Welcome back to the TRUCE Medical Minute. Today’s column is the first in a multi-part series on some of the psychoactive properties of cannabis, especially EUPHORIA. This, of course, is a subject that many here in Utah would like to consider taboo and pretend does not (or does not need to) exist. It is time for all of us (especially medical providers) to come around to the positive effects of euphoria. It should not be considered a side effect but rather an incredible gift to patients who are suffering.
Please note that I am “borrowing” this information very heavily from a friend/cannabis expert, Dr. Dustin Sulak. He presented much of the following at CannMed (the past two years) to a rousing standing ovation from many of the world’s top medical cannabis experts. He has truly opened my eyes on this subject. Given his dedication on healing through cannabis and the free, public availability of his teaching, I know he welcomes the sharing of this information. TRUCE hopes to help bring Dr. Sulak to Utah for an educational event in the near future.
Euphoria and psychoactivity mostly result from the effects of molecule tetrahydrocannabinol, THC. There are both positive and negative aspects that need to be appreciated. Today we will cover the positives. One of the core principles of Integrative Medicine is the consideration of all factors that influence health, wellness and disease… including the MIND, SPIRIT and COMMUNITY, as well as the body. Through its psychoactive effects, cannabis influences all of these factors to heal disease.
Irrespective of the physiological effects of supplementing the endocannabinoid system, euphoria greatly helps patients cope with chronic medical and emotional issues of disease. These coping effects can include:
-a positive mood
It can produce a distortion of time, allowing patients “to come into the present moment”. This also helps intensify ordinary experiences…simple activities like eating, listening to music, watching films, sex all just feel better. The mindfulness practice of these principles is called “savoring”. Savoring combats anhedonia, a major culprit in the cycle of depression and spiraling into opioid use disorder. Cannabis (especially THC) can help break the cycle when used intentionally to aid patients restore their ability to naturally experience pleasure in their lives.
Patients experiencing euphoria experience a separation or “unbundling” of symptoms and suffering. Acceptance of this feeling is critical in healing and leads to a divorce from judgement, improved pain perceptions, decreased anxiety… which in turn decreases suffering and pain behaviors.
“A return to normality”
In an Israeli study by Lavie-Ajayi and Shvartzman P titled “Restored Self: A Phenomenological Study of Pain Relief by Cannabis” subjects described chronic pain experiences as “losing one’s self or life”. Most in the study used the word “normal” to describe lives after beginning to use cannabis. Specifically the effects on sleep, focus and function produced the sense of a returned normality in their lives. To me, the amazing part is that patients report this “restored self” even when they don’t have complete resolution of symptoms.
Lastly, patients report many benefits that are exclusive to cannabis, not seen in other pharmaceutical treatments. Dr. Sulak describes this as a “cannabis consciousness”, of which special benefits include:
-Sense of connection to God, nature and the universe
-Ability to view oneself from a different vantage point
-Helps users find creative solutions
-Promotes mental/emotional/physical flexibility and capacity to change
So, readers…please EMBRACE the amazing ability of this medicine to transform suffering and patients’ lives through the simple action of making them feel better. Certainly cease Puritanically demonizing its use for the sole reason that many patients like the way that happens. Cannabis truly has special gifts that extend beyond its individual components like CBD. Trying to molecularize this transformative medicine into specific dosed parts is a failure to appreciate what cannabis has to offer in terms of healing powers.
Next week we will discuss a bit of a downer, the negative aspects of the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
Thanks for reading and sharing.
Andrew Talbott, MD
TRUCE Medical Advisor
Board Certified in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
If there are any specific subjects or questions that you’d like to see covered, please comment here or message TRUCE privately if preferred. We’ll make every effort to discuss your submissions. As always, comments and questions specific to each column are encouraged.
We are actively seeking TMM blog contributors among our readers who are willing to share their unique perspectives and medical ideas. There is no commitment required. DM us if you are a medical professional interested in contributing, even just once.
*Top image “Cannabis Sutra” is copywrited by Alex Grey. Apologies on the cropping and added text. I am happy to share the watermarked full image on request (or just google it).