The Importance of Trial and Tracking
Whether you are working with an herbalist, cannabis nurse, or a regular MD, it is important to be highly tuned into your body when trying a new herb or medication. Because there is so little research on cannabis, we do not have an entirely accurate idea of which strains and cannabinoids perform best for which ailments.
Though we have more information about the use of herbs on the body, your individual system is unique, so it is important to know how certain herbs and plants work for you.
The best way to approach taking a new herb or remedy, or even one you have previously used, is to track your use and reactions for a short time. This will help you more accurately assess how a certain remedy is helping you and making you feel, and allow you to correctly titrate the medication to the correct dose.
There are some nice tracking apps available for the cannabis industry. We like Releaf, for its simple platform, and are excited about the roll out of Habu, started by neuroscientist and researcher Adi Wilson-Poe. Each of these apps will anonymously capture user data that will be used to create recommendations about strain benefits, usage formats, and reactions. Given the limited amount of research in the cannabis industry, these crowd-sourced data sets can be enormously helpful for users in the future.
If you want to go the old fashioned route, there are some beautiful journals that have been created, especially for the cannabis world. Similar to a wine-tasting journal, these beauties can be used to simply track your favorite strains, or for tracking treatment reactions. We like the Patient Journal from Goldleaf ($17.99), co-created by Habu because it provides useful charts and information along with well thought out tracking pages. Goldleaf also carries a recreational tasting journal ($14.99).
Most of the non-cannabis medication apps focus on reminders for when to take medication vs. tracking of how the medications make you feel. This points out some of the issues with Western medicine, where patients are asked to blindly follow doctor recommendations, which can sometimes be directly influenced by pharmaceutical company marketing (opioids anyone?) without putting a focus on how patients actually feel. PocketPharmacist reminds you to take your medication, but also goes a little bit further by doing automatic drug interaction checks, and providing drug descriptions.
If you want to track your treatment use on your own, we have compiled a list of notes you should make about each use. For accurate results, you should plan to track use for at least 2 weeks or until you find the right dose, and again any time you change dosage. You can learn about one daughter’s journey to wean her mother off her prescription meds with medical cannabis.
Suggestions for Tracking Medication Use
Date and time of ingestion
Type or form (edible, topical, vape, pill, rub, liquid, powder)
Key Ingredients (primary and secondary cannabinoids, other herbs)
Dose (in milligrams or puffs)
Time until onset (how long to feel effects)
What else did you eat or drink along with the product
What did you feel before med and after
How long did effects last?
Time of second dose if needed
Once you have compiled this information, you should have a good understanding of how you react to different treatments and doses. This is great information to share with your doctor or herbalist, or to simply review over time as you continue to fine tune your herbal regimen. To note, tracking your food intact in the same way can be enormously helpful for identifying which foods make you feel great, and not so great.