To date, Realm of Caring (RoC) has published four papers highlighting the benefits of cannabinoid therapy. This data has been gathered by participants who have volunteered their time to report on their cannabis use in our Observational Research Registry (ORR).
Relatable motivations for choosing medicinal cannabis included a majority belief that traditional treatments were ineffective and/or had intolerable side effects. Thus far, data from the ORR has shown significantly better self-reported quality of life, health satisfaction, and sleep, and significantly lower pain severity, anxiety, and depression. Here we highlight some of the most notable observations.
Enhanced quality of life
Remarkable quality of life improvements were attributed to medicinal cannabis use in RoC’s first published paper in 2020. The two overarching categories of quality of life included enhanced well-being and improved daily functioning. The significant health improvements shown in this data indicate that clinical trials evaluating the efficacy of defined cannabinoid products for specific health conditions are warranted.
Health improvements among people with Epilepsy
Of the 1,783 individuals enrolled in this online, self-reported survey researchers identified a sample size of 418 participants. Of the 418 participants, 93% had listed epilepsy as their primary medical condition with the remaining noting epilepsy as a secondary medical condition. In this sample size, there were 71 adults and 209 adult caregivers of children or dependent adults who were utilizing CBD products for medicinal use. In addition, there was a control group of 29 adults and 109 adult caregivers who were considering CBD use but had not yet begun.
Published in 2021, this paper showed that when compared with controls, CBD Users had a greater health satisfaction, higher ratings of quality of life, and better scores on psychological health. Taking a deeper look, CBD Users reported lower anxiety and depression and improved sleep scores.
Other findings that were of significance relate to pharmaceutical use and healthcare visits. CBD Users had lower instances of reported prescription medication use, lower medication-related adverse effects, less ER visits, and less missing school and/or work days.
Decreased caregiver burden
Among significant findings for individuals living with epilepsy, caregiver burden was assessed, evaluating Role Strain (stress due to role conflict or overload) and Personal Strain (personal stress from the experience of caretaking).
Caregivers of patients who were using CBD products reported significantly lower scores on the Role Strain subscale compared to caregivers of Controls in the study.
Antidepressant and anti-anxiety benefits
The goal of RoC’s third published paper was to provide insight into the effects of medicinal cannabis use for symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The participants involved were those who were at least 18 years old and reported having anxiety and/or depression without a specific endorsement, as well as specific endorsements, including: major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, dysthymia, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, seasonal affective disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia.
Of the 538 participants, 368 reported current use of medicinal cannabis products at the baseline. The other 170 participants, who were considering use but had not yet initiated, served as controls. Of the participants who completed the baseline survey, 211 completed at least one follow-up assessment (145 Cannabis Users and 66 Controls).
Cannabis Users reported lower baseline depression, significantly better past-month sleep quality, a higher overall quality of life, and lower past-month average pain compared to Controls.
Cannabis Users did not report lower baseline anxiety, however baseline Controls who had initiated cannabis use reported a significant reduction in both mean anxiety and depression scores from baseline to follow-up surveys [evaluated using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS)]. This observation was not realized among non-initiators throughout the study. A similar effect was observed among participants who sustained medicinal cannabis use throughout the study, suggesting an improvement in symptoms of anxiety and depression with both the onset of cannabis use and with extended use.
A qualitative analysis of findings
The most recent published paper from RoC in 2022 presents a qualitative analysis of open-ended survey responses that detail the experiences of 808 medicinal cannabis users compared to a control group of 468 patients with similar health issues and demographics but not using medicinal cannabis.
“The data indicate that patients with a wide array of health conditions report notable physical and mental health benefits associated with medicinal cannabis use that are not evident in patients who do not use medicinal cannabis, and that upon initiation of medicinal cannabis use significant improvements are reported across diverse areas such as sleep, mood, and healthcare utilization” (Garcia-Romeu et al., 2022). The qualitative paper provides an account of those participants’ lived experiences as medicinal cannabis users based on open-ended question data.
Most participants reported cannabis benefits for a variety of conditions where traditional treatments were ineffective.
The most recent published paper indicated that among cannabis users and nonusers there were concerns regarding cannabis side effects, legality, lack of information, and cost. These findings speak volumes to the fact that continued research and quality education on the safety and efficacy of cannabinoid therapy is needed. While all four manuscripts present findings that are promising, the work is far from complete.
Research is limited on non-pharmaceutical cannabis products and there is a need for patient-level data on the impacts of increased access to and therapeutic use of cannabis.
Join our research!
Realm of Caring and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have developed the Observational Research Registry (ORR) to better understand medicinal cannabis use and its impact on key health outcomes including healthcare utilization, chronic pain, anxiety and depression, caregiver burden, epilepsy, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Our registered clients provide critical information that leads to important insights into the therapeutic capabilities of medicinal cannabis. The ORR helps us develop client educational resources and may ultimately serve to legitimize the medicinal use of cannabis.