Anecdotes ARE valuable

Cannabis is medically significant. It has helped and is continuing to help huge numbers of people deal with chronic pain, combat epileptic fits, fight cancer, and more. But still people are hesitant.

Ever heard the phrase “the plural of anecdote is not data”? It’s a very interesting little saying that first appeared in 1982, and its point is good: just because people say something doesn’t mean it’s true. But did you know that the original phrase is literally the opposite of that? In 1969 Raymond Wolfinger said “the plural of anecdote is data,” in a response to a graduate student at Stanford. In a sense BOTH sayings are true, but if we consider data to be the precursor to rather than the same as information and knowledge, Wolfinger’s statement wins. While it’s important to establish full understanding through formal testing and research, anecdotes can be very valuable…

In the medical world, many countries are still in such an absolute prohibition mindset that it is very hard to conduct large-scale trials of cannabis. This is then used by people – often very well meaning people – to dismiss the stories people have about their experience using cannabis to treat issues. But anecdotes CAN be data, and very useful data too, if we’re careful to find out as much as we can about the situation, circumstance and treatment efforts involved.

I know someone with fibromyalgia who has suffered from frequent debilitating pain for many years. They are prescribed fentanyl patches and tramadol, and while that stuff does help it also is addictive and damaging. BUT for the last half a year they have been using FECO (full extract cannabis oil) and their opioid intake is a fraction of what it was. They feel better, their day to day life IS better, and they are using less and less of the prescribed medication.

Is this an anecdote? Sure is. But it matches very well with countless similar reports from all over the world. This is good data, even if it isn’t quite the thing that formal Evidence-Based Medicine proponents want.

What are your stories about using cannabis for medical reasons? Has it helped or not? Let’s swap anecdotes – see if we can build up some useful data and get researchers interested.

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