The company is in talks with cannabis producers to create a wellness drink that improves pain
GP and author Dr Ellie Cannon is our resident expert on all things health. Here are her 3 top stories for this week.
1. Coca-Cola is working on a range of marijuana-infused drinks
Could the world’s favourite drink soon contain added cannabis? We’ve seen the secret formula change over the years to reduce sugar or add flavourings but this is a whole new horizon for the famous drink. Rumour has it this month that the drinks giant are in talks with cannabis producers to adopt a range of marijuana-infused drinks. The aim it is thought is not to get high but rather as a wellness drink to improve pain: it would not contain the psychoactive THC but rather cannabidiol. Interestingly, this would be a back-to-roots move for the drink which was originally sold as a hangover cure when it first came to market. The debates around the health benefits and uses of cannabis continue to rumble but it’s important to stay realistic. The medicinal value of cannabis has been vastly overplayed by lobbyists – there is certainly evidence it can help in pain and spasms for multiple sclerosis for example, but not as a panacea for cancer, epilepsy and migraine. Recent high profile cases of legal medicinal cannabis-use in the UK have compelled the home secretary to review the use of medicinal cannabis which is important – but if it were to be adopted as a medical drug it would only be prescribed for a small number of very specific cases.
2. How to get your daily dose of vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency is a common issue which I feel I talk about with patients most days. After an amazingly sunny summer you should be well topped up with the vitamin that is made when your skin is exposed to the sun, but that will start to deplete as winter comes. 80% of your vitamin D comes from UVb light on your skin. This causes a particular problem in winter as very little UVb radiation even reaches the Earth’s surface. And with the sensible and hopefully universal use of SPF in cosmetics and sun cream, many women are deficient the whole year round. Vitamin D deficiency causes vague symptoms of tiredness, aches and pains, muscle pains or bone pain in the back or legs. Your vitamin D level is easily measured on a blood test but even without a blood test it is wise to supplement as the autumn sets in: in fact it is government advice for all adults. Women of South Asian, African or Afro-caribbean background are particularly at risk of low vitamin D, as darker skin requires more sunshine to manufacture the vitamin. A 400iu supplement daily is recommended for everyone throughout the winter: it is essential for optimizing bone density.
3. Why it’s worth getting a £10 flu shot
Should you be thinking about a flu vaccine? Nothing spells the end of summer more than the adverts for flu vaccines in pharmacies and GP surgeries. But is it for you? Of course there are many vulnerable groups who are recommended a flu vaccine such as carers or those with diabetes or asthma. But if you’re young and healthy it can be worth opting into the jab which often costs as little as £10 in the high street pharmacies. For the vulnerable, flu can be a serious illness meaning a hospital stay and possible health complications. For healthy people it is usually an unpleasant illness lasting at least a week. Many healthy people opt into a flu jab simply because it’s inconvenient to be ill for that length of time, particularly if you’ve got a busy time at work or an important project on the go. It is very common for self-employed and freelancers to take one to avoid the strain and stress of a week or more off work. Whilst it’s a good idea, remember it’s not completely guaranteed: the flu vaccination for 2018 will protect you from 4 strains of flu but sadly you’ll still be susceptible to the usual coughs and colds.