Methods of Cannabis ConsumptionMedical cannabis is a very effective medicine used by patients across the globe to treat and alleviate symptoms of many serious conditions in which traditional interventions have failed. Studies have proven that cannabis has therapeutic properties not be replicated by any other currently prescribed medications, AND has far fewer and much less severe side effects.
One of the first questions asked is: What are the best and healthiest ways to consume medical marijuana?
First, a patient must have a recommendation letter from a qualifying doctor or a medical marijuana card. Once they have this, they can purchase different types of cannabis to be used as medicine from a dispensary. For those who choose not to smoke cannabis, there are numerous alternative forms, such as marijuana based products and foods. Below we discuss all the various methods of consumption of medical cannabis available to patients in need.
Smoking CannabisSmoking is the most expedient method of consumption, with almost immediate effect and dosage controlled by the patient. The downside to smoking cannabis, although not as harmful as cigarettes, is that it can damage the lungs and cause respiratory problems.
If you do choose to smoke, here are some helpful tips to minimize the risk due to toxins and tars contained in the marijuana:
• Use a more potent, higher THC cannabis so less inhalation is necessary to acquire an effective dose.
• Using a pipe allows a more consistent and predictable dosage.
• Use a filter and non-chemical rolling paper if smoking a marijuana cigarette.
• Exhale immediately after inhaling deeply to avoid the tars in the marijuana from coating your lungs. It is a myth that holding your breath will create a stronger dosage or enable more THC to be absorbed.
Vaporizing CannabisUse of a vaporizer is the most recommended method as an alternative to smoking. A vaporizer is a device that gently heats up cannabis at a lower temperature, achieved with digital accuracy, releasing the active medicinal components of cannabis, such as THC, while producing fewer harmful byproducts.
How the Medical cannabis Vaporizer Works:
A vaporizer heats the cannabis plant slowly causing the active ingredients to evaporate into a vapor without reaching the point of combustion, thereby releasing a much lower proportion of other harmful components that come from smoking. Inhalation of the vapor then offers the same therapeutic benefits of smoking but without exposure to harmful toxins.
Edible CannabisThe effects of consumed cannabis is much different compared to smoking or vaporizing. Edibles are slower to kick in, slow to wear off and usually give more of a “body” versus “head” high, an effect described as ‘heavier’ or ‘deeper’ than if smoked or inhaled. This can be particularly beneficial for those with chronic severe body pain.
A word of caution to those choosing to medicate with edible cannabis – unlike with smoking and vaporizing, it is much easier to over-consume, and therefore over-medicate with ingestion. Because it can take longer to feel the effect and/or because the edibles taste good, patients are warned to start with a small amount, wait an hour or two before ingesting more, and be extra careful in consumption so as not to exceed recommended dosage.
That said, it’s also important to realize that eating raw cannabis does not deliver therapeutic benefits and is not recommended. cannabis edibles are made, instead, with butters or oils derived from the cannabis plant, often called cannabutter or cannabis infused oil. Marijuana butters and oils are made by simmering the cannabis flowered tops and leaves in butter or vegetable oil for several hours. This process transfers the THC and other therapeutic cannabinoids into the butter or oil, which can then be used in cooking all sorts of food, such as brownies, cookies, candies, as well as liquids, such as soup and sauces.
cannabis edibles are particularly helpful to relieve pain, spasticity and sleep disorders but is, for obvious reasons, not the best method if experiencing nausea or vomiting. Dispensaries can help you to experiment which type of edible and dose is best for your particular situation and to find the best tasting edibles.
TopicalsAnother alternative route of administration for medical marijuana free from any psychoactive reactions is to use a topical made from cannabis and apply it directly onto the skin. Marijuana topicals, such as balms, salves, lotions, sprays and ointments made from cannabis oils, can be very effective analgesics and anti-inflammatories. Most dispensaries will have a variety of marijuana topicals to choose from, or you can make your own using cannabis oil and adding it to a substance of your choice.
Conditions in which cannabis topicals have helped provide relief are arthritis, chapped skin, eczema, minor burns, muscle soreness, sunburns, swellings, joint pain, and tendonitis- to name a few. Many dispensaries also carry sprays that can be used topically to ease muscle aches that accompany many conditions and more importantly the painful symptoms of shingles. It is especially useful for the unfortunate few who develop post-herpetic neuralgia (phn), a nerve inflammation condition that results from shingles disease. Topicals have been proven to not only have anti-inflammatory properties but also to act as an antibacterial, quickening healing times for injuries.
TincturesCannabis can also be made into tinctures and tonics, which are then added to food and liquids, applied on the skin, or consumed directly in small amounts or by placing drops under the tongue. This is particularly useful when nausea and vomiting are present, such as when undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Tinctures and tonics are made much in the same way as edibles, but instead of cooking them in butter or oil, the cannabis flowered tops and leaves are soaked in alcohol. The solids are then finely strained, leaving behind a liquid that contains the THC and other cannabinoids that produce the needed medical relief. Typical dosage of cannabis tinctures is between 3 drops to no more than 2 full droppers. As with the edibles, it is best to start slow and use only a small portion until relief from symptoms is achieved.
Medical Marijuana Tea & SodasCannabis leaves, stems, and buds can also be used in making a medicinal tea. The process is fairly simple. As with other herb teas, boil the water, pour this over the leaves and stems in a small pot or cup, and let steep for at least half an hour. Similar to edibles and tinctures, adding alcohol, oil or butter is necessary to help dissolve the THC, which is only slightly soluble in boiling water. Recipes often use milk, spices, to make a spiced chai-type tea.
cannabis tea can vary in strength, depending on the types and amounts of ingredients used. Teas have been described by patients to vary from being much like drinking chamomile tea to delivering an effect that lasted for hours. General advice is to start with an amount equivalent to 1 gram for each cup, however experimenting with different recipes and amounts will help determine the amount needed to deliver the therapeutic effect desired.
For those that prefer consuming in liquid form, there are several sodas available. Sodas are made by adding a cannabis tincture (see tinctures above.)