August 18, 2016
What are the Health Benefits of Medical Cannabis?
Cannabis will have variable effects when used by different people and under different circumstances. You should always discuss indications and side effects with your primary care physician! When ingested safely, it is one of the most useful medicines for a wide range of conditions including:
- Chronic pain
- Premenstrual tension
- Withdrawal from other drugs
- Plus many other conditions.
Methods of Consumption
Medical Cannabis can be ingested in many different ways. Effects may vary slightly with different methods of consumption. The length of time it takes for the medicine to take effect, and the length of time that the medicine remains effective, can vary greatly with different methods of consumption.
Smoking Cannabis: The most common ingestion method has traditionally been to smoke the dried flowers and/or leaves of the cannabis plant. Dried cannabis can be smoked in a pipe, rolled into a cigarette (joint), or smoked using a water pipe. Water pipes were once thought to filter out some of the carcinogens in cannabis smoke, but studies suggest that there is no significant health benefit to smoking from a water pipe over other smoking methods. Regularly smoking any plant material can have a negative impact on pulmonary health and therefore Exhale Med Center recommends patients use vaporizers or edible forms of medicine whenever possible.
Vaporizing Cannabis: A vaporizer is a device that allows the patient to separate the cannabinoids (the therapeutically effective chemicals in cannabis) from the plant material without burning. This is possible because cannabinoids vaporize (turn to a gaseous form that can be inhaled). At a temperature lower than that required for burned plant material that constitutes “smoke”. While scientific studies are lacking, it is commonly believed that vaporizing is a healthier form of ingestion than smoking cannabis. Vaporizing is believed to mitigate many of not all of the negative effects of smoking. It tastes better as well. If you are used to smoking your medicine, you may think that you aren’t “getting anything” at first when you vaporize, because vapor does not burn the throat. Even though the vapor doesn’t burn, it is still quite effective. Use caution and wait a few minutes to feel the full effects before taking more.
Edible Cannabis: Edibles are foods cooked with butter or oil that has been infused with cannabis. Edible cannabis usually takes longer to take effect (30 minutes to an hour or more) and the effects generally last longer than smoking or vaporizing. Edibles taken on an empty stomach will take effect significantly faster than if taken immediately following a meal. Use caution! Since the effect take at least 30 minutes to kick in, it is easy to over-medicate. If you have taken your medicine in an edible form, wait at least an hour to be sure you know how strongly it will affect you before taking more.
Edible Treats: Any food that contains butter or oil can be made with cannabis-infused butter/oil.
Oils and Honeys: Cannabis infused oils can be sued directly in foods, consumed in capsules, or mixed with honey to be used in tea or on other foods.
Tinctures: A tincture is a concentrated form of cannabis in an alcohol solution. Tinctures can be taken under the tongue or mixed into water or other beverages.