Here’s a short story to illustrate a common scenario for how to speak with your doctor about CBD. Does this sound familiar? Ask questions in the comments.
My Dad is 64. He’s recently retired, built a home on four acres, and received a new hip. He has eight grandkids that he loves to play with. He belongs to a golf league with his best, long-time buddies. Dad is insured and has a regular medical doctor who he’s been with for years.
My Dad had hip surgery and recovered fine. Nonetheless, he still has pain in that hip if he’s out on the golf course too long, or is over-doing it working in the yard. He is also hindered by general aches and pains such as a recurring neck issue, plantar fasciitis in his foot, and rotator cuff pain from a shoulder injury years ago. Also, in Dad’s older age, he often has difficulty sleeping through the night because of the discomfort in his neck, or naturally occurring life-related stress.
So one day I said to him, “Dad! Try CBD!”
My Dad had long been a pot smoker until recent years. He says the marijuana these days is too strong – makes his heart race and induces (instead of reduces) his anxiety.
“But Dad,” I said, “You don’t get high from CBD” and then we watched some scientific-like videos on YouTube, and he embraced the idea.
“Where do we start?” he asked. Obviously, I was like, “Your doctor, dude!”
His doctor is mainstream, and the one thing I have learned from my own experiences with the mainstream is they don’t want to talk about CBD or medical cannabis or anything that is outside the system. Even in preparation for this article, I attempted to call regional medical centers that provide an expert to people in southwest Michigan, and none of them would talk about CBD. I was told that they don’t prescribe it, they don’t talk about it with their patients, nothing. None of them wanted to be on record. None of them wanted to discuss that there could be a role for CBD for a variety of conditions.
The second thing me and Dad did was get familiar with the research about if/how CBD could help his specific conditions. I explained to him that his mainstream Doctor might actually know LESS than he does. We agreed that it was good to be prepared with knowledge so that he could – at least – share his new understandings about CBD with his Doctor.
That got us to discussing how his generation, Baby Boomers, have always blindly listened to their Doctor as if it was the word of God. My Dad now sees that he needs to advocate for himself. That he needs to look outside of what his Doctor says. He doesn’t want to get rid of his Doctor by any stretch. He just wants to be an active participant in his health. (Amen Dad!)
My Dad got into it. He had hope, and his disposition was more positive. His biggest takeaway was that CBD treats the system not the symptom. This made a lot of sense to my Dad. Other things he learned was that CBD decreases anxiety, is anti-inflammatory, and can help with sleep and pain. “Bingo!” he said.
“What do you think, Dad? What’s your next step with CBD?” I asked.
“Well, I’m on a couple prescription drugs, but from everything I’ve read, it’ll be fine.”
That all said, Dad and I agreed he should ask his doctor about mixing prescription meds with CBD.
Dad had a long-standing appointment with this doctor to discuss his interest with a CBD treatment. Turns out that his doctor was neither open or closed to the idea of CBD. In general, he didn’t know a lot about it – just as we predicted. Dad’s doctor was, ultimately, more versed with a pharmaceutical solution for Tom’s chronic aches and pains.
“When I’m on those pharmaceutical pain relievers, I feel sleepy, lethargic, not capable of helping with the day of tasks.” Dad paused. I could tell whatever he was going to say next was going to be something on the vulnerable side for him.
“When I’m on the Norco, I don’t trust myself with the grandkids. If anything were to happen… I’d never forgive myself. Those strong meds make it so I can’t be “me” with the grandkids. I don’t want to miss out on time with Frederick, Thomas, and Mary, but I just can’t handle the combination.
That’s hard for Dad, I can see.
I understood his point. He basically feels like it’s a conundrum. In one sense, because of his chronic pain, he isn’t able to do the things he normally does. All he wants is the relief to enjoy his life throughout retirement years. The pharmaceutical drugs definitely help with his symptoms, but the side effects aren’t worth it to him.
We both like the idea of CBD because it wouldn’t get him high, and offers a wide array of untapped health benefits.
Ultimately, my Dad and his doctor came to the conclusion that his next step would be to see a holistic health practitioner who specialized in CBD as an alternative treatment.
His doctor, more conservative in nature, added the caveat that any recommendation he made comes with a disclaimer that there’s only so much the medical community knows about CBD products right now.
My Dad did a super smart thing, and the reason he knew to do this was that he did his homework before-hand. He left his appointment that day with his medical records. This is super important if you’re going to make an initial appointment with a Holistic Health Practitioner. This also included relevant chart notes from his Doctor visits that pertained to his qualifying conditions.
The rest was up to Dad to follow through and make that Holistic Health appointment.
Dad is one appointment in thus far. He learned about the science behind how CBD works and discussed which CBD application was best for him to start. He’s just underway with a CBD Comfort Balm that he regularly uses on his achy spots.
I think my Dad’s circumstance portrays millions of baby boomers and the progression toward CBD use. The lessons inside his story are valuable and universal to you if you are curious how to talk to your doctor about CBD.
Let’s unpack some relevant details from my Dad’s story, and translate them to you so you can approach your Doctor about CBD use.
My Dad was Curious About an Alternative Treatment
There are dozens more, but here are just seven of the key health benefits of CBD:
- Pain relief
- Combat Anxiety
- Treat Sleep Issues
- Anti-inflammatory Properties
My Dad Did his Homework and THEN Talked to his Primary Physician
If you have a trustworthy relationship with your doctor, she is typically the best person to first consult about cannabinoids. Your doctor should have the best understanding of your medical history and current health challenges. Share your interest in trying CBD. Speaking with your primary doctor also ensures that you receive better overall health care and reduce the risk of drug interactions if you’re taking other medications.
If your doctor is unwilling to issue a recommendation for CBD, you can choose to visit a doctor who specializes in cannabinoid treatments. Ask your doctor if she or he could refer another physician they trust and is willing to recommend CBD.
My Dad Got Prepared
He was clear about what led him to ask about CBD and what he wanted to use it to treat.
As Dad embarked upon visiting a CBD-friendly physician for the first time, he arrived prepared by bringing his medical records of diagnosis and treatment from his primary physician. Through his preparation to converse about the potential use of CBD with his doctor, he was ready to tell the CBD-friendly doctor specifically what condition, symptoms he wanted to have treated with CBD.
Before his appointment, he took a few notes about how long he’s had his health issues and information regarding other treatment methods he had tried. Mostly, Dad had a response ready for why he thought CBD could be a beneficial solution for him.
Important Note About Doctors
Despite more and more doctors gathering a greater understanding of CBD’s therapeutic properties, and their willingness to recommend it to their patients, there’s a chance some doctors are still unfamiliar or not “up-to-date” with the latest holistic research. In some cases, it doesn’t hurt to bring third-party research to support your request for trying CBD. Look for documentation that supports CBD benefits for your particular condition or symptom to help your physician feel comfortable that she or he is making evidence-based decisions.
My Dad Has Never Been Afraid to Asked Questions
That’s my Dad. He’s outspoken. If you’re not, here’s four “starter questions” to help you break the ice.
- What do you know about CBD’s effects on my particular ailment?
- What are the potential side effects of CBD? How do I stay safe?
- Will CBD interact with the other medications I am taking?
Ask For Recommendations or “Try out” a Doctor
This didn’t pertain to my Dad, but it is one of the conversations we had in the kitchen about the CBD issue. Since my Dad has been taking more ownership in his treatment decisions, I’ve noticed he’s looking for an advocate.
So it’s worth noting that there are many doctors out there who acknowledge the therapeutic potential of CBD, but not all are the same. The relationship you have with your doctor is one of the most important that you’ll ever have and taking the extra step to better understand a doctor’s decision-making style and his or her experience with your condition and cannabinoids is a great way to begin building a trustworthy relationship.
Once you’ve located a local CBD-friendly doctor, go ahead and set up an introductory phone call or appointment. During the first visit, ask yourself whether the doctor is making you feel comfortable, and is giving you an opportunity to ask questions and answering them thoughtfully.
It’s completely within your rights, to set up an introductory phone call or initial appointment with any doctor.
Ask friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers if they have trust in referring a CBD-friendly physician. It adds comfort to be able to go into your initial appointment when you know that someone you trust has had a positive experience with a CBD-friendly practitioner. Your friend or family member will be able to tell you their experience, which can help you decide before setting up an appointment.
If you already have a doctor that you feel comfortable with, but she is unwilling to provide you with a recommendation, ask them if they have a recommendation for another physician who will. That way you know you’re going to visit with a physician that your primary doctor respects. Also, it can help streamline the recommendation process if/when you visit a CBD-friendly physician because your regular doctor has already diagnosed you with a condition or symptom of which CBD could help.
So, even though starting a conversation about CBD with your doctor might feel a little awkward, you very well may end up with a more effective (and measured) treatment plan.
And, if your doctor dismisses your question outright, it’s important to persevere: If [someone] goes to their doctor and they automatically dismiss the possibility of CBD as a treatment because it wasn’t their idea, or they are unable to be open to the discussion, that’s definitely a sign to get a second opinion.
UPDATE: the CBD Comfort Balm my Dad has been using is bringing temporary relief specifically his neck pain, which is making for a more restful sleep. No side effects with his current meds.