The way patients ingest medical marijuana matters. Depending on the patient’s condition, the preferred method of consumption is likely to change.
In the past, medical marijuana patients had a limited amount of ingestion options. That has now changed with innovation ushering in a growing number of methods, from vaporizers to edibles to patches. Now, many of the once tried and true ingestion options find themselves replaced by healthier selections.
The Healthiest Methods of Medical Marijuana Ingestion for Patients
There is no clear-cut method that all medical marijuana cardholders should use. Dr. Caroline Hartridge, a doctor of Osteopathic medicine and a licensed General Practitioner in New York and Georgia, tells us that the ideal ingestion method varies from patient to patient.
Each person’s biochemistry responds differently to varying CBD to THC ratios, as well as the delivery methods. Discussing your delivery method preference (pill, tincture, vape) with your provider as well as the symptomatic relief you are seeking will help you come to a personal prescription that works best for you.
Today, patients have an array of options to discover their personal. They include:
Research shows vaporizing to be a much healthier option for smoking medical cannabis. The active ingredients, whether oil or flower, are heated instead of burned. The resulting vapor or gas leaves patients with an immediate, potent dosage. The quick effects work well for patients suffering from intense pain and anxiety, or for patients okay with taking more doses throughout the day. This includes a rising number of microdose users.
Vaporizers come in a variety of sizes and consumption methods. They produce substantial effects, potentially exceeding 90% THC effectiveness. Start with small doses if you are new to using a medical marijuana vaporizer.
Benefits of vaporizing include undamaged mucus membranes that are typically affected by smoking. Others reported having lower levels of carbon monoxide and fewer lung issues than smokers.
Edibles, Beverages, and Raw Medical Marijuana
Marijuana edibles and beverages provide a slower delivery method for patients. The digestive process allows for the cannabis to travel through several organs before giving the patient a sizable dosage. This means that the journey from the patient’s liver to the brain takes roughly an hour, giving the body a thorough amount of CBD and/or THC throughout the system.
Keep in mind the food you choose to consume with your marijuana. What you eat can impact its effects. “Fat, sugar and additives can certainly affect the bioavailability of CBD and THC,” notes Dr. Hartridge. Some patients avoid any potential food problems by using fresh, leafy marijuana instead that they add to smoothies and shakes.
While a suitable choice for everything from cancer to chronic pain sufferers, edibles and drinks do carry risks, including overloaded THC contents. To minimize the risk, it’s best to consume well-known edibles with greater CBD to THC ratios. Be sure to consult with your doctor about dosing before trying edibles for the first time.
Topicals are excellent for chronic pain patients due to their relationship with the endocannabinoid system. Today, topical medical marijuana users range from the elderly, MS patients to everyday pain including joint pain, inflammation and other dermal medical conditions.
Topicals provide a faster, centralized healing. A derma-based application is usually better for treating pain in a specific area. Smoking is more suited for having an effect over the entire body.
Topicals appeal to many patients because they aren’t psychoactive like many other forms of ingestion. This is mostly because the cannabinoids CBN and CBD are absorbed into the skin much better than the psychoactive THC. However, the skin isn’t an easy ingestion source for any cannabinoid. Therefore, topical users should prepare themselves to use a significant amount of medicine with each application.
Tinctures and Sprays
Tinctures and sprays work well for patients that don’t want to irritate their lungs with smoking or any potential risks associated with vaping. Using sublingual application, the mixes of extracts, oil, alcohol and glycerin start just under your tongue and take a while before you feel its full healing potential.
Unlike edibles, tincture and spray users enjoy the portion control that comes with this type of ingestion. Patients can start small and build up to their preferred level with a much clearer understanding of just how much medical marijuana they are consuming in their dose.
For the best potency, consider a tincture that has been decarboxylated. Doing so provides the benefits that extend beyond the cannabinoid THCA — which begins to cover an assortment of medical conditions including:
- PTSD and much more
Pills and Suppositories
A growing number of patients choose to have their medical marijuana in pill form. “I see pills being a more approachable way for patients to enter into the cannabis space,” Dr. Hartridge told PrestoDoctor.
Much like an edible, pills might give you a stronger treatment, as marijuana is often stronger when ingested over being burnt. Suppositories have similar effects with the colon. Except that suppositories route bypasses stomach enzymes altogether. Today, CBD and THC pills are readily available to relieve a series of problems and conditions including:
- Chronic pain
- Sleep struggles
- Chemotherapy side effects
- Headaches and more
Dosage control is an issue that patients have reported. Although pills are one of the healthiest methods of medical marijuana ingestion for patients, managing your exact amount can prove challenging. Your physician may recommend cutting the pills to start until you discover your preferred dosage.
Anyone seeking a quick treatment that last hours could benefit from using a transdermal patch. Transdermal patches are one of the healthiest methods of medical marijuana ingestion for patients, as they work similarly to other straight to the bloodstream solutions, like lotion. However, transdermal patches are meant for providing a healing effect across the body, not to a central location like a topical would.
Additives within the patch actively work to transfer cannabinoids to the body. From there, the active ingredients push through the skin’s protective layer on its way to the bloodstream for a quick treatment.
Controlling your dose is simpler when using a medical marijuana patch. Time-released patches give patients controlled dosages that operate over long periods of time. Going even further, patients enjoy the patch because of its isolated cannabinoid offerings (THC, CBD, CBN, THCA), as well as split patches.
Controversial Ways Of Consuming Medical Marijuana
According to some research, the heat and byproducts of burning flower could damage the throat and lungs due to the natural inhalation of tar during the smoking process.
Dabbing is another controversial method of consumption. Some studies show the potential for delivering high amounts of toxic degradation products. due to the high temperatures. Patients who use medical marijuana for conditions other than pain, may benefit from vaporizing over dabbing. Other patients, who are looking for immediate and strong pain relief, may rely on dabbing. This option should also be discussed with their doctor.
How PrestoDoctor Can Help
If you’re looking to understand what the healthiest methods of medical marijuana ingestion for your qualifying condition, PrestoDoctor can help. PrestoDoctor provides completely online medical cannabis recommendation evaluations for California, Nevada and New York.
Need to renew your current medical recommendation in 2018? Sign up at prestodoctor.com and schedule your video chat consultation. All you need is a valid ID and a device with webcam (computer, smartphone, or tablet). Prospective patients are also welcome to sign up for an appointment. You will not be charged if you do not qualify.Get Your Card Now