We were lucky enough to chat with Dr. Harris last week to discuss the future of global healthcare.
1. What is your personal story and mission that motivated you to work with cannabis?
I began to be interested in CBD 2 years ago when I was attempting to pull a 600 lbs. deadlift. I was training hard and needed something to help with sleep and recovery. I knew CBD was beneficial for sleep, and inflammation and I thought it would help me in my recovery process from hard lifts. When I dove into the research, I was blown away, especially by the neuroprotective properties. I have a genetic mutation (APOE4) that increases my risk of developing Alzheimer's by 30%. CBD has become part of my regimen for recovery, inflammation, and to help protect my brain.
2. Do you think cannabis education for medical professionals and healthcare providers is lacking?
Like most holistic therapies, CBD was never mentioned in medical and pharmacy schools. I had to go and learn everything I currently know about it on my own. Luckily, there are plenty of research studies showing benefits in a diverse patient population. With the boom in the CBD industry, I expect to see more and more research coming out about the benefits of CBD therapy. I wish there was more holistic education in medical school because our current "sick-care" model is not working.
Dr. Richard E. Harris, received his Doctor of Pharmacy from University of Texas at Austin (Hook ‘em!) and his medical degree from the McGovern School of Medicine. Following his residency at UTMB, Dr. Harris worked for a large practice in Houston but ultimately left to pursue his goal of promoting holistic lifestyle medicine. Dr. Harris is one of today’s leading health and wellness speakers, well versed in a range of health and wellness topics including focusing on the importance of men’s health.
3. What kind of cannabis research is needed, that has not been covered yet?
To be accepted into the mainstream medical culture, you will need to see randomized controlled studies (RCT's) and Meta-analysis (Metas) done on the things people are using CBD to ameliorate. Unfortunately, this is an expensive proposition as most pharmaceutical companies do not want to do this type of expensive research on something available over the counter. There is plenty of pathophysiological evidence and observational studies that show benefit. Anecdotal evidence is also pilling up, but RCT's and Metas would help smooth things over with the average practicing provider.
4. Where do you see medicinal cannabis in 5 years?
The industry will continue to grow as people look for more holistic methods to treat their problems. The opioid epidemic was a harsh lesson in prescribing behaviors and patient harms. We need to explore all other possible avenues to help people deal with chronic pain and other chronic issues. I hope that CBD is taken in and adopted by mainstream providers so that they can provide alternative options to their patients and clients.
5. What is the best advice you can give to a first-time cannabis user?
Slow and steady wins the race. Often, people expect things to work instantaneously and be miracles. I always tell my clients that it takes at least 30 days for you to see any real difference with any change you make. Some people are more resistant to change and may take up to 90 days before their bodies adapt to the new supplement or lifestyle change. Your body doesn't fully develop until you are 25, so you can't expect things to happen overnight. This same philosophy applies to dosing. People on medications especially should start with low doses and titrate their way up. I typically recommend the products that you can dose by the milligram in that situation so you can work your way up to a dose that works for you while avoiding medication interactions.