, such as self-injury, aggression towards others, and property destruc- tion. Champagne saw how cannabis had helped her medically, so she tried treating her daughters' symptoms with the me- dicinal plant. With medical cannabis, her daughter's symp- toms eased and spared her from having to be admitted to out of home placement due to safety issues. Champagne calls both of these experiences her "cannabis passion makers." Medicinal Prowess for Seizure Disorders Knowledge about the medicinal powers of the cannabis plant are growing in awareness. Aside from using cannabis as a treat- ment for various other health conditions and illnesses, Cham- pagne has supported epilepsy patients through education, resulting in success using cannabis with outcomes including a reduction in antiepileptic drug (AED) pharmaceutical reliance. Cannabidiol (CBD) has become the primary cannabinoid that people seek for their seizures. "When they add CBD to their regimen, oftentimes they're able to reduce reliance on their pharmaceuticals for epilepsy or seizures and improve their quality of life and improve their function because cannabis side effects are not nearly in the same ball court as the AEDs and anti-seizure drugs," said Champagne. Often what is seen, is an improvement in quality of life and function. "Sometimes CBD is even effective for patients that haven't been able to improve their seizure disorder with the pharmaceuticals. Where the pharmaceuticals have failed, CBD will sometimes come in and offer them that support that they need," she said. Stigma Still Exists in the Age of Cannabis Although the cannabis industry is on the rise and scientific research is beginning to get the attention it deserves, there are still medical professionals and patients who have difficulty looking past earlier decades when the plant was known more for its "recreational high" than its medicinal properties. "Often patients are fearful due to the unwarranted stigma attached to cannabis and offering them general education about its safety profile and the reputable research can really help ease those concerns," Champagne explained. Now, her primary role is educating medical professionals about endocannabinoid science because it is not taught in ei- ther medical or nursing schools. Through this education en- deavor, Champagne is helping to get the beneficial informa- tion of cannabis to more patients and empowering healthcare professionals to discuss this option more with their pa- tients and other peers. Champagne believes education is the best tool to help chip away at the stigma because that "reef- er madness" connotation is often all that people know about the plant. Another major thing helping to grab medical professionals' attention are the positive patient outcomes. Once they begin hearing other patients' successes, they become curious and investigate further on the plant themselves. There are tens of thousands of reputable research studies supporting cannabis for numerous health conditions. "When you consider this di- chotomy that we freely allow and even have insurance paying for medications like opioids that are killing patients every half hour—there really is no ethical reason why cannabis shouldn't be a primary consideration for these patients," Champagne explained. "As medical professionals, we've all taken oaths to help patients objectively weigh the risk versus benefit of all their options. And when you include cannabis in that assess- ment, it's usually the first logical choice." In the US, cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, some health experts view this as a liability because it's in the same group as meth, heroin, LSD, and many others. "Once you start educating and really teach that, number one, cannabis objec- tively meets zero of the three criteria for Schedule 1 place- ment. And we've had federal DEA judges agree with us and Cannabis Becomes One Nurse's Tool to Treat Epilepsy Disorders B Y M A D E L I N E C O L L I

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