One of the top questions people have when it comes to CBD (and cannabis medicine in general) is “Can CBD replace my [insert condition here] medicine?” And whether that’s ibuprofen or Xanax, it’s definitely worth investigating. Hemp is powerful, but coming off a medication (particularly a pharmaceutical prescribed by your doctor) is not something you can just do on your own with no guidance or approval.
We chatted with Dr. Perry Solomon, a board certified anesthesiologist and co-founder of HelloMD — a cannabis expert with a medical degree — who has an expertise in this field. A few of the core lessons we learned from Dr. Solomon from our chats on the phone (and on our two-part podcast series with him on #TheSpacePodcast) ...
- Talk to your physician. And if you’re able to, transition with physician supervision and check ins.
- Use the method. Hemp can replace a lot of different medications, but there is a method to the madness!
- Scale back slowly. You must *slowly* scale back on your current medication while slowly increasing your cannabis dose. For example, if you’re taking 100mg of an RX, and you want to replace it with CBD, try scaling back to 75mg of that medicine while taking 10-20mg of CBD. Do this for a week or so, before cutting to 50mg and increasing to 20-30mg of CBD (whatever dose works for you).
- Know your dose. Everyone’s dose is going to be different — 5mg of CBD for you might be great, but your significant other may need 50mg for the same symptom.
- Everyone’s ECS is different. Weight, age, gender, etc do not influence your ability to absorb cannabis medicine. According to Dr. Solomon, this all comes down to your endocannabinoid system (ECS).
- Be mindful of your other meds. CBD is contraindicated with certain medications (ie, can negatively impact how much medicine is in your blood), so you absolutely need to talk to your doc if you’re taking this in conjunction with another medication (something you wouldn’t use CBD for, like chemotherapy or birth control, for instance).
With those lessons and disclaimers from Dr. Solomon, we jumped into questions about how we transition off of medications like Ativan or Ambien into the plant-powered world of hemp, without throwing off our bodies. How do we do this safely, effectively, with as few disruptions or side effects as possible? Without further ado, Dr. Perry Solomon, ladies and gentlemen!
Svn Space: When can a patient consider switching from a pharmaceutical to cannabis medicine? What about OTC (over the counter) medication?
Dr: Solomon: Anytime they want! If you find that the pharma product is not working for you or you feel that you would rather use a more "natural" product, go ahead and switch!
Svn Space: What should everyone know before starting this transition from prescription or OTC to cannabis?
Dr. Solomon: You should always speak to your physician and tell them that you are considering moving to cannabis products, especially if you are taking other medication that they have prescribed. And, always know where your product has been made and that they have a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from an independent third party lab to assure that what the label says actually is present in the product and that there are no harmful products in what you are taking (You should be able to see the COA on their website.)
Svn Space: What are some things we should know before coming off a sleeping pill and transitioning to CBD?
Dr. Solomon: You might feel that the new medication that you are trying does not work as well or as fast as the sleeping pill that you had been using. It can take a few nights before you find the right amount or combination of cannabis products that work for you. Unlike pills, one size does NOT fit all when you start to use cannabis products.
Svn Space: What about anxiolytics (anti anxiety medication) — is it a similar process and experience?
Dr. Solomon: Yes. It can take some experimentation in terms of products and amounts to find what works for you. It can also take a few weeks to really start to see the effects of cannabis products.
Svn Space: And… we’re guessing the same would go for pain medications and opioids?
Dr. Solomon: Yep! WIth pain issues you might have to decrease the amount of painkillers that you are taking more slowly to ease your way off of the side effects that can accompany them.
Svn Space: How does a patient determine their own personal dose? How do we know how much to take in terms of milligrams?
Dr. Solomon: Start low and go slow. You must start off with low doses of cannabis products and slowly work your way to a higher level until you find the right combination and timing of your cannabis products. Everyone has a different threshold that works for them and it does not corralate to sex, size, weight etc. Go low and slowly increase.
We’re so grateful that we got to have a longer chat with Dr. Solomon for The Space by Svn Space podcast — tune into our two-part episode on Stitcher, iTunes, or Spotify. Do you have more questions for Dr. Solomon? Send us an email or a DM on Instagram — we’ll be doing a live Q&A soon, so we can attend to all your most pressing cannabis medicine needs.