Pioneering a new, individualized approach to medical cannabis treatment

May 2, 2022 in Complementary & Integrative Medicine  •  By Michael Scott, ND, MSA
integrative oncology

We talked with Dr. Ben Caplan, one of the foremost doctors in the new field of cannabis medicine. A licensed, board-certified Doctor of Family Medicine, Dr. Caplan received his medical degree at Tufts University School of Medicine and completed his residency in Family Medicine at the Boston Medical Center. For the past two decades, he has applied rigorous, evidence-based standards and scientific tools to his private practice dedicated to the treatment of medical cannabis patients.

Dr. Caplan is the founder and Chief Medical Officer of CED Clinic and EO Care, Inc. CED Clinic was founded in 2017 to provide medical services and oversight to individuals seeking cannabis treatment. In 2020, Dr. Caplan helped to launch EO Care, Inc., a digital health platform providing personalized, iterative cannabis care and premium cannabis products to medical and wellness-focused cannabis consumers.

PinnacleCare (PC): The field of medical cannabis is still new. What are the key pieces of effective care that are still developing or need more attention from doctors and patients?

Dr. Ben Caplan (BC): There’s a tremendous need for clinical oversight for people using medical cannabis that is currently lacking. People with access to medical cannabis are still suffering in ways that they don’t need to and wouldn’t be if they had that clinical oversight. It’s been my passion to get education into the hands of patients and physicians.

Many people are looking for relief with cannabis either for chronic pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, or depression—those are the most common illnesses that medical cannabis is used to treat. These patients currently must resort to figuring out their cannabis care by themselves. Too many cannabis doctors are simply writing medical cards, then leaving the patients to their own devices. That’s untenable for a public that’s used to informed, evidence-based care. Patients need a responsible, data-driven partner with whom they can efficiently iterate over time. People need help defining the cannabis care regimen that’s most effective for them and best fits their daily life and schedule.

I’m working on a patient care companion app and digital care platform, EO. It allows patients to provide a detailed medical cannabis use history and daily schedule and profile. That information is provided to a data model and my clinical team. The model and clinical team then provide the patient with a personalized calendar-based, clinician-reviewed care plan that tells them what to take, how much of it to take, and when to take it. The patient also gets a personalized shopping list of products to purchase from their local dispensary that matches their care plan.

The patient uses these products at the recommended doses and times and provides feedback about how they’re feeling through the app. Through the app and digital platform, they can also message us with questions. The feedback is quick and easy. It can be a daily form of communication between clinician and patient.

PC: How is this different than what patients are currently receiving from their doctors?

BC: If you think about the methods of communication with clinicians today, we see doctors more or less whenever they want. Doctors get a one-data-point understanding of how someone is doing, but there’s no communication once the patient leaves. The doctor doesn’t know if they’ve picked up their medicines or if they’re taking their medicines. In the modern age, we should have clear communication between provider and patients. That’s really what EO is doing. It’s tying together the communication between provider and patient better and making them partners in care. This is essential because a responsibly led test and learn process has to be part of cannabis care, as it should be with care that’s centered on any psychoactive substance.

EO provides the patient and clinician with an expansive understanding of what products will work and how they’re working. Then it evolves into a less intense tuning mode through which we can continue to optimize the patient’s care as their body and cannabis tolerance changes and as products go in and out of stock at their dispensary.

Our number one goal is to provide the best possible personalized cannabis care at scale.

PC: Have the EO app and digital platform launched?

BC: We have an app published on the Apple app store. This is our fourth trial. We’ve been in patients’ hands and learning from patients for a little over two years. EO not only helps patients, it also gives doctors, whether they’re cannabis friendly or cannabis naive, an opportunity to provide evidence-based care through this digital therapeutic and teaches them about what’s useful and what’s working for their patients.

PC: What may people not know about medical cannabis that could affect their treatment?

BC: Responsibly defining and maintaining an optimal cannabis care regimen requires ongoing expert clinical guidance, just like any other medical specialty. Simply looking to the Internet for guidance, working with a friend or family member or whoever happens to be behind the counter at the dispensary is often unsafe and can lead to some bad outcomes, including cannabis use disorder. With EO, plans can be individualized for efficacy, safety, and to fit how someone lives. There can be specific recommended products, specific doses, times of use, and detailed use instructions like when someone should exercise, hydrate, and eat relative to when they’re using cannabis.

Cannabis is a full system activator, just like exercise, sleep, nutrition, and hydration. These are things that cross organ barriers and system borders. People who consume cannabis will have systemic effects that we can modulate. You can have someone with you to help you learn from your experience with cannabis and optimize your treatment.

PC: Are there medical cannabis resources you would recommend for patients and physicians?

BC: I’ve built the world’s largest library of cannabis publications, a 200-gigabyte Google drive, that’s free for anyone to use. I also have a blog and social media channels with educational information. Whatever way people like to learn, all the information is there and is fully sourced.