One of the questions people often ask about the sacred plant is, “How do I get relief without the “high?” It’s understandable that new patients are worried about the psychoactive properties of cannabis – a side effect caused by tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is one of the 113 known cannabinoids* in the sacred plant.
There are ways to avoid these side effects. For example, Cannabidiol (CBD) is another healing phytocannabinoid (naturally occurring cannabinoids within the plant) in cannabis is completely non-psychoactive. Patients that need higher doses of THC, there are techniques to reduce the psychoactive effects.
What do we mean by this? If you are completely new to cannabis, we can’t stress enough how important it’s to start with a low dose and gradually increase it. Also, you will want to balance** out your THC with CBD (1:1) because the latter cannabinoid naturally reduces the psychoactive properties. As necessary, your medical cannabis practitioner can gradually increase the ratio either at an even rate or increase the CBD or THC only (2:1 or 1:2.)
Some conditions, such as Autism, ADHD, and certain cancers, respond better to a whole plant medicine with a higher ratio of THC than CBD. The same goes for isolates of any specific cannabinoid or terpene.
In order to achieve the most benefit from cannabis, it’s essential to use whole plant products because its 512 molecules work together to provide the most effective treatment with the least amount of side effects.
Low and slow will also revolve around your method of delivery. For all consumption methods of cannabis, the recommended starting dose is 5 mg in either one full dose or throughout the day. However, every patient is different, and practitioners have found that 2 mg of a whole plant product (1:1 ratio) can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. On the other end of the spectrum, they’ve found patients suffering from aggressive cancers or other severe conditions need and can tolerate doses of 2,000 mg per day.
If you choose to use a whole plant cannabis oil, sublingual tincture, or capsules, you can measure out an exact dose. To avoid all of the psychoactive properties of THC, you need to choose products with a ratio that has an equal or higher dose of CBD (1:1, 2:1, or 3:1 and higher.)
Ingesting Raw Cannabis
Some conditions will respond very well to THCa which is taken in the raw form without decarboxylation (heating the THC activates the psychoactive properties.) The great thing about ingesting cannabis raw is they can get some of the benefits of THC in the acid form (THCa) without any of the psychoactive properties or “high.” The method, pioneered by Dr. William Courtney to treat a number of ailments that afflict his wife, is sometimes referred to as “Juicing” because patients often turn the 15 whole-leaf dose3 into a juice or health shake with other nutrients.
Sublingual Tinctures and oils
Again, these methods are the most accurate for taking medical cannabis. Alcohol-based sublingual tinctures are taken in drops under the tongue where it’s absorbed into the bloodstream and can start to work in as little as 15 minutes. This method has been in use for more than 100 years and is one of the first ways many plant-based medications were administered. Younger and older patients may have a harder time taking tinctures because they have a strong taste. If you don’t need a quick onset, these can be mixed with a drink or food to mask the taste and make them easier to ingest.
Cannabis oils can be taken orally, used in a vaporizer, or added to recipes that don’t exceed 200 degrees Fahrenheit.*** Oils do not absorb into the bloodstream and take 45 to 90 minutes to start reducing symptoms.
Patients that don’t need quick relief and are looking for a more traditional way to take their cannabis medicine can take capsules. These have an exact ratio of CBD and THC and are available in extended release for some conditions.
If you have to use other methods of consumption, here are some tips to help reduce the effects of THC:
New patients should not begin with edibles because the dosing and results from these products aren’t as easy to determine as with the other methods. They vary from baked goods to candies, and drinks infused with different ratios of cannabis extracts.
To take effect, edible medications must go through the digestive process to take effect, and this can take between 45 to 90 minutes. Patients may think the medicine isn’t working and take more than the recommended dose. When this happens, these patients may experience strong psychoactive effects that make them uncomfortable for a few hours.
Edibles often come in serving sizes much larger than the average starting dose of 5 mg. For example, a brownie from your local medical dispensary may come in one solid 100 mg piece.
Even an experienced cannabis patient should split that into a minimum of four doses. Another problem is the temptation. Edibles are often very tasty treats, and THC can increase appetite. Many patients make the mistake of overindulging in these scrumptious products and, as a result, find themselves having a very unpleasant experience. If you decide to try edibles, we suggest breaking off a small portion and then put the rest away for the next dose.
Vaporization and Smoking
Many patients start with these methods. As a new user, start by inhaling a little of the vapor or smoke once, put down the device you are using for up to 15 minutes, and see how it affects you.
Patients can remove the temptation to take more than one puff by putting it away after using, or leaving the room. If after waiting for 15 minutes you still aren’t feeling pain relief, take another single puff. The inhalation method lasts from one to three hours depending on the product’s potency.
Although smoking is the least expensive type of delivery, you should be aware of the dangers of inhaling any smoke.
Patients that do experience an unpleasant “high” from their medicine can take a few steps to reduce these adverse reactions, such as:
As your body builds a tolerance to the THC, you will be able to achieve pain relief without the psychoactive properties. However, keep in mind that as tolerance builds, you may need to increase your dose to get the same symptom relief or you may have to stop taking the medicine for a few days to get the same effect.
So, once again, to close, increase slowly and make sure to take an equal amount of CBD while building tolerance.
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