In our series for cannabis newcomers, we explore the most relevant information to help you get started with cannabis. We’ve covered many topics including how to talk to a doctor or choose a dispensary, the medical conditions most commonly treated with cannabis—such as stress and anxiety—and what the main marijuana options are and how to use them.
Now, we take a look at how to personalize your cannabis regimen. Cannabis has an incredible amount of variety, and that variety can provide a number of different effects. As a cannabis patient, it’s important to figure out what options are right for you and your symptoms. This begins with research. To help you on your way, we go over how to research cannabis for your specific needs.
Making a Cannabis Wish List
Figuring out the world of cannabis can be a daunting task. The countless options available from dispensaries in your area can be overwhelming. Trying products at random won’t usually provide the effects you’re looking for, so it can be easy to get discouraged or feel like maybe cannabis isn’t for you. That’s why researching what types of cannabis will help with your needs is crucial.
To get started with this research project, patients should make a wish list of everything they want their cannabis to do. What are the main symptoms and conditions you’re looking to address? Be as specific as you’d like, and be sure to list both symptoms and conditions, as these may bring back different types of information when searching.
For example, if you have fibromyalgia, your list might look like this:
- Treat fibromyalgia
- Reduce chronic pain
- Reduce muscle tension
- Increase energy
With this list, you can begin your research, gathering information about what cannabis options will work best for each item you’ve included.
Getting Started With Cannabis Research
A first step folks often take when researching cannabis is reaching out to people they trust who already know something about the plant. A doctor who specializes in cannabis should be number one on that list. Talk to a cannabis doctor about your needs when you’re getting your medical recommendation, or on a follow-up visit. You can consult with one of HelloMD’s knowledgeable doctors; it's easy, private and 100% online.
While talking to your doctor, discuss the items on your wish list and see if they have any suggestions for the best cannabis options for your particular needs. As medical professionals who’ve studied the research and work with medical marijuana patients every day, they’re in the best position to advise.
Once you’ve received advice from the doctor, you may also find it helpful to talk to close friends who use cannabis or an experienced budtender at a local dispensary. While these are great people to get insight from, remember that everyone experiences cannabis differently, so what worked for your friend may not work for you. You can gain amazing insight from those around you, but exploring what has worked for people beyond your immediate circles is also crucial.
Exploring Online Resources When Researching Cannabis
There are over 20,000 research papers on the topic of cannabis. While the research doesn’t answer all of our questions, there’s a fair amount of information available that can help point you in the right direction. Luckily, the internet offers some great resources for exploring this body of information.
An easy way to start is by going to educational websites that focus on cannabis research, and search for articles about your condition or symptoms. HelloMD is a great place to begin your search. It’s chock full of articles that give easy-to-read overviews of the research, written by doctors or other cannabis experts. Just enter the search terms from your wish list individually and read about what might work for you.
If you’d like to get even deeper into the research, you may want to look for the scientific studies on cannabis directly. Scientific papers can be challenging to read and aren’t always available to the public, but often there’s a lot of information you can mine, even in the study abstracts. To find these studies directly, go to Google Scholar, type in a search term from your wish list along with “cannabis,” and see what comes up.
Wherever you search, look for details such as what type of cannabis was used, how it was administered and what the dosage was. This type of information can be critical in creating a cannabis regimen that works.
Experimenting to Find the Right Cannabis Options
When you’ve completed your research, make sure to record your findings. What have you gleaned? While you might not have an exact recipe for the perfect cannabis regimen, you’ll probably have some useful information at the end of this search.
Remember that cannabis can affect people differently. You may need to some experimenting before you find the right options for you. Still, it’s likely you’ve narrowed down your options. Use these parameters as you continue your cannabis search. It can sometimes take a little bit of patience, but finding the right cannabis options can be life-changing.
In our next installment of the Cannabis for Newbies guide, we talk about the value of learning what others with your condition or symptoms are using successfully. How can you effectively tap into the collective knowledge, and thereby learn more about what marijuana strains and products other patients are using successfully? Stay tuned to find out how.
Photo credit: Tanjila Ahmed