As the medical cannabis patient population continues to expand, allied health professionals are set to play a critical role in educating, referring and facilitating access to medical cannabis. Allied health professionals cover a wide range of practitioners including physiotherapists, dieticians, osteopaths, naturopaths occupational and physical therapists. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners often complete their training with a Bachelors of Allied Health, majoring or completing a masters in Chinese herbs or acupuncture. So, how can these professionals, who aren’t medical doctors, help?
When regarding all of these modalities, practitioners are often most abreast in novel treatment options pertaining to their specific modality. For physical therapists, this may include topical applications or dermal patches that can alleviate pain and increase quality of life for patients with restricted movement or painful musculoskeletal disorders. While it is certainly not the role of physical therapists (or any allied health professional) to prescribe medical cannabis, these kinds of practitioners may be aware of treatments with particular benefit to their patient demographic. In this, they can help promote health literacy and education of the patient, prompting them towards information or evidenced-based research that may help them in broaching the topic of medical cannabis with their GP.
Psychologists may see it fit to refer on to a cannabis prescriber for
patients presenting with anxiety or PTSD, of which there has been considerable research showing how cannabinoids exhibit anti-depressant or anxiolytic effects and its potential as an efficacious novel therapy. In the long term, liaison between GP’s and mental health care professionals regarding the effectiveness of medical cannabis within the patients’ mental health care plan will significantly benefit patient outcomes.
In terms of allied health professionals in the complementary and alternative medicine field, there is a wealth of untapped opportunity available. Cannabis has been used as a medicine since approximately 2700BC and is well documented in western pharmacopeias since the 19th Century.
Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Naturopathy and Western Herbal Medicine all play significant and growing roles within much of the population’s health care regimes. These practitioners have had cannabis medicines included in their studies for decades (in the case of Chinese medicine, for centuries) and are well versed in the use of a wide range of plants and herbs as medicine. Also of note is, naturopaths and herbalists often use tinctures and extracts, which are delivery methods common amongst medical cannabis patients.
Having training and experience in the medicinal application of plants and in particular phytochemicals and their action on human physiology makes CAM practitioners incredibly beneficial allied health professionals for doctors prescribing medical cannabis. These practitioners have the capacity to refer on to GP’s, specialists or cannabis clinics and provide sufficient detail and evidence, aiding the prescriber in the decision of whether medical cannabis would be indicated for this patient.
By working collaboratively, allied health professionals and medical doctors will have the capacity to further educate themselves on this ever-expanding novel medicine and apply this knowledge to patients who desperately need it.
Cannabis Access Clinics has identified the importance of allied health professionals in the future of the Australian medical cannabis market and has created a framework for allied health professionals to refer their patients to CAC with ease. If you are an
Allied Health practice or organisation, please click here to set up a medicinal cannabis Screening Calendar or contact 1300 991 477 email@example.com for more information.