You are not alone if you’ve spent most of your adult life believing that cannabis is bad for you. I used to think cannabis was unhealthy, but it turns out it’s a lack of knowledge and education that is unhealthy. We have a lot to catch up on, having had cannabis research and science education restricted for the greater part of the 20th century. It’s time to take on the knowledge we need to be safe and educated consumers of cannabis. Cannabis was a healthy addition to my life once I took the time to understand the following lessons and apply them to my personal consumption.
Cannabinoids: How cannabis interacts in the human body
Did you know your body makes its own version of cannabis? Cannabinoids are the complex chemical compounds in cannabis that mimic naturally occurring compounds produced by our body, called endocannabinoids. There are many cannabinoids, the most famous being THC and CBD, and they bind to our receptor sites throughout our brain and body, modulating mood and feeling. Recent research has proposed that if your body is not performing optimally, it may be because of a lack of naturally-produced cannabinoids in your endocannabinoid system, resulting in cannabinoid deficiency. Consuming cannabis could help maintain cannabinoids at optimal levels, also known as homeostasis. Understanding how cannabis is interacting in your body is the first step to understanding how cannabis can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
THC vs CBD: Not all cannabis products will get you high
Want the benefits of cannabis without the high? Focusing on products lower in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and higher in CBD (cannabidiol) may provide the solution. THC has the strongest psychoactive properties and CBD is non-psychoactive, providing pain relief and anti-anxiety effects. Although THC is proving to have many medical applications, including chronic pain relief, for those who are new to cannabis and are concerned about the euphoria and high, starting out with CBD products may be the ideal solution.
Terpenes: Aromas that drive the mood and feeling
Ever wondered about the difference between sativa, indica and hybrid? Turns out it’s the aromatic flavours in each strain, called terpenes, that make each strain unique. The combination of flavors, also known as the terpene profile, drive the mood and feeling of each strain. A sativa is usually more energetic because of the presence of the limonene terpene, a citrusy flavour also found in fruit. An indica strain, more famous for relaxation and sleep, gets these effects from terpenes such as myrcene. A hybrid strain might have more of a balance of terpenes, but is likely dominant in one or more of the terpenes, leading it to be labelled sativa dominant or indica dominant. Some terpenes are known to assist with relief for certain disorders, such as caryophyllene for anxiety and linalool for depression, so getting to know your terpenes can make all the difference when selecting the right strain for you.
Methods of Consumption: Different results for different intentions
Consuming cannabis does not have to mean smoking a joint, pipe or bong. There are many different ways to experiment, depending on the desired effect and personal preference. Consuming cannabis can be a simple as applying a topical lotion or salve. The active compounds are absorbed through the skin in a targeted area for pain relief, without any psychoactive effects. Vaporizing cannabis gets quick results without the plant combustion caused by smoking. Oil drops provide an excellent alternative to inhalation. Placed under the tongue, they are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Capsules and precisely-labelled edibles take longer to come into effect, but for many people offer lasting pain relief. Finding the method that best matches your intentions and desired effects is the key to enjoying your cannabis consumption.
Microdosing: The smallest amount for the desired effects
Understanding that I could get the best results from the smallest amount possible, changed my relationship with cannabis. Microdosing is using a dose so low that it’s unlikely to produce whole-body effects, but high enough to allow the cellular response and benefits. My low tolerance to THC means that I can test and enjoy cannabis throughout my day, using tiny amounts and without getting too high. I look for products low in THC or I reduce the amount consumed as there are limited microdosing products on the market. I might apply 2-3 drops of cannabis oil under the tongue, take one draw on my vaporizer or consume a low dose capsule to experiment with my optimal microdose level. See my post on Why I Microdose Cannabis for more.
Ultimately your experience is up to you, so I hope you take the time to learn and improve your cannabis experience. Focus first on your intentions. Are you hoping to improve your night’s sleep? Are you looking for some energy throughout the day? Using your cannabis 101 knowledge, you will be able to make better choices for your health and lifestyle. We’d love to hear about your experiences! Join us on Facebook for more interactions with Flower & Freedom. Comment below if you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover in upcoming blog posts!
Disclosure: The information shared in this post is a personal experience and not to be considered medical or legal advice. Please consult with a health practitioner and seek legal counsel on the cannabis laws in your area.