Properly Dosing Medical Cannabis (Oral Dosing)
Finding Your Therapeutic Sweet Spot At The Lowest Dose Possible
Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol – or “THC” – is one of many therapeutic compounds found in cannabis. It is generally the most dominant one found in the plant, and is responsible for producing the euphoric – or “high” – effect that cannabis has long been sought after for recreational purposes.
THC is also an extremely effective medicine, being used for a wide variety of reasons, including relief of pain, fighting cancer, and reducing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Although powerful, THC is very safe* – not something to be feared as we have been misled to believe by the “Reefer Madness” myth of recent history. Just like every other medicine, it is simply something that you want to be informed about taking so that you take a dose that’s right for you, not mistakably 10x what you should.
People will often come into our dispensary and say, “I want to use cannabis, but I don’t want to get high. I ate a pot brownie once and got so high…dizzy, disoriented, nauseous… I never want to experience that again.”
This is a classic case example.
The problem that these individuals experienced is not THC; it’s that they had no idea the amount of THC they were taking, and they consumed way too much before their bodies had become acclimatized to it. Imagine if the very first time you consumed liquor, you took half a dozen shots of vodka all at once. It might take a small amount of time before it hit you, but once it did you would likely not feel very good and would probably go lie down. Unlike alcohol, however, cannabis is very safe, never having caused a death. And although we do not like to draw many comparisons between cannabis and alcohol, this does provide an example that most people can relate to.
Something else tricky that arises with cannabis is that, when ingested, there is a significant time delay before the effects are felt, ranging anywhere from 30 minutes and 2 hours. People will sometimes think, “I don’t feel anything, I must not have taken enough”, and will proceed with eating a second or third cannabis brownie. When the first dose finally kicks in, lasting anywhere from 4-8 hours, they still have two more doses of THC coming their way.
Another problem is that unless your product has been laboratory tested for potency, it is impossible to know the exact amount of THC that you are consuming, and therefore very easy to inadvertently take too much.
Cannabis products at The Kootenay’s Medicine Tree are laboratory tested for potency and, thus, you do know the exact amount of THC you are consuming. When using cannabis products medically, our philosophy is that you want to reach your “Therapeutic sweet-spot at the lowest dose possible”. Less is more. There is no point in taking more medicine than you need for a multitude of reasons – medically, financially, etc. So how do you achieve this?
You: “Start low, and build slow”.
You might ask, “How will I know when I’ve reached my therapeutic sweet spot?” The true answer to this is that only you will know. Cannabis is a very individual medicine, as are all medicines, really. Everybody has their own unique set of needs, goals, and biological makeup, and therefore their optimal dose will also be unique to themselves. The medical industry has cast itself as the as an almighty authority over the health of the people, but the people need to begin to trust in themselves again as to when a medicine is working or not working for them. Because cannabis is so safe, you are able to adjust the dosage without fear of seriously harming yourself – rest assure that if you take too much, all you have to do is go lie down and you will sleep off the effects. Additionally, we encourage you keep a cannabis journal to keep track of your cannabis consumption and the accompany effects. Trust in your ability to know for yourself when you’ve reached a dose that’s ideal for you.“Low” means 5mg THC as your starting point. 5mg THC is a dose below the threshold that produces any euphoria for most people. This is the dose that we suggest as the starting point for children, elderly, and everybody in between, as it is very gentle amount – easy on both body and mind. When beginning to use THC, we also suggest that people start one hour before bedtime, so that their body slowly becomes acclimatized to THC while they sleep. From here, the idea is to gradually increase – adding 5mg increments of THC every 3-4 days, until you hit your personal “therapeutic sweet spot”. By doing this, you will avoid the uneasy feelings that can come with taking too much THC.
Sample introduction to THC – adding 5mg THC every four days:*Cannabis quick fact: The human body is embedded with cannabinoid receptors (receptors that accept different chemical compounds from the cannabis plant and utilizes them therapeutically) with the exception of one place – the brainstem. The brainstem is the cardiorespiratory centre of the brain, meaning that it is responsible for maintaining breathing and heart functioning. This is why, unlike opioids that have many receptors in the brainstem, cannabis is so safe; there are so few cannabinoid receptors in the brainstem that it poses virtually no risk to shutting off these “necessity of life” functions.
Day 1: 5mg THC, one hour before bed
Day 2: 5mg THC, one hour before bed
Day 3: 5mg THC, one hour before bed
Day 4: 5mg THC, one hour before bed
Day 5: 10mg THC, one hour before bed
Day 6: 10mg THC, one hour before bed
Day 7: 10mg THC, one hour before bed
Day 8: 10mg THC, one hour before bed
Day 9: 15mg THC, hour before bed
Day 10: 15mg THC, hour before bed
Day 11: 15mg THC, hour before bed
Day 12: 15mg THC, hour before bed
Day 13: 20mg THC, hour before bed
… and so on.
Written by: Tanya Shelestynski (Office Manager, The Kootenay’s Medicine Tree – Nelson)
Edited by: Jim Leslie (Executive Director, The Kootenay’s Medicine Tree)