How to Talk to Your Doctor About CBD

Talk to your doctor

Most industry experts recommend that you talk to your doctor about CBD, even if you’d like to buy a product that’s available over the counter. While your doctor knows the best treatments for your symptoms or condition, they may not know much about CBD. Before scheduling a visit, learn as much as you can about CBD and its effect on the body’s endocannabinoid system. Here are some questions to consider before talking to your doctor about CBD products.

1. Why should I talk to my doctor about CBD?

No prescription is required for hemp-based CBD in most states. However, one is usually necessary when CBD is taken for medicinal use at high amounts, or in addition to THC. No matter how or why you take CBD, there are several reasons not to proceed without obtaining medical guidance. First, the state of your health may rule out CBD as a treatment. There’s a chance it might cause an unwanted side effect. The most commonly cited ones, although rare, are dry mouth, diarrhea, fatigue and liver toxicity.

Another limitation is potential drug interactions. You could be taking a medication that CBD interferes with. Some of these are cholesterol, heart, antidepressant, anti-anxiety or anti-seizure medications, as well as blood thinners. Some studies have shown that CBD inhibits the CYP3A4 liver enzyme. This enzyme breaks down a drug and releases a safe amount of it into the bloodstream. If you’re on one of these when you take CBD, an excess of the med’s active ingredients might enter the bloodstream and cause harm.

In fact, if you’ve been advised against drinking grapefruit juice, it’s a good idea to stay away from ingesting CBD because it can have the same effect on the enzyme.

2. What should I ask or tell my doctor?

When writing down your medical history, your doctor will ask you if there’s been a change in your meds since your last visit. This is the point when you’d talk to your doctor about CBD for a new or existing condition, such as anxiety or pain. Describe your rationale for wanting to take CBD—and be honest, since medical conversations remain confidential.

Ask the doctor if they have been kept informed about CBD. If that’s not the case, you probably won’t have a lot of time to educate them; instead, ask for a referral to a doctor who might be more acquainted with CBD. If your doctor is indeed knowledgeable, ask if CBD might be helpful. You should also ask which product (topical, tincture, edible or vape distillate) would be best to try. Another good question is what kind of starting amount to take. Don’t expect exact details, since every patient’s body is different and CBD hasn’t proven medically effective for most conditions.

3. What might the doctor talk to me about?

The doctor may ask why you’re thinking about taking CBD. This is important to think about and have an answer for. The answer is different for everybody. There is a chance you’ll be cautioned about the risks versus benefits of CBD, or given a list of alternatives to CBD. The doctor might talk to you about the lack of medical evidence concerning CBD’s effectiveness.

There’s a chance the doctor may ask you to take a blood test to determine liver functioning, so that nothing serious might arise if you do take CBD. You might also have to undergo a urine toxicity screen to check if you’re taking opioids or other controlled substances. If you have a substance abuse history, the doctor may refuse to give you advice for legal cannabinoids.

4. What should I do if my doctor doesn’t agree with CBD?

If your doctor recommends that you not take CBD, ask why not—but don’t expect an answer you’ll want to hear. Usually, it’s because they don’t want to get involved with a treatment that isn’t accepted by medical organizations or the federal government. After all, CBD hasn’t been approved by the FDA as a dietary supplement, and manufacturers and sellers of CBD can’t make claims about its medical effectiveness. There may also be a degree of professional liability, knowing that it could jeopardize their license to practice medicine if the state medical board finds out they prescribed or even recommended CBD.

You always have the option of seeking a second opinion, but the new doctor probably won’t provide advice unless you first establish a documented relationship with them. You’ll likely be asked to take a medical history, physical exam and lab tests.

The decision to take CBD is ultimately up to you, although going against a doctor’s advice—especially, if they know a lot about CBD—will make future visits with them quite awkward. But if they agree with you to try CBD for your condition, follow their recommendations precisely. These might include: Start with a low amount and increase slowly over time until you obtain the desired effects. Each day, record the amount you take and what positive or negative effects, if any, occur. And if you’re asked to follow up in a few weeks with a phone call or visit, be sure to do so; this will ensure you and your doctor remain partners in your CBD treatment.

Talk to your doctor! You might not always need a chemical from a pharmacy.
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