Is smoking the best method for Cannabis delivery?
The journey towards health begins with making informed decisions. One such decision you may be grappling with is whether or not to smoke cannabis for its potential health benefits. Smoking has long been viewed as an easily accessible and effective method of ingesting cannabis, but it’s important to consider the adverse effects associated with it, particularly on the respiratory system.
Unfolding the advantages of smoking Cannabis
According to a 2016–2017 JAMA study of 169,036 patients using cannabis for medicinal purposes, 77.5% selected smoking as their preferred method of consumption. Further, a 2019 survey in Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine showed both medical and recreational users largely prefer smoking.
Despite the lack of clinical studies supporting these choices, it’s worth noting the reasons why many users find smoking appealing:
Smoking cannabis induces effects almost instantly. THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, is absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs and alveoli, and it reaches the brain within seconds of the first inhalation. For medicinal users who require immediate relief, smoking cannabis proves to be faster than other methods of administration.
Control over Dosage
Smoking cannabis allows for ease in managing and titrating dosages. A 2013 survey published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that participants favored smoking for its ease in dose titration, which was less achievable with orally administered cannabis. This is because smoking offers quick feedback to the user, allowing for adjustments in dosage to achieve desired effects while minimizing adverse ones.
Bioavailability, the percentage of the active ingredient that reaches its intended effect, is higher when smoking cannabis. Smoking can offer a bioavailability range between 2 and 56%, while oral THC only achieves between 10 and 20%.
Pleasure and euphoria
Many cannabis users report experiencing enjoyment, relaxation, and euphoria when smoking cannabis. These sensations are cited as key reasons for choosing smoking over other methods of administration.
Smoking cannabis is also perceived to be more convenient and cost-effective than other methods.
Understanding the Detriments of Smoking Cannabis
Despite the benefits, smoking cannabis poses health risks, particularly related to the respiratory system:
Risk of respiratory illnesses
Regular smoking of cannabis increases the risk of lung inflammation and respiratory illness. This is due to the presence of carcinogens, tar, bronchial irritants, and carbon monoxide in cannabis smoke. Evidence also suggests that smoking cannabis can lead to coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, sputum production, chest tightness, exacerbated asthma, and potentially lung cancer.
Shorter Duration of Effects
The effects of smoking cannabis tend to last for a shorter duration compared to other methods. Edibles, for instance, provide effects that can last from four to eight hours.
Loss of THC in Side-Stream Smoke
Depending on the user’s smoking technique, up to 80% of THC can be lost in side-stream smoke, which results in less effective consumption.
Key Questions Before Starting a Cannabis Regimen
If you’re considering using cannabis for pain management, symptom control, or any other medical reasons, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional with expertise in cannabis medicine. The frequency of cannabis use, current health conditions, potential interactions with other medications, and alternative methods of administration should all be discussed.
Vaping, for instance, is a potentially safer alternative to smoking. Cannabis oil is heated during vaping and then inhaled by the user. However, after the 2019 outbreak of vaping-associated respiratory illnesses, it’s important to only use products from trusted and licensed sources.
Whole-plant vaporization is another promising method of administration that’s often overlooked. This method uses a device to vaporize the cannabis flower, releasing fewer toxic and carcinogenic compounds than smoking. Furthermore, it is more economical and environmentally friendly than vaping cannabis oils.
Before you decide to start a cannabis regimen, consult a medical professional to help navigate the benefits, drawbacks, and alternative options available to you.