Step 3: Learn about cannabinoids, terpenes, and the entourage effect
In pharmacology, a drug is a chemical substance used in the treatment, cure, prevention, or diagnosis of disease, or used to otherwise enhance physical or mental well-being. These substances are defined in precise terms and prescribed in exacting doses; whole plant medical cannabis is a far more complex entity.
Whole plant cannabis contains hundreds of compounds, which differ from strain to strain and even from batch to batch. Cannabinoids including THC, CBD, CBG, THCV, CBN, and CBC may be present in varying concentrations, along with terpenes and flavonoids which are responsible for the taste, smell, and many additional therapeutic effects. There is cannabis that will make you hungry, and cannabis that will curb your appetite and help maintain blood sugar. There is cannabis that fixes anxiety, and cannabis that causes it. Most of these differences are accounted for by the varying concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes (and the ratios between them, since they often work synergistically), and the rest are unique to each patient's own body chemistry. We've included our Cannabinoid Reference Chart down at the bottom of the page (it's also available under the Resources tab).
We encourage all of our patients to learn about the fascinating science of cannabis. Following are three of our favorite sites for well-researched information. Leafly in particular is an excellent reference for patients considering which strain will work best for them, as they collect detailed strain reviews and aggregate the data in an engaging and informative reference. Project CBD is a fantastic resource covering much more than just CBD, and Medical Jane's Cannabis Classroom does a great job of making research understandable to the layperson.