From the age of 15 I had already decided. Would doctor. He remembers his good grades in Biology or that time he visited the National Institute of Neoplastic Diseases in third grade. He witnessed the number of patients needing help, the long lines for care, the crowded rooms. Of administrative parents and a medical uncle, these scenes, far from scare him away, encouraged him and reaffirmed his desire to help, to wear white.
In his second or third year of medicine at the university, with his friend, now a partner, they were studying for an exam and found the endocannabinoid system. A new world where cannabis was a therapeutic alternative. The scientific article they found led them to another, and thus began a row of events that today lead to Anandamida, a word that comes from Sanskrit and that in a close translation would be happiness, bliss. Medical center that began operations this year and which in his words is the first specialized in cannabis medicinal in Peru.
The surgeon Victor Ortúzar learn about and experience the positive effects of medical cannabis up close. His mother suffers from fibromyalgia and uses this medicine to decrease her neck pain. “And with very good effects,” he tells me.
-Recently, the law regulating the medicinal use of cannabis has been enacted.
Today medical cannabis is a reality. There are many possibilities to dose it and use it with all the schemes of the law. The three largest Peruvian apothecaries and pharmacies already have this product in their repertoire, and we have been here since February of this year –we began activities in the medical center– treating patients.
-What can be treated?
It has many therapeutic potentials. However, its use has already been proven, with very good results, in four major pathologies. The first is seizure epilepsy that does not respond to at least three lines of medications; This type of treatment-refractory epilepsy has a medical indication for the use of medical cannabis; In Essalud the first patient was already medicated medical cannabis. The following pathologies are: chronic pain, especially one of the neuropathic type, that is, there has been nerve damage that causes the pain; then there is muscle spasticity, associated with what is multiple sclerosis; and finally, in cancer patients, all the adverse effects associated with chemotherapy.
-In the case of cancer patients, how does this cannabis help them?
Helps increase appetite. Usually, chemotherapy is associated with nausea and vomiting, so cannabis comes in to support as a treatment.
-And what is the potential, how much more could this drug help?
For example, treating anxiety – or some mental health disorders – has been found to work very well. But you have to be careful, some disorders are contraindications to the use of cannabis, such as schizophrenia or psychosis. That is why we recommend that there be a prior medical evaluation. Another potential is to treat insomnia and as a treatment for Parkinson’s-associated spasticity.
-And how is its use progressing?
To date, there are already more than 15 thousand patients registered in the national registry of medical cannabis users. There is significant growth, a fairly large national acceptance, but there is still a long way to go in the clinical research part; for example, there is also the autism spectrum disorder, which, although there are many studies in other parts of the world, is not yet endorsed as a treatment per se.
-Whoever wants to access the treatment, what should they do? Is it expensive?
The first thing is that you need a medical evaluation by a doctor trained in its use. If the doctor believes that it is convenient and suitable for this type of treatment, it is necessary to register as a medical cannabis patient, and from there go to a pharmacy and purchase the oil, which varies in concentrations, sizes and presentations. The cheapest is the one produced by the State, which can be obtained at the Digemid pharmacy of the Ministry of Health, which goes between 40 and 50 soles. Then there are bottles that are worth 250 soles or more, which are in different concentrations, different active compounds, which already depends on medical criteria.
-In what niche can medical cannabis be installed: as alternative medicine or even as part of conventional medicine?
Today it is no longer called alternative medicine, but integral or integrative, which encompasses both conventional medicine and complements it with other therapies, such as treatment with plants, physical and psychological therapies. Integrative medicine tries to use all the tools that we have at our disposal.
-Is integrative medicine the trend in the world?
I would think so. We already see it in the United States. Pharmacies there have more and more shelves of botanical therapies.
-What taboos are there around medical cannabis?
There are many doctors who see it as a negative. But many people leave with an improvement. The first taboo that must be overcome is the concept of drugs. Any substance exogenous to the body that exerts a function in the body is considered a drug, from coffee to paracetamol. Not because it is a drug means that its use is wrong. Recreational use must also be separated from medicinal use; they are totally different things. Many ask me: “Doctor, will I become addicted?” Without going too far, alcohol is addictive and withdrawal can kill. Cannabis doesn’t have that kind of addiction; yes there is a dependency as it calms the pain. Medical cannabis is saving people, and many nationwide would benefit from its proper use.
– “I am Víctor Manuel Ortúzar Seminario. Am 26 years old. I was born in Spain, but my parents are Peruvian. I was born there because of my dad’s job, he worked in finance, in a bank; It started in Lima, then it traveled to Spain and from there to Panama, in that transition I was born ”.
– “I studied Medicine, I finished my degree in seven years. As soon as I finished my degree, we started getting started in what is cannabis, trying to make our way by walking with my partner. I am a surgeon and I have also worked at the Anglo American Clinic for a year and four months ”.
– “I have taken courses, medical cannabis diplomas. With my partner, we received scholarships in the first international medical cannabis diploma at the Technological University of Monterrey, in Mexico. You can find us at www.anandamida.com or in networks like anandamida_cm ”.
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