At Kalapa Clinic, Europe’s only medical cannabis consultancy clinic, patients receive what is known as controlled therapy. This means that the case of each patient is reviewed individually, and a medical cannabis protocol is created that matches them, with regard to height, weight, age and many more variables.
The doctors are able to monitor the patients progress over the course of the treatment and can adapt the protocol to how the patient is responding to the treatment. As there is not nearly enough definitive research on the benefits of medical cannabis on various diseases and ailments, this type of therapy is encouraged. Being able to note the exact effects of medical cannabis on various illnesses means that treatment protocols can be more precise for patients with similar diseases. Over time, this knowledge will help future research, diagnostics, treatments, training and education.
Controlled therapies, benefits and medical cannabis research
If you read any of the published studies that have investigated the medical and therapeutic applications of cannabis, you will be familiar with the phrase ‘further research is needed’. However, since 2012 there has been a rising number of studies being published on this field, as more countries jump on the medical cannabis band wagon. The majority of these studies have focused on the safety of its use and the treatment of pain, spasticity, epilepsy and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, or CINV, and all with positive results.
One of the largest studies carried out on this field was conducted over the course of 2 years (2015-2017). Just under 3000 cancer patient were asked to treat their pain and insomnia with cannabis. Results showed that over the 2 years, 95.9% of the participants reported that their symptoms and general well being and improved, and that cannabis helped to alleviate both the pain and insomnia. The same researchers conducted a study, similar in length to the other, that focused on the use of cannabis for pain management in the elderly population. The conclusion drawn from these two studies is that the therapeutic application of cannabis is safe and effective. However, much like every other study, it also added that conducting further trials in this area is paramount.
This brings us to one of the problems that can arise when researchers embark on the long road to study medical cannabis. There are constant legal hurdles which inevitably puts researchers off. Other barriers include funding and supply issues, however, a very large hurdle for researchers to jump over is that of methodological challenges. As marijuana has an extensive history of recreational use and its psychoactive effects are known worldwide, this makes conducting blind studies (when information is kept from the experiments participants to avoid bias) quite difficult.
In order to test the actual effects of medical cannabis it is also always important to have a placebo group. However, when testing psychoactive cannabinoids, such as THC, the placebo participants will know instantly that they have not received real THC, thus affecting the results of the studies. This is why controlled therapies, such as the one’s at Kalapa Clinic, are beneficial. It does not carry the same scientific value as clinical trails however it is easier to quantify the specific effects of medical cannabis on individual pathologies. The results of each patient are documented and can be studied for further improvement in the understanding of how cannabinoids work.
The biggest benefit of controlled therapies, in our clinic, is that the doctor has more time with each patient, with the average consultancy taking 1 hour. Dr. Kratz, one member of Kalapa’s specialized team, says that not only does the doctor have more time to study the medical history of the patient but they also have time to speak with the patients in more depth about the treatment, its side effects and medical cannabis in general. Also, with more face time it means that they have time to ask any and all the questions they may have without feeling rushed. This results in the doctor having a better relationship with their patients and the patients have a better understanding of the treatment they are about to undertake. This also works to reduce the fear and stigma that shadows medical marijuana.
Novak, V. et al (2018), Prospective analysis of safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in large unselected population of patients with cancer. European Journal of Internal Medicine. Volume 49 (Pages 37 – 43).
Abuhasira R, Schleider LB, Mechoulam R, Novack V (2018), Epidemiological characteristics, safety and efficacy of medical cannabis in the elderly. NCBI. Volume 49 (pages 44 -50).
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on the Health Effects of Marijuana: An Evidence Review and Research Agenda. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 12. 15, Challenges and Barriers in Conducting Cannabis Research.