What’s the problem with choosing cannabis?
There are many types of cannabis. Just like, say, apples, it’s not just about red or green – there are many different types of both colors. But unlike apples, cannabis is intoxicating, and different types of cannabis can cause different effects and help different conditions and symptoms.
Up until recently, most people used to categorize cannabis into indica and sativa, but predicting the effects of cannabis plants that way is somewhere between challenging and impossible.
A smarter way to narrow down your possibilities is to look at the chemical profile of the products in front of you, particularly the cannabinoids and terpenes.
How we built this tool
This approach of looking at the chemical profile brought up new terms to categories of cannabis. Instead of indica, sativa and strains, we are now looking at chemovars and chemotypes.
This approach allows us to look at the scientific literature, learn the different properties of cannabis compounds, and assess their potential to treat different conditions and symptoms.
According to the entourage effect hypothesis, the minor cannabinoids and terpenes may interact with each other and with THC and CBD, thereby modulating their effects.
This tool looks at the research on a given condition and each of these molecules, and then also matches chemotypes to THC tolerance.
The best we can do with the existing science
This tool is far from being perfect, but it’s the best we can do with the existing scientific knowledge. The main limitation we encountered includes limited knowledge on cannabis molecules and limited knowledge about the endocannabinoid system.
There’s a lot we don’t know
Many of us are used to predictable prescription drugs. These are based on one or few molecules that undergo rigorous clinical research. We know what to take, how much of it and how it will affect us.
Cannabis is different. There are many many different molecules (hundreds), and no big pharma companies to fund clinical research. So not only cannabis is much more complicated than pharmaceutical drugs, but also there isn’t a lot of research on how it works.
The quality of the research is lacking
Another issue is the sometimes poor quality of the research we use. For example, we will often use evidence from preclinical studies that are based on animal models. This means that the outcomes may be relevant for humans, but it’s not yet proven.
We don’t understand the ECS well enough
It’s highly likely that the different results we see with cannabis are related not only to variability in minor cannabinoids and terpenes, but to the unique endocannabinoid system of each of us. This is an aspect that is not at all covered in this tool, as there’s zero research about how specific chemovars influence specific endocannabinoid profiles.
The entourage effect hypothesis is still just an hypothesis. The parts in the hypothesis that talk about enhancing effects, specifically, have yet to be properly proven in a clinical setting. Much of this tool is based on this hypothesis.
For example, if there’s research that shows the terpenes limonene, myrcene and terpineol may be an effective treatment for spasticity, this would suggest that these may enhance the anti spasticity effects of THC. And so a chemovar with THC and a high concentration of these terpenes would be suggested as a treatment for spasticity.