Cannabis isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. After deciding on the strain that’s best suited to your desired results, you need to determine the best delivery method for your specific needs. Gaining the benefits of cannabis use is highly-dependent upon the consumption method, which is a point often overlooked by patients who experiment with only one or two ways.
There are three categories of cannabis consumption: inhalation, oral and topical. All of these delivery methods have their own advantages, so it’s important to learn about the various ways to consume cannabis and decide which is appropriate for your needs.
When inhaled, cannabis vapor enters the lungs to be absorbed into the bloodstream. This can take place through smoking or vaporization.
Most people associate cannabis with smoking, especially with how many smoking methods there are. Though smoking cannabis is generally safe, it can be a sinus- or lung-irritant for some people, so this method isn’t suited for everyone.
A variety of devices are available for smoking cannabis, such as water pipes, hookahs, rolling papers and much more. The device used alters the experience and the grade of smoke inhaled.
- Hand pipes: These devices trap the smoke from the burning cannabis, which the smoker inhales. They are often small, convenient and portable, as well as being a form of creative expression all their own.
- Water pipes: Although a bong is the most common, water pipes come in an array of options, styles and designs, some of which are especially ornate. For those who struggle with the smoke, a water pipe cools the smoke before it hits the lungs, making it easier to take bigger hits and experience greater effects in a shorter period of time.
- Rolling papers: Used for joints or blunts, this method uses cannabis rolled into paper. Blunts are rolled into cigar paper made from the tobacco plant, giving the user the combination of the cannabis and nicotine effects, as well as the risks associated with nicotine use. Joints use thinner papers often made of bamboo, rice or hemp.
- Hookah: Though usually used to smoke tobacco, hookahs are occasionally used to smoke cannabis. The low water content in hookahs causes the cannabis to burn faster than it can be inhaled, however, so it’s usually mixed with something else to alter the smoking experience, such as tobacco.
For those who struggle with smoking cannabis, vaporization is the best way to reap the inhalation benefits without irritating the respiratory system. A vaporizer heats the cannabis to the appropriate temperature for extracting the cannabinoids, though it’s at too low a temperature to allow for inhalation of the toxins from combustion. Because of this, vaporization is a great choice for experienced users who have concerns about the health effects.
Vaporizers come in a variety of designs, which continue to evolve with the technology. They can range from portable models with a minimal design to large, sturdy models that require a power source. Vaporizers use cannabis concentrates, such as oil and wax, added by using cartridges or manually, depending on the vaporizer design.
Dry flowers can be used as well, which vaporize the cannabinoids from the flower. Due to the increasing popularity, more and more vaporizer pens are hitting the market.
Vaporizers can also use oils that contain upwards of 80 percent THC, compared to the 5 to 25 percent in flowers, so it has a much stronger effect on the body.
A newer method of vaporization is dabbing, which is basically a flash-vaporization method of delivering an extremely potent extract of the cannabis plant. The dab is solidified hash oil concentrate, which is dropped on a nail heated by a blowtorch, creating a vapor that is trapped within a glass rig and inhaled. Despite this intense method, dabbing is actually considered healthier than other methods, due to the high heat at which the butane hash oil is exposed. The vapor is free of any residual plant material, giving you a pure form of cannabis.
Oral delivery is a broad option, containing tinctures, ingestible oils and infused drinks. Cannabis ingested through the digestive tract gets absorbed into the bloodstream, and tinctures administered in the mouth get absorbed into the bloodstream immediately. Oral consumption has a wide window for effects, however, and the chemical transformation cannabis undergoes during ingestion makes it more difficult to anticipate the dosage, desired effects and time frame.
Oral consumption is a great choice for people looking to relieve chronic pain symptoms, due to the long-lasting effects of cannabis ingestion.
Edibles refer to methods that use eating or drinking for delivery into the bloodstream. Any food that contains cannabis is generally referred to as an edible and has a longer onset, as well as full-body, psychoactive effects. Infused drinks and foods are often made with high-fat ingredients, like butter or oil, that enhance the cannabis’ therapeutic properties.
Ingestible oils are the best of both edibles and concentrates. They are the consistency of an oil, but swallowed and digested like an infused food or drink. Ingestible oils are the result of extracting the therapeutic compounds of cannabis with alcohol and evaporating the solvent, which leaves behind an oil-like substance.
Tinctures are a liquid cannabis extract that allows control over the dosage, along with bringing fast-acting effects that limit the health concerns of smoking. Alcohol is usually used as the solvent, but fat-soluble liquids like glycerol and vinegar are also used. Typically, a few drops of the tincture are put under the tongue, where it’s absorbed into the mucous membranes. The liver then processes the cannabis, allowing for dosage control.
THC sprays work similarly to tinctures, though they’re sprayed into the mouth like a breath freshener. Like tinctures, sprays are a quick, safe way to get a dose of THC, especially in situations that require discretion.
Dissolvable strips can be used with either THC or CBD. These small squares of edible paper dissolve when they come in contact with the saliva in your mouth, similar to breath strips, and have the same absorption effects as sprays and tinctures.
Direct sublingual application involves placing THC strips under the tongue or on the side of the mouth, allowing the cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream immediately through the tissue. Like tinctures, sublingual application provides immediate relief with nothing lost in extraction or administration for accurate dosing. This also requires lower doses, so it’s a cost-effective option.
Topical cannabis delivery uses the full cannabis extract, which is an oil that has been decarboxylated to activate the cannabinoids for absorption through your skin. Unlike inhalation and ingestion, topical effects don’t provide the mental euphoria associated with being “high,” so they’re often a better choice for those looking for localized pain relief or a clear mental state.
Creams and Lotions
Applied directly to the skin, topical creams and lotions have pure CBD and provide pain relief without the psychoactive high. Topicals are an ideal choice for patients with anxiety, PTSD, paranoia, pain and other chronic conditions.
Patches are transdermal adhesive strips of plastic infused with THC, CBD or both. The patch goes on a venous part of the body, then the body heat activates the patch and releases small amounts of cannabinoid through the skin and into the bloodstream.
Check Out Our Menu at Euphoria Wellness
There are a variety of ways to consume cannabis, all with different effects and advantages, so you can tailor your usage to your particular ailment or situation, as well as combining methods to experience the benefits of each. At Euphoria Wellness in Nevada, our highly trained staff will be happy to discuss our different strains and various ways to consume cannabis, so you can determine the best option for your needs. Call or stop by today with your Nevada medical cannabis card to browse our menu!