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Dropping the Medications 

I know few people that actually like taking medications. Most worry about the taste, the timing, the idea of putting a little pill in your body and not quite sure what it may or may not do. To be compliant, you have to stay on a schedule with your medications and of course most worry about the SIDE EFFECTS! 

Whether it is somnolence or flatulence, the unpredictable nature of medications can be unnerving. According to the National Institutes of Health, ⅓ of Americans seek alternative forms of medical treatment. This includes anything from fish oil, chiropractors, melatonin to cannabis. Is the goal to abandon pharmaceutical medications all together? For some yes. For others they simply want options. I have never seen patients more angry when another doctor has told them they will be on certain medications for the rest of their lives. 

Options and alternatives do exist in some cases. Fish oil is the most common natural product taken by children and adults. 7.8% used it in 2012 that is up from 4.8% in 2007. Many do so to avoid cholesterol medications. In a study conducted by Brightfield Group and HelloMD, 42% of CBD users said they stopped using traditional medications like Tylenol pain relievers or prescription drugs like Vicodin and had switched to cannabis instead. These are only two examples of how consumers are switching to alternative treatments. I hear it every day in my family medicine and cannabis offices. But doing it safely is key. 

When choosing to switch from pharmaceutical medications to alternative options there are a few things to consider: 

1- Stopping medications to an alternative option still means you have to engage in that alternative option regularly. Many patients are disappointed when they choose cannabis over traditional medications and they think they can use the cannabis as needed. If you are choosing an alternative treatment it has to be a regular part of your daily schedule just like a pharmaceutical drug. Irregular or haphazard treatment of your condition can not only be irresponsible, but dangerous. 

2- When stopping a pharmaceutical and starting an alternative treatment, reduce medications gradually. It takes time for CBD or cannabis to get a therapeutic level that you can depend on. Do not stop your traditional medicine cold turkey. As you reach your therapeutic goal with CBD, slowly wean off your prescribed medications under the guidance of your physician. 

3- All medicines are a tool to help you reach your goals, utilize multiple tools to be successful. CBD or cannabis is a tool, not a cure. With any treatment you should engage other healthy tools to find balance. Consider healthy eating, exercise, reiki, massage or restorative practices like yoga. One of these is great but together they work synergistically to help you soar! 

4- Most importantly, stopping medications can be dangerous. Only change your medication regimen under the guidance of a physician. Explain your goals and dedication to a healthier and more natural lifestyle. Not all medications can be replaced with alternative options, so keep an open mind to the right treatment that keeps you safe and alive, no matter what the source may be. 

Have questions or would like to suggest a subject for my next column? Please email me at 

Dr. Williams is a Board-certified family physician, cannabinoid physician and life coach. She is the owner of Green Harvest Health Clinics and GHH CBD Medicinals. Learn more at


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