Anyone who has spoken with the general population (and sometimes even their own doctors), when making decisions around treating with medical cannabis knows that Cannabis comes with its own set of built-in stigmas. One stigma around cannabis is that it keeps you in shape… circular shape. Potato on a couch shape.

Is this true? Can it do the opposite?

In a word… maybe.

Cannabis is a bimodal drug. At little doses it can have one effect, at large doses it can have the opposite. The overall arch of medicinal micro-dosing maintains that Cannabis ‘can’ have an anti-couch potato effect. Witness MedReleaf’s front website page (www.medreleaf.com). This Licensed Producer’s visual message is that medicinal cannabis may not ‘just’ make you feel better – it may set you up for success in creating a much-improved lifestyle. A more finely tuned lifestyle. Reducing inflammation and pain, or ADD, or depression or anxiety to the point where it may now be possible to take steps to turn your life around.  Where if you’ve been willing to do the work… now you may be able. This may sound too good to be true. In the majority of cases, our version of true or ‘normal’ is often aches and pains and stiffness that increase with aging. What if we are able to bump up ‘normal’?

It may start with diet. Food is medicine. Pay attention to whether what you are ingesting is augmenting or detracting from your balance and health. It may also include micro-dosing cannabis (minimum effective amount 2-4 times a day). Carefully picking strains and ingestion methods with a little help from your NHS doctor, your NHS bud genius, your Licensed Producer customer service rep, and websites like our very own naturalhealthservices.ca, Leafly.com or Lift.co. Keeping a journal. Tracking your progress. Noting not only the effects on your pain or mood, but the ripple effect that those shifts can have on your life. The leverage it may give you to sign up for that class, or maybe to just get up in the morning.

In the professional world of athletics, we have swimmer Michael Phelps or snowboarder Ross Rebaglaiti, or body builder (and former California Governor) Arnold Schwarzenegger. Or veteran triathlete Clifford Drusinsky (who explained in an interview in Men’s Health how he took the podium for nine major triathlons in 2013, at least in part due to his cannabis routine).

In my house, you’ve got the genetically assigned blues lifted to the point where we want to venture outside and climb that hill. In the park, someone is working out because the pain and inflammation they were feeling from their arthritis has been mitigated. At the pool, someone is going for a swim because the nausea from the chemo has left the building.  Maybe the bronchodilation effect helps you breathe easier and you decide to climb that flight of steps.

Cannabis is best used for activities that do not require quicker reflexes, reaction times or hand eye coordination (although some football players would argue that and maybe for them the reduction in pain and inflammation is worth it). Cannabis can cause decreased reaction time, poorer hand-eye coordination, and though the right strain will increase attention and focus, too much of the wrong stain will scatter it.  This could have potentially disastrous effects in sports like mountain biking or skiing. (Though living in Banff for 5 years, I was privy to many examples of the opposite. Bottom line: don’t take unnecessary risks. Decreased anxiety can lead to more aggressive, poor choices.)  Certain strains of cannabis can raise your heart rate by 20 percent or more for up to three hours— people with heart conditions, take note. Leading medical cannabis expert Dr. Dustin Sulak reminds people with heart conditions that since marijuana is a muscle relaxant, it also relaxes the smooth muscle of the blood vessels, which can lower blood pressure. To compensate, the heart typically pumps a little faster and harder, and that can spell trouble for people who have heart issues, especially if you’re working out.

It’s a good idea to speak with your doctor before embarking on any new strenuous regime.

Just as with the medication, you want to start low and go slow when introducing exercise into your life. Know that the good, better, best approach has built many great athletes over time. But more to the point, just better health in general.

Wait! Wont it will give me the munchies?! A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine has found that regular cannabis consumers have fasting insulin (insulin in your body before eating) levels 16% lower than non-consumers. The study also found that cannabis consumers had 17% lower insulin resistance levels and lower average waist circumferences. (Insulin is the hormone that tells your cells to take in sugar/glucose to use for energy. If you have too much unused sugar in your cells, you will gain weight. If your body isn’t handling insulin properly, you may also gain weight.)

Cannabis exerts different effects depending on dose, gender, and route of administration (smoking vs. edibles vs. ingesting) and strain (while an Indica will put you “in-da-couch,” a sativa may help get you out the door). Noting everything in your journal will help you to find the dose that complements your unique hormonal baselines. Studies have shown that combining smaller amounts of THC with ample amounts of CBD can be a good way to achieve sleep and recovery goals.  Clifford Drusinsky says that opting for edibles or vaporizers before heading out for a run to promote a “steady rhythmic zone for keeping at a competitive running speed. The result is a “longer-lasting, more laid-back high that doesn’t send you diving for the nearest couch or bag of chips.”

Look into Sativa dominant strains like Super Lemon Haze, Jack Herer, Sour Diesel, or Hybrid like Blueberry Dream, or stronger CBD ratios like Cannatonic and Harlequin

written by Kait Shane, Natural Health Services

For further insight into all things Cannabis, don’t forget to tune in to The Cannabis Show, and make sure to subscribe as there is a new episode every Wednesday.

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