It’s Men’s Health Week, an opportunity to shine a light on the importance of men’s healthcare in the hopes of addressing the disparity between genders that appears in mortality rate, the incidence of disease and confidence in engaging in physical and mental health.
One of the key determinants of health and men’s health, in particular, is physical activity. Lack of physical activity or living a predominantly sedentary lifestyle is a key contributing factor to some of the leading causes of death worldwide. Yet many find incorporating movement and exercise into their routine difficult. Whilst time and motivation are obvious factors, another key barrier is pain. So where does medical cannabis come in?
Chronic pain affects approximately 1 in 5 Australians, and such estimations are thought to be conservative. Chronic pain is a barrier in overcoming many major health and lifestyle concerns that impact our society, it’s also one of the main reasons patients enquire about medical cannabis in Australia and around the world.
Chronic pain can lead to a downward spiral of comorbid health conditions and mental health concerns. One of the first changes to lifestyle that occurs in patients experiencing prolonged or intractable pain is a decrease in physical activity.
A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for countless manifestations of symptoms and diseases. Decreased physical activity can potentiate high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity amongst others. Lack of movement can also impair the clearance of chemical metabolites of inflammation, which given the right conditions can upregulate pain sensation.
When pain inhibits an individual’s capacity to engage in physical activity, the flow-on effects can be pronounced on physiology and mental health outcomes. Decreased mobility is associated with poor food choices, increased blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol – all of which have implications for cardiovascular diseases, stroke, obesity and gastrointestinal disorders.
Medical cannabis has long been researched and sought after for the treatment of chronic pain. If in utilising medical cannabis treatments – including CBD oil and broad-spectrum cannabinoid formulations – patients can decrease their experience of pain, a key barrier towards engaging in physical activity and a healthy lifestyle is addressed.
In alleviating pain and therefore facilitating physical activity, medical cannabis treatments may aid in combating one of the key risk factors of ill health.
An active lifestyle is also supremely important for mental health. One in every eight men experiences depression across their lifetime and one-fifth of men experience anxiety at any given point in time.
Additionally, local data points to a higher prevalence of depression and other mood disorders in patients with chronic pain. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain which has influence over the structures that control hormones that affect mood, memory, motivation and stress response.
Mental health and pain are two topics that are often laden with stigma and patterns of socialisation encouraging the suppression of symptoms and impotence to seek out healthcare for males.
Fortunately, there is an abundance of research pointing towards medicinal cannabis and CBD oil specifically in the treatment of mental health conditions. Men typically shy away from medical interactions, however some may be more inclined to seek out medical cannabis due to positive cultural perceptions.
Given that depression and other mood disorders are often suffered comorbidly with chronic pain there is a potential for ameliorating more than one presenting complaint by treating patients with medical cannabis such as CBD oil.
While medical cannabis has huge potential for addressing symptoms of pain and mental health for men, thereby decreasing risk factors for disease, the importance of education and positive communication practices within the health sector cannot be understated.
CBD is possibly on track for a big change and it could be coming to a pharmacy near you One of the last steps on the