This usually involves using an electric powered device that blows heated air through the herbal cannabis which releases the therapeutic molecules found in medical cannabis (cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids) in a vapor that can be inhaled directly into the lungs for quick passage to the circulatory system where they can then be used by the body where needed. The advantage to vaporizing is NO COMBUSTION, meaning the medical cannabis is not heated enough to burn thereby avoiding the carcinogens found in all smoke. Although even smoking heavy amounts of cannabis daily is not associated with lung cancer, it is best to smoke only when necessary. Asthmatics use vaporizers to inhale cannabis vapor that dilates the airways in the lungs without the need for regular steroid use.
Edible Cannabis Infused Food and Drink
The therapeutic cannabinoids in cannabis can be infused into all manner of recipes for food and beverages. Since cannabinoids are fat-soluble molecules, they are best captured for consumption in fat-based products. Two popular bases used in cannabis cooking are infused butter and oils like olive oil or grapseed oil. The options are endless and the only limit is one’s own imagination. When recovering from chronic illness or fighting a terminal illness getting enough healthy food every day is very important. The added benefit from ingesting cannabinoids is a tendency to see improved digestion and uptake of nutrients, healing of intestinal damage and inflammation, and of course the very well known quality of appetite stimulant that cannabinoids, usually THC, are known for. This makes the use of medical cannabis edibles particularly useful to those who suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBD (irritable bowel disease), and Crohn’s Disease.
NOTE: When eating or drinking medical cannabis products the THC is first transferred from the stomach to the liver via the bloodstream where is it converted by a liver enzyme into 11-hydroxy-THC, a much more potent and psychoactive version of THC, the effects of which can be unpleasant for those not familiar with the effects of medical cannabis. The effects from this THC are delayed by up to as much a 2 hours after eating or drinking and thus medical patients can easily have too much if they are not patient for the effects to arrive. Luckily, if one takes too much medical cannabis, they simply go to sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. It is impossible to die from an overdose of cannabis.
In a base of vodka, grape seed oil, or some other fat-based liquid or alcohol, cannabis (which has been decarboxylated or activated by being carefully heated in the oven for a time) is soaked for at least 7 days and the cannabis is then strained out of the liquid leaving a tincture of activated cannabinoids. When dropped under the tongue, the cannabinoids are absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the mucous membranes of the inside of the mouth. This brings a much quicker medicinal effect, allowing the patient to properly titrate their dose. Tinctures can be added to drinks as well, however, that means the cannabinoids must go through the stomach and liver first, delaying the onset of the medicinal effect and increasing the potency of THC as described above in the food and drink paragraph. Tinctures can also be made from glycerine for those who cannot tolerate alcohol. Cannabis tinctures can be taken orally, and applied topically to sore joints, muscles, wounds, lesions, etc. with generally impressive results. We are aware of local medical cannabis patients who use a small, twice daily dose of tincture to open their airways and can generally avoid using steroid-based inhaler medications.
This is an exciting, and historically traditional, method for applying medical cannabis to the exterior of the body. The therapeutic cannabinoids are infused into ointments, salves, skin patches/bandages, poultices. This method allows the local stimulation of your body’s own cannabinoid receptors at a specific site on the body. Great for treating inflammation in muscles, joints, and cartilage and even speeding the healing of broken bones. One popular method involves making a re-usable cannabis skin patch from cheesecloth and activated cannabis used in the process of making infused olive oil. These patches can be applied on multiple occasions to the body and continue to be effective at speeding healing and reducing pain and inflammation due to the heavy concentration of cannabinoids present in the patch. In between applications they can be stored in a plastic bag in the fridge. Cannabinoids have potent anti-microbial and anti-fungal activity which helps keep the bandage re-usable and clean for multiple applications. Generally, topical cannabis preparations are not made with the cured buds people usually associate with medical cannabis. Instead, the leaves and stems of the plant are used, which contain more non-psychoactive cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD), which have a wide variety of medicinal effect, but no psychoactive effect or “high”. There are some ointments made with cannabis buds that have shown great promise for treating skin cancers, burns, intense local pains, cuts, swelling, arthritis, and abrasions which do contain amounts of THC.
Juicing raw cannabis buds and leaves is an interesting way to ingest medical cannabis with potent medicinal effect but little to no psychoactive effect. In raw cannabis the psychoactive cannabinoid THC is in acid form THCA (tetrahydrocannabolic acid), which means that when taken into the human body the THCA molecule will not fully bond with a CB1 receptor, because of this it is not able to fully stimulate a psychoactive effect but has potent medicinal effects. Also, because one is not heating the cannabis the other therapeutic molecules (terpenoids and flavonoids) that are destroyed at temperatures that convert THCA into it’s psychoactive form of THC, are left in place to exert what most believe is a synergistic effect working with THC, CBD, CGC, CBG, CBN. According to Dr. William L. Courtney, MD and Kristen Peskuski of Cannabis International this raw, unheated cannabis, when juiced, derives a medicinal effect 200-400 times greater than traditional heated cannabis.
This is the method of using medicinal cannabis that most people are familiar with. Although smoking is not the most efficient method for using medical cannabis, in a pinch it provides relief as the heat from the flame/burning end travels through the cigarette heating and vaporizing the cannabinoids as they are inhaled into the lungs and then pass into the blood stream for travel around the body and brain. Although cannabis smoke does contain carcinogens, there has never been a case of a person contracting or dying from lung cancer from smoking cannabis alone. Regular cannabis smokers can have more chest colds and some have re-occurring bronchitis, but there is no link to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or emphysema. The cannabinoids in the smoke still exert a therapeutic effect and induce cancerous cells to die on their own while leaving healthy cells alone. Check the “Science” page for more information on the relative safety of smoking cannabis. Devices to reduce the harm from smoke to the lungs include pipes, water pipes, and filtered cigarettes.