Marijuana contains more than 60 chemicals called "cannabinoids", the 2 key ones being cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
THC produces the euphoria or "high" and it is THC that produces psychosis in vulnerable people.
CBD has a calming effect and possibly an antipsychotic effect.
In the 60's THC content was 1-2% but now it is around 13% and as high as 27%. The higher the THC, the greater the "buzz".
In the US, the government has approved 2 synthetic cannabinoids. The approved indications are (1) nausea & vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy and (2) appetite stimulation in wasting illnesses (e.g. HIV).
One of these cannabinoids, Nabilone (a.k.a.Cesamet), is available in Canada and unlike plants, these tablets allow us to control dose, quality and content. Furthermore, smoking (which causes cancer, emphysema and heart disease) is avoided.
In the few instances where it makes sense to consider medical marijuana, no doctor is likely to recommend that patients smoke it.
50% of studies using marijuana for chronic pain and neuropathic pain have been negative. And the pain studies that were positive had THC levels around 3% (much lower than the THC levels promoted on websites!).
Flyers from "clinics" and glossy magazines recommend marijuana for "everything that ails you".
Sadly, the scientific data DOES NOT SUPPORT the use of marijuana for almost all the diseases for which it is now being prescribed.
Physicians should become aware of cannabis research so that they can advise their curious patients. For those patients requesting cannabis, I start with very small amounts of cannabis oil containing the lowest content of THC possible.
On a positive note, earlier this year, CBD extracted from the actual plant successfully treated rare seizure disorders in childhood.
We need high quality credible studies to confirm or discredit the exaggerated claims now made by "Big Cannabis" companies.
Will our government use taxes from cannabis sales to fund these studies?
Anxiety Disorders, the commonest psychiatric disorders of all, are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, mindfulness and sometimes, medications. However, if you REALLY want to understand these disorders and stop them controlling your life I highly recommend "The Emotional Brain" by Dr. Joseph LeDoux. Published in 1996, this book remains a classic and became an important component of my lectures on anxiety.
Are you suffering from an Anxiety Disorder and want to escape from its disabling grip?
Overcome Back to School Stress
"Medical Marijuana": The Myths & Realities
Dr. Mark Berber
The Winter Blues and SAD
The information on this website is for general guidance only and is not intended to replace the advice and treatment offered by your medical doctor or therapist.
The site was developed for my own patients but other patients and mental health professionals may find the contents helpful
Stop smoking cigarettes NOW!
By understanding NICOTINE ADDICTION slavery to cigarettes ends. In Allen Carr's "Easy Way to Stop Smoking" you will discover the proven steps to finally stop smoking. I highly recommend this book which worked for me and many others.
Many of my young adult patients are feeling very anxious about returning to school. Several years ago I recommended the following 7 tips to students at the University of Toronto. My suggestions are still relevant. Check them out here!
"Winter Blues" affects 15-20% of Canadians while the more severe Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects 2-3%.
In Winter Blues there is a loss of energy, productivity, enthusiasm and creativity with increased appetite (especially for carbs), increased weight and increased need for sleep. In SAD the symptoms are worse with loss of interest and ability to feel pleasure. Symptoms appear in October, peak in January and start to improve in April. Females are mostly affected with a peak onset of 40 years old. Treatment includes light therapy, exercise, getting outside in the sunshine and sometimes antidepressants.