Cannabis: A Different Kind of Treatment


Thanks to the results from recently-permitted scientific studies and the untiring work of cannabis activist groups, more and more people are beginning to accept that cannabis is a successful form of treatment for certain medical conditions.  Despite this, many patients out there are still hesitant to try it.  Their reasoning may stem from religious beliefs, or perhaps because they’re fearful of losing their job.  Oftentimes, however, patients are wary of things that seem to be outside of the current medical system and choose not to explore the benefits of medical cannabis.

“If my doctor doesn’t support weed, why should I?”  

“I’m already taking something for my anxiety and it helps me.”

It's good to have doubts and ask questions, but these can be a bit lopsided. Patients should remember to question their current system, too. Medical culture has conditioned us to accept remarkably negative side-effects as a "normal" part of medication, and many of us become resigned to this.  Unfortunately, this can lead to a lifelong dependency on prescription meds.  As side-effects from previous medications arise, patients are prescribed additional medications to treat them.  Oftentimes this results in patients being treated for an increasing number of conditions that actually stem from the medications themselves.

To illustrate this, let’s use the example of a female patient who consults a psychiatrist because she’s having trouble focusing at work.  

After giving responses to a standardized questionnaire, she’s diagnosed with ADHD.  Her doctor hands her a prescription for Adderall and says, “This will help.”

She fills the prescription.  Sure enough, things improve immediately at work.  The patient can accomplish tasks and participate actively during meetings.  It’s a miracle!  The only problem is, she’s too wired to fall asleep at night.  She complains about this to her psychiatrist, who is all too familiar with this amphetamine-based side-effect and writes her a prescription for Ambien.  All the patient needs to do is pop an Ambien at bedtime and she’s guaranteed to get some rest.  Success!  

But along with Ambien comes another debilitating side-effect: daytime drowsiness.  The psychiatrist ups her Adderall prescription to combat this, and all is well...until the patient starts having panic attacks due to the increase of amphetamines in her system.  The fear of panic attacks disrupts her social life and leads to her feeling depressed.  

Next come prescriptions for Clonazepam, a benzo (aka tranquilizer) commonly used to treat anxiety, and Wellbutrin, an antidepressant.  Now, we have a patient who initially complained about loss of focus at work but is now being medically treated for ADHD, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.  Not only does she now have a handful of additional conditions to treat indefinitely, (unfortunately including conditions that arose in the form of side-effects from her prescription medications), but she has become fully dependent on her medication regimen to feel “normal” when she initially only wanted to become more focused at work.

This practice of medication stacking that leads to total loss of patient responsibility is frighteningly common.  What’s the solution?  Well, we'd love to say that it's as simple as "cannabis," but it’s not quote that simple.  Cannabis is not a cure-all.  However it CAN indeed successfully treat many conditions, but only if the patient is willing to take responsibility for their own treatment.  Only if they’re willing to work for and participate in their wellness.

Cannabis works much differently than the prescription medications we are used to taking, from a physiological standpoint as well as a mental one.  And the latter is what ends up turning many people off from it.  They don’t want to put the effort in; they’re misinformed of the benefits of cannabis; they want an easy fix; they don’t want to try.

If you want to successfully treat your conditions with this marvelous plant, you’re going to have to step up and take charge of your own treatment.  You’re going to have to do the research and pay attention to all the interactions.  You’re going to have to conduct your own trials and determine what works best for you.  In many cases, the most effective regimen is a combination of cannabis and a reduced dosage of certain medications*.  But you won’t know unless you’re unwilling to experiment.

This may sound scary, intimidating, or just plain hard, but it’s what it takes to build a good relationship with your treatment.  

Not only can cannabis successfully treat a plethora of medical conditions without the risk of major side effects, but it can put you more in touch with yourself, your body, and your mental health.  By mindfully integrating it into your life, you’ll begin to realize you have more control over your treatment than you thought.  

We urge patients to empower themselves by taking responsibility for their own health and wellness.  That’s what being healthy truly is.


*Do not make any changes to your medication without doctor approval.  We strongly encourage you to be open with your doctor about your cannabis usage.

Want to learn more about how cannabis can improve your health?  Check out these two articles: 

Cannabis & Wellness

Cannabis & Mental Health


Building a Healthy Relationship with Edibles


With a new year comes the opportunity for fresh perspective. If you caught our step-by-step guide to making Releaf Rubies, you may have gotten the hint that we’re pretty enthusiastic about the subject of edibles.  When consumed mindfully, they can lead to extended periods of relaxation and symptom relief.  Their discreteness and long-lasting effects allow for versatile use.  And, simply put, they can make you feel awesome.

We believe that edibles have tremendous potential to the medical world, but are often misunderstood or misused.  We know that their benefits to patients can be very significant, but that many shy away from them after having or hearing about a negative experience.  With all this in mind, our team has dedicated the month of January to spreading the good word about edibles, sharing tips for successful experiences, and encouraging others to do the same.

Want to build a healthy relationship with edibles this year?  Here’s what we recommend:

  1. Start with the lowest dose possible when trying an unfamiliar product.  We suggest starting with 2mg - 5mg of THC, even though many edibles on the market today have a standard THC serving size of 10mg.  

  2. Be extremely cautious when taking another dose, and in most cases, don’t.  Many bad experiences come from taking additional servings before the effects of the first dose fully kicks in.  As a rule of thumb, if you feel you need another serving or partial serving, wait at least two hours from your first dose to settle in.  Or, even better, just take a little more the next time you try the same edible.

  3. Relax and enjoy the effects (this is much more likely with a low dose).  Start your experience off with a simple activity that brings you enjoyment and pleasure, like going on a walk or listening to some music.  Appreciate the fine-tuning of your senses and the unique feelings in your body.  Before you know it, you’ll be in it.

  4. Pay attention to how your mind and body responds to edibles.  Track your experience. Here’s how.

  5. Consider edibles a supplement and a tool, not a cure.  Solely depending on any substance to enrich your life, or make your troubles go away, is a mistake and often leads to new problems.

  6. Try making your own edibles.  It’s easy, cost-efficient, and rewarding.  Participating more fully in the process of ingesting cannabis also brings you close to the plant, your medicine, and your experience.

This month, we’ll be covering everything from creating to consuming edibles: recipes, dosing tips, findings from real patient sessions, and everything else we learn along the way.  If you have anything to share on the subject, please let us know!  We love hearing from you.

Happy New Year.  Onward and upward!

Cannabis & Wellness

Remember the last time you used a cannabis product that had you feeling, well, simply splendid?  Perhaps you felt encouraged to give your mom a lengthy phone call, or felt energized to get off the couch, lace up your running shoes, and hit the pavement.  Or maybe you found yourself deep-cleaning the kitchen...and actually enjoying it.  

Can you recall the strain you smoked, tincture you used, or edible you consumed?  Can you recall how much you had that brought you to that sweet spot?

For the first two or so years of Releaf’s existence, our team has been entirely medically-focused.  We wanted to help patients bring, you guessed it, relief to their various symptoms via cannabis.  Inspired by the belief that relief is a very personal experience, we’ve continued to design the app in a way that empowers you, the patient.  You’re the one tracking your sessions and monitoring your symptom levels.  You’re the one keeping tabs on your side effects.  Only you truly know if, and how, cannabis works for you.

But as we mentioned in our blog post “Appreciating the Unique Effects of Cannabis,” this plant has a multitude of non-medical benefits to offer too.  And according to some of our patients, it would also be great to track this other type of session in the app along with symptom-specific ones.  

In hearing this feedback, we looked at our options to see how we could integrate this in a way that felt right for Releaf and our mission.  “Recreational” and “Adult-use” are the most popular terms for non-medical cannabis use today.  These terms never sat well with us.  Neither is offensive, per se, but neither successfully highlights the purpose and benefit of this type of session either. The word “recreational” lacks a certain seriousness; it implies “just for fun,” something that lacks any real health benefits.  The overly simplistic term “adult-use” mimics the alcohol industry’s marketing language.  After our team talked it over for a few weeks, we decided on “wellness.”

Wellness: the state of being in good physical and mental health, especially as an actively pursued goal.

The second clause in the definition above hits the nail on the head for us.  It indicates that wellness, just like relief, is very personal.  It can mean something different to everyone.  And at the same time, it’s a path with purpose that supports all aspects of one’s health.

Tracking a wellness session in the Releaf App is simple: just select it from the symptom list, choose your cannabis and equipment, and begin.  You can even track wellness alongside other symptoms you wish to treat.

Before you begin your first wellness session, take a moment to think about what it means to you.  More than likely, it’ll be a combination of things.  Perhaps to you, it means the strengthening already strong relationships, regular outdoor exercise, and the satisfaction that comes from a sparkling clean and well-organized house.

What are your wellness goals?  Write them down.  Can cannabis help you achieve them?

Be well!

- The Releaf Team


For everything you need to know about logging a session in Releaf App, check out these tutorials:

Getting Started with Releaf: Starting a New Session

Getting Started with Releaf: Logging a Session


Cannabis & Mental Health

As the cold winter months approach, millions of people across the country find themselves feeling down in the dumps for no particular reason.  This condition, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD), is a type of depression that emerges during the same season every year...typically as the days begin to shorten and the temperature drops.  It tends to strike those with otherwise “normal” mental health during the warmer months.

While people suffering from anxiety may experience a slight uptick in their depressive symptoms come winter, those already diagnosed with major depression (year-round) may not experience any change in their symptoms.  Regardless, the hectic nature of the holiday season can send anyone, depressed or not, into a stressful mental tailspin.

Until recently, prescription medications have been doctors’ go-to recommendations for the treatment of mental health conditions.  These lab-created meds can indeed be effective, but they don’t come without downsides.  Benzos, also known as tranquilizers, are a frequently-prescribed class of medications to treat anxiety.   They do so by manipulating channels in the central nervous system, allowing chloride to enter the neurons, thus making them negatively-charged and resistant to excitation.  Viola!  Decreased anxiety.  But benzos also come with a high risk of addiction and abuse, and overdosing can lead to death.

SSRIs, on the other hand, have been classically used to treat depression by blocking the reuptake of serotonin in the brain.  Common side effects are insomnia, nervousness/agitation, and sexual dysfunction that may or may not improve once the medication is discontinued.  And oftentimes, SSRI patients must endure weeks of feeling worse before the medication starts to make them feel better.  In fact, while antidepressants may improve the condition, they may also increase the risk of suicide.

We’re not trying to scare anyone here.  We simply want more people to know that there exists a much safer, sometimes more effective treatment for mental health conditions:



Cannabis works differently than pharmaceutical medications.  Instead of directly triggering specific types of receptors that force the increase of certain chemicals in the brain, the cannabinoids that enter your body when you consume cannabis interact with your endocannabinoid system, or ECS.  The ECS triggers all types of chemical reactions, including those that affect mood.  These interactions promote homeostasis, or optimal balance, in the mind and body.  (For a more in-depth overview, check out this awesome HERB article: Here’s How Cannabis Affects Mental Health).

Consider this sequence of logic: we know that maintaining a healthy endocannabinoid system equals more stable emotions (i.e. less anxiety and depression), and increased overall health in general.  We also know that the endocannabinoid system can be fortified with cannabis.  Therefore, cannabis can lead to increased mental health.

Most importantly: it’s VERY safe.  Cannabis has been responsible for zero (0!) deaths throughout the history of time.  Compare this with benzos, which were involved in 31% of deaths (22,767 to be exact) from prescription drug overdoses in 2013.  And that was just in the US.

Still on the fence?  In 2016, a team of researchers conducted an extensive review of 31 studies on the science behind treating mental health issues with cannabis.  Their findings: cannabis CAN benefit people dealing with depression, anxiety, and even PTSD.  

Dr. Zach Walsh, one of the authors on the review, stated “[Cannabis] is a substance that has potential use for mental health.  We should be looking at it in the same way [as other drugs] and be holding it up to the same standard.”

This is what drives our team at Releaf.  As more states turn “green” and more people are given the chance to try cannabis out for themselves, either to treat a specific condition or just improve their well-being, we want to help them succeed.  And we believe that mindful cannabis use is the key to success.  

When using cannabis, we encourage you to record everything about your experience.  This is the best way to truly learn what’s working for you.

We did, and we know you can too.


New to Releaf?  Download our FREE app and track your cannabis sessions today!




For everything you need to know about logging a session in Releaf App, check out these tutorials:

Getting Started with Releaf: Starting a New Session

Getting Started with Releaf: Logging a Session


Introducing: Group Codes

Here at Releaf, we’re constantly working to improve the app in a way that benefits the patients using it.  We review each and every piece of patient feedback as a team, and do our best to incorporate the most relevant feature requests into new versions of the app.

A little while ago, we received a request from a patient’s caregiver, her son, asking if there was a way he could remotely monitor her cannabis sessions.  Soon after, we received a similar request, this time from an RN who was asking if there was a way she could monitor her patients’ sessions.  

At the time, there wasn’t a way to do these things.  Our patients’ privacy is at the top of our priority list.  The data from their logged sessions is always anonymized and cannot be traced back to them.  But what if they WANTED to share this data with a family member, caretaker, nurse, or doctor?  

We put our heads together and came up with a solution: Group Codes.  By reaching out to us and requesting a custom group code, now you can easily share your cannabis experiences and progress with the administrator of that group.  Groups can have as few or as many members as you like.

Here’s how to join a group (it’s easy!):

1. From the “more” menu in the bottom nav, tap “my groups.”


2. Tap the plus icon to join an existing group, and type the name of that group into the field provided.


3. Answer the confirmation prompts, and viola!  Your session data will now be shared with your group’s administrator.


If you would like to create a Group Code, or if you have any feedback for us on this new feature, you can do one of the following:

  1. Tap “leave feedback” in the More menu, or

  2. Shoot us an email at

Happy tracking!

PS - new to Releaf?  You can download the app for FREE right here!

For everything you need to know about logging a session in Releaf App, check out these tutorials:

Getting Started with Releaf: Starting a New Session
Getting Started with Releaf: Logging a Session