Hey so this week we’re going to talk more about CBD. There is so much buzz about CBD and there is a huge knowledge gap, so here’s a little bit of information to help you navigate that.
CBD is a cannabinoid, like THC. It’s found in the Cannabis Sativa plant, which is called hemp when the levels of THC are negligible (usually less than .03%). Hemp and cannabis are genetically the same plant. Cannabis strains are different types of cannabis that have been selectively bred, and they look and smell different from each other and have different effects.
Industrial hemp is cannabis that is bred not to contain THC, but they can still contain CBD and other cannabinoids. These plants tend to be low-resin, meaning you need a lot of plant material to extract any quantity of medicine. Using industrial hemp for medicine can be problematic because the cannabis plant is a bio-accumulator, it sucks up heavy metals and other toxic shit from the soil. (Fun fact: Hemp was planted near the site of the Chernobyl disaster to help remove radiation from the soil.) So when you couple the fact that you need a lot of plant material to extract a small amount of CBD with the fact that hemp is a bio-accumulator, there’s potential for products with really high concentrations of some very poisonous stuff.
So, tip #1: Buy CBD from organic hemp grown in the US. It should say this on the label or website. If the label just says “hemp oil”, don’t go for it, it could be anything. There are a growing number of strains that are high CBD and high resin, which is awesome. More resin = more medicine per plant and less chance for toxic levels of contaminants.
Tip #2: Ask for lab test results. Reputable dealers will have their lab test results available to confirm the levels of CBD and other cannabinoids in their product and it may also show whether its free of contaminants and mold, which is great.
Cannabinoids work best together. THC works better with CBD and other cannabinoids in the mix, and CBD works the same way.
Tip #3: Look for something that says “full spectrum” or “whole plant”. This means that it contains all the cannabinoids and terpenes in the plant. Some products contain CBD isolate, which still has medicinal value but is difficult to dose. CBD has what’s called a bell-shaped dose response, meaning a small amount might be effective, but a larger dose will have no effect, and eventually a much high dose will have an effect again. This makes it harder to find the dose that will work for you. Taking several cannabinoids together helps lessen this response, which allows the user to have a much broader dose and still be effective. Plus, those terpenes and minor cannabinoids have medicinal value too, so, bonus!
Tip #4: Look for CO2 extraction. There are several ways to extract cannabinoids from cannabis. They all involve using a solvent, and cheaper extraction methods use ethanol or butane. These aren’t so great because they can degrade the medicine and leave behind harmful residue. CO2 extraction can only be done using laboratory equipment, so it costs more. But it extracts more medicine, leaves nothing behind, and provides a better tasting, higher quality product.
I use and recommend NuLeaf Naturals (and I’m an affiliate), but there are lots of high-quality products to choose from.
If you’re in the Twin Cities and want to learn more, I’m hosting a meeting about CBD with Ellementa on June 27th at Nina’s Coffee Cafe in Saint Paul. Tickets are $10; click here to get yours. I hope to see you there!
Questions? Leave them in the comments or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome back to week 3 of DIY month here at the NW blog!
Today we’re talking about dosing, and this information is so important.
Those of you who are new to cannabis, or for those who are new to using cannabis for wellness, this information will help you find the right dose to feel amazing and avoid an unpleasant experience.
Cannabis is bi-phasic, which means that its effective at very small doses, then loses its effectiveness as you add more. You’ve probably read the mantra, “start low and go slow”, and for good reason. Most people simply take too much cannabis, particularly if you started using as a young person. Now, let me say that I love being high. I love the psychoactivity, I love the dreamy awe. But I experience that at much lower doses than I initially thought. And if I add a bit more, I’m often disappointed in the result.
So what’s a good dose? And how do you dose when using legacy market (illegal) cannabis?
Let’s begin with onset and duration.
There are several ways to ingest cannabis; smoking, vaping, edibles, tinctures, and topicals.
Smoking has the fastest onset, as the cannabinoids pass directly into the bloodstream from the lungs. Take a small puff, and wait 5 minutes before taking more. The tendency (at least for me) is to puff away while it’s burning, but it’s easy to miss that low-dose sweet spot, so put it out and take your time! Effects last an hour or two.
Vaping has a fast onset also, and I recommend the same level of patient self-awareness when you begin. There are a couple of ways to vape: with a pen and cartridges, and with a dry-herb vaporizer. I prefer the to vape my buds in a Firefly 2 dry-herb vaporizer. Vaping flower retains terpenes and cannabinoids, it tastes fantastic, and you actually ingest higher amounts of THC than smoking, because it doesn’t burn off. Plus you can use the ABV (already been vaped) plant material to infuse oil after!
I do not use or recommend cartridges. I know some are made with safe ingredients, but I live in a prohibition state and I have no idea what’s in the vape carts available to me. Many contain propylene glycol, and I just prefer to keep things simple.
The process for new users is the same as smoking; take a small puff, wait five minutes. Effects last a hour or two.
Edibles are their own game. They go through the digestive system and are processed in the liver. There the THC is converted to 11-OH-THC, a metabolite of THC, which feels much stronger than THC. Onset is 1-3 hours, and it depends on what’s in your stomach when you ingest. Always have some food before you take an edible, it slows onset and helps you have a more consistent experience. Start with 2-5mg, and be prepared to wait a long ass time to feel anything. Unlike other ingestion methods, you can’t expect consistent results from edibles, so take them in a comfortable place until you’re familiar with how they affect you. They last 3-6 hours, which is great for insomnia or pain relief, but less great if you’re feeling really anxious from taking too much. Low and slow, man.
Tinctures are taken either sublingually (under the tongue) or swallowed. Swallowing them will create effects like an edible; it will have a slow onset, last longer, but have somewhat unpredictable results. Sublingual ingestion is quicker, with an onset time around 15 minutes, and effects last an hour or two. Take 2-5mg, and hold it under the tongue for 3-5 minutes. It’s easy to titrate (adjust your dose) because it comes on pretty quickly, and unlike edibles, when you find your goldilocks dose it will offer a pretty consistent experience each time you take it, as long as you use tinctures sublingually. Dr. Sulak from Healer.com recommends sucking on gummies or lozenges instead of swallowing them to keep the medicine in the mouth longer, which allows more of it to pass through the membranes of the mouth directly into the bloodstream.
Topicals are applied to the outside of the body, and will not produce a high. THC and CBD absorb through the skin and provide local effects only
If you’re new to cannabis:
Start with 1-5mg. You might not notice any effects the first couple of times you use cannabis. This is common. Don’t up your dose until you’ve given your body enough time to adjust. This process of finding the right dose can take a week or longer. Take your time and have fun with it!
But Jess, I don’t know how much THC is in my weed! How do I figure out how much to take of that homemade infused oil or tincture I made last week? Good question. You can do that 2 ways.
You can do some dosage math, using the national average THC% as a base number. I believe it’s around 15%. So, the infused coconut oil recipe I gave you called for 14g of flower, 15% of that is 2.1 grams or 2100mg of THC in the recipe. You infused 14oz of coconut oil which equals 84 tsp. 2100mgs THC divided by 84 tsps equals 25mg/tsp. Thats a little over 3mg in ⅛ of a tsp.
(If that didn’t make sense, don’t worry! Here’s a dosage calculator from wakeandbake.co.)
So, start with 1/8tsp dose. I personally add it to coffee or tea and drink it that way. I’d avoid using it in a recipe until you have an idea of how this dose affects you.
When you do use it in a recipe, you need to know how many servings the recipe will make, and the dose you want each serving to contain. Then work backwards. Your brownies make 12 servings, and you want them to be ½ tsp each. ½ times 12 servings equals 6 tsps or 3 tbsps total infused oil in the recipe. Replace that much butter or oil in the recipe with canna oil, and make up the difference with regular oil or butter. So if your brownie recipe calls for ½ cup of oil, you’d first convert that to tablespoons. ½ cup equals 8 tablespoons, so you’d use 3 tbsp of canna oil and 5 tbsp of regular.
If you made the tincture, you’ll need to measure your alcohol to figure out the dose of your product. The recipe doesn’t call for that, because I don’t do that. But I don’t do dosage math, either. Why? Because every bag of legacy market cannabis I buy is different, so I need to check the dose every time I make a new batch of oil or tincture. Plus I don’t really care how many mgs I'm taking. I focus on how I feel.
So, here’s how to titrate, or figure out your dose when you don’t have the numbers.
Start with a very small dose: 1 puff if inhaling, 1/8tsp for infused oil, 1 drop for tincture. Keep a log of your experience. Check in with your body before you use, and at intervals. Ask yourself how you feel emotionally, and in your body. Are you anxious? Are you relaxed and calm? Are you tense or in pain? Are you excited? Are you hungry? Do you have dry mouth? Is your heart beating fast?
Healer.com provides these great worksheets for titration when using by inhalation and tincture.
I do it with a post-it on the fridge. Jot down how you feel before you use, and how much you took. Then for edibles jot down your notes every hour or so, noting when you no longer feel any effects. If using a tincture; keep a log starting after 20 minutes, then 60, and note when you longer feel anything. It may take you a few tries to find the right dose, don’t worry about it.
What if I took too much?
If you notice your heart is racing and you feel anxious, you’ve taken too high a dose. Fortunately, cannabis is not toxic, so no matter what you will be fine. The first thing to do is remain calm and just breathe. Take a few slow deep breaths and see if you can interpret your heart racing as excitement rather than fear. Know that your body is having a reaction to cannabis, and that is all that is happening. Your fear is coming from your body, not an actual threat. Try and distract yourself with tv or sleep it off, if you can.
You could try chewing on a black peppercorn. It contains the phytocannabinoid beta-caryophyllene, which binds to the same receptors as THC. This might be the reason it helps.
If you have some, CBD will counteract the anxiety response to THC. Studies show a dose as low as 15mg of CBD will help. You could take an oil sublingually or smoke some high CBD (and low THC) cannabis. Anything you have to swallow, like an edible or a capsule will take too long to be effective. In my own experience, a half dropper of CBD oil under the tongue helps me feel better almost immediately if I’ve had a bit too much. It makes things sharper and helps me feel in control again. Which brings me to…
THC and CBD are like a power couple, they work best together. They enhance the medicinal benefits of each other, and CBD mitigates the unpleasant side-effects that THC can produce.
CBD is an appetite suppressant, and using the right dose completely stops the munchies from being a thing for me.
Its neuroprotective, and helps lessen short-term memory loss from THC. Im noticeably sharper when I dose CBD with my THC. I don’t forget shit, Im clearer, I don’t get stuck in my thoughts.
And lastly, CBD helps with anxiety and paranoia from THC. Until recently it was thought that CBD blocked the high of THC, but it turns out it just stops the anxiety and mental fogginess.
So, consider taking CBD with every dose of THC, they are a powerhouse of positive effects when taken together. Most people like a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC.
And if you still find you’ve had a bit too much, add more CBD for nearly instant relief (when taken sublingually or smoked, not swallowed).
Thanks for reading, I hope this is helpful to you! If you have questions or comments, please leave them below or shoot me an email at email@example.com
I used the following websites to inform this post:
Today we’re talking about making infusions and tinctures at home. These are great options for folks who want to use discreetly, or who want to avoid smoking, who want to make their own edibles, or just save shitloads of money. Doing this is home is easy, my friends!
Okay so last week we talked about decarboxylation, and that is the first step to any of these methods. All of these recipes call for decarbed cannabis.
Let’s start with my old faithful, cannabis infused coconut oil. I use this every single day. It’s potent and long-lasting, and super easy to make. I don’t recommend this to anyone who is new to cannabis because it has a slow onset (1-3 hours), lasts a long time, and doesn’t offer a consistent experience. Because you eat it and it get metabolized in the liver, lots of variables can alter the experience. So 5mg today might feel completely different from 5mg tomorrow. Many a day has been ruined by over-consuming edibles and then having to wait hours to feel better. We’ll talk more about dosing next week, but the rule of thumb is, always start low and go slow.
Cannabis Infused Coconut Oil
So easy and so economical.
Next I’ll give you the basics for making your own tinctures. Tinctures are great because the onset is quick (about 15 minutes), they are discreet, and sublingual dosing is simple and consistent. I recommend tinctures to anyone who is new to cannabis. You can take very small doses and can expect a relatively consistent experience from it. Meaning, a 5mg dose (sublingually) will offer a consistent experience from day to day. Which as I mentioned isn’t the case with edibles. More on that next week!
- Add herbs to your tinctures!
- Try 2 tsp each chamomile and valerian for a sleep tincture, or 2 tbsp turmeric and ginger for pain. Use any method you choose.
I learned these methods from Corinne Tobias' book, Dazed and Infused and her website wakeandbake.co.
Next week we’ll talk about dosing your infusions and tinctures, and what to do if you’ve had too much. Stay tuned!
Questions? Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month is all about easy, fool-proof methods for making your own cannabis products at home. I'll teach you how to make infusions and tinctures, how to dose them, and ways to use them! It's going to be awesome.
But first, decarboxylation.
Decarbing is the process of heating raw cannabis to convert cannabinoids from their acid form to their more active form. Raw cannabis contains THCA and CBDA, heating them converts these to THC and CBD. Raw cannabis does have medicinal benefits. THCA has shown helpful for patients with epilepsy, nausea, and as an anti-inflammatory. CBDA may be used as an anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, anti-anxiety, and anti-cancer. So if psychoactivity isn’t your thing, consuming raw cannabis is an option. That said, you can customize the level of psychoactivity you get from decarbed cannabis also, more on that later when we cover dosing.
Here’s the thing about decarbing. It’s a complex process. You want to heat the plant material enough to convert all of the THCA to THC, without burning off valuable cannabinoids and terpenes. I’ve included the method that I use myself, it’s from wakeandbake.co. Corinne tried several at-home methods of decarboxylation and had the results lab-tested. This was the most effective method she tried.
If you want perfect decarbing at home, consider Ardent’s decarboxylator. Its small, super simple, not smelly, and will get you all of the potency with none of the fuss. Click here and use my discount code NOWELL for $30 off!
I use cured flower, but decarboxylating fresh flower preserves more terpenes, which have their own medicinal benefits.
Once you have decarbed, you can use your cannabis in so many ways! Use it to infuse oil, butter, honey, milk or cream. Make a tincture using alcohol or glycerin. Sprinkle it on food. Grind it up and put it in capsules. Smoke it. (That’s right, according to Ardent, decarbing before smoking will increase potency.) Or use it to make topicals.
A word of caution here, if you use the method below, it’s significantly smelly.
Okay, lets get decarbing!
Thoughts? Comments? Leave them below or email me at email@example.com.
I am Jessica DaCosta, I'm a proud cannabis enthusiast, advocate, and mom of two.