Cannabis Patient Care - March/April 2022

Cannabis Patient Care March/April 2022

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Page 26 of 40

27 march/april 2022 | cannabis patient care research focus Index looks at the state of the science for about a hundred different conditions with the question in mind such as, does cannabis work for this particular condition or not? And if it is positive to work, what type of cannabis is thought to work best," noted Dr. Blesching. The first edition of The Cannabis Health Index, published in 2015, contained 100 chronic conditions and by the third edi- tion, published in March 2022, it grew to contain more than 200 conditions. Over time, Dr. Blesching explained, some ini- tial skepticism about cannabis has given way in part "because of the sheer volume of endocannabinoid-related studies that have really laid the groundwork of a new field of science, the cannabinoid health sciences, or endocannabinology as some people refer to it." By the time the third edition was started, Dr. Blesching re- alized that because of the number of new studies, it became imperative to have an electronic version, which is what led to the creation of CannaKeys, so that people who need the very latest research can have access to it. The written and on- line versions of the studies and data provide a balance for those who need the most updated information and those who need written material. According to Dr. Blesching, the pur- pose of CannaKeys, which has been created over the past four years, is to "demystify the science of the endocannabinoid system and to make that science available for patients, care- takers, and physicians alike to make this process as stream- lined, easy, and elegant as possible." Rather than having to wade through tens of thousands of unfiltered studies, a signif- icant obstacle that researchers and doctors face, the online databank distills the data into what is useful and relevant in a practical way. This allows users to access a solid foundation on which to make more informed decisions. Both the book and the online databank contain annotated information and synopses of the most important elements of the texts while also providing the opportunity to access the science itself if a user wanted to perform their own deep dive of the material. Dr. Blesching noted that even with this inten- tional organization of the material, "we're very careful to not inject bias or our subjective opinions into the process of mak- ing the research as easily digestible in the clinical setting as possible." While the printed book and the online material are accessible for both doctors and patients, a more patient-fo- cused version of the information is in progress to make the in- formation easier to digest. For now, the online version has ac- cessibility options such as a glossary so that users can learn unfamiliar terms and be prepared to see it in later research. Cannabis as Pain Management Supplement, Withdrawal Symptom Mitigation, and its Therapeutic Benefits One major takeaway from his research that Dr. Blesching would like doctors to understand is not to be afraid of looking at cannabinoid-based therapeutics as a potential treatment, espe- cially for the chronic pain patient population. "Look at the data, look at the state of the science and reach out to other cannabis educated physicians and try to learn from their experience because many times they have very specific answers that are relevant to very specific patient populations that may not even be reflected in the science because the state of the science hasn't caught up to it yet," he said. He further explained that most meta-analyses on canna- bis studies suggest that cannabis or cannabinoid-based ther- apeutics absolutely present a valid and viable option in the treatment of chronic pain. "Now, that doesn't mean that it is a cure-all for chronic pain. There's a lot of individual cir- cumstances that need to be taken into account," he added. "But the data is out there for many chronic pain populations, and the science clearly leans in favor of utilizing cannabis for these patient populations." Similarly, on the patient side, he suggested that when pa- tients are looking for treatment options, such as for chron- ic pain, they should make an informed choice about what type of cannabis, what form, and what dosage to use for their sit- uation. "Patients can do this with two goals in mind: first, to mitigate any potential adverse effects and second, to maxi- mize the therapeutic impact that can be possible to mitigate the chronic pain that they're dealing with," he said. "If you're open to it, look at the potential mind-body component of any chronic pain and see if you can widen the net to catch positive therapeutic effects that are not just based on taking a reme- dy, but taking a broader, wider regimen into account. I found that those folks that do that tend to have their healing expe- rience go broader and go deeper and longer lasting, all the while having to use less and less of whatever physical sub- stances they rely on." Dr. Blesching's second book, Breaking the Cycle of Opi- oid Addiction, grew out of a desire to understand the deeper Figure 1: PubMed keyword search results.

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