Cannabis has a few known medicinal benefits, and every day there is more and more evidence of patients around the world claiming different Cannabis varieties to have helped them in treating symptoms such as chronic pain, anxiety, and even relief of more specific conditions like arthritis, epilepsy and many more.
Unlike traditional pharmaceutical drugs, normally based on one or two APIs (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients), cannabis contains hundreds of different ingredients such as cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and more, occurring in different ratios and combinations in each cannabis varietal. These compounds work synergistically together as a part of the ‘Entourage Effect’, a term originally used by pioneering cannabis scientists to describe the way these compounds interact and create different effects on our bodies.
But in a world with thousands of known cannabis strains, each containing unique combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes in different ratios, what’s the best way to detect which active ingredients in these plants are the ones providing a specific effect? And what’s their composition? This is where big data comes into play.
The Israeli Medical Cannabis Program - Fruitful Ground for Big Data Research
Although cannabis has been used for for thousands of years, it has been officially approved as a legitimate medicine by many countries, including Israel, only in the last decades.
The Israeli Medical Cannabis Program, established in 2008, is controlled and regulated by the Israeli Ministry Of Health. Only patients suffering from certain medical indications, determined by the Ministry, can apply for a medical license. The list of indications is regularly updated by the Israeli Medical Cannabis Agency’s panel of doctors, and includes a range of medical conditions such as chronic pain, PTSD, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease and more.
Once an application is approved, the patient is subscribed to a medical cannabis supplier that provides the patient cannabis consistently every 30 days, according to their prescription, stating a monthly amount of cannabis each specific patient is allowed to take in. Patients are free to choose the cannabis flower and strains from an offered variety and can change their selection each month.
Introductory “guidance” sessions are given to new patients by authorized nurses, to guide them how to use cannabis and how to test the different strains to understand which specific ones suit them best.
Interestingly enough, most patients start experimenting with a wide variety of strains in their first 2-3 months of treatment, which tends to narrow down with time they learn which phenotypes work well for them.
This strictly medical model, in which patients must retrieve their cannabis medicine from specific suppliers, makes the Israeli approach to medical cannabis quite unique. The consistent supply chain, working as a ‘closed loop’ between suppliers to patients, makes Israel a fruitful ground for medical cannabis big-data collection
Understanding Terpenes Through Big-Data
Eybna, an Israeli R&D company with an innovative approach to cannabis research, has been utilizing Israel’s medical cannabis big-data to research terpenes and their effects since 2014. The company’s Ethnobotanical Observational Research uses data mining and analytical chemistry methods, to find functional combinations of terpenes.
Ethnobotany is the study of the relationship between people and their usage of plants for medicinal purposes throughout time. This approach interprets people’s use of specific plants with the goal to identify and isolate the medically-relevant phytochemicals.
Differently from the traditional pharmaceutical approach, of testing specific potentially active compounds on animals and humans to prove their efficiency, ethnobotany works the other way around. First, observing what natural resources humanity has used over time as medicine, and only then trying to reveal the active compounds of these plants.
Patients pick and choose the strains that work best for them, according to their different needs and medical conditions. Eybna gathers data on the usage of medical cannabis strains by patients, to detect the ones that are consistently chosen by large patient groups to treat specific medical indications.
This data is gathered directly from the medical cannabis providers database, and crossed with voluntary questionnaires filled out by a sample group of patients. After detecting strains with the same apparent therapeutic relief, like pain or anxiety relief, the terpene composition of these flowers, from different batches, is analyzed in a designated lab.
The last stage is comparing all these analyses, to find the mutual patterns of specific compounds and their ratios across all medicinally potent strains. Significant similarities in terpene profiles were detected between strains that share the same indication relief and recorded in the database.
The Care By Design Hemp Formulations, Data-Driven, Effect-Targeted.
Care By Design has partnered with Eybna for the development of the hemp line. The 5 complex Data-Driven formulations in the Balance, Calm, Relief, Rest and Uplift products were developed based on Eybna’s Observational Research conducted in Israel, making each Care By Design product carefully crafted to contain a highly complex terpene profile that is backed by some of the world's most advanced cannabis science.