There are many ways to use cannabis – and more being invented daily. Unfortunately, most of the new ways are not really an advantage over the old ways, other than selling a new product. In fact, many are not effective at all.
When it comes down to use for medical treatment, there are really only two ways that are effective and reliable: inhalation and oral ingestion.
In this article we’ll explore the top 5 reasons you might consider inhalation, and also what we mean by inhalation. We’ll explore the top reasons for oral ingestion in the next article – stay tuned.
1) Rapid Onset
Inhaled cannabis is rapid in its onset. It will be effective within 10-15 minutes. This is because the cannabis medicine rapidly crosses from the lung into the bloodstream and is circulated to all body tissues within just a few minutes. It readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and connects to the cannabinoid receptors to begin working.
2) Short Duration of Action
While the onset is quick, the duration of action (how long it works/lasts) is relatively short. It tends to wear off in 4-5 hours. For some illnesses this is good news, and for other types it’s not. However, this is how inhaled works. The cannabis medications are removed from the blood and broken down by a series of enzymes in the liver which, in part, explains the relatively short duration of action.
As an aside, which cannabinoid medication and which enzymes are involved are different which leads to the drug-drug interactions that are commonly seen with CBD, but not often with THC.
Did You Know: CBD can interact dangerously with many common medications including Claritin (Loratadine)? Be careful!
3) Acute Problem
The fast-acting, short-acting nature of inhaled cannabis is ideal for certain types of problems. For example, acute problems – those that come on very rapidly, are best addressed with inhalation. A great example is a Migraine type headache. We know from the Migraine research that waiting too long for a medication to kick-in can lead to that headache getting out of control and much harder to treat. Starting treatment at the first symptoms of the headache is crucial to success. Inhaled cannabis to the rescue!
However, once the problem is under control, it would be nice for the medication (and its side effects) to go away. Again, inhaled cannabis gets the nod here – if the Migraine is better, it’s good that the intoxication side effect of cannabis wears off rapidly too.
4) Episodic Problem
Episodic problems – problems that come up from time to time but not in a predictable way – are also well treated with inhaled cannabis. The Migraine example above is still a good one, but another might be menstrual cramps. Some months are brutal, some less so. Sometimes the pain is worse on day 1, sometimes day 3. Inhalation allows for use precisely when it’s needed.
Low libido might be a third example. There is a time and a place for everything – so when you need it, you need it, and when you don’t, you don’t.
Let’s talk briefly about what we mean by inhalation. Currently there are 3 approaches to inhalation: 2 bad ones, and 1 good one. I strongly recommend the good one!
Smoking is not a great idea. Smoking exposes you to a large amount of well-known toxins. There is no need for this exposure, so I recommend against it.
Vaping or using oil-pens is also not recommended. In fact, we have far more experience with smoking than with these oil-pens. However, our accumulating knowledge of these devices shows them to be worse with each study. Inhaling oil, in itself, can be damaging to your lungs causing a condition known as Lipoid Pneumonitis. In the worse cases, this has led to lung transplants. But that’s not all! These devices are very simple – just a battery and heating coil. As such they combust that oil, and now we’re inhaling the same toxins we’d get from smoking. Maybe even some that are worse. The most recent studies show that the metals from the cartridge can leach into the oil and we can inhale those toxic heavy metals. Overall, hard pass!
So what is the good kind? It’s flower vaporization. This uses an entirely different sort of machine to extract the cannabis medicine from the botanical cannabis material (the flower). The key to the safety of these devices is that they contain a computer-brain that is constantly measuring and adjusting the temperature of the cannabis material. This means we can set these devices (to 350’F, 180’C) and they’ll get to, and stay at, that temperature. At that temperature we extract the medication, but generate no toxins.
Further, with a quality flower vaporizer and appropriate cannabis material, we can do a good job of estimating the dose you’ll receive. This is important for reliability and also to help your clinician adjust the medication over time.
Consult with a Qualified Boston Medical Marijuana Expert Today
Those considering using THC, CBD, or any type of medicine found in cannabis to help manage their condition should consider speaking to a trained medical expert who is knowledgeable about using cannabis therapeutically. Massachusetts medical marijuana doctor Jordan Tishler, M.D. sits on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has years of experience helping patients treat pain and other ailments using cannabis. He and the team at InhaleMD stand ready to assist patients in determining whether medical marijuana is right for them. For more information, or to set up a virtual consultation with the team at InhaleMD, call us at (617) 477-8886 today.