I’m not a doctor. You, more than likely, are not a doctor, but we are ultimately responsible for our well-being.

Without medical training can I assume a role in directing the course of my treatment? Should I be so presumptive as to get a second opinion? And maybe even disregard the first opinion?

I have enormous respect for my family physician’s opinion. I trust her and appreciate the fact she has an extremely conservative approach to medication. I often get a, ‘No, and this is why…’ when asking about drugs or procedures and more than once she has, correctly, denied me antibiotics for a persistent throat issue despite my less than dignified pleading).

She once shared that the physician is often there to keep the patient company while the body heals itself. I love her respect for the body and its potent ability to self-regulate if given support.

I also have a huge respect for whole plant medicine, regarding diet and maintenance and prevention, as well as cannabis. I believe that traditional allopathic and alternative treatments can work well together.

Pills for chronic conditions without any shifts in lifestyle or alternative adjuncts to care are less than ideal. Many in the medical profession agree that this model is unsustainable.

An article in The Atlantic quotes a 2012 survey that found nearly eight out of 10 physicians are “somewhat pessimistic or very pessimistic about the future of the medical profession.”

It would seem imperative then that patients begin to understand their ailments, medication(s), as well as steps to mitigate and improve their condition.

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Pain and Cannabis

Perhaps no example better highlight this need than the deadly opioid crisis gripping many cities, towns and rural areas across North America, and leaving shattered families in its wake.

The body naturally up-regulates when presented with certain medications. As our tolerance increases, we need progressively more medication to achieve the desired effect. But with that comes an increased risk of addiction.

Weaning off many pharmaceuticals, such as opioids, can trigger severe withdrawal symptoms, from irritability and insomnia to vomiting and diarrhea. While opioids undoubtedly serve a purpose, studies suggest that they aren’t appropriate or useful for long-term care.

More recently, there has been much discussion and research around how medical cannabis fits into this opioid landscape. The harm reduction, potentially life-saving approach around the cannabis treatments is exactly one of the primary reasons Dr. Stephanie Mason and her partners founded Natural Health Services just over two years ago.


It’s why TV personalities like Dr. Oz and Montel Williams are loudly and defiantly hitting major networks and urging citizens to sign petitions demanding the U.S. government recognize cannabis for all its benefits. The gist of the messaging is that cannabis provides chronic pain management and can work well in conjunction with opiates.

A Healthcentral.com article states “vaporized cannabis augments the analgesic effects of opioids without significantly altering plasma opioid levels. The combination may allow for opioid treatment at lower doses with fewer side effects.”

This suggests that, if used in conjunction with cannabis, painkillers like fentanyl can do their job without the up-regulation and subsequent tolerance and addiction.

We need to pay attention. Opiates are now the leading cause of death in the United States in people under 50. Canada has become the second largest user of opioids, behind the U.S.

If you are dealing with a chronic ailment and you aren’t getting the info around alternative forms of treatment, get a second opinion.

Depending on which city you live in, one of our doctors can offer that second opinion. Simply go to our website, www.naturalhealthservices.ca, and if we have a clinic in your area, or close enough for travel, feel free to self-refer by clicking on ‘Book an Appointment.’ No other referrals are necessary.

— Written by Kait Shane, Natural Health Services. Follow Kait on Twitter @Medikait.

For further insight into all things cannabis, don’t forget to check out The Cannabis Show (new episodes every Wednesday) and connect with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. The Cannabis Show is also available as an audio podcast, subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Overcast.

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