Medical care has come a significant way over the last few centuries. The current life expectancy for males born in the United Kingdom from 2018 to 2020 is 79 years. In 1841, it was 40.2 years. Factors that have contributed to this large increase include the development of childhood immunisations, improved hygiene, sufficient food, and overall healthier lifestyles.
Despite this, there is still a range of issues that continue to plague men’s health. A 2019 report released by the World Health Organisation revealed that women outlive men everywhere in the world and that “men are much more likely to die from preventable and treatable non-communicable diseases, such as ischaemic heart disease and lung cancer.”
With that in mind, events like International Men’s Health Awareness Week, which was held this year from the 15th to the 20th of July, are critical if we are to narrow the gap in life expectancy between males and females and improve overall health outcomes for males.
Symptoms associated with some of the most common conditions that affect men, including depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, may be managed using medical cannabis. Read on to learn more about the prescription of medical marijuana in the UK and eligibility requirements.
Men’s health — an overview
International Men’s Health Week is run by the Men’s Health Forum, who define a male health issue as one that meets the following criteria:
- It arises from the physiological, psychological, social, cultural, or environmental factors that have a specific impact on boys or men;
- It requires male-specific actions to achieve improvements in health or wellbeing either at an individual or population level.
This is clearly quite a broad definition. While men are affected in much the same way as women by conditions including heart disease, cancer, and depression, they tend to engage in riskier behaviour that can lead to negative health outcomes. In the United Kingdom, men are also far less likely to take advantage of free screening programs for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This is a common pattern amongst countries around the world.
Globally, suicide rates are almost twice as high in men as in women, pointing to the complexities of male mental health.
Medical cannabis explained
Medical cannabis has been used to help patients manage symptoms of a broad range of conditions for thousands of years. For men who have been suffering from chronic pain or psychological conditions for an extended period of time and are looking for a new method of managing symptoms, medical cannabis may be an appropriate solution.
How does medical cannabis work? Well, the first thing to know is that the product is very different from illicit street cannabis. Prescription medical cannabis is a highly regulated product that contains cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant compounds. The cannabis used in medical products are grown under strict conditions, meaning it is free from pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants.
Medical cannabis products are available in a range of different forms, including oils, capsules, oral liquid, and concentrated extracts. For eligible patients, the product you are offered will depend on your condition, the clinic you have visited, and where you are in the world.
What common symptoms and health conditions experienced by men may be managed using medical cannabis? The product is primarily prescribed to those who suffer from chronic pain, including fibromyalgia, neuropathy, arthritis, and long-term musculoskeletal injuries.
Perhaps more critically, medical marijuana in the UK may be prescribed to patients who have been suffering from psychological conditions, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and insomnia, for a prolonged period of time. In England, it’s estimated that one in eight men has a common mental health problem — depression, anxiety, panic disorder, or obsessive compulsive disorder. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 35 in the United Kingdom.
Mental health conditions are very complex and can be caused by any number of underlying causes. If you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and have tried multiple therapeutic options without being able to manage your symptoms, your doctor may recommend trying medical cannabis. The active cannabinoids in medical cannabis interact with our endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for a number of different functions in the body, including mood regulation.
Medical marijuana in the UK will not be prescribed as a first-line treatment and can only be offered by a specialist clinician, meaning not all patients will be eligible. It is worth speaking to your doctor if you believe you meet the eligibility requirements and may benefit from this prescription medication.
This International Men’s Health Week, consider the ways you can improve your own physical and mental health and that of the men around you. If you have been suffering from a long-term physical or psychological condition and believe medical cannabis may help, speak to your doctor today.
Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.