Medical Cannabis & Women’s Health: Exploring the Connection

 


A strong focus on women’s health has dramatically evolved over the years. New therapeutic approaches are emerging to promote and regulate women’s health, and medical cannabis is leading the way.


Strainprint is collecting and disseminating information from tens of thousands patients across the country. More than half of Strainprint users are women, and it’s clear that they’re using medical cannabis in ways that healthcare professionals may not be fully aware of. Aside from more typical uses, the data shows these patients are also using cannabis for treating menopausal symptoms, sexual health, reproductive health issues, PMS, including mood disorders, often associated with hormone fluctuations.


Providing Pain Relief for Reproductive Health
It’s rare to find a woman who hasn’t experienced mild to severe menstrual pain. For some women, their menstrual cycles represent a complete physical and emotional nightmare. Healthcare practitioners who prescribe cannabis are now looking at it to help treat specialized conditions such as a dysmenorrhea and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Both cause extreme, debilitating cramping. Cannabis is providing an alternative to pharmaceutical pain relievers with very high levels of patient efficacy. Patients are not only using traditional dried cannabis and oils but also next generation products such as THC-infused topical creams, transdermal patches and rectal/vaginal suppositories. Many patients have been making these products on their own! (As many are not yet available in Canada through Licensed Producers or are only available in select States like California and Colorado).   

Mojo-ing with Cannabis
One of the big, emerging uses for cannabis, is undoubtedly giving a growing number of women (and their partners) a restored hope for their sex lives. A mid-range THC strain that has higher levels of the terpene Myrcene, is ideal for relaxing the body and calming the mind. With the relatively quick onset of effects, vaping can be an effective way of helping women change gears and get in the mood. But that’s not all. Infused topical oils, and lubricants are becoming available, and talked about, and they’re helping women experience heightened levels of sensation and pleasure.

A recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, provided compelling research findings. The study found that women who use cannabis had the most sexual encounters compared to non users with 7.1 encounters over a 4 weeks period compared to 6 encounters by their non-cannabis using women in the study.


Help For All Stages

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) affects all women within their lifetime, the severity of symptoms and duration of symptoms will differ based on age, physiology and other genetic factors. Some women experience severe mood swings or feelings of depression in the days leading up to their menstrual cycle, and cannabis is showing to help stabilize these moods.
Then comes Menopause. During this stage of life women often experience a number of physiological, hormonal and emotional issues that are uncomfortable to deal with. Some women enter menopause as early as 40 years old with the average onset age being 51. During this time, women’s estrogen levels go through a dramatic decline. This disruption affects sleep, body temperature regulation, appetite, energy levels and once again, mood. Fortunately, the endocannabinoid system (which is what processes cannabis in our bodies), also helps regulate these things. So in theory, introducing cannabis into the body, can provide relief from all these new life-stage discomforts.

Adding Something Extra to the Cosmetic Bag

Cannabis topicals are on the rise in legal cannabis markets across the globe because of their potential for promoting beauty and a healthy glow. Analysts at Goldman Sachs estimate the global beauty industry to be worth $24 billion dollars, and you can bet that cannabis companies are very invested in getting in on that action. As the legalized market advances, we’ll be able to see new products emerge that are designed to connect cannabis with beauty and overall well-being. Infused balms, salves, soaps, oils, perfumes, shaving creams, and bath soaks, are poised to become must-haves for the cannabis enthusiast who believes in the various uses of cannabis for beauty.


Looking Ahead
In Canada, we’re at an exciting time and place, as new products will become available and accessible in the coming years. This is just the beginning. As we continue to learn from our users, and those users start sharing with their girlfriends, sisters, moms and daughters, women will be reaping the benefits of cannabis in ways they would have never considered a few years ago.


If you use cannabis for any women’s health issues, we’d love you to expand on your experiences, anonymously if you wish, by emailing us at info@strainprint.ca. The more we learn from one another, the more we can inform others!

Terpenes & The Entourage Effect: What’s all the Fuss


If you have a medicinal, recreational or scientific interest in the cannabis plant, the term “terpenes” has most likely popped up as you educate yourself on cannabis and the way it interacts with the human body.

The importance of terpenes in all species of plants, especially cannabis, can’t be underestimated. Terpenes are fundamental building blocks of the cannabis plant and have a very important and influential role to play in the plant’s overall biological makeup and all compounds that are derived from it.

What Exactly are Terpenes in Plant Science?

Terpenes are essential building blocks of many different plant varieties and are essentially what gives each plant their special aroma and flavor. Technically, terpenes are groupings of hydrocarbons that give plants their specific flavors and aromas.

Lemons are a fantastic example of illustrating the power of terpenes in a relatable way. Without terpenes, a lemon would not have the flavor and scent profile that we all associate with the lemon. It’s the terpene called Limonene that is responsible for that special flavor and aroma. Limonene is also a terpene that is present in cannabis.

Pinene is another example of a common terpene that is also present in cannabis. Pinene gives off an earthy smell that is very specific to many coniferous trees and bushes all around the world. When describing the scent and aroma of pine, some say the aroma is similar to vanilla. Others say that there are hints of butterscotch. In addition to its powerful scent and aromas, it produces many beneficial effects in the context of cannabis which we will cover below.

Common Terpenes In Cannabis & Their Aromas and Effects

Depending upon the strain of cannabis, there can be vast amounts of terpenes present. Each one is different and lends itself to a scent or flavor. And each one has different reported characteristics and benefits.

While there is a myriad of terpenes present in the cannabis sativa plant, more than 120 at current count, there are a few we should look at more closely, as they are showing extremely beneficial results for medical marijuana users.

Here are some of the notable terpenes found in cannabis:

Pinene

Commonly found in the resin of coniferous trees like the pine tree, α-pinene (“Pinene”), a primary isomer, can be found in cannabis, sage, eucalyptus, olive, rosemary, sassafras, and bergamot, to name a few. β-pinene, a secondary isomer, is found in hops and cumin. Pinene is a very prevalent terpene and has been harvested for centuries, used in alternative and holistic healing.

Pinene’s benefits are numerous. It offers antioxidant, antibacterial, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Pinene is also increasingly studied and recognized in the medical community for its ability to aid in the slowing of cancer cell growth. In addition, Pinene is also known for its expectorant and Broncho dilative properties, helping those with respiratory issues.

When present in the cannabis plant, Pinene is known to counteract the psychoactive effects of THC, helpful to those who prefer to stay grounded while undergoing its effects.

Linalool

This is a spicy, often floral scent, found in many plants including mint, rosewood, lavender, and cinnamon. It has sedative and calming effects, used as a sleep aid for centuries.

Linalool is known for its anti-depressant, anxiolytic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It offers pain relief and is studied for its ability to inhibit cancer cell growth and regeneration.

Humulene

Found in clove, basil, coriander, and hops (cannabis’s cousin), Humulene gives off an earthy, woody, and spicy aroma.

Humulene has been used in holistic healing for thousands of years because it possesses powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and can be utilized as a pain reliever and tonic.

Terpinolene

Found in apple, tea tree, cumin, some citrus fruits, oregano, and marjoram, this smoky and woody terpene is also common to the cannabis plant.

It is known for its sedative effects, as well as anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and antioxidant properties.

Limonene

Limonene, which we’re already familiar with, is one of the most common and well-known terpenes. Found in citrus rinds, juniper, and peppermint, Limonene can be found in numerous foods, fragrances, and household cleaners. Limonene is known for its strong citrus aroma.

Limonene possesses a wide array of benefits, including its overall beneficial effects on the entire gastrointestinal system. Limonene also has antidepressant, anxiolytic, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. In addition to all that, it is also sometimes used as an anti-proliferative and immune-stimulant, helping to protect from the carcinogens found in smoke. Limonene also helps with mental focus, concentration, and clarity.

Terpenes & The Entourage Effect

Entourage Effect is a scientific way of describing the interactions between cannbionoids and terpenoids.  When combined together the cannabinoids and terpenoids generate interactive synergy.  The study of terpenoids in relation to cannabinoids is uncovering new findings as it pertains to the effectiveness of “whole plant medicine,” a term used to explain how cannabinoids and terpenes work together to provide symptomatic relief across a wide range of medical conditions and symptoms.

Although the benefits of terpenes are impressive in isolation, the Entourage Effect displays how, when combined with other terpenes or synergized with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, that there is a definitive increase in beneficial properties, which means that the medicinal value of the cannabis plant drastically rises when the Entourage Effect comes into play.

When terpenes work together in harmony with cannabinoids, medicinal properties seem to augment their effectiveness, making the cannabis plant a true healer.

Research and Findings on The Entourage Effect

In 2010, Dr. Ethan Russo, a prominent neurologist, published his findings in the British Journal of Pharmacology. Dr. Russo studied the far-reaching effects of combining various compounds to produce the Entourage Effect. Different combinations include;

  • Individual– Allowing the terpene to product effects on its own. For instance, the terpene Myrcene helps to better allow chemical absorption by reducing resistance in the blood/brain barrier;
  • Combined with Other Terpenes- Using a combination of terpenes that produce similar effects to increase effectiveness. For example, some combine Pinene, Myrcene, and Caryophyllene with the belief that this combination effectively combats anxiety;
  • Combined with Other Cannabinoids- Directly combining terpenes with other parts of the cannabis plant such as CBD or CBD can create desired effects. For instance, combining the cannabinoid CBG with Linalool and Limonene may be an effective treatment against resistant staph infections such as MRSA

The Benefits of the Entourage Effect and a Call for Additional Research

Whole plant therapy is an increasingly more important category in medicine today. As science continues to study and reveal the benefits of the Entourage Effect and how cannabinoids exist on and perform at a molecular level, we are better able to learn how it affects the endocannabinoid system, both directly and indirectly.

Medically accessing the benefits of the Entourage Effect could greatly augment the positive and far-reaching potential that terpenes found in cannabis have on the body when they interact with other cannabinoids.

In short, terpenes are important. They have also been used for thousands of years in traditional remedies and herb-based medicines and now, thanks to technology and further research, we can finally understand the therapeutic benefits of terpenes so that they can take their rightful therapeutic place in science, health, and wellness.

Terpenes and the Strainprint App

The Strainprint app is evolving to ensure that medical marijuana users can access up to date data and accounts of others’ experiences with certain strains.

When researching your strains, do additional work to understand the terpenes that are present within each strain and the levels they exist in. Record your feelings and what you notice about the strain’s effectiveness when taking certain strains and be sure to record in the Strainprint app.

Together, we can add to the body of knowledge on terpenes and certain cannabis strains for medical marijuana through the Strainprint app!

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.”