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Ask Dr. David

Ask Dr. David: Can You Treat Anxiety with Medical Cannabis?

February 22, 2018

Did you know almost 20% (40 million people) of the adult population in the United States suffer from anxiety each year? Even though the medical profession considers this is a very treatable disease, only about one-third of affected people seek treatment. (https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics#)

Anxiety as a potentially qualifying diagnosis

Many people suffer from debilitating anxiety to a degree comparable to the anxiety experienced by patients diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Under Florida law, this similarity allows certified physicians the option of treating anxiety patients with medical cannabis.

In addition to evaluating each patient, at Wholistic ReLeaf we require that patients provide us medical documentation stating their condition. This is so we can confirm the qualifying diagnosis prior to certifying them to receive medical cannabis.

The effect of cannabis on anxiety

While some people report increased anxiety when using medical cannabis, most people who use cannabis as a medical therapy find it helps to relieve the symptoms, sometimes reversing them completely.

When patients initially start medical cannabis, including those with chronic anxiety, I recommend beginning treatment with cannabidiol (CBD) only, and no THC. I have received many first-hand reports that using CBD by itself reduced or eliminated the patient’s anxiety. I find the best way to optimize treatment is to start with a low dose of CBD and then slowly increase the amount of CBD to determine the effect on the individual patient.

Although THC increases anxiety in some patients, for others a small amount of THC can work synergistically with the CBD to bring even better results. While there is a tremendous amount of variability from patient to patient, certain strains are reported to have a better effect on reducing anxiety. The good people at Leafly report on this: https://www.leafly.com/explore/conditions-anxiety

In addition to utilizing medical cannabis, all people with anxiety (in fact all patients who suffer from mental health conditions) should also be under the regular care of a mental health professional.  We can provide referrals if needed.

Hopefully, a person can resolve the underlying issues causing the anxiety, so they no longer need the medical cannabis treatment, but many people with anxiety require long-term care. Although more significant and longer-term studies are needed, it appears that for adults the side effect profile for medical cannabis is better than for many of the other pharmacological treatments available.

About Wholistic ReLeaf

Wholistic ReLeaf, founded in 2016 by Dr. David Berger of Wholistic Pediatric and Family Care, empowers families and patients to choose the best treatment approach available for their medical condition. The mission of Wholistic ReLeaf is to evaluate and certify qualified patients who meet the State of Florida legal requirements for receiving medical cannabis, and provide medical cannabis management and dosing consultations to patients certified by other Florida physicians. Wholistic ReLeaf is committed to providing patients with the best possible care, while also complying with the ever-shifting legal landscape of medical cannabis in the State of Florida.

For more information, or to find out if you or a patient you know may be eligible to use medical cannabis as part of a customized treatment plan, visit www.WholisticReLeaf.com.

 

Dr. David Berger (“Dr. David”), a Board Certified Pediatrician with over 20 years of experience as a clinician, has developed a national reputation in wholistic pediatric primary care. Dr. David is considered Tampa Bay area’s leading authority on medical cannabis for adults and children, and is one of the nation’s most experienced pediatricians using medical cannabis to help facilitate the treatment of children with chronic conditions.

Dr. David graduated from The Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1994 and completed his pediatric residency at the University of South Florida/Tampa General Hospital where he first began utilizing wholistic therapies. Dr. David has been in private practice since 1997 and in 2005 opened Wholistic Pediatrics & Family Care, his medical practice in Tampa, Florida. In 2010, Dr. David was appointed Assistant Professor at the University of South Florida College of Nursing. In 2016, he launched Wholistic ReLeaf to help qualified patients become certified to use medical cannabis.