Neurosurgeon doctor specializing in chronic pain and integrative medicine, Thania Rossi, in the last ten years, has attended and followed more than 100 patients with medical cannabis. Of this total, more than 80% were women. “It has a very wide range of treatments for women’s health,” she says. According to her, interest in the medical use of the plant is also growing among students in the health area. In Brazil, with delay and after a long period of prohibition, medical cannabis has been conquering more and more patients among the female audience.
Rossi is a professor at University My Brain, a platform for courses on neuroscience, and mentor of Brain Pain Neuro, a project she coordinates with medical students from all over Brazil and the world – and medical cannabis is one of the themes of the group. “We have some students from Russia and Portugal,” she says.
According to the doctor, it is a league dedicated to the study of neurosurgery, pain and integrative medicine, linked to the SBN (Brazilian Society of Neurosurgery). “In addition to classes and symposia, we are starting a project to serve the public in need of medical assistance”.
Thania Rossi spoke with the report of universe after its presentation at the first edition of the Brazilian Congress of Medicinal Cannabis, an event held at the beginning of the month in São Paulo, which brought together thousands of people.
Among other topics, she spoke about the pathologies that affect women and that can be treated with cannabis. “It’s great for treating chronic pain, pelvic pain, PMS symptoms or pain from sexual intercourse, menopausal symptoms, sleep disorders and anxiety disorders.”
The plant’s benefits to improve women’s sex life and the difficulties in accessing products due to high prices were also addressed by the doctor. See the main excerpts from the interview.
UNIVERSA How long have you known and worked with medical cannabis?
THANIA ROSSI I’ve known him since college, 20 years ago I tried to do some scientific work, but at the time my proposals were barred by the university’s ethics system. I specialize in surgery for chronic pain, movement disorder caused by Parkinson’s disease.
I have been doing integrative medicine and have been prescribing medical cannabis for 10 years. In the past there was a lot of prejudice, nowadays this type of therapy has gained more followers, acceptance is much greater. Access has also improved, the purchase of medication has become much easier. I have prescribed it to more than 100 patients, 80% are women.
Why are women so interested in cannabis, what are the main uses for female health?
It is great for treating chronic pain, pelvic pain, PMS symptoms or pain derived from sexual intercourse, sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, it has a very wide range of treatments for women’s health.
A recent study showed that cannabis can also help menopausal women who experience cognitive impairment, such as loss of focus and concentration, improving memory retention and other cognitive symptoms, in addition to that ‘heat’ that the woman feels.
And during pregnancy it is also indicated for some patients who need to use medication for pain, epilepsy. Many of these drugs can harm the fetus, some phytocannabinoids, not all, are safer, they don’t offer the risks that other drugs do.
Can cannabis also be used by women to improve sex?
Nowadays, with the new technologies of the cannabis industry, there is a wide variety of products for local use.
Recent scientific works show that the use of phytocannabinoids orally, vaginal oil and suppository can act in female sexual dysfunctions. It increases a woman’s pleasure and can reduce pelvic floor or sex-related pain.
But care must be taken in the case of oil and suppository because they release a substance that can break the plastic of the condom and put the person at risk of an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) or an unplanned pregnancy, the most indicated would be use a condom made of another material, in fact, there are already products made with the plant.
Can cannabis be used as the main treatment for epilepsy, in other cases is it an adjunct therapy?
Cannabis contains more than 500 active substances, including more than 140 phytocannabinoids. CBD, as is known, has mechanisms of neuroprotection that reduce neuronal death and is therefore used in Alzheimer’s disease.
But each [fitocanabinoide] will act in a different biochemical way, so there is a wide spectrum for various pathologies and symptoms that the person may present, it has the action analgesic, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotectiveacts in several different systems of our organism.
It was formerly used as the fifth or sixth line of treatment, but today for some other ailments, such as the treatment of chronic pain, medical cannabis has been used before the ages. opioids and with good results.
For other diseases, it can also be a previous alternative to other therapeutic options, if the patient wishes and if there is an indication. But in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, we don’t take the first line drugs away, cannabis comes in as an adjuvant.
Does smoking the plant recreationally have the same effect?
There is a non-recreational use that can also be indicated in other cases [não para melhorar o desejo sexual]which we call vaporization, in which the patient inhales the cannabis without combustion.
The recreational use of smoking the plant is not recommended because of the high concentration of phytocannabinoids, there are more than 500 medicinal substances, in the long term chronic use can bring some damage to health.
High doses of TCH can increase anxiety, cause sleep disturbances and even cause symptoms of psychosis if the person already has a predisposition to some psychiatric illnesses.
Who can not use?
Nowadays on the market we have several types of medical cannabis, some for example have only one active ingredient isolated, others have several, there are some contraindications of these phytocannabinoids for some pathologies associated with medications, it is necessary to evaluate case by case.
And despite the huge diversity of products available on the market, cannabis medicines can only be purchased and used with a doctor’s prescription. For imported products we use a simple recipe, nationals in street pharmacies need a special blue recipe, for solutions without THC and for solutions with THC, the yellow recipe.
The use of psychedelics is not recommended for patients with schizophrenia, does this apply to cannabis?
The use of THC in high doses is contraindicated for some profiles of patients who are at risk of psychosis or of entering a psychotic break, in these cases we use a much lower dosage or some other solution that does not contain THC, for children and the elderly we also use different solutions, because they may interact with other drugs, such as antihypertensives, increasing, for example, the risk of a drop in blood pressure.
Your patients usually seek the help of cannabis for which ailments?
The vast majority are for chronic pain, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). In some cases the benefits and quality of life gains are impressive, in others the therapeutic response is the same as any other medicine, I always tell my patients that medical cannabis is an excellent therapeutic alternative but it is not miraculous, in general it is need to align an entire integrated treatment for the patient.
Have you ever used medical cannabis?
I have used it and still use it for some cases of pain, I also used it when I had covid-19, there are some very interesting recent works showing the decrease in viral replication and symptoms, I took it for a week and for me it was very mild and it passed faster.
Medicines are expensive for most, when will we have more accessible products and in the SUS?
Theoretically, it has already arrived, I already prescribed it in the SUS, but the family either won in court through an injunction, or got the medication from entities that help needy families, such as the Brazilian Association of Medicinal Cannabis and Abrace Esperança. And there are companies, such as Biocase Brasil, that have a program for popular access to medicines and that offer prices well below the market.
But I think it shouldn’t take long to exist as a high-cost medication in the SUS. Many patients are going to court to gain access to cannabis treatments also through health insurance plans. It is a new subject, in the long term we do not yet know what the outcome of medical cannabis will be in Brazil.