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6 Reasons Why You Should Keep A Medical Cannabis Journal

  • by Charles McElroy

If you are a medical cannabis user, keeping a journal is incredibly important.  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, and new ones being isolated all the time.  Many of these compounds have amazing potential for medical applications, and research centers have begun working with growers in an effort to encourage higher levels of the more interesting chemical compounds (such as THCV, 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.  

All these changes are good news for patients seeking cannabis therapy, but it makes the process of finding the right cultivar or product a bit more intimidating.  Keeping a journal can help alleviate this anxiety by offering an approachable way to running your own personal study (what is essentially “trial and error”). The fact is, every human body is different. Our endocannabinoid receptors are as unique as a thumbprint, and we all react differently to cannabis. Furthermore, 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.

 Tracking your use in the Patient Journal

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. Here are 6 reasons why you should be keeping a patient journal:

  1. It is a bridge between you and your caregiver.  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 caregiver (or budtender) for recommendations and modifications to their treatments. A clear log of what has worked and what hasn’t is the best way to ensure your caregiver has all the information to be successful in their practice.
  2. It is a portable reference for the future. The ability to look back at past treatments and see what cultivar, dosage, and delivery method was used is very important when attempting to repeat successes.  Having this information documented in a physical journal ensures it is always available and can’t be deleted or inaccessible due to intermittent technology (like cloud drives or text files).
  3. Writing boosts memory and comprehension.  The hand and the brain have a unique relationship. When you write letters and words, you are communicating ideas and causing the mind to re-compose thoughts. This process will actually improve your memory and understanding of the content that you write. This is helpful to anyone hoping to more thoroughly understand their body and make informed decisions in the future.
  4. 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 wondering 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.
  5. It gives you the complete picture. In addition to 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 is very important since these factors can also shape your reactions. Finding a journal that offers a templated approach will help you fill in the gaps you might not know to include.
  6. 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 cultivar 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.

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 or CBD Jotter by Goldleaf. They are first-of-their-kind patient log books specially designed for medical cannabis use.

Photos by Julia Sumpter for Leafly
Read more about tracking your use in this Leafly article.

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