If you are a medical cannabis user, it’s incredibly important to keep a journal. As the industry continues to mature and invest in scientific research, our understanding of the plant and its many therapeutic uses has greatly expanded. There are over 113 known cannabinoids, with new ones being isolated all the time. Many of these compounds have amazing potential for medical applications, and research centers are working with growers in an effort to encourage higher levels of the more interesting chemical compounds. For instance, THCV is a relatively new cannabinoid that is quite rare, but also has exciting medical potential.
These collaborations are changing the industry. The lab reports you see at your favorite dispensary are evolving and improving, as well as the availability of specialized cannabis products that can highlight more of the cannabinoids and terpenes you want, and less of what you don’t want.
All these changes are good news for patients seeking cannabis therapy, but it makes the process of finding the right strain or product a bit more intimidating. The fact is, every human body is different. Our endocannabinoid receptors are as unique as a thumbprint, and we all react differently to cannabis. Keeping a journal forms the bedrock of the tried and true scientific process “trial and error,” offering an approachable way to running your own personal study.
Most people choose to start cannabis therapy to garner a particular health result, whether to battle side effects of chemotherapy, pain management or combat anxiety. There are countless applications for cannabis and the options for treatment are getting more specialized. Keeping personalized logs of what works, and what doesn’t is the best way to achieve your health goals with cannabis, and that isn’t likely to change.
Explore these six reasons why you should keep a patient journal.
It’s a bridge between you and your caregiver or budtender.
Keeping up on the latest trends of cannabis research, genetics and products is nearly a full time job. Instead of taking this on yourself, many medical cannabis users rely on their caregivers and budtenders for recommendations and modifications to their treatments. A clear log of what has worked and what hasn’t is the best way to ensure the person assisting you has all the information to be successful in their practice.
Journaling induces mindfulness.
Mindfulness might be an ancillary benefit to journaling, but it is surely worth mentioning. When you write, you slow down and force a wandering mind to focus. There is a clear correlation between happiness and mindfulness due to this focus. It can cause anxieties and stresses to sit in the back seat and allow you to be more attentive to your symptoms and treatment.
Writing things down actually improves your memory.
Because of the unique relationship between your brain and hands, the process of writing is shown to boost memory and comprehension. This is an exercise that we practice regularly as students, but don’t always continue to practice as adults. As you write, your brain takes your thoughts and translates them into language, and then into words. This seemingly simple task flexes parts of the brain responsible for retaining and understanding concepts. By allowing the mind time to perform this recomposition of thoughts, you are actually encouraging memorization. This can be helpful for anyone working to understand their own body and can lead to more informed decisions about treatment.
It shows a macro view of your therapy.
Beyond the obvious entry points—cultivar, dosage, delivery method—a journal is open ended and will let you document other important factors such as sleep quality, water intake, food intake, and other medications that may affect your results. Keeping detailed notes on the seemingly normal parts of your day are very important since these factors can also shape your response. Finding a journal that features a templated approach to these entries will help you fill in the gaps you might not know to include.
You’re creating your own database.
The lack of unified regulation on plant genetics, grow practices, concentrations, etc. make it difficult to compare one cannabis product to another. Even the same strain from different growers might have strikingly different cannabinoid levels. Keeping thorough notes on factors like ‘where the product was acquired’ or ‘how it was grown’ is very important when attempting to replicate successful therapies.
It’s always there for you.
The ability to look back at past treatments and see what cultivars, dosages, and delivery method were used is very important when attempting to repeat a successful therapy. Having this information documented in a physical journal ensures it is always there for you and can’t be accidentally deleted or inaccessible due to technology failures.
There are plenty of blank journals out there. Find one that is pleasing to you. It will increase the chances that you’ll open it again and again. If you are looking for a more guided approach for logging your cannabis use, consider the Patient Journal by Goldleaf. It’s a first-of-its-kind patient log book specifically designed for medical cannabis use.
About the Author
Charles McElroy is the founder of Goldleaf, a science-forward printing company for cannabis growers, patients and enthusiasts. A former volunteer with Marijuana Policy Project, a history supporting veteran education and access to medical marijuana, and several years studying permaculture and organic farming in Ohio and Colorado, McElroy created Goldleaf to benefit the evolving recreational and medical cannabis communities. Goldleaf products are available worldwide and the company also provides custom design services, now adorning select dispensaries and white-label products across the U.S. Formerly COO at Noble Denim & Victor Athletics, a sustainable and ethical clothing manufacturer, McElroy holds a B.S. in Engineering Technology and Management from Ohio University with an MBA track at Miami University in Business Informatics.