When conventional western medicine does not seem to have a positive effect on disease progression or when debilitating complications associated with treatment are possible, patients often look to alternative medicine. Alternative medicine has become a hot button topic that is slowly finding its way into mainstream America. By definition, it is any practice whose aim is to produce healing effects but lacks any biological plausibility, is untested or untestable.
Thankfully, there are some in the medical community that has become disenchanted with costly pharmaceuticals that were once considered to be miracle cures. Instead, they have chosen to look back to the remedies used hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Despite what some may imagine, alternative medicine doesn’t include drilling holes into someone’s head or dancing under the moonlight naked chanting to some ancient deity. On the contrary, alternative medicine is thinking outside the box and utilizing the healing properties of nature to treat complex ailments.
Probably one of the best examples of alternative medicine that has replaced dangerous and expensive medications is that of chiropractic treatments. Invented in the late 1800s by the self-educated teacher and healer Daniel David Palmer, chiropractic services once held the position of “quackery” and was even targeted for elimination by the AMA (American Medical Association). After many years of discrimination by traditional practitioners, Chiropractic Doctors have finally found their place in the medical world and are often brought in to work with conventional practitioners to contribute their knowledge and expertise in treating the underlying cause of pain.
Thankfully, individuals who are suffering from some of the worst conditions imaginable are unlimited to the types of treatments available. From acupuncture or chiropractic services to medical marijuana, New York patients searching for relief can turn to alternative therapies and medications when traditional methods don’t work.
Types of Medical Treatment
Several terms can be used to describe medicine today, conventional, alternative, complementary, integrative, and functional. Often these terms can be used interchangeably despite their differences. While the general public may not understand how they differ at this time, it is crucial to be aware of what type of practitioner you are seeing when seeking medical treatment.
Conventional or traditional medicine is what most people are familiar with and is the most common type of healthcare in America. Doctors using this method will treat a patient based on their symptoms using FDA approved medications, surgery, or radiation therapy.
Typically, alternative medicine is more of a natural approach to treatment and is both less invasive and cheaper than traditional methods. It includes meditation, diet, hypnosis, supplements, and cannabis. In short, it is any treatment that is not used in conventional medicine.
A combination of conventional and alternative treatment is called complementary medicine. Often considered to be the most modern yet radical form of diagnosing and treating ailments, the goal is to treat the whole body, including improving the mind, emotions, and energy.
Integrative medicine is a deliberate approach used with conventional, evidence-based medications that are personalized for each patient. The National Institute of Health (NIH) defines integrative medicine as a combination of mainstream medical therapies, as well as complementary and alternative treatments that have quality scientific evidence proving both safety and effectiveness.
Cannabis and alternative medicine
For thousands of years, cannabis was prized for its psychoactive and therapeutic properties. While many people may argue that the psychoactive properties make this plant dangerous, others believe that it is this exact property that makes it so beneficial. Because there have been very few gold-standard, double-blind studies to determine the precise effectiveness of marijuana or its derivatives, the FDA has thus far refused to reclassify it as anything other than a recreational drug making it illegal on the federal level. But make no mistake, most individuals who have been helped by cannabis are willing to give first-hand testimony on the effectiveness of this plant. With positive reporting by countless patients, the medical community has slowly come to realize cannabis’ role in medical treatment.
Though it is considered an alternative treatment, marijuana has been legalized in several states for medical use. Each of these states determined the guidelines and qualifications for legal use. In New York, certain conditions were determined to qualify for treatment. They are:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Spinal cord injury with spasticity
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Huntington’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Chronic pain
- Pain that degrades health and functional capabilities
- Alternative to opioid use
- Substance use disorder
The condition must also be accompanied by one or more of the following or associated or complicating conditions:
- Cachexia or wasting syndrome
- Severe or chronic pain
- Severe nausea
- Severe or persistent muscle spasms
- Opioid use disorder
How to qualify for medical marijuana in New York?
Patients who have been diagnosed with one or more of the covered conditions and wish to obtain a medical marijuana card must receive a recommendation from a licensed practitioner. While many doctors agree with therapeutic use, not all can provide this recommendation. Patients can find an approved provider list on the state’s website at https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/practitioner/public_list.htm.
Patients can elect to either visit the practitioner in person or virtually through telemedicine services. Patients are advised to supply all medical documents supporting the qualifying diagnosis, including any lab tests, x-rays, and MRIs to speed up the process. Once the practitioner has determined eligibility, they will provide the recommendation and submit all necessary information to the Department of Health’s medical marijuana division who will then supply the required medical use card. Once qualifications have been met, patients can then legally purchase medical marijuana from a licensed dispensary. Individuals under the age of 18 who qualify for medical marijuana must have a designated caregiver that will take responsibility for obtaining and administering the required medications.
Despite having a medical marijuana card, patients must follow the state’s rules regarding when and where they can consume cannabis. Marijuana should only be consumed at home and out of the public’s eye. Failure to follow the rules can result in an arrest and fines.
Medical Marijuana in New York
Medical marijuana can be a valuable resource for the medical community. While not everyone agrees with this type of alternative treatment, individuals who have a chronic or life-threatening condition are grateful to the state of New York for working with them. They believe the benefits of medical marijuana far outweigh any perceived risk if a doctor’s instructions are followed. Fill out an online application today to get started with your New York medical cannabis recommendation.