This Medical Cannabis Expert Traveled the World to Observe Cannabis in Practice – Dr. Sandra Carrillo

Dr. Sandra Carillo Medical Cannabis Expert CannaSafe Physician's Corner Interview

Dr. Sandra Carrillo graduated as a Doctor in Medicine (MD) in 1997 from the Universidad de Ciencias de la Salud CES, Medellin, Colombia. She worked in ER (Emergency Room) and as a GP (General Practitioner) in various hospitals and completed her Post-Doc Master in Esthetic Medicine from the Universidad Illes Baleares, Spain. Subsequently, she earned a Certification as an Esthetic Medicine Specialist in Buenos Aires Argentina. She also earned a certification as a Specialist in Anti-aging Medicine from the Unione Internationale of Anti-Aging Medicine (France) and holds many other certifications.   

After developing an interest in Cannabis Medicine, she completed her master’s degree in Health Care Management in the Universidad Latina of Panama. During the last few years, she has dedicated herself to the study of the use of Cannabinoids in Medicine, obtaining a Certification as an expert in Cannabinoid Medicine from Pharmacology University in Puerto Rico, and she is also certified in Cannabis Medicine from Oaksterdam University in California. She is also a member of ICRS (International Cannabinoid Research Society) and a member of IACM (International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine)  

Dr. Carrillo is a leading advocate in Panama for the Legalization of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes. She appears as an expert witness during numerous sessions held by the government Assembly Health Commission responsible for drafting and implementing the legalization of cannabis for medical use. The proposed law is awaiting approval.   

In Panama, Dr. Carrillo has made numerous appearances on the most popular TV talk shows, news channel reports, radio, and print media advocating for the Legalization of Cannabis for medical use. Dr. Carrillo has appeared as Speaker and lecturer at various conferences including CannaTech 2019 Panama and Expo Canna-Biz Cartagena. At the Faculty of Medicine, University of Panama, she was a keynote lecturer to a combined class of students, faculty members, and other interested medical professionals. She will be presenting over the next 6 months in Brazil, Mexico, and Germany as an expert in applications of cannabinoids to medical practice.   

She is passionate about the need for more in-depth research into cannabinoids since she strongly believes it is essential to gather more data and scientific evidence. She currently leads the Scientific and Medical Advisory Board for SaviaAndina Organics and is Senior Medical Advisor to The Green Mile SAS.  

Dr. Sandra is an active volunteer for different charities and foundations such as an epilepsy children’s foundation in Panama. In 2014, she was a co-founder of the highly successful Banco de Alimentos, Panama’s first and only food bank.  

Dr. Carrillo’s main goals are to educate Doctors on the benefits of Cannabis Medicine and conducting research for creating better medical-grade products for patients.    

CannaSafe teamed up with Dr. Carrollo to discuss cannabis as medicine, cannabis research, changes needed in the cannabis space, and recommendations for first-time users. Here’s what she had to say:  

The Road to Providing Cannabis Care and Education 

I have volunteered for many years at a children’s epilepsy foundation. My interest in Medical Cannabis started when I observed a mother trying desperately to help her young daughter, afflicted with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a form of refractory epilepsy. She suffered over 200 seizures per day, and no conventional medications were effective. The mother flew to the USA with her daughter, to treat her with Medical Cannabis. I witnessed the dramatic reduction in the number and intensity of her daughters’ seizures, vast improvement in the little girl’s quality of life, and a huge improvement in her family’s quality of life.  

Since then, I developed an interest in Medical Cannabis. I have devoted my time and efforts to learn more about this amazing plant; I’ve traveled all over the world to witness different approaches taken by doctors to heal patients. Cannabis medicine is increasingly scientifically based medicine, with over 27,000 publications and studies to date, more than any other form of medicine.  

My current mission is to provide education and guidance to health care practitioners, to ensure patients who may benefit from cannabinoids-based medicine, can have safe access.   

Cannabis Education for Medical Professionals is definitely lacking. When I attended medical school, our instructors never discussed the endocannabinoid system. This is a major oversight that needs to be remedied. I think it is especially important to introduce the Endocannabinoid system in pre-graduate programs.   

Moreover, it is especially important to develop formal training like Diplomates or Master programs, dedicated exclusively to teaching health care practitioners about the endocannabinoid system and the benefits and proper use of medical cannabis. I am a Professor of the Faculty of Medicine in charge of the Scientific Medical Cannabis Program and for the past years, I have been working on creating an educational program for health care practitioners and teaching other doctors at universities. In my opinion, once doctors are professionally trained, patients will have better and safe access to Medical Cannabis treatments.  

Cannabis and Impediments for Research  

With respect to research, there are important areas that need to be covered. We need to do more research with the whole plant / full spectrum preparations, for example, since most of the evidence we have is from using isolates, and synthetic cannabinoids. The entourage effect is very powerful and needs more validation through research. We need more placebo double-blind randomized clinical trials in general with a larger sample and more representative populations. For me, the potential of Cannabinoids-Based Medicine in pathologies like cancer demands we develop more research studies focusing on the possible role of cannabinoids in different types of cancers. It is particularly important to develop the appropriate research methodologies within the context of regulations and policies.  

The Future of Cannabis  

In 5 years, I see medical Cannabis more standardized, I see more countries legalizing Medical Cannabis treatments, I see many more health care practitioners better aware and trained how to prescribe or recommend medical cannabis to their patients. I see medical cannabis more affordable for patients. We should also see regulations better suited to the realities of the relative safety of most cannabinoids’ treatments. I see less stigma associated with medical cannabis use.  

Recommendations for First Time Users  

For a First time Medical Cannabis User, my advice is always to start with guidance from your Doctor, based on evaluation and assessment. Don’t do it by yourself, don’t self-medicate, always seek your doctor’s evaluation and follow up. A doctor with expertise with Medical Cannabis will guide you to the right protocol and dosing, will evaluate underlying conditions that can be affecting the treatment, and will assess you for possible drug interaction, and other risk factors.  Further, your doctor will guide you to where you may obtain products with proven quality, approved by the local government and safety profiles. Finally, your doctor will monitor your progress and will adjust your treatment protocol, when necessary. 

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