Many drugs are developed not because there's a great medical need, but rather because there's big money to be made from them.
In many cases, holistic therapies and medicines already exist that can take the place of any number of synthetic pharmaceuticals. Cannabis is one such therapy, and according to Dr. Gedde, "it's time to ask questions and look at a new way of thinking about this plant."
Dr. Gedde is the owner and founder of Gedde Whole Health, located in Colorado, and the Clinicians' Institute of Cannabis Medicine.
"I actually never imagined that I'd be in this field," she says. "My medical training was originally in pathology and research, and I spent many years in the research lab.
My PhD is in biophysical chemistry along with my MD. I did my training at Stanford, and then I worked in the pharmaceutical industry. I had no idea that cannabis actually was medicine."
A wealth of research shows marijuana does indeed have outstanding promise as a medicinal plant, largely due to its cannabidiol (CBD) content. Cannabinoids interact with your body by way of naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors embedded in cell membranes throughout your body.
There are cannabinoid receptors in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system, and more. Both the therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates a cannabinoid receptor.
Setting Up a Medical Practice Around Medical Cannabis
About 10 years ago, Dr. Gedde opened her medical practice to focus on non-pharmaceutical alternative therapies. But it wasn't until 2009 that she discovered medical cannabis.
"That was when this whole topic came up in Colorado. I started to look at the possibility of including recommendations for [medical cannabis] in my practice.
What I started hearing from my patients really amazed me. I started hearing about all the benefits and the lack of toxicity of cannabis.
I learned about the endocannabinoid system, which helped me understand how it could possibly be true that it could do all these things without being toxic."
About two years ago, she received her first request from a parent who wanted to use the high-cannabidiol (CBD), low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) form of cannabis for her child's epileptic seizures.
"I went ahead with that and started to learn about what this could do. Now, two years later, the news that cannabis is a therapy for epilepsy has reached the world I think.
We're very committed to gather ongoing information about what's happening with these children and to get this information out to other physicians in a way that they can use and understand.
We want to generate high-quality, publishable data from practice and our experience. We want to help people understand the background and the scientific basis of what cannabis can do, and really start to understand that it's a medicine, and bring it into what we have as medicine," she says.