Patient Profile – Mike Rudichuk – Replacing High Doses of Opioids with Cannabis for Back Pain

As the Strainprint community grows, we have the pleasure of meeting different people from across the country who rely on the app daily for their medical marijuana dosing and information.

Last Patient Profile, we featured the story of Jennifer Raymond, who suffers from psoriatic arthritis who found that cannabis was the key to helping her manage her regular pain while maintaining a high-degree of function as a busy working mother.

This month, we’re pleased to feature the story of Mike Rudichuk, who was generous enough to share his journey with cannabis and Strainprint with our team.  

Mike’s Journey

Mike became a medical cannabis patient 2 years ago as a result of chronic and debilitating pain due to herniated disks in his lower back that were impacting his daily life. As a young father of just 36 who has a full-time job, hobbies, and a household to run, Mike needed something to help take the edge off from the back pain that was impacting every aspect of his life. Like many other Canadians, he turned to opioid painkillers to help manage his pain.

He found that his body was becoming highly tolerant of the pain medications, requiring an increase in his doses regularly. His pain wasn’t being managed as much as just masked, and he was feeling that the strong chemicals in the pharmaceuticals were taking a negative toll on his overall health. The side effects he experienced didn’t seem worth the struggle. Concerned about this, when found that if he tried to lower his doses, or even take time away from the prescriptions, he’d experience withdrawal. He began to be concerned about his long-term health and how his body would be able to manage going off the opioids entirely. It was time to look for an alternative.

Through open dialogue with his own Family Doctor, Mike decided to try medical cannabis as an alternative to the strong opioids he was using. Luckily, his doctor even committed to walking this journey with him so that he could understand how medical cannabis would make a difference in his pain management.

Within a few months, Mike found that he had made more progress managing his pain using certain cannabis strains than he ever had over years of using pain pills. Mike prefers to use low-THC high-CBD strains like Zen’s Garden from Emblem.

He vapes, usually in the mornings and afternoons to help get through the days. The lower THC in small doses helps him attack his pain without a loss of clarity, whereas he felt like he was in “outer space” with opioid use.

When asked about his journey in pain management, Mike says, “If there is one thing I could change, it would have been to start using medical cannabis sooner.”

Mike & Strainprint

Mike was an early user of Strainprint and recalls a time where customer service exceeded his expectations. After sending a Tweet to Strainprint making some suggestions about the app, he was connected with Strainprint’s CEO, David Berg, where there was an acknowledgment of feedback and an intentional effort to address upcoming software updates for the continuous improvement of the app. “Anytime a CEO takes time to personally respond to clients, you know you’re in the right place,” Mike says about his experience, “The wonderful people at Strainprint are patients like us, so they take feedback very seriously.”

Mike finds that tracking his daily regime helps him greatly to feel in control of his pain management, which is incredibly big deal to someone who has come off opiods.

Mike’s Advice

Mike has the following advice for those interested to try medical cannabis for the first time:

“Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. It’s your body and your life, and you should be well aware of all treatment options including cannabis. I can use cannabis at any point of the day and not impair me to the point of not being able to function, whereas there were times with pain medications where I was so zoned out and not able to function properly. I’ve been given a better quality of life and have felt much better in general health overall since being off opioid pain-killers and using medical cannabis.”

5 Unique Facts About Cannabidiol (CBD)

When talking about cannabis, there are two main cannabinoids that make their way into most cannabis discourses: THC and CBD. While each are of equal value amongst the hundreds of cannabinoid compounds within the cannabis plant, they serve very different functions for the user and achieve different effects.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol is responsible for the psychoactive effect of cannabis; this is the cannabinoid that gets users “high”.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the most powerful parts of the cannabis plant due to its healing properties. CBD is widely lauded in the medical marijuana community for its effectiveness in helping users experience relief from many medical-related ailments and issues.

Here are 5 unique facts about cannabidiol that have people talking:

  1. CBD does not get you high

One of the misconceptions about CBD has been that since it’s a derivative from the cannabis plant, it must get you high. Further confusion was brought about last year in the USA when the DEA classified CBD as a Schedule 1 drug, arousing the cannabis and hemp-based community globally to clear the smoke on exactly what CBD is.

Those who are using medical marijuana often look for high-CBD strains to bring out the positive therapeutic effects reported by CBD users, particularly in its application to aid in the relief of anxiety and depression, PTSD and insomnia, among other health issues.

  1. CBD and THC work in interesting ways

In the medical marijuana community, the role of THC is often up for debate and much concern because of the way THC and CBD can interact with each other in certain contexts.

For instance, if someone is using a strain with an equal CBD to THC ratio recommended to combat feelings of anxiety, the CBD will work to counteract the feelings of paranoia that THC can often induce.

Similarly, THC has been said to alter the painkilling properties of CBC, which shows an important interaction between these compounds and how the one can support the other in therapeutic cannabis situations.

The ways that THC and CBD interact are being further researched and experiences continue to be shared about how different THC:CBD strain ratios work together.

  1. CBD is both hemp-derived and marijuana-derived

You’ll often see CBD advertised in two main formats: hemp-derived CBD and marijuana-derived CBD. Both from the cannabis plant, hemp and marijuana serve different functions and are approached with different legalities.

For the most part, hemp-based CBD is not illegal and can be found in health-food stores and can be purchased online. These derivatives do not contain any of the THC that could be present in marijuana-derived CBD, and if they do, it’s in extremely small trace amounts that have no effect on the user.

Hemp-based CBD are up for debate in terms of their effectiveness in comparison to marijuana-based CBD. While both hemp and marijuana contain CBD, the marijuana plant contains a higher level of CBD for increased therapeutic and healing properties. As mentioned above, marijuana-based CBD is also lauded for its interaction with THC and how the CBD effects can be enhanced.

Nonetheless, hemp-based CBD are making its way into popular discourse, particularly in sports, where recently, the World Anti-Doping Agency removed hemp-based CBD from its list of prohibited substances. This move came after MMA fighter Nate Diaz was seen “vaping” hemp-CBD and opened the dialogue about its healing properties against the inflammation and pain caused to athletes by their sports.

  1. CBDs are showing promise for mental health

While it’s usually recommended that those suffering from mental health issues like anxiety and depression stay away from high-THC strains, high-CBD strains are showing promise for the relief of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Scientifically, most of the research on CBDs are in “pre-trial” phases, or clinical studies are being completed with experimental animals (i.e. rats), but early data is showing that CBD can help the brain transmit more serotonin signals, reducing anxiety and boosting mood.

Other preliminary studies are looking at how CBD can help the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and cognition, regenerate neurons, as science has already suggested the birth of new hippocampal neurons can be what’s needed in the treatment of depression.

CBD is also becoming extremely common in communities who are combating PTSD. The preliminary research on the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain is showing how CBD can play a role in “normal fear-extinction”. Research is mostly hinged on the belief that CBD can interrupt the signals in the amygdala-hippocampal-cortico-striatal circuit, which is the primary brain function coordinates fear-related memories and brings the body to respond to fear-related behaviours.

Because of the connection between anxiety, depression, and PTSD to sleep patterns, sleep specialists have begun to look at CBD as a relief for insomnia, where the CBD stimulates alertness during the daytime hours and simulates fatigue during the nighttime hours. Those who laud the benefits of CBD on insomnia report a regulated sleep schedule, more time spent sleeping, and an overall improvement in sleep quality.

  1. CBD Can Be Introduced Into Your Body in Various Ways

The key to the effectiveness of CBD is your body’s own endocannabinoid system, which is nature’s way of showing us that our bodies have been created to benefit from the cannabis plant when introduced.

Cannabinoid receptors are found all over the human body. CB1 receptors are found in the central nervous system. CB2 receptors are more often found in immune cells, your digestive tract, and in your peripheral nervous system. Therefore there are many ways CBD can be introduced into your endocannabinoid system:

  • Orally – Through ingesting CBD through tinctures, oils, or drops that can be ingested under the tongue or added to your food
  • Topically – By using CBD-infused salves, massage oils, and ointments that allow your skin to absorb the CBD
  • Vaporizing – Inhaling active CBD through your lung tissues by way of a vaporizer
  • Anally or Vaginally – CBD suppositories have been developed by LPs to allow people to gain the benefits of CBD through the anal or vaginal membranes

Explore CBD with Strainprint

If you’re interested in seeing how CBD-products and CBD-rich cannabis strains can enhance your health and lifestyle, check out the Strainprint app. By entering in some of the symptoms you are experiencing, you’ll be brought to real-time data that will help you learn which strains, ingestion methods, and dose will work best for finding relief. The best part is that you can provide your feedback to other users of CBD strains who are relying on user’s experiences to help them make decisions about their cannabis strains.

Strainprint Patient Profile: Jennifer Raymond – How Medical Cannabis Changed My Life – Living Symptom Free

The best part about Strainprint is the fact that we get to support patients on their medical cannabis journey, help them live symptom-free and meaningful lives. This is a cause we are passionate about and we love hearing the profound stories from our app users.

Out of that passion, comes our patient profile focused blog series which will profile our app users’ medical cannabis journeys, how medical cannabis is improving their lives, and how those that are facing similar challenges can share in and learn from others.

To kick off our first in the series of patient profile blog posts, we caught up with medical cannabis patient, and Strainprint app user, Jennifer Raymond.

Jennifer’s Journey

Jennifer is a 32 year old wife, mother of two active boys (aged 4 & 16 months) from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and though she is a Graphic Designer by trade Jennifer recently started her own Doula business, Prairie Mama Birth Services.

In her spare time (if and when she has any) Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family…..and sleeping (which is hard to do at this stage in her life!)

Her journey started back in January when she started to feel debilitating pain, pain so horrible that often she wasn’t able to function, instead she would retreat to the kitchen, sit on the floor and cry quietly (so her children couldn’t hear her).

Eventually, after extensive medical testing Jennifer was diagnosed with a very rare type of arthritis in addition to severe psoriasis which comes and goes. Alongside the flare ups comes spots on her body, as well as severe joint pain. The medical term for her condition is psoriatic arthritis.

She was given several prescriptions which did at first help with inflammation. The challenge was the medication only worked for a temporary period of time, and then eventually stopped providing any relief at all.

Jennifer was at a loss, with two young children, a full time job and incapacitating pain, so much so that she could not even pick up her 16 month old son. Her husband suggested she try medical cannabis.

Initially she was quite reluctant to try it. She’d never tried cannabis before and remained unreceptive to the idea for a period of time. Eventually her options ran out and she decided to give it a try.

In Jennifer’s words: “It worked like a hot damn.” Currently, she takes oil 4 times per day and has also been vaping.

She goes on to say, “I can now actually function and not been constantly cringing in pain. I am finally able to be the mother and wife that I am meant to be, in addition to being able to work on my passion of becoming a practicing doula, using cannabis has completely transformed my life.”

“I can now sit and play with my boys, pick them up, and be the mom I want to be. It’s made my life worth living again.” Jennifer added.

Jennifer & the Strainprint App

Jennifer started using the Strainprint app fairly soon into her medical cannabis journey after she got her first oil. She came across the app by doing a Google search. Having never used cannabis before she found the app incredibly helpful in tracking how each strain impacted her daily life.

In addition, due to the debilitating pain caused by arthritis, though the clinic gave her a journal to keep track of her intake, she could barely hold a pen and write due to the pain. When using Strainprint, with a few small taps of her phone screen, Jennifer was easily able to track her sessions.

She also had a design appreciation for the app: “Being a graphic designer I loved the clean look of the app, and the fact that it was easy to use. I also carry my phone everywhere for work, so I don’t have to worry about carrying around a paper journal.” Jennifer said. “My favourite feature is the pop-up notifications that ask how I’m feeling. I also love that fact that I have a tool to take back to my clinic to show them the amazing results I’ve been getting, what is working well, and what isn’t working so well.”

Jennifer uses the app every day, ensuring that she tracks each and every session. An added benefit for being such a loyal user, is that she’s earned a bunch of points and most recently got a free vape which she’s been putting to good use.

Advice from Jennifer

“If I could give one piece of advice to anyone suffering from a medical condition that isn’t being effectively treated, is to open your mind up about medical cannabis and give it a try. My only regret is that I didn’t try it sooner. It’s been a complete game-changer and has allowed me to live my life to the fullest, symptom free.”

Strainprint Guest Blog: 5 Lessons that Changed My Perspective on Cannabis

Recently, we came across this phenomenal blog: Flower & Freedom (https://flowerandfreedom.com/) written by Bethany Rae. This blog post really resonated with us at Strainprint and we are compelled to share.

Have a read about Bethany’s medical cannabis journey and the invaluable information she’s learned, and is sharing, along the way:

5 Lessons that Changed My Perspective on Cannabis

Bethany Rae, Flower & Freedom Blog (www.flowerandfreedom.com)

You are not alone if you’ve spent most of your adult life believing that cannabis is bad for you. I used to think cannabis was unhealthy, but it turns out it’s a lack of knowledge and education that is unhealthy. We have a lot to catch up on, having had cannabis research and science education restricted for the greater part of the 20th century. It’s time to take on the knowledge we need to be safe and educated consumers of cannabis. Cannabis was a healthy addition to my life once I took the time to understand the following lessons and apply them to my personal consumption.

Cannabinoids: How cannabis interacts in the human body
Did you know your body makes its own version of cannabis? Cannabinoids are the complex chemical compounds in cannabis that mimic naturally occurring compounds produced by our body, called endocannabinoids. There are many cannabinoids, the most famous being THC and CBD, and they bind to our receptor sites throughout our brain and body, modulating mood and feeling. Recent research has proposed that if your body is not performing optimally, it may be because of a lack of naturally-produced cannabinoids in your endocannabinoid system, resulting in cannabinoid deficiency.

Consumimg cannabis could help maintain cannabinoids at optimal levels, also known as homeostasis. Understanding how cannabis is interacting in your body is the first step to understanding how cannabis can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
THC vs CBD: Not all cannabis products will get you high
Want the benefits of cannabis without the high? Focusing on products lower in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and higher in CBD (cannabidiol) may provide the solution.

THC has the strongest psychoactive properties and CBD is non-psychoactive, providing pain relief and anti-anxiety effects. Although THC is proving to have many medical applications, including chronic pain relief, for those who are new to cannabis and are concerned about the euphoria and high, starting out with CBD products may be the ideal solution.

Terpenes: Aromas that drive the mood and feeling
Ever wondered about the difference between sativa, indica and hybrid? Turns out it’s the aromatic flavours in each strain, called terpenes, that make each strain unique. The combination of flavors, also known as the terpene profile, drive the mood and feeling of each strain. A sativa is usually more energetic because of the presence of the limonene terpene, a citrusy flavour also found in fruit.

An indica strain, more famous for relaxation and sleep, gets these effects from terpenes such as myrcene. A hybrid strain might have more of a balance of terpenes, but is likely dominant in one or more of the terpenes, leading it to be labelled sativa dominant or indica dominant. Some terpenes are known to assist with relief for certain disorders, such as caryophyllene for anxiety and linalool for depression, so getting to know your terpenes can make all the difference when selecting the right strain for you. Methods of Consumption: Different results for different intentions.

Consuming cannabis does not have to mean smoking a joint, pipe or bong. There are many different ways to experiment, depending on the desired effect and personal preference. Consuming cannabis can be a simple as applying a topical lotion or salve. The active compounds are absorbed through the skin in a targeted area for pain relief, without any psychoactive effects. Vaporizing cannabis gets quick results without the plant combustion caused by smoking. Oil drops provide an excellent alternative to inhalation. Placed under the tongue, they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Capsules and precisely-labelled edibles take longer to come into effect, but for many people offer lasting pain relief.

Finding the method that best matches your intentions and desired effects is the key to enjoying your cannabis consumption.

Bethany Rae, Flower & Freedom Blog (www.flowerandfreedom.com)

Microdosing: The smallest amount for the desired effects
Understanding that I could get the best results from the smallest amount possible, changed my relationship with cannabis. Microdosing is using a dose so low that it’s unlikely to produce whole-body effects, but high enough to allow the cellular response and benefits. My low tolerance to THC means that I can test and enjoy cannabis throughout my day, using tiny amounts and without getting too high. I look for products low in THC or I reduce the amount consumed as there are limited microdosing products on the market.

I might apply 2-3 drops of cannabis oil under the tongue, take one draw on my vaporizer or consume a low dose capsule to experiment with my optimal microdose level. See my post on Why I Microdose Cannabis for more.

Ultimately your experience is up to you, so I hope you take the time to learn and improve your cannabis experience. Focus first on your intentions. Are you hoping to improve your night’s sleep? Are you looking for some energy throughout the day? Using your cannabis 101 knowledge, you will be able to make better choices for your health and lifestyle. We’d love to hear about your experiences! Join us on Facebook for more interactions with Flower & Freedom.

Bethany Rae, Flower & Freedom Blog (www.flowerandfreedom.com)

Top 4 Benefits of Using a Medical Cannabis Tracking App

Top 4 Benefits of Using a Medical Cannabis Tracking App

With a wealth of tracking apps currently available to individuals it’s easy to see how integrating tracking into your everyday life can offer many benefits. At Strainprint we’ve been able to see patients enhance the quality of their day-to-day lives through our new and innovative tracking application.

Though the key benefits vary depending on patients’ needs and lifestyles as pioneers in offering cannabis intake tracking we’ve put together what we feel are the top 4:

  1. All About You! – Strainprint allows patients who are using cannabis to treat a wide variety of ailments. We understand that finding the right strain and dosage can be confusing. We want to ensure that our patient users are feeling their absolute best, utilizing their prescriptions to the fullest in order to lead the best life.
  2. Up To Date Tool – Strainprint offers real-time tracking to ensure real-time data is tracked allowing patients to get the most accurate feedback and guidance from our app allowing for the best possible treatment experience.
  3. Individually Tailored Experience – The Strainprint app allows for a refined individually tailored patient experience integrating patient lifestyle, activity level and other factors that may affect strains and dosage. By offering an individually tailored experience Strainprint is able to gather feedback and data which will then guide patients optimally.
  4. Connect & Share for Effective Treatment – Strainprint allows access to a global community of patients who are also using cannabis treatment for relief. Having access to this data allows patients to compare the strains they are using and what others are seeing the most benefit from. With this access, patients will be able to see a strain that may be trending that matches their exact symptoms and they may want to try.

 At Strainprint we want to ensure patients are getting the most out of their treatment, using cannabis in the most effective way possible. By continuing to guide patients to track we are able to offer countless benefits to the treatment experience, allowing patients to get the most out of their treatment leading to a simpler, happier lifestyle.