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Chronic pain: Medical cannabis has huge potential to help sufferers

TREATMENT: One in five Australians over the age of 45 suffer from chronic pain. Picture: Shutterstock

Many of us dream of representing our country at the Olympics but few of us realise the risks that go along with the glory and the toll it can take on our bodies.

I represented Australia in hockey from 1991 to 2000.

My team won our first gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics 25 years ago and we did it again at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

They are moments I wouldn't trade for anything but achieving them had long term effects on my wellbeing.

Hockey is a wonderful but notoriously punishing sport. I had two knee reconstructions during my Olympic career that left me living with chronic pain and often unable to get out of bed.

Throughout my life I have also suffered from endometriosis and I reached a point where I just put up with pain. It became a daily part of my life.

For the past six months, however, I have been using prescribed medical cannabis from my GP to manage my chronic pain.

It has made an enormous difference for me personally and led to me becoming more interested in the potential benefits for the huge number of people living with similar conditions.

Despite the anecdotal evidence of the benefits of medical cannabis, there is clearly still hesitancy amongst the medical profession on the topic despite the growing demand from the 1.5 million Australians suffering from chronic pain.

I'm living proof that a good discussion with your GP about an approach to chronic pain that includes medical cannabis has the potential to be life changing, but I'm also aware that research and evidence are going to be the key to changing minds.

The community is eager for evidence, and that's why I was inspired to join the sports science start-up, Levin Health which is focused on conducting clinical trials to show the benefits of medical cannabis, for both managing chronic pain and to be a potential alternative for more common medications.

I am back doing what I love, which is exercise, being mobile, being active and living a healthier, happier life.

I realise medical cannabis is not a silver bullet or a magic remedy, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle also plays a role in helping to keep our bodies free of aches and pains.

Chronic pain can also affect our mental health. If you wake up at a four out of 10 on the pain scale every day, honestly it can get you down. One in five Australians over the age of 45 suffer from chronic pain - and I am just one of them.

I'm now in a position to work with research institutions through clinical trials to advance our pharmaceutical expertise and understanding of the positive benefits of medical cannabis for treating not only chronic pain, but a range of conditions that have shown positive responses to medical cannabis treatments.

I like to be at the start of something. I like to do the hard yards at the front end of a company as it grows.

Medical cannabis is an industry with a huge amount of potential, and more and more people are joining the mission to find new ways of healing people.

While our current focus is chronic pain and concussion, that's just two possible applications of the work we're doing right now, with the potential for dozens more.

Part of my role is an educative one, because I want to see others benefit from my approach to living with chronic pain from years of active sport and fitness.

The more we learn, the more confidence the medical industry will have in exploring these pathways of bringing relief to people.

I hope to bring my extensive senior executive and board experience to the company and share insight and understanding of chronic pain to the challenges facing the medical cannabis space.

Levin Health is an Australian-owned sports science company and a significant player in the medical cannabis industry.

It is committed to solving some of the most challenging health issues starting with chronic, non-cancer pain and concussion through an evidence-based approach.

We are working with research institutions through clinical trials to advance its pharmaceutical expertise and understanding of the positive benefits of medical cannabis for treating chronic pain.

  • Jenn Morris is a board member of sports science start-up Levin Health. She holds ASX Non-Executive Directorships at Fortescue Metals Group and Sandfire Resources. She has held strategic leadership roles across mining, government, transport sectors. She is a former Deloitte National Businesswoman of the Year, 2007, Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) 1997.

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