As medical cannabis prescription is an ever-evolving area of medical research with varying legal availability in different jurisdictions, methods of cannabis ingestion used can vary widely from case to case. Despite the highly individual nature of dosing required for each patient and each respective condition there are multiple ways to medicate to suit every patient’s personal preferences.
However, not all methods of ingestion are recommended medically. Each method of ingestion has its own pros and cons so weighing up the overall benefit in each case is essential.
Online browsing, as always, offers up a multitude of mixed messages and disreputable information that can make responsibly choosing an ingestion method a daunting task. In an increasingly ‘fake-news’, opinion-oriented culture, The Academy of Medical Cannabis is committed to providing only reputable evidence-based information.
With this in mind, we’ve laid out an easy guide to the most popular methods of ingestion you might come across with their relative pros and cons to make choosing and prescribing cannabis ingestion methods an educated and scientifically-backed process.
With the amount of people vaping globally increasing from around 7 million in 2011 to 35 million in 2016 its impossible to ignore this progressively popular smoking alternative. However, with health concerns being cited consistently by the World Health Organisation its important to take a closer look at this controversial method.
How is it ingested?
Vaping cannabis for medical purposes is best done using the dried cannabis flower which is put into a chamber in a vape device then heated. This is the only method of cannabis vaping recommended by the academy.
Considering only vaping using the dried cannabis flower then:
- Vaporizing offers patients a controllable, quicker onset and shorter-lasting way of using medical cannabis.
- Such ingestion can be used to treat acute pain, paroxysmal pain, breakthrough pain and unpredictable acute-onset muscle spasm.
- Using strains with higher CBD content to start with, taking 1 inhalation before waiting 5-15 minutes before taking a second inhaled dose, can help reduce over-medication – particularly with higher THC strains.
- However, oil-based methods or ‘dabbing’ (heating cannabis resin on a hot nail or piece of metal) are not recommended for medical use due to its high risk for adverse effects including hallucination, intoxication and an immediate high dose of THC delivered to the brain with little mitigating CBD. These methods are not encouraged medically.
Capsules and oils
Due to the ever-changing landscape of cannabis legislation in this emerging medical area, in many jurisdictions cannabis is restricted to prescription in oil or capsular form. In the UK for instance, only EU-Good Manufacturing Practice approved products are permitted for medical prescription.
How is it ingested?
Capsules are taken in a regular fashion whilst oil droplets are typically taken under the tongue.
- The main advantage of oils and capsules is that dosage is very easy to control. As reputable manufacturers label the number of milligrams per ml of cannabinoid it is easier to prescribe a specific dose – especially when compared to calculating doses for vaped or edible methods of ingestion.
- There are also already many manufacturers of oils and capsules on the market who produce consistent and reliable products.
- Of course, some manufacturers of oils and capsules are not so reliable and consistent.
- In some countries, prescription is only permitted for certain products, so individuals must be consciously aware of which products fit the ‘GMP standard’ of good manufacturing practice.
For in depth information on medical cannabis and the conditions medical cannabis can treat, we recommend accessing our in depth modules available on https://learn.taomc.org/. Here, you can find up to date information on cannabis based medicinal products and how they may be prescribed. You can also explore our news section and evidence base for the latest information on this ever-changing area of research.
We urge anyone considering the use of medical cannabis products to consult with a trained medical professional prior to beginning use. We do not recommend or endorse using recreational cannabis.
Further investigation and research into cannabis use (both recreational and medical) is thoroughly encouraged by The Academy, particularly through the use of our own online courses, evidence base and whitepapers.