Cannabis Patient Care - December 2021

Cannabis Patient Care December 2021

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28 cannabis patient care | vol. 2 no. 4 nurse focus depression. It alters that fight or flight dysregulation in the HPA axis (the stress response system that consists of the hypothal- amus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands [8]). CBD can help bring that system back to balance, softening inflammation and correcting signaling," Mack said. Mainstream pharmaceutical ways of treating PTSD include ben- zodiazepines, Xanax, and other heavy tranquilizers. "PTSD patients are taking antipsychotics because some of their thinking becomes distorted," Mack said. "A lot of these veterans who have been in combat have chronic pain. So they might be on opiates, or they might be on muscle relaxants. They're going to have digestive is- sues, so they take pills for that. Some take a cocktail of a dozen different drugs a day. And they're not getting any better. In fact, they're getting worse on those drugs. It's a very vicious cycle." Cannabinoids are unique in the way they work on various body mind-spirit levels, Mack said. "We urge patients to just tune into their body, quiet their mind, and to start developing that awareness." She also educates people on what discussions they need to be having with their doctor, which can be a hit or miss proposition. "In my dreams, I have a provider that actually calls me and says 'Hey, we have a common patient. This patient is telling me that they'd like to start reducing their pharmaceuticals with the goal to take very little of them.' And the provider says, 'Are they crazy?' or 'Can this really work? And then I confirm, 'Yes, it can work' and 'No, they're not crazy,'" Mack said. "But that doesn't happen. The pro- viders, the physicians, are not willing to do this just yet." The Path to Cannabis as Medicine Providing the pathways to better use cannabinoids has been a long one for Mack. "I've been writing programs for healthcare professionals and nurses for the last five years," she said, add- ing that she first wrote her book Cannabis for Health: Become a Coach (9). "The reason I called it 'become a coach' is because I want nurses to understand that this is something very different than just sitting there following orders," Mack said. "Nurses have the best role to play in developing this industry with us, the most complete runway. And the reason why is because we're edu- cators, we're compassionate healers, and we're smart, right? Nurses are the ones that can really be that bridge between conventional healthcare and cannabis in a way that I think is going to give them something that they've never even known before; autonomy. We have the ability to work in something that is revolutionary, that can truly heal people, as opposed to running ragged following orders and seeing people just get sicker and sicker and sicker," Mack said. "I've been a registered nurse for 35 years, and I've never enjoyed it like I do now." References (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) understanding-the-stress-response (9) Elisabeth-Mack-BSN/dp/1728359449 CONTINUED FROM PAGE 25 So, what's next? First, Jackson believes reclassifying can- nabis so it's no longer a schedule I drug will open the door to more cannabis research, and, ultimately, make a relationship between the VA and cannabis possible. Next, increase the num- ber of research projects and encourage veterans to participate. "We can have scientific data that says cannabis is efficacious due to research project X or Z, which is why it's important that we are on as many research projects as possible," Jackson said. AMVETS serves as a recruiter for research projects. "As an or- ganization, we have a huge membership—over 250,000 mem- bers. A lot of researchers don't have the access to tap into the veteran's space. So, if a VSO stands behind something and vet- erans hear it, they're more apt to enroll in a research study than if a perfect stranger asks." Jackson is also a student at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy's Medical Cannabis Science Program. She is in her first semester in the master's program and will gradu- ate in 2023. "I do things very intentionally, and I feel like if I'm going to be the spokesperson, the person that veterans call and ask questions, I need to be at my highest level of education," she explained. Jackson's passions for women veterans, veterans' access to and knowledge of cannabis, and the regulations surrounding it are continuing to drive her focus, her efforts, and her voice in the community. "I'm in this core group of scholars who are going to be the new hope for cannabis and cannabis reform; it's so exciting," Jack- son said. "And I'm proud to be part of it. It's going to allow me to be at the table. Oftentimes, we as women veterans aren't asked to be at the table, but with the credentials that I'm hoping to get, the expertise and knowledge I bring to the discussion, I'm hoping that people see me as a key stakeholder at the table."

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