As the availability of cannabis continues to grow across the United States, more and more individuals are choosing to medicate with medical cannabis as an alternative to opioids for treatment of pain. Along with pain treatment, cannabis is also being used as a self-treatment option for a variety of other conditions such as anxiety and depression. Because of this trend towards self-medication, particularly in legal states, clinical data on treatment effectiveness is getting much more difficult to collect. As an alternative, apps are becoming a common method of collecting treatment data from individuals.
A recently completed study (1) used The Realeaf App (2) to track the users experiences and evaluate which products and treatment methods would provide the greatest symptomatic relief. During each entry the user is asked to input pre-medicated symptom severity, with the app recording the time of treatment. The user is then asked to input symptom severity after medicating. The app also allows the user to record any negative experiences in the form of a feelings section during recording.
The study collected over 13,000 entries from 2800 different patients in one of the largest of its kind to date. Researchers saw symptomatic improvement in all of the symptom categories available on the app. The majority of participants also reported the side effects they experienced as a result of the treatment were positive, with these side effects including more relaxed sleep and peaceful states. Interestingly, users that reported positive side effects were more likely to report greater symptomatic improvement.
While lacking a control group, this data shows the potential for apps to analyse the effectiveness of cannabis for treating a wide variety of different conditions. This could be a very important tool in the coming years as more research is completed on medicinal cannabis.
1. Li, X., Vigil, J. M., Stith, S. S., Brockelman, F., Keeling, K., & Hall, B. (2019). The effectiveness of self-directed medical cannabis treatment for pain. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 46; 123-130.