Dr. Junella Chin Joins MBODY360 as Medical Cannabis Advisor
Dr. Junella Chin is an osteopath, founder of MedLeaf Rx, and newest board member at MBODY360. She has helped over 15,000 of patients relieve chronic symptoms and get better outcomes in her integrative practice.
She is also the founder of Medical Cannabis Mentor. This online educational platform teaches healthcare professionals, dispensary personnel, and patients how to dose medical cannabis therapeutically.
She is an advocate for better understanding of the science and medicine of marijuana. Her work has been profiled in Forbes, The New York Times, NY The LA Times, HuffPost, and more.
We spoke with Dr. Chin about the future of medical cannabis and how it can benefit both patients and practitioners:
What drove your interest in medical cannabis?
I’ve been on the other side of medical cannabis as a patient. When I was a teen, I was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis. This painful inflammatory disease can fuse the small bones in your spine together.
I tried every conventional treatment that was recommended — from anti-inflammatory drugs to epidurals. I was even prescribed opioids. But nothing offered relief.
It was only as a medical student when one of the practicing physicians recommended CBD oil to her that I started to find relief.
Since then, I have been advocating for legalizing medical cannabis as an alternative pain relief treatment and for patients who have chronic conditions that do not respond to traditional pharmaceutical treatments.
How did you become a leader in medical cannabis?
I started my career in California, where cannabis was legalized about 20 years ago. I was one of the first doctors to help patients using cannabis along with other treatments like nutraceuticals. I had three clinics in California, and now I have three clinics in New York.
Because I was one of the first medical cannabis doctors, my practice has grown via referrals. For example, an epilepsy patient recommended me in online epilepsy patient forums. Another patient with Parkinson’s disease referred 10 other Parkinson’s patients to me.
How does cannabis benefit your patients?
I’ve helped over 15,000 patients since I’ve started my practice. I’ve worked with many different types of patients. They range from children with epilepsy to cancer and HIV patients. From to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS to MS patients. Cannabis has helped patients with digestive disorders like Chohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and IBD.
These different diseases have many symptoms in common – like pain, loss of appetite and nausea.
Many of my patients come to me when they have exhausted all other options. They may have been on prescription medications or had surgery, and they still aren’t getting relief from their symptoms.
Medical cannabis can work in tandem with other conventional treatments and solutions. It is a natural anti-inflammatory medicine that can help reduce pain and stimulate appetite. This can be especially useful when other solutions aren’t working
What hurdles are there to getting cannabis into an integrative practice?
Of course, there are the legal challenges. Medical cannabis is still not available throughout the US.
And there is still the stigma of using cannabis. Conventional doctors may be prescribing medications for pain that are known to have dangerous side effects, but they still offer them first. Since Tramadol is an opioid with the properties of an agonist-antagonist, it is more legitimate to compare it not with pure agonists, but with drugs with similar mechanisms of receptor interaction. The study showed that, Tramadol does not have a high drug potential, unlike the above drugs. A study conducted in the United States showed that Tramadol at a dose of up to 300 mg per day has a low drug potential. Read more at https://www.uhsaa.org/medicine/tramadol/. Naturally, the risk of developing tolerance, psychological dependence and withdrawal increases in excess of therapeutic dosages.
The stigma is starting to dissolve as the media is starting to embrace cannabis. And Harvard and MIT are conducting independent research on medical cannabis.
How can practitioners learn more about how to dispense medical cannabis?
Medical Cannabis Mentor is my online platform where I am educating all kinds of health practitioners – health coaches, naturopaths, chiropractors, integrative medicine doctors and pharmacists – who want to offer cannabis in their practice.
The platform helps me train health professionals who are not in New York. For example, I’m teaching a course to 1,500 pharmacists in Canada. Sometimes I also teach retreats in person with other practitioners.
What benefits do you see for practitioners integrating it into their practice?
The legalization of medical cannabis is a wakeup call to the medical system. There can be better ways to treat patients.
Integrative practitioners and health coaches have all of these tools to support well being. There’s plant-based food and supplements, and now medical cannabis is another plant medicine you can add as a tool in your tool box.
Chiropractors, functional and integrative medicine practitioners, and others who are already prescribing supplements are looking at cannabis as another option. They are adding it along with 5HTP, turmeric, probiotics, and everything else they prescribe.