“Open-minded healthcare providers and consumers cycling through current chronic pain treatments are looking for evidence-based, physician-recommended options that incorporate cannabis into a practical treatment plan.”
As a journalist who has covered the opioid epidemic in New England for decades and who has lost far too many friends to heroin and its countless contemptible cousins, I’ve considered those lives lost in my reporting on cannabis products and research.
That may sound obvious—of course people consume weed in all its forms to manage pain. And indeed, I have interviewed innumerable advocates and patients, from the early fight for regulated medical cannabis on through their continued struggles, about developments in pinpointing strains that help with particular issues.
But what I mean by “considered” is that I don’t ring alarms every time there is news about some major break on the medical cannabis research front. People in need of advanced relief deserve more than cheap promises. It’s a long, slow road, but solutions are appearing, mostly in small doses.
Which is why I took note of the announcement by Holistic Industries of its “first-of-its-kind product” Cannaceutica, which they’re marketing as “the first oral cannabis capsule with dosing guidelines, developed by a team of Ph.D. scientists, specifically formulated for, and studied in, people who suffer from chronic pain.”
Unlike companies with no research that make big claims, they have some research and appear to be making reasonable claims. From their team:
Cannaceutica contains THC and CBD as well as a combination of other cannabinoids and terpenes that have been studied for their combined effects in alleviating chronic pain. Cannaceutica is currently conducting clinical studies in people with chronic pain who tried at least one previous treatment but were still experiencing pain or intolerable side effects.
Since any researched opioid alternative is worth paying attention to if the people behind it are serious, I asked Holistic’s Chief Marketing Officer Kyle Barich to share more about Cannaceutica, which is another kind of product altogether from the Do Drops and Garcia Hand Picked skus the multi-state company is known for.
First, I guess let’s talk about capsules as a delivery method. Why did your team choose them for this product? And what should people know about the way they generally work as opposed to maybe gummies, or solubles?
Cannaceutica is the first healthcare cannabis brand developed by a team of Ph.D. scientists, specifically formulated for, and studied in, people who suffer from chronic pain. Because of this, we needed to make sure that the form factor was something doctors and other healthcare providers felt comfortable recommending to chronic pain sufferers. Joints and gummies are not exactly “trusted medicine” and could be seen as unhealthy treatment options for some people, so we chose capsules—a format that people are used to when managing pain.
Cannaceutica should be taken by mouth twice a day, as you take other types of capsules, after breakfast and after dinner. We recommend people start with 2.5 mg capsules and use the Easy Dose Chart we provide in every bottle to titrate or find their optimal daily dose from there. Once you find your daily dose, 5mg and 10mg strengths are available to reduce the number of capsules you take per day.
Cannaceutica “contains THC and CBD as well as a combination of other cannabinoids and terpenes that have been studied for their combined effects in alleviating chronic pain.” What are some studies and/or bodies of research you relied on in your development of the product along those lines?
The Cannaceutica formulation is based on the existing available clinical data in cannabis and chronic pain including dozens of studies and thousands of patients. There is substantial evidence for the inclusion of THC and CBD in the ratios and dosages available in Cannaceutica (available in 2.5mg, 5.0mg and 10mg THC dosages). Minor cannabinoids such as CBC and CBG as well as a proprietary terpene blend were included based on their anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, however these compounds are less well studied to date.
The company is also conducting its own research. What is the process for actually incorporating that research into the products? Also, any early findings stand out in particular?
UC Irvine is conducting among the largest clinical studies ever for a cannabis brand in the treatment of chronic pain. Over 100 patients taking Cannaceutica are being evaluated for its safety and efficacy—to what extent does the product reduce pain and how can the low dose and slow titration help manage side effects common with higher dose cannabis preparations? The study is also measuring an expected reduction in other analgesics, including opioids. The specific results of the study, expected later in 2023, will inform future Cannaceutica formulations and clinical studies as well as contribute to the body of evidence for cannabis and chronic pain.
In a recreational market that is loaded with colorful packages and clever puns in the tradition of craft beer names, Cannaceutica seems more geared toward someone who is maybe looking for relief without also needing something that is dusted in the finest Dutch cocoa. Is that kind of the idea—to bypass that side of the market so to speak?
There is a different cannabis product out there for different kinds of consumers and patients looking for many different kinds of experiences. We saw an opportunity to bring a cannabis healthcare product to market that is a first-of-its-kind, so we had to treat it differently. Open-minded healthcare providers and consumers cycling through current chronic pain treatments are looking for evidence-based, physician-recommended options that incorporate cannabis into a practical treatment plan. We had to develop a product that healthcare providers felt comfortable recommending as well as for people who may not be used to shopping for cannabis in a dispensary. They are used to buying pills and capsules over the counter, so we wanted to give them something familiar.
Cannaceutica is being specifically marketed as “formulated for, and studied in, people who suffer from chronic pain.” In all seriousness, how about people who just want to get incredibly stoned? What should they know about the product?
This is a low-dose cannabis product, so it is not suited for someone looking to get incredibly stoned. We developed the formulation for people that want to feel the relief from pain without the side effects of getting incredibly stoned. Many people deal with pain constantly, at work or while they need to be highly functional, so we list euphoria or feeling “high” as a possible side effect.
That said, the person in the dispensary who wants to get incredibly stoned likely has a parent, grandparent, partner, spouse or friend who may be suffering from pain but is not as familiar with cannabis, so this would be a product they should pick up and have them try.
What can you tell us about the rollout, where and when it will be available, all that?
Cannaceutica is available throughout Maryland at a number of dispensaries across the state, and just launched in Massachusetts. You can now find Cannaceutica at Liberty Dispensaries in Easthampton, Somerville, and Springfield.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.