Updated: Oct 4, 2019
21st century technology has given birth to countless ways to consume plant based compounds. Where our ancestors were limited to primal smoking methods, alcohol and oil based tinctures, or making labor intensive topical balms and salves, modern humans have a plethora of options. Want to smoke something? You have plenty of pipes to choose from. Dry pipe, water pipe, glass pipe, wooden pipe? Marble or obsidian even! Is it single, double or triple blown? Does it change colors? Perhaps vaping is more your cup of tea. Devices range from pocket size to counter top units. There are vaporizers for dry herbs and ones for concentrates, even ones that do both. Balms and salves are much easier to make with modern day lab equipment and cookware. No food is safe from human experimentation. Cannabis cookies and brownies never seem to go out of style, and now things like cannabis infused cheese, burgers, beer, and sparkling water flood the market. With each of these unique delivery methods comes added confusion as to which is best. Our authors set out to answer some of your most commonly asked questions.
Your individual delivery method should depend on two primary factors. The first, your condition and/or goal for using a CBD supplement; where you need the molecules to reach, and the second; the method you are most likely to use most regularly. Someone suffering from chronic pain and/or inflammation would, in many instances, be better suited using a different product than someone battling bouts of anxiety or depression. Not to say that the same product wouldn't benefit the both of them, but their conditions present themselves in very different ways, and thus a different delivery method for the two only makes sense. Additionally, if your purchase will likely end up in the back of a drawer, cupboard, or purse, sooner than later, that product obviously carried very little value to you.
Chronic pain and inflammation lingers consistently. Those suffering from such afflictions are rarely able to escape their localized symptoms, and spend much of their day attempting to do so. They are best served with the daily use of a high quality full spectrum capsule or tincture. While oral supplements do take the longest to become active within the bloodstream, they do offer the longest desired effect. A consistent dose of anti-inflammatory cannabinoids, terpenes, and omega fats will help keep pain levels at bay throughout the day. Tinctures, when used properly (by holding under the tongue for 1-2 minutes), work much more quickly than their capsule counterparts. The skin in the mouth is quite thin, allowing for easy absorption of liquid based supplements. Their effect may also, however, last for a shorter period of time depending on the individual.
"While oral supplements do take the longest to become active within the bloodstream, they do offer the longest desired effect."
Edible products also fall into the category of oral supplements. Since the legalization of herb in states like Colorado, California, and Washington, cooks and entrepreneurs alike have been experimenting with ways to bridge the worlds of cannabis and cuisine. Restaurants dedicated to serving ganja infused items now line the streets of America, serving foodstuffs ranging from compound butters with which to top your steak, to ice cream and milkshakes, and everything in between. While these options certainly score highest in the flavor and enjoyment categories, they do come with a significant downside. Due to the acidic conditions within the stomach, and the digestive enzymes that exist throughout the entire digestive tract (beginning with your mouth), many of the beneficial compounds are denatured (destroyed) before they are ever able to reach their destination.
Keep this in mind when searching for a product. Try to stay clear of heated, flour based temptations such as brownies and burgers, and instead, favor the water-soluble options like water or energy drinks. Raw cacao chocolates are one of the few edibles that we promote at The Cannidote, as it contains it's own family of cannabinoids which happen to play well with others. As if you needed any extra excuses to eat some chocolate. Another intriguing delivery method that our researchers are investigating includes fermented cannabis products. CBD beer has now hit the market with kombucha expected to soon follow. How do yeast, bacteria, and the fermentation process influence the activity and absorption of cannabinoids and terpenes? Could they bestow similar benefits like those linked to fermented foods such as sauerkraut and pickles ?
Topical creams geared toward pain relief and healing are also great for chronic pain customers, particularly those with arthritis. CBD based balms exist for numerous purposes. Some are blended with herbs and other compounds designed to relieve pain, such as arnica, black pepper, menthol, MSM, and more. Other blends are built to treat burns, bruises, lacerations, and dermatologist related skin conditions, with the addition of comfrey, st. johns wart, and calendula. Please recognize that the skin is our largest organ. Substances placed 'pon it are quickly absorbed into the tissues and blood vessels below. The skin provides very little filtration in comparison with the digestive tract. This is one of the many reasons we do not condone the use of skin care products that contain petroleum derived chemicals. A good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your skin.
Only recently recognized by the Western world, the unorthodox Pechoti Method is quickly gaining popularity. This unique topical application has been recognized by Ayurvedic physicians since ancient times. It involves placing therapeutic oil in and around the navel, and massaging it into the surrounding area. As our physical body first begins to form itself, the naval is the attachment site for the 9-month long life-line known as the umbilical cord. Roughly 72,000 blood vessels pass behind this region, connecting to various organs and tissues, including the stomach, intestines, bladder, and the brain! The "gut-brain connection" is now well recognized within the scientific community. So much so, that the gut is commonly referred to as "the second brain." The Pechoti method may perhaps be one of the most effective ways to biohack our nervous system.
The gastrointestinal tract is responsible for a great deal of hormone production. While surprising at first, once one learns that the gut contains 500 million neurons, i.e. brain cells (there are 100 billion in the brain), it only makes sense. In fact, the vagus nerve (X), one of the brain's 12 major cranial nerves, ends in the intestines. It sends signals both to and from the brain. That puts a whole new perspective on the phrase "shit for brains!" 50% of the body's dopamine and 90% of it's serotonin, hormones responsible for calmness and happiness, is created in the gut. It also plays a central role in influencing estrogen levels, the hormone associated with thyroid, breast, and ovarian cancers. A great deal of our immune system also resides within the various organs that make up the GI tract. A truly remarkable and not yet fully understood organ system.
The Pechoti method is especially recommended for those suffering from gastrointestinal disorders such as Chron's, celiac disease, IBS, colitis, and more. Furthermore, after application of the CBD oil, one can also add essential oils that aid in digestive health, fertility, balancing the chakras, and more. Given the gut's heavy influence on our endocrine system, this delivery method may also prove beneficial for those suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mental/emotional imbalances. Give it a try for yourself and share with us your thoughts!
Mental and emotional imbalances present themselves with much less regularity. They also tend to appear suddenly, giving the sufferer a short amount of time to respond. The oral supplement that the chronic joint pain sufferer might choose to use would not be as appropriate of an option in this scenario, as it would take 30-90 minutes to take effect. While that form of supplement may help to reduce the overall number of attacks or episodes per day, it will do very little to deal with an attack while it is happening. In this instance, any of the inhalation methods would be most effective. Smoking raw CBD flower, vaping a 100% botanically derived full spectrum cartridge, or even using one of the newly designed inhalers will provide the most immediate relief. It takes mere minutes to feel their effects.
Deducing your daily dosage depends on numerous data points. Body weight, your goals and expectations, current health condition(s), and any medications you may be taking are the most common considerations. It is always recommended to start with a low dose, around 25-50mg/day and work up from there, especially if using CBD without including the guidance of a health care practitioner. That said, do not fear consuming too much CBD. Clinical trials utilizing up to 1,200mg daily, over multiple months time period have been conducted, with no ill effects recorded. It is wise to refrain from using your new favorite supplement from time to time; say, on a "good day." This will keep your body's tolerance honest, preventing you from needing more and more each time you buy, or trying a stronger dose.
Your current health status and goals for using CBD play an important role in determining dosage. A gradeschool child labeled as ADD or ADHD would benefit from a very low dose of CBD oil used as needed throughout the day. On the other hand, a cancer patient, regardless of age, will be utilizing some of the most potent options on the market. An athlete who is looking for a healthy boost to his endurance during the season, or to deal with an acute injury, ought to look for a low to medium dose application, administered shortly before a practice or performance, or when in pain. Some individuals, like athletes, are able to use their CBD purchases as they choose, taking numerous days off if they wish. Others, such as those suffering from depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson's, OCD, etc, must cope with a lifetime dependency on the daily use of a high dose.
Again, start small with your doses and gradually work your way up. Use common sense when trying a new product. Children should always be given small doses to start with. In general, the more serious your condition, the stronger your dose will need to be. If you are expecting to be a lifelong consumer of CBD, or are currently prescribed pharmaceutical medications, it is important to be informed about the potential impacts on the liver.
The liver is responsible for, among a great deal of other things, filtering the blood coming from the digestive tract. The liver does this by means of enzymes, (typically) protein biological catalysts that activate and/or speed up chemical reactions. The term cytochrome P450 refers to one such family of enzymes that call the liver home. They are responsible for the breakdown of more than 60% of pharmaceutical drugs on the market. Cannabinoids, such as CBD, are not exempt from an introduction with these catalytic enzymes.
"CBD is metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes while functioning as a “competitive inhibitor” of the same liver enzymes. By occupying the site of enzymatic activity, CBD displaces its chemical competitors and prevents cytochrome P450 from metabolizing other compounds."
In other words, CBD preoccupies the CYP enzymes, thus making your body less efficient at breaking down your daily dose of pharmaceuticals. Cannabis isn't the only plant that produces compounds which interact with these enzymes. If your prescription comes with a warning to avoid consuming with grapefruit, approach CBD products with the same caution. While this information may create a bit of panic in some of our readers, please continue reading with confidence. There are numerous ways to safely maneuver around the CYP conundrum.
First and foremost, work with your physician. Ask them to assist you in incorporating your CBD supplement into your daily routine. A good doctor should be well versed in how to safely wean you off of your prescriptions. Clinical data has shown CBD to benefit those suffering from anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, Parkinson's, addiction, chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer, and more! If they are unable or unwilling, it may be time to search for a qualified wholistic practitioner in your area.
As noted earlier, the liver filters blood that comes from the digestive tract. Long term oral consumption of any concentrated substance (like liquor), will negatively impact this crucial organ. Any supplemental form that is designed to bypass the digestive system, such as a sublingual oil or topical cream, will therefor, for the most part, bypass the liver and it's enzymes. While smoking is the most common, natural, and time tested alternative method, it is typically the most socially disruptive and frowned upon. For those that prefer to avoid smoking altogether, a host of amazing organic topicals exist, some of which even contain nature based solvents, such as DMSO, that help drive the compounds deeper into tissues. Lotions and creams, balms and salves, lip balms, body butters, bath salts and bombs all fall into this category. CBD patches even exist, which offer an extremely liver friendly, slow release dose over an extended period of time.
Stacking Conditions in Your Favor:
While there is most certainly a product that is most efficiently designed for each person and condition, most people benefit from utilizing a combination of delivery methods. Those with anxiety, PTSD, depression, or schizophrenia commonly use a capsule or tincture to manage their total number of daily attacks and episodes, but find that a prerolled joint comforts them in the middle of one. Most individuals dealing with chronic pain also stick to a daily oral routine, while also keeping a pain relieving topical cream handy for the unbearable days. Women enduring the symptoms of their (what should be) monthly menstrual cycle may use a CBD salt bath or vaginal suppository to alleviate their pain, while also enjoying the physical and mental benefits of smoking raw flower. Use the chart below to figure out which combination(s) might work best for you.
Concerned consumers rightly question their decision to give children cannabis based products. It is always suggested to seek the advice of your trusted physician. Everything about a child is in a smaller, softer, more vulnerable state, including major organs like the liver. Extended use or high doses of oral products may begin to negatively impact those organs at a faster pace in a child. That said, cannabis based treatments are exponentially safer than their opiate, steroid, and various other pharmaceutical counterparts. The Israeli researcher who discovered and isolated THC decades ago, Raphael Mechoulam, commonly referred to as the "Grandfather of cannabis research," confidently administers pure THC to children suffering from epilepsy and cancer. If he is comfortable administering the isolated forms of the psychoactive compound in cannabis to children, we should not fear the non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, CBG, etc. When it comes to children, we recommend only low doses, and tend to favor oil tinctures over the various other methods.
Perfecting Your Game:
If you've read this far, you are hopefully feeling pretty confident in your ability to find the best type of product for you and your loved ones. But for the overachievers out there who are dying to know, is there anything else we can do to further enhance our purchase? If CBD is a lipid loving molecule, how do we ensure that our water based body is able to absorb it? Thanks to our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and it's ability to interact with a wide variety of molecules, numerous other foods further enhance what is known as the entourage effect.
Like raw cacao, truffle mushrooms contain anandamide. Known as the "bliss "molecule, it contains endocannabinoid receptors and releases chemicals similar to THC in mechanism and function. Cacao takes it a step further by also deactivating FAAH, the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of anandamide; resulting in extended bouts of bliss. Studies have also found enzymatic pathways that are responsible for converting omega-3 derived cannabinoids and cannabimimetics, like those found in hemp and flax seeds/oil, into molecules which bind to the immune system. The body even produces it's own endogenous cannabinoids by creating them out of stored omega-3 fatty acids! Some research suggests that maca, a cruciferous vegetable native to the Andes, that has been used for thousands of years to increase energy and improve fertility and libido, contains N-alkylamides (NAAs); known cannabimimetics. These compounds interact with numerous protein targets within our ECS. Various herbs, roots, and essential oils also interact positively with that same system.
Kava is another root "crop" that has been used for centuries; this time, by the islanders of the South Pacific. For them, it has historically been used to bring about a state of relaxation. This could be due to the kavalactones, like yangonin that have been found to directly interact with CB1 receptors. The immune supporting Echinacea flower creates fatty acid compounds called N-acylethanolamines, that are known to interact with CB2 receptors. Helichrysum, a popular herb used to treat muscle soreness, produces molecules that mimic CBG, a cannabinoid also known for pain relief. Terpenes such as b-caryophyllene, found in the essentials oils of immunity enhancing plants such as ylang ylang, lavendar, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, copaiba, and more, engage our CB2 receptors.
Black pepper is unique in that it increases the efficacy of other medicinal compounds it is mixed with. Want to make your green tea even more powerful at fighting cancer? Simply add a small pinch of black pepper along with a dainty dab of fresh, raw, local honey. Want to enhance the anti-inflammatory effects of the CBG and CBC in your full spectrum product? Look for one that has black pepper listed in the ingredients. One that has both added turmeric and black pepper have profound anti-inflammatory potential. Learn about other nutrient combining techniques to find pairings that might bring out the best in your product. To find more specific information regarding terpenes, cannabinoids, cannabimimetics, and the entourage effect, check out our post "Cannabis 101: A Basic Understanding."
Finally, being able to recognize the few companies who go the extra mile can be the difference maker when being persuaded into purchasing an incredibly expensive product. Nanotechnology has made it possible for companies to reduce the molecular size of their CBD formulations, thus enhancing bio-availability. Others are sure to include nature based solvents such as DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) to drive the compounds deeper into tissues. It will be obvious which ones are conscious of the entourage effect and as a result craft their formulas from an herbalists' perspective. They are those brands that are sure to include primary, secondary, and tertiary ingredients that work together in a symbiotic manner, to achieve a specific, targeted goal.
The sources cited are primarily intended for the casual reader. Each source however, has been carefully chosen to include scientific sources linked within. Living with today's industry funded, pseudo-scientific journals, we encourage you to "research the research".