Methods of Ingestion

Vaporization

Vaporizers are incredibly efficient, requiring much less of the medicine typically used for smoking. Higher percentages of cannabinoids are also received through vaporization over the traditional method of combustion. When compared to traditional smoking, vaporizers can convert upwards of 50% of the THC into vapor, while smoking uses less than 25%. When cannabis is consumed through vaporization, absorption of the chemical compounds is relatively quick and thus is effective for patients wishing for immediate effects.

Vaporizers work by heating cannabinoids to their boiling point through a controlled temperature. This process removes upwards of 95% of the smoke ingested. With the vast reduction of ingested smoke, vaporization helps mitigate the potential side effects of smoking cannabis while reducing harmful byproducts of smoke.

When cannabis is vaporized, many of the terpenes act as bronchiodialators, which expand the surface area of the lungs. When the surface area of the lungs is expanded, more of the cannabinoids are absorbed into the bloodstream. When smoked, most of the terpenes in cannabis are destroyed and the bronchiodialating effects are replaced with respiratory aggravation commonly associated with smoke.

The ideal temperature for cannabis vaporization occurs between 365 and 390 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures rise above 390 degrees Fahrenheit, combustion can begin to occur, producing unwanted byproducts while simultaneously destroying valuable cannabinoids and terpenes.

Concentrates

Through various extraction methods, the cannabinoids and terpenes can be stripped from the cannabis plant into a concentrated form without the plant material, chlorophyll, or other plant wax.  Cannabis concentrates can range from 60-90% THC content, making them among the most potent form of cannabis medicine. Concentrates can be ingested, vaporized, or smoked, depending on the form of the concentrate.

Cannabinoids and terpenes extracted with ice water or ethanol can be loaded into pre-filled oil cartridges. Oil cartridges, much like other concentrates, offer higher potency at lower doses. CBD-rich cannabis oils provide medicinal benefits without the psychoactive effects of cannabis high in THC. Much like cannabis in its raw flower form, oil cartridges are typically strain specific.

Concentrates can also come in the form of oils, tinctures, and pills. This is an effective method of delivery for patients who do not wish to vaporize or smoke cannabis, yet still can benefit from the medicinal effects of cannabis. Oils infused with cannabis can be ingested directly or cooked into food such as baked goods. Cannabis tinctures made with alcohol are an oral delivery system where a few drops of the concentrate are placed underneath the tongue. For patients desiring tinctures without the alcohol content, glycerin tinctures can be used.

Cannabinoids and terpenes can be extracted from cannabis and added to topical solutions. Unlike other methods of ingestion, topical-infused cannabis is non-psychoactive. When infused with cannabinoids, known for analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, topical solutions such as cream and ointments can be used for a variety of conditions.

Smoking

Smoking is the most traditional method of absorbing the chemical compounds in cannabis. While research is conflicting in regards to its safety, it is widely accepted that smoking cannabis can produce harmful byproducts, although the interaction between these compounds and cannabinoids in the cannabis is still not fully understood.

When compared to other methods of consuming cannabis, it is an inferior method of delivery for cannabinoids and terpenes as many of these medicinally beneficial compounds are destroyed when combusted. Much like vaporization, smoking delivers a quick delivery of the chemical compounds in the cannabis.