IMPORTANT: All information contained on this website is for educational purposes only. None of this information should be construed as medical or treatment advice for any specific person or condition. Cannabis has not been analyzed or approved by the FDA, and there is limited information on the side effects of using cannabis as a medication. You should always consult a licensed physician in all matters related to your health.
From coast to coast, research is showing the benefits of medical marijuana. Patients across Florida are finding relief from arthritis, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, and even chemo side effects by taking cannabis. But it’s not always clear where to start, and most new patients have the same questions: what is cannabis dosing? Do I need a cannabis dosing calculator? How many gummies should I eat? What are all these percentages on my flower packaging? It may seem complicated, but we’ve got some measured answers on cannabis dosing. Read on!
Many doctors say that new cannabis patients end up having similar issues. Some say they don’t feel anything. Others may feel too much and find it uncomfortable. Others get anxiety about their first experience and end up abandoning treatment before they even start.
The first rule to remember, whether you’re dosing a cannabis oil, tincture, edible, or even suppository, is that everyone is different. Our bodies and brains are all unique in their response to cannabis, and the best resource you have is experience. Much like caffeine or alcohol, you have to listen to your body and learn your own tolerance. That’s why most medical professionals will tell you the same thing when it comes to cannabis dosing: Start low and go slow.
The goal is to identify your optimal therapeutic dose. This is your sweet spot – the smallest amount that still gives you the desired effects. Start with micro dosing cannabis, and you may not find the relief you’re looking for. Take too much, and you could have unwanted side effects like discomfort, fatigue, or anxiety.
Unfortunately, it’s tough to know in advance exactly how your body will respond to a cannabis dose. Like all great things, it takes a little work and time to get perfect results. One of the most important steps in this process is to keep a treatment journal. Help yourself and your doctor by documenting what treatments work for you, what doesn’t affect you or gives you unwanted side effects, and which products you prefer taking. You are your own study, so take detailed notes and learn how your body reacts.
But a dose isn’t always just the quantity of your product, like a single gummy or a dropper of oil. It also depends on the CBD to THC ratio, as well as terpenes. Let’s go a little deeper...
CBD and THC are the two primary compounds that give cannabis its incredible healing powers. For dosing, the main thing to remember is that while each of these has healing properties, CBD has no psychoactive effects – those are all in THC. So the higher ratio of THC, the more of a “high” the cannabis will give you.
If you’re new to cannabis, you probably have a low tolerance. It’s smart to start with products that have a higher ratio of CBD to THC to see how it affects you. After a few days, you may want to increase the THC strength of your cannabis depending on the effect you’re looking for. The ratio is typically listed in two numbers, as CBD : THC. A 12:1 product has 12 times as much CBD compared to THC, 1:1 is balanced, and 1:9 is very THC heavy. Ultimately your doctor should help you find the right ratio to start with, which could depend on the condition you are treating, your desired effect, and other medical factors.
Remember: when in doubt, start low and go slow. Increase your THC ratio after a few days to get a more potent effect. If your dose feels too THC-heavy, try a more balanced ratio for your next dose. You can learn your tolerance to both CBD and THC within a week or two.
If CBD and THC are the power behind the healing properties of cannabis, then terpenes are its targeting system. Research in recent years has suggested that different terpenes in cannabis have unique benefits for specialized treatments.
Terpenes are compounds found in every plant on Earth. They give flowers their unique scents and fruits and vegetables their specific flavors. Crisp notes of citrus come from limonene, while pinene gives its fresh scent to – you guessed it – pine trees.
Some terpenes are believed to be more effective for pain relief or lowering blood pressure, while research suggests others may be effective in treating epilepsy or chemo nausea. Here are some of the top terpenes you’ll find in cannabis and their potential medicinal effects seen in recent studies:
Terpenes, CBD, THC, and other compounds come together to form an entourage effect. Each element of cannabis has its own healing properties, but taken together, these compounds give you a full spectrum treatment that can provide exponential relief.
Now that you have an idea of the strength of your dose, it’s important to know about routes of administration (ROAs). Years ago, the only way to get cannabis in your system was smoking. But now there are so many other ways to benefit from medical marijuana without putting smoke in your lungs! Each of these ROAs have different onset times, and some may give you longer lasting effects than others. Let’s take a look:
This includes products like capsules and edibles. The beneficial compounds are absorbed through your stomach and can take a bit longer to have an effect – sometimes between 30 minutes and 2 hours. But the effects can last from 4 to 10 hours. Capsules and edibles like chocolates or gummies often have low dose options, so you can start low and go slow.
Remember: onset times can be long, so before you reach for that second dose, wait a bit longer! It’s common for people to pop a second chocolate right before their first one kicks in, which can give you an unexpectedly strong surprise!
An excellent option for new users, these are products like tinctures and sprays that are absorbed through the blood vessels under your tongue. Their onset is fairly quick, usually 15 to 30 minutes, and effects can last 4 to 6 hours. Dosage is easy to control, making this the perfect option for finding your optimal therapeutic dose.
Ah, the classic. Cannabis is traditionally inhaled through smokeable flower, vape pens, and various concentrates like dabs and shatter. Onset is typically immediate, and effects can last from 2 to 6 hours. Vapes and concentrates provide more control over your dosage, but smoking flower can be a bit harder to balance. Plus the flame from burning flower is believed to lower its therapeutic effects. Smoking is typically better for more experienced users who know how their bodies respond to THC.
There are now gels, lotions, and patches that can give you medical marijuana straight through your skin. Often these products are non-psychoactive, and used to treat local pain and discomfort in the body. They usually have an immediate onset, and depending on the product may last from 2 to 72 hours.
With all these ROAs, various CBD to THC ratios, and assorted terpene profiles, you have an abundance of options to treat your condition. Many patients find what works for them right away! Others take a little time through trial and error to find their sweet spot. The most important thing is to start low, go slow, and keep a treatment journal so you can find what’s best for you.
As always, it’s best to discuss with your doctor and have them help you put together a treatment plan. And we are always here to answer your questions and help find the products that will give you the relief you’re looking for.
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