Microdosing cannabis: maybe something for you?
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For millions of people across the world, cannabis offers much more than a good high. Instead, it provides them with effective relief from a variety of medical symptoms they previously didn’t know how to treat.
One important aspect of using medical marijuana, or any other medicine for that matter, is dosing. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of clarity about how much cannabis a patient actually needs to use in order to benefit from the plant's medicinal qualities.
There is little consensus on what constitutes 1 dose of cannabis, and not a lot of consistency regarding the chemical profiles and traits of individual strains and how they might affect a patient’s reaction to cannabis.
And, to top it all off, there is the ongoing issue of how our bodies tolerate cannabis and its chemical components, such as THC, differently.
So, patients are literally left in the dark about how much cannabis they should be using, with many simply left to “play it by ear.”
In this article, we’re going to look at microdosing, a concept that might offer patients a solution to the problem of managing how much cannabis they should use to treat their condition/s.
Remember, this article is for informational and introductory purposes only; if you use marijuana medicinally, always consult your doctor about dosing.
WHAT IS MICRODOSING?
Microdosing, as the name suggests, involves using small, or better yet, microdoses of cannabis to treat a condition.
The idea is simple; you take a tiny dose of cannabis, wait a while, and possibly take another dose if necessary.
If you smoke or vaporize cannabis to manage chronic pain, for example, you’d microdose by only inhaling 1 or 2 puffs of a joint/vaporizer and waiting to gauge the effects of the dose, rather than smoking a whole joint or emptying a whole chamber in one sitting.
Alternatively, if you use edibles or extracts like Rick Simpson Oil, for example, you’d use a fraction of the recommended dose on the label and wait for the effects to kick in.
If, after a while, you don’t feel the necessary relief from your pain, you’d take another microdose and play the waiting game some more.
WHY MICRODOSE CANNABIS?
Cannabis is no miracle medicine. Like many other types of medications, it can cause adverse effects, such as dizziness, nausea, or fatigue, especially when you take too much of it. Patients can also develop a tolerance towards cannabis, forcing them to consume more of it in order to relieve their symptoms/treat their conditions.
Doctors have found that microdosing allows their patients to minimize their risk of suffering from these effects and may prove especially useful for patients with a low THC tolerance.
Dr. Dustin Sulak, medical director of Interg8 Health in Maine, USA, treats roughly 20,000 patients with medical marijuana and believes microdosing is ideal for most of his patients.
“When I started my practice, I was surprised to see that some patients were using very low dosages (e.g. 1 puff), while other patients require much higher dosages (e.g. 1 joint or a potent edible) to achieve optimal benefits,” Dr. Sulak told United Patients Group.
“Over time, I began to notice that most patients using small amounts of cannabis were getting better and more sustainable results than their high-dosage counterparts with similar conditions.”
“Eventually I discovered that most people have a certain threshold dosage of cannabis, below which they’ll actually experience a gradual increase in health benefits over time, and above which they’ll start building tolerance, experiencing diminishing benefits, and more side effects,” he says.
Dr. Bonni Goldstein, Medical Director of Canna-Centers in California, USA, has found similar results in patients who microdosed cannabis.
“Many of my patients using low doses for pain, mood, and sleep find that low doses give the effects they are looking for, and over time, due to the enhancement of their endocannabinoid system, they find that they don’t need as much phytocannabinoids to achieve the desired effects,” she told the United Patients Group.
But the evidence isn’t just based on anecdotes from doctors.
In a 2012 study from the Medicinal Cannabis Research Center at the University of California, San Diego, found that low doses of vaporized cannabis significantly relieved neuropathic pain.
The study focused on 39 patients with central and peripheral neuropathic pain who underwent treatment using medium dose, low dose, and placebo cannabis to treat their condition.
It found that patients who used low doses of cannabis experienced the same level of pain relief as the patients receiving higher doses.
HOW TO MICRODOSE
As we described earlier, microdosing is relatively simple. All you need to do is lower your cannabis doses and assess the effect it has on your body.
You can do this in a number of ways. If you smoke or vaporize, you could try inhaling only a few puffs of marijuana and assess the effects in roughly 30 minutes.
If you ingest edibles, tinctures, or concentrates, you could simply consume half your normal dose and wait to see how you feel in about 30-60 minutes. The same goes for patients using specific types of cannabis medicine, such as mouth sprays or pills.
Remember, these are just rough guidelines. If you’re really considering trying microdosing, always consult your doctor to work out a specific plan on how to drop your doses and maximize the potential of your medicine.