BY JENNY CORSO, Chief Science Officer, Darwin Brands
Edibles… vapes… transdermal patches… metered-dose atomizers… With so many products and formulations available in the cannabis market, it can be intimidating to navigate, even with the help of the internet and an experienced budtender. And for the inexperienced consumer, it is important to figure out where to begin. Throw in some science lingo and–whew!—it all can be a lot to take in!
So, where should you begin, and what questions should you ask about product formulations and dosing?
Here is a simple guide to assist you in having a comfortable and effective cannabis experience.
Determine the purpose for consumption.
Are you looking to help combat stress and anxiety by micro-dosing, or augment other medication to attenuate symptoms of a severe medical condition like cancer or multiple sclerosis? Perhaps you’re looking for a simple sleep aid. There are many, many reasons patients turn to cannabis for relief and treatment for an array of medical conditions.
Being specific about this fundamental information – the “why” – will help dictate the formulation, route of administration and dose that should be selected. For example, small doses and micro-doses could be selected if treatment is needed for a condition that isn’t severe yet, but where medication must be consumed throughout the day, like pain related to an acute injury or small surgery. A higher dose using a more potent and full-spectrum oil may be chosen for cancer treatment.
Have you used cannabis before?
If you are a new consumer or infrequent user, you may be unfamiliar with your own tolerance for THC or other cannabinoids like CBD, and therefore, are unsure where you should start. Micro-dosing is a great way for inexperienced consumers to begin. Micro-doses of cannabis typically contain 2 mg or less of THC and may or may not include other cannabinoids like CBD in higher ratios.
Darwin Brands’ Origin Series line of products are perfect for consumers new to cannabis, and even come with educational guidance on the packaging. For more help on selecting your ideal cannabis experience, check out Darwin’s Guide to Enjoying Cannabis With Confidence.
Are the therapeutic effects needed locally or systemically?
Consuming an ingestible form of cannabis like an edible or tincture, inhaling vapor, or smoking flower are all examples of formulations and corresponding routes of administration that will create a whole-body, systemic effect.
Routes of administration and medicinal formulations like these are great for treating chronic pain in multiple locations, or for mood disorders like anxiety, just to give a few examples (there are many more!) If you or another patient are looking to treat only a local area, an example being a superficial skin disorder like psoriasis, a cutaneous topical may be the best bet, such as a lotion or salve.
Do you have any condition that may prevent you from using any particular type of formulation?
This could include a liver disease or other metabolic disorder, lung condition such as emphysema or COPD, etc. In addition, certain medications and foods may already impact drug metabolism, so certainly do your research and/or talk to a medical practitioner if you have questions. Also, if you consume edibles, take into account any food allergies or intolerances that may limit your options.
How quickly do you need to feel the effects, and how long do they need to last?
Metabolism and bioavailability of cannabinoids are going to be partially dictated by the formulation chosen, driving the quickness of onset as well as the duration of the effects. Individual tolerance and physiology also play a role.
For example, an edible will take longer to digest, especially if it contains fats like dairy or oil, and therefore reach the bloodstream slower when compared to an inhaled formulation like raw flower or a vape cartridge. Several other factors can be taken into account, such as the health status of the patient and current medications, some of which can impede metabolism of cannabis (and vice versa), as stated above.
What else can you do?
Conduct some research and gather information from reputable websites, and also talk to your favorite budtender. You can even attend local events. The science behind cannabis as a therapeutic agent for many conditions is growing rapidly and positively, so don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions and look for the right answers. At the end of the day, we should all be able to Enjoy with Confidence.
— A US Army veteran, Jenny Corso is the Lead Scientist for Darwin Brands. She holds a Masters’ degree in Kinesiology (Exercise Physiology) with a secondary concentration in Biochemistry. She taught at both California State University Chico and Arizona State University; and presented her research at conferences for American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, the US Cannabis Conference 2018 and the American College of Sports Medicine. She also presents science lectures for Women Grow Phoenix.