Case Study

Video: Do-It-Yourself Cannabis Tinctures

One of the terrific realities of modern Cannabis is that it is possible, and often quite simple, to make effective products at home. With suitable education and access to testing facilities, the soil, nutrients, and plant growth can be supported at home, lab-tested for make-up and potency, as well as safety-checked for potential microscopic contaminants, and ultimately, individualized medicine can be created right at home!

Here is a sample instructional for just one way that cannabis tincture can be made at home. There are countless others and hopefully, many that are yet to be discovered!

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Benjamin Caplan, MDVideo: Do-It-Yourself Cannabis Tinctures
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Student-Athletes are at an Increased Risk for Binge Drinking and Substance Use

Title: Psychological correlates and binge drinking behaviours among Canadian youth- a cross-sectional analysis of the mental health pilot data from the COMPASS study

A recent study has examined data from the COMPASS program and found that student-athletes in Canada were more likely to engage in binge-drinking and illicit substance use. Researchers focussed on the measure of flourishing, defined as an overall healthy mental state and emotional connectedness, and how flourishing related to concerning drinking and substance use behavior. Student-athletes were found to be the most at risk for binge-drinking, defined as consuming 5 or more drinks in a single session, and those more likely to binge-drink were also more likely to co-use illicit substances. This research provides evidence for the formation of targeted prevention programs.

Cannabis use is banned among athletes by most sports organizations. Cannabis appeals to athletes considering the many different consumption methods, allowing discreet consumption and personalization with variable potential opportunities for relief. Cannabinoids are generally naturally occurring substances unless clearly manufactured, and have been shown to be beneficial for post-workout recovery, muscle soreness, anxiety, sleep, and relaxation. All of those symptoms, including the emotionally driven ones, are common among student-athletes who often feel an immense amount of pressure to perform in competition. As in most other areas of modern culture, Cannabidiol (CBD) finds itself in a grey area for most sports organizations’ substance regulations given that it is not intoxicating and readily available with a notable safety profile. Even if cannabis is not federally legal, CBD is so widely available that many athletes are embracing it, in lieu of more dangerous, or potentially addictive, medications.

Tweet: A recent study has examined data from the #COMPASS program and found that #studentathletes in Canada were more likely to engage in #binge-drinking and illicit substance use. Read this and other linked studies:

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Benjamin Caplan, MDStudent-Athletes are at an Increased Risk for Binge Drinking and Substance Use
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Cannabinoids Treat Chronic Gastrointestinal Disorders

Title: Nabilone administration in refractory chronic diarrhea- a case series

A new study reveals the efficacy of treating chronic gastrointestinal disorders with cannabinoids, such as Nabilone. Researchers followed case studies in which patients were given nabilone which greatly reduced symptoms of chronic diarrhea and weight gain, over a period of three months.

The cannabinoid treatment also reduced the abdominal pain felt by patients and improved their overall quality of life. Considering the favorable safety profile of cannabinoids and the effectiveness demonstrated in the patients, cannabinoids were deemed an appropriate and clinically beneficial method for the treatment of chronic gastrointestinal disorders, such as chronic diarrhea. 

Highlighted by this article are the many symptoms cannabis used to treat before the prohibition of cannabis and the scheduling of the medication under the Controlled Substances Act. Cannabis has been used in eastern medicine, for thousands of years, and used to be a prevalent medication in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and has just recently been re-recognized as an option to treat anorexia associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy, and various sleep disorders. Cannabis was once a well-recognized medication, but it has been mercilessly slandered by politicians. The rise and fall of cannabis have largely been politically driven pushes, and the plant and its effects deserve further study to examine the scope and efficacy of its therapeutic benefits. 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDCannabinoids Treat Chronic Gastrointestinal Disorders
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The Current Research on Cannabis-Alcohol Interactions and Risk Factors for Using Them Together

Title: Cannabis and Alcohol- From Basic Science to Public Policy

This new analysis summarizes the most recent preclinical trials and epidemiological studies concerning the interactions between cannabis and alcohol, as well as possible risk factors for co-use. Specific risk factors, such as frequency of use or belonging to particular groups, were found to be significant within studies (but not across separate studies.) The compiled data reveals that previous research is inconsistent and emphasizes the need for further research to elucidate at-risk populations.  


This article highlights a few secondary findings which all focus on the gaps in our knowledge concerning cannabis, of which there are many. There may be potential concerns with the integration of cannabis into modern culture, which has essentially normalized alcohol consumption. Future research will undoubtedly evaluate these concerns, and highlight potential advantages that cannabis consumption may offer as an alternative option.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDThe Current Research on Cannabis-Alcohol Interactions and Risk Factors for Using Them Together
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A Call for More Research: Adolescent Cannabis Use and Mental Health Risks

Title: Adolescent Cannabis Use and Risk of Mental Health Problems – The Need for Newer Data

Here, an article presenting a case, justifying the need for new research to determine how cannabis use in adolescents may affect their risk for mental health. Few recent studies have come out discussing mental health and adolescent use. This is problematic because, over the years, cannabis products have been curated to be significantly more potent than in the past. Considering how vulnerable the brain is, during adolescence, because it is still developing, longitudinal studies need to be conducted to fully elucidate the effects of cannabis on development. 


This review highlights how poorly adolescents consuming cannabis seem to be at titrating their dose, or correctly self-regulating consumption of cannabis. There is an overall need for greater education before cannabis is acquired, from a dispensary or otherwise. For adults and teens seeking to self-regulate their use of cannabis, irrespective of the consumption method, it is difficult to succeed, considering the gross lack of knowledge and sophistication around the dosage. The wide variability in choice and make-up of cannabis products, added to the complexity associated with how each patient may process the myriad of cannabinoids within the products consumed leads to a complexity of confounding variables, and here, a call for more studies to be conducted on more than just adolescents. 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDA Call for More Research: Adolescent Cannabis Use and Mental Health Risks
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The Endocannabinoid System may Provide Biomarkers for Endometrial Cancer

Title: Identification of Novel Predictive Biomarkers for Endometrial Malignancies- N-Acylethanolamines

A recent study has demonstrated that specific members of the endocannabinoid system may serve as potential biochemical markers for endometrial cancer. Elevated levels of two products of the endocannabinoid system (N-palmitoylethanolamine and N-arachidonoylethanolamine), reflect the production of endometrial tumors.

By screening for elevated levels of those substances, it may be easier for physicians to more quickly recognize the possible presence of endometrial tumors, leading to a potentially sooner diagnosis and intervention. Further research should be conducted to see if there is an even stronger connection between the dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system and endometrial cancer. 


This study highlights the far-reaching arms of the endocannabinoid system that are still so poorly understood. Until the federal government supports the research of cannabis and helps the general public to recognize it as a medically useful substance, research will continue to be limited and stifled. Government-sponsored research is required to boost the growing data that is currently limited by a reliance on private funding. State governments continue to legalize medical marijuana and recognize the medical and economic benefits of cannabis-based medicines. As local legislature demonstrates the success of medical cannabis programs, many patients continue to look to the federal government to follows suit, to further support our fellow citizens in need. 

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Benjamin Caplan, MDThe Endocannabinoid System may Provide Biomarkers for Endometrial Cancer
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Maintain a Balanced Diet when Consuming Oral Cannabidiol

Title: Food effect on pharmacokinetics of cannabidiol oral capsules in adult patients with refractory epilepsy

Researchers have recently revealed the importance of maintaining a balanced diet, when consuming cannabidiol (CBD). Consuming oral capsules containing CBD may be a more consistent method of consumption than blending CBD into liquids or solid foods, but unfortunately, capsules do not prevent a high degree of potential fluctuation of dosing. The fat content of a meal may vary widely, and so may change the active concentrations of CBD which become active in the bloodstream. In other words, the effects felt by a consumer may be either stronger or weaker, and differ in duration, related to the method of consumption, and the product make-up taken. Patients considering CBD as a therapeutic intervention, who also want a consistency of effect, would be wise to be mindful to maintain a diet with a balanced amount of fat (oils, butter, etc.) when consuming CBD capsules. 


This article highlights the variation of effects felt when altering consumption methods. For example, edibles and inhaled cannabinoids of the same dosage have extremely different effects, because of how they are processed in the body processes. When inhaled, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) diffuses across structures in the lungs known as alveoli, and are then transmitted to circulate throughout the bloodstream. Edibles introduce THC into the system by first metabolizing with liver enzymes, resulting in an altered metabolite of THC circulating throughout the body. This subtly-altered metabolite of THC can be more potent than the starting material, although the onset is delayed due to the process of consumption, digestion, and metabolism. All consumers would do well to research their consumption method of choice and proceed carefully when switching between methods. 

Tweet: Researchers have recently revealed the importance of maintaining a balanced #diet when consuming #cannabidiol (#CBD). Learn more at

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Benjamin Caplan, MDMaintain a Balanced Diet when Consuming Oral Cannabidiol
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More Research Needed to Determine Impacts of Cannabis Use During Pregnancy

Cannabis Use in Pregnancy

With rates of cannabis use during pregnancy more than doubling between 2002 and 2017, a need for more studies, over longer periods of time, which investigate prenatal cannabis use has emerged. Existing data ranges from reporting an increased risk for preterm birth and low birth weight to cannabis reducing the risk of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Concerns are historically informed by preliminary alcohol and cocaine studies that falsely suggested no gestational harm, despite the eventual recognition that these substances ultimately carry significant risk. Pregnant women should exercise caution in their cannabis use until more definitive conclusions are found, regarding maternal cannabis use.

The decision of where, if anywhere, cannabis fits in relationship to pregnancy is populated with more questions than answers. There are a handful of good quality, long-term studies, to date, that show a pattern that informs some degree of generalization: by and large, the less frequently consumed, and the later during the pregnancy the consumption, the less potential risk. But, for the sake of any pregnant woman and her baby, this type of decision should always be made in direct consultation with the obstetrician supporting the pregnancy.

Additional Point: A lack of high-quality studies relating to cannabis use and gestational risk has resulted in conflicting evidence surrounding prenatal cannabis use. However, historical context involving prenatal alcohol and cocaine use studies informs the need to exercise caution before definitive conclusions are made

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Benjamin Caplan, MDMore Research Needed to Determine Impacts of Cannabis Use During Pregnancy
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Herbal Treatments may prove valuable to treat Alzheimer’s Disease

Promising Therapeutics with Natural Bioactive Compounds for Improving Learning and Memory — A Review of Randomized Trials  

A recent review has determined that herbal treatments, such as those including flavonoids, are beneficial when attempting to prevent neurocognitive decline, commonly seen in Alzheimer’s Disease. Galantamine, quercetin, examples of two flavonoids, as well as huperzine A, bacoside A, and ginkolide B, three flavonoid-like compounds, all proved to be effective when used as a treatment for poor memory function. The authors mention the need for similar results in clinical trials but find the current data compelling evidence for future drug development. 

Highlighted in this paper is the current perception of herbal products as natural, gentle, and safe in comparison to current synthetic drugs. While herbal products are generally safer and considered to be more gentle, it is important to note that for these herbal compounds to truly be effective when treating patients they likely need modification in order to optimize their benefits. The modification would increase potency, selectivity, and pharmacokinetic abilities, as well as lessen any possible side effects. Synthetic drugs may seem frightening, particularly in light of recent illnesses and mortality associated with their abuse, but technology can also be used to optimize novel drugs and it can be efficient to do so. 



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Benjamin Caplan, MDHerbal Treatments may prove valuable to treat Alzheimer’s Disease
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Stress Increases the Probability of Drug Abuse

The Effects of Trait Emotional Intelligence on Adolescent Substance Use- Findings From a Hungarian Representative Survey

A recent study has revealed that teenagers who have a difficult time managing stress and appear to lack empathy were more likely to abuse tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis.

The studies initial goal was to determine if emotional intelligence could predict future drug abuse, but found that those with more empathy and interpersonal competencies were less likely to engage in substance abuse. This study provides data that may help to develop targeted drug prevention programs in order to lessen adolescent drug abuse or the development of any future substance abuse disorders. 

Highlighted in this study was the possible inaccuracy of the conclusions as the results may have been skewed by teenagers merely providing what they thought was a socially acceptable answer. Despite the fact that the majority of states have legalized the use of medical marijuana a stigma against cannabis use remains.

Stigma has and continues to stand in the way of medical research. If the consumption of cannabis were less frowned upon then perhaps more observational studies, studies that relied on self-reporting use, or even appropriate medical treatment, would be improved. The more information that can be gathered, the more accurate the research that can be conducted. In order to fully understand all the benefits and limitations of cannabinoids, although this also applies to tobacco and alcohol consumption, the uninformed stigma must also be eroded.

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Benjamin Caplan, MDStress Increases the Probability of Drug Abuse
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