Get it in and get it workin’. For years, that’s been the lax directive around cannabis. As cannabis becomes more mainstream, more patients want to try this new-old medicine. But diving into medicinal cannabis isn’t only bad advice, it can be dangerous. When adding cannabis to your wellness plan, think of wading in, not diving.
The job title “Cannabis Counselor” is everywhere these days. Truth is, experienced cannabis users have advised and counseled new users for decades—or longer. (I imagine the second herbivore who took a nibble from the cannabaceae plant was likely urged by the first experimenter.)
Previously, I worked with a team of cannabis counselors who helped new patients achieve effective dosing. I can tell you honestly I learned more through my father’s experience with cannabis than I ever did at work.
Before cannabis was legal in Canada, my father got the ok from Health Canada to use medical cannabis. (Since the Cannabis Act took effect on October 17, 2018, new regulations have replaced the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR).)
I’d like to think my own successful treatment with cannabis compelled him. In fact, he “got legal” to use cannabis after some friends in his pool league shared their experience with him. Hearing his friends speak so openly about cannabis lessened his doubts about the plant. Honestly, I don’t care whom or what convinces you, as long as you try the herbal!
My dad has arthritis from his hard days of farm work. He treated his pain with fairly serious NSAID medications, which work well but have some nasty side effects. (Stomach pain, heartburn, liver and kidney problems, just to name a few.)
About two years ago, my dad was diagnosed with temporal arteritis. It’s a vascular condition where the main artery in the head constricts. Temporal arteritis is incredibly painful. He was put on high doses of prednisone right away. The side effects of the steroid are what led him to try cannabis for temporal arteritis.
Most beginners and seniors start medicinal cannabis therapy using edible cannabis oil. The oil is taken sublingually, which means under the tongue.
Why under the tongue?
Oil manufacturers advise patients to hold the oil under their tongue for 30 seconds to encourage the cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream.
Why not just swallow the oil?
Overly acidic stomach acid can deteriorate the medicinal compounds of the cannabis oil. Even if you hold the oil under your tongue, some of that oil will be swallowed, thus lessening your dosage.
Should you eat before you use cannabis oils?
Yes. Taking oil on a full stomach can lessen the chances of cannabinoid deterioration. Plus, taking cannabinoids has been shown to lower blood sugar, which can make people feel dizzy or nauseated. Taking edible oil with food helps!
Can’t eat before taking your edible oil? Before you dose, drink some baking soda water to increase the pH of your stomach. (To neutralize stomach acid, just dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda into eight ounces of water.)
What if sublingual doesn’t work for you?
My father started his treatment with oil. Though heralded as one of the best methods, there are times when I disagree. Holding oil under the tongue can be more difficult than it sounds—especially for seniors and children.
DIY cannabis oil capsules
I advise patients to buy empty gelatin caplets with enteric coating and fill them with oil. The enteric coated caplets are commonly used for probiotics. The coating prevents the medicine from disintegrating in the gastric environment.
There’s a lot of information out there and anecdotal evidence that establishes best practices for dosing cannabis.
Dosing cannabis is a fluid, ever-fluctuating exercise that is unique to each person’s biology. In fact, the mere act of ingesting cannabinoids changes that biology. (Therefore, it’s tricky to create universal guidelines for those new to medicinal cannabis.)
Patients are advised to titrate doses. Titrating involves judging a dose’s effects before increasing subsequent doses. Patients can get discouraged when upping a dose doesn’t lead to immediate relief. (Taking larger doses means investing more money in medicine.) Patience, please.
CANNABIS OIL HIGH IN THC
Unlike CBD oil, THC-rich cannabis oil has psychoactive effects, so it’s important to begin gradually—start low and go slow.
Day 1: 0.25 ml dose with breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 2: Repeat
Day 3: 0.35 ml dose with breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 4: Repeat
Day 5: 0.45 ml dose with breakfast, lunch and dinner
Once you find relief, you’ve established your optimal dosage—no more need to increase. Still no relief? Continue upping the dosage by 0.1 mls every other day until you reach your desired effect.
CANNABIS OIL HIGH IN CBD (OR CBD OIL DERIVED FROM HEMP)
Day 1: 0.25 ml dose with breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 2: Repeat
Day 3: 0.50 ml does with breakfast, lunch and dinner
Day 4: Repeat
Day 5: 1 ml dose with breakfast, lunch and dinner
After day 5, stay at a 1 ml dose three times a day for one week. If you need to increase your dosage, double the dosage every other day until you find relief.
Like many of the patients I helped professionally, Dad didn’t get much relief from the oil. Success came to him in a yummier form—medicated oatmeal cannookies made with love by my niece and yours truly.
While visiting him one Sunday, I concocted a cookie recipe with the three grams of cannabis I had in my purse. After eating one of Papa’s Chocolate Cannookies, my dad reported that, “The pain was still there, but the edge was taken off a bit.” So, why on earth could a cookie smooth the jagged edge of pain when a producer-manufactured oil could not?
Each one of us is made up of endogenous or naturally-occurring receptor systems. By now, we’re well aware of their holistic connection. By incorporating the help of those neighboring systems, my dad enjoyed a better outcome.
Many scientists believe the many components of the cannabis plant work together to create its therapeutic effect. To learn more, check out Sanjay Gupta’s reporting on the Entourage Effect.
So, is there also an entourage effect at play in our bodily systems as well? Incorporating the cannabinoids into the cannookie allowed them to piggy-back on the food particles all the way through the system, somewhat protecting them from deterioration from stomach acid.
While traveling through the digestive system, that cannabis cookie was processed by the liver. The liver converted the compounds into an even stronger medicinal compound. (And I thought the magic ingredient was love!)
Recently, my dad also received some medicated chocolate coconut haystacks from a friend. He’s definitely found relief in those haystacks!
Remember the system you’re feeding in turn feeds your other systems, too—endocrine, immune—they’re all holistically interconnected. By slowly introducing cannabinoids into several meals a day, you’ll feed your systems in a balanced manner. Your biology will thank you.
SLOW DOWN YOUR MEDIBLE’S JOURNEY
You can affect how quickly medibles move through your system by baking with ingredients that have a low glycemic index. Oatmeal, tree nuts, chia seeds and coconut really do the trick and taste delish, too! Each morsel packs a nutritional punch that fuels your system longer, thus giving the cannabinoids ample time to enter your hungry receptors.
Get creative—use whatever seeds and nuts you or your patient likes. There’s nothin’ quite like a cookie made with your favorite ingredients, especially if it’s a medicated cookie. 🙂
RETAIN TERPENES IN EDIBLES AND CONCENTRATES
Remember, good in, good out. Why make medibles with lousy, dried out flower? All the medicine you’re hoping to bake into your cannabis goodies will be lost to evaporation. Broken trichomes, broken dreams.
Always start cooking with well-hydrated flower. The easiest way to prevent terpene evaporation is with Boveda. Just toss Boveda in with your buds, whether you’re using them for baking, pressing or smoking. Here’s a guide to how much Boveda to use in your container.
Homemade cannabis oil is so much better! I home grow and make my own cannabis oil in an apartment. And so can you, as long as cannabis is legal where you are. Here’s my coconut cannabis oil recipe.
When dosing with baked goods, you must consider the strength of the oil or butter used in the recipe. The amount of cannabinoids in your oil depends on what actual plant matter was infused into the fat.
For Di’s Dark Chocolate Cannookies: my homemade coconut cannabis oil contained an equal ratio of about 5% THC and 5% CBD.
NOW HERE COMES CANNABIS MATH
Dosing is done by milligrams per milliliter.
5% THC = 5 mg/ml of THC
5% CBD = 5 mg/ml of CBD
My recipe calls for ½ cup of medicated coconut oil.
½ cup ≈ 125 ml
125 ml x 10 (THC+CBD mg/ml) = 1250 ml
1250 ml ÷ 32 cannookies ≈ 39 ml ÷ 2 = 19.5 mg/ml of THC and 19.5 mg/ml of CBD
Now 19.5 mg is a nice low dose. But brand new users should still dose half cookie at a time. (Wait at least 2 hours in between each dose.) The equal parts of CBD will help mitigate the psychoactive effects but it’s still best to start slow and raise up slowly.
To keep my cookies fresher longer, I even toss in a Boveda 58% RH into the airtight food container.
BONUS TIP: Did you know Boveda stops brown sugar from hardening? Just toss in a Boveda 69% RH in your covered container of brown sugar. No more chiseling rock hard brown sugar. Boveda keeps brown sugar soft and always ready to use.
Dianna Donnelly is a cannabis educator, blogger, and freelance writer living in Kingston, Ontario. She counsels new patients on the safe and effective use of medicinal cannabis and believes that with enough time, cannabis, and coconut oil she can heal the world.
Dianna Donnelly’s posts are being provided for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Boveda of any of the products, services or opinions of Dianna Donnelly. Boveda bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality or content of this post or links to the posts. Contact Dianna Donnelly for answers to questions regarding her content.