Did you know KANNAB is the name given to the cannabis plant by the ancient Persians? Now KANNAB has adapted it to reinvent ancestral wisdom in medical cannabis science.
Our path in medical cannabis science was born approximately seven years ago through different approaches with the indigenous communities of Colombia, whom the State legally recognise as ancestral cannabis growers who are permitted to cultivate and extract derivatives within their territories. However, it was not until 2015 that we were in the need to help improve the conditions of some relatives diagnosed with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, which prompted therapeutic experimentation on the compounds of this plant to help to treat them.
In our search we met Dr Nataly Bolaños, who is now our medical director, who shares our special interest in studying the therapeutic applications of cannabinoids, and also belongs to an investigation taught by the seedbed of pain research and hospice care of the Universidad de Manizales.
The science behind medical cannabis science
Relieving pain, depression and episodes of anxiety caused not only by patients’ illnesses, but also by allopathic medication provided by the health system became one of our main objectives; this situation awoke a huge interest in studying the therapeutic potential of this plant and thereby provide society and especially vulnerable populations the opportunity to dignify their lives and reduce their suffering using natural substances, through a controlled and supervised process provided by healthcare professionals.
We understood the enormous responsibility that cannabis-based treatments represent, especially because in the normative framework in 2015, cannabis was legalised for medicinal purposes – expressly in indigenous communities, but not regulated at the national level. Driven by lack of knowledge in the health sector, and a deficiency in raw materials which do not meet the standards of quality control, a home growing model was adopted to allow patients with chronic diseases and on a low-income to access this alternative therapy which guarantees their safety, right to heal and a dignified life.
Since then our commitment has been to contribute to the care and improvement of the quality of life of patients through safe treatments based on medicinal cannabis. It also gives rise to the need to study the plant in a systematic way from different methods of approach (agronomic, biological, medical and scientific), creating stages of scientific dissemination about the medicinal cannabis as it is in the case of the ‘Escuela Agroecológica (Agroecological school).
In this way, our organisation evolved in parallel with the regulatory advances of the medicinal cannabis industry, pursuant to the regulations given through decree 613 of 2017 we had clear rules which allowed us to start working under a consolidation model which integrates medical practice, education and research under a humanised and patient centric approach.
The birth of KANNAB
This is how in January 2018 we set up the first medical office in the country for the medical orientation of therapeutic treatments with phytocannabinoids, allowing us to involve more than 300 patients whom have been treated today through the practice of human values and principles. Being dedicated to the transformation of the doctor-patient relationship allowed us throughout our expertise to recognise the most appropriate therapy to alleviate suffering indifferent groups of diseases and to give back to people the ability to select the treatment which they consider the most appropriate in terms of trust and scientific support.
All of the above considers that human dignity is a principle which permeates all areas of people’s lives (family, social life, work, education, productivity, etc.). Whenever a person is discussed, we think of them as deserving of dignified, human, responsible and respectful treatment.
Unfortunately, the Colombian health system does not recognise the concept of the dignified treatment of patients, dramatically diminishing the resources destined for health care, and the economic dynamics involved in prioritising the efficiency above quality. This daunting prospect has created an absence of access to truly prompt and quality healthcare, privileging the utility and efficiency over the dignity of the patient and their family.
This is how the dehumanisation of the health care system has standardised protocols that could be considered against human rights, impeding access to decent, timely and quality service. When we analyse the pathway a patient must take between the manifestation of their symptoms, care, and rehabilitation of illness and we find that they and their families are depending on treatment which involves being treated more as a client holding a number in a list, instead of a person. The time spent in the medical consultation is reduced, low-cost and low-quality prescriptions medicines are issues and the system generally lags behind in the delivery of medicines, appointments and controls – not to mention the difficulty in accessing appointments or treatment with specialists.
The privilege of economical profit over social gain has led to a serious problem; the commodification of the health service being prioritised over respect for human dignity that delegitimises fundamental aspects of healthcare characterised by the relationship of the patient and physician along with solidarity, understanding, generosity, empathy. Medical research should provide for the community a better quality of life, especially when they are more vulnerable.
The ethical assessment of patient pathology is seen as something which should be treated at the lowest cost and in the shortest possible time, forgetting that medical science, technological developments and bioethics should be put at the forefront of improving the patient’s quality of life, who seeks out medical intervention expecting to be treated as a human being and to conserve his life and be able to live it in a state of general well-being.
Why KANNAB is different
At KANNAB we value the expectations of ill people with the integration of the medical orientation with phytocannabinoids and the correct diagnosis of disease, sequelae and treatment along with the rehabilitation of the patient – even supporting them in their last stages of life. We understand that the medical service provided must consider the patient as a whole, prioritising the ability of our health professionals to build appropriate relationships with people in an attempt to counteract the harmful effects of the emphasis on technology and economics, seeking to prioritise the ethical and emotional order to promote improvement in the patient’s quality of life.
One of the main objectives of the therapeutic medical approach we take here at KANNAB is to attempt to improve both the patient and their family’s quality of life in an integral way, by attempting to alleviate the physical and emotional pain they suffer. There are different pathological approaches we can take with medicinal cannabis, among them one of the most relevant is the therapeutic approach in palliative patients. Palliative care (PC) is responsible for the comprehensive care of patients with a life-threatening disease, through prevention, pain relief, and symptoms of suffering. In this regard, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as “the approach that improves the quality of life of patients and families who face problems associated with life threatening diseases, through prevention and relief of suffering, through early identification and the impeccable evaluation and treatment of pain and other physical, psychosocial and spiritual problems”1
It is important to realise the value of humanised care in the application of medicinal cannabis, to recognise the patient as a human being and not as a user or a client, through open, warm and emotional communication, which allows them to feel cared for with personalised treatment taking as much time and attention as it takes. It is also vitally important to be mindful of the language we use (what we say and how we say it) along with body language, to ensure that the patient feels dignified in their treatment. Our medical team has the ability to get leave the conventional care model behind, paying more attention to the rehabilitation of the whole person and not simply monitoring the progress of the symptoms; an activity in which we focus on informing, educating and providing emotional support.
Making a difference
KANNAB has all the qualifying criteria required by Colombian regulations, authorising it in the medical orientation of medicinal cannabis treatments. Since its opening in 2018 different groups of diseases have been addressed, with a total of 381 patients who have entered to our information system – Of which 251 were female and 130 males. The most recurrent reasons for consultation are: chronic pain (168 patients) secondary to arthrosis (43 patients), rheumatoid arthritis (18 patients), disc disease (9 patients), cervical pain (6 patients), migraine (10 patients), fibromyalgia (21 patients), disk herniation (4 patients), neuropathy (8 patients), trigeminal neuralgia (3 patients), oncological pain (24 patients), amongst others (22 patients).
In addition, other groups of diseases have been treated, such as:
- Mental illnesses: anxiety and depression syndrome (61 patients), non-organic insomnia (43 patients), Asperger’s syndrome (1 patient), bipolar affective disorder (10 patients), obsessive compulsive disorder (3 patients), deficit disorder of attention and hyperactivity (1 patient), Autistic spectrum disorder (1 patient), drug addiction (4 patients)
- Neurodegenerative diseases: Parkinson’s disease (12 patients), Alzheimer’s disease (13 patients), refractory epilepsy (17 patients)
- Palliative care (47 patients).
It is worth mentioning that all patients who join our services, participate in clinical research processes in order to contribute to this new science of medicine. Our studies have focused on addressing groups of patients with chronic pain and in need of palliative care. We currently have two research articles recognised nationally in the Cannaworld Congress (First World Congress of Medicinal Cannabis), an event held in the city of Medellin, on November 10, 2018, the recognitions were:
- 3rd place selected by the jury: Clinical evolution of a group of patients managed for pain control with cannabis extract in the city of Manizales, Colombia.
- We took a sample of 53 patients treated at KANNAB in the city of Manizales, within the research we analysed their clinical evolution following treatment with cannabis extracts for the control of chronic pain. We monitored the number of people who manage different kinds of pain pathologies, the number of consultations made, and the evolution based on the numerical scale of pain (before and after treatment). The study was in retrospective format, longitudinal, descriptive, and analytical form of research. Observing a decrease in the level of pain through the use of cannabis extracts2
- 1st place to selection of the public: phytocannabinoids in palliative care: pain, depression and insomnia.
It was possible to analyse the use of medicinal cannabis as an alternative and coadjutant therapy in 4 palliative patients, seeking improved quality of life, comfort, relief from symptoms, pain reduction, suffering, depression and insomnia, secondary to chronic oncological degenerative diseases, and oncological diseases categorised as metastatic with regular prognosis. We used cannabis extracts with different concentrations. The numerical pain scale was used before and after the treatment, achieving pain reduction, reduced depressive symptoms, and lessened insomnia.3
This work is thanks to KANNAB maintaining an expert team capable of developing within each of its business units’ processes which are characterised by quality and efficiency resulting in the supply of services and products of excellence. We are working to fulfil our goal of becoming the leading company in the medicinal cannabis industry in Colombia in the years to come, supplying the national and international markets, offering products and services of the highest standards.
Today we rejoice the great alliance with our friends Cannabissalud SAS, an allied company established in 2015 with the aim of meeting the growing demand of the market with medicinal products, food supplements and cosmetics manufactured with ingredients derived from psychoactive and non-psychoactive cannabis crops. This company shares our vision, because its developments are focused on improving the quality of life and health of users with cannabis products.
Aware of the undeniable potential of the cannabis plant and its different varieties and driven by widespread ignorance and inaccurate and distorted information, we identified the need to promote the therapeutic benefits of this plant. We work in the dissemination of alternative medicine as a worldwide trend and we proudly place ourselves at the forefront in Latin America.
This union allows both companies to achieve integration in their production processes until they reach the commercialisation of raw materials and finished products for scientific and medicinal purposes, as well as the provision of medical service and support.
Thanks to this relationship, we both became one of the few companies in Colombia that have all the elements of an integrated production chain (seed, agroindustrial production, extraction, refining, production, distribution and medical assistance).
Research will continue to be one of our main objectives. Thanks to our vertically integrated production model, we are able to obtain real and highly efficient solutions to the unmet needs which our patients present to us with. The objective of our research is always practical, we want to provide real solutions to problems. An example of our early challenges was the creation of our interdisciplinary educational therapeutic mitigation program aimed at the coffee harvesting population of Colombia who often present with drug dependency.
We point out with great interest that Canada and the European community employ a strategy of strengthening these methods of the research and development of services and products based on medicinal cannabis, Which is why we celebrate this relationship with Health Europa with whom we hope to advance developments in the framework of the medical cannabis industry across in Europe.
Our models of clinical accompaniment and masterful formulation have allowed us to create a series of profiles of treatment with phytocannabinoids for different pathologies that will help us to grow the pharmaceutical and phytotherapeutic cannabis industry. We will continue working on the specification of both treatments and medications and deepen and expand the current medical and pharmaceutical knowledge of cannabis.
We have been preparing for two years for what is unfolding today in the cannabis industry in Colombia. We estimate that by the end of the current year we will have all the required links in the medicinal cannabis production chain to operate for commercial purposes; This will allow KANNAB and Cannabissalud to begin an expansion process throughout the main cities of Colombia and five of the most important markets in Latin America.
We will take KANNAB everywhere in the world where we can operate and where there are people who we can help to dignify their lives. Being pioneers of the Colombian cannabis agromedicinal industry, we will position ourselves as leaders in the international market referenced by our excellent services and product availability.
- Organización Mundial de la Salud. Programas Nacionales de Control del Cáncer: Políticas y directrices de gestión; 2010.
- Bolaños. N. Fitocannabinoides en Cuidados Paliativos: dolor, depresión e insomnio. CANNAWORLDCONGRESS. Observatorio Colombiano de Investigación en Cannabis medicinal – OCICAM. Tomo Vol Nº1 Proyectos de investigación. Medellín – Colombia. Nov 2018. ISSN: 2665-1084. pág. 38-47
- Osorio J. Bolaños N. Evolución Clínica de un grupo de pacientes manejados para el control del dolor con extracto de cannabis en la ciudad de Manizales. Colombia. Observatorio Colombiano de Investigación en Cannabis medicinal – OCICAM. Proyectos de investigación. Medellín – Colombia. Nov 2018
Juan Camilo Trespalacios Ríos
Estefania Sanchez Patiño
Nataly Bolaños Terán
Luisa Fernanda Giraldo Rojas
+57 (314) 728 1032
Please note, this article will appear in issue 10 of Health Europa Quarterly, which will be available to read in July 2019.