Newbies to medical cannabis are expected to be a little nervous before their first dose, and slightly overawed by the sheer number of products available at dispensaries and online – in recreational dispensaries, especially, you’ll find all kinds of products, from cannabis flower to extremely potent concentrates. Growers are experimenting with the herb in search of new highs, and the medical wing has become fascinated with cannabidiol (CBD), an extraordinarily beneficial cannabinoid.
We know you’re busy and don’t have time to trawl through hundreds if not thousands of products. Perhaps you just want a simple and effective medical cannabis oil. This post will help you become more familiar with cannabis terms and what to expect from various types of oil.
Medical cannabis oil explained
Medical cannabis oil is made by extracting the oils found primarily on the resin glands of the cannabis plant from the rest of the herb. A cannabis oil extract still contains all the compounds that were present in the flower, except you no longer have to smoke or vape them to receive their benefits. Cannabis oil is usually extracted with a solvent – supercritical CO2 extraction is the preferred method among premium medical cannabis companies, as this helps to make a purer final product.
Cannabis oil is one of the easiest and quickest ways to medicate with the plant. However, there are many types of “cannabis oil” on the market, and they don’t all produce the same effects – in fact, some cannabis oil products aren’t even medically beneficial at all (this is usually the case for extracts made only with the seeds of plants).
Many cannabis supporters argue that full-spectrum and whole-plant extracts, where all the compounds (including THC) are extracted, are the most high-quality cannabis oils money can buy. Furthermore, these oils are easy for companies to make, as the manufacturing process is quicker since no compounds must be separated.
In the next section, we will expand on the most popular variations of cannabis oil.
Full-extract or whole-plant cannabis oil
Homemade medical cannabis oil is typically full extract, with alcohol being used as the main solvent. However, big cannabis companies can afford much more impressive extraction tech, enabling them to extract oil using less harsh solvents. These allow for more terpenes and cannabinoids to be successfully extracted from the plant.
Full-extract or whole-plant cannabis oil is made with the flower itself and occasionally the leaves of the plant, however these are nowhere near as rich in cannabinoids.
A full-extract cannabis oil creating using CO2 extraction will therefore consist of an eclectic mixture of cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds, ramping up the possibility for therapeutic synergy. Such an oil is a genuine cannabis oil, not a low-grade imitation with only some of the cannabinoids. While we only know about a few compounds in cannabis and believe most of the effects to come from these, without the synergistic “entourage effect,” the plant would not have quite the medicinal value it does.
Cannabis oil is, in essence, just very concentrated cannabis flower – like a concentrate, if you will. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is maybe the most famous full-extract oil around, although consumers have plenty of alternatives.
However, not all “full-extract cannabis oils” are the same. Some are high in CBD, others high in THC, and then are those with a balance (one-to-one oils). Oils focussing on the plant’s other cannabinoids are rare, however the market for these appears to be steadily expanding.
1) High-CBD full-extract cannabis oil
Potent, non-psychoactive, high-CBD full-extract cannabis oils are unsurprisingly popular. These allow patients to dose with large doses of CBD, without the risk of any high. A CBD experience is reported to improve your mood and calm you down, as well as relieving you from physical and psychological stress.
Research has shown that generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety can be kept under better control with CBD. The absence of a high also makes CBD-rich cannabis oil appropriate to use at any time of day.
Patients are currently taking high-CBD, full-extract cannabis oil to combat epileptic seizures (especially those with rare epilepsies), anxiety, depression, inflammatory conditions, chronic pain, brain trauma, Alzheimer’s and a few other neurodegenerative diseases.
2) High-THC full-extract cannabis oil
Unlike high-CBD products, high-THC full-extract cannabis oil will produce some very powerful psychoactive effects if consumed liberally. Some high-THC oils contain more than 60 percent THC alone. But for some patients, such strong concentrations of THC are necessary to efficaciously deal with their ailments.
Conditions that require high-THC cannabis oil include fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorder, chronic pain and Parkinson’s disease.
3) One-to-one full-extract cannabis oil
Full-extract cannabis oils with a balanced ratio of THC and CBD are suitable for most ailments. The evidence we have shows that the individual benefits of CBD and THC are expressed more when the compounds are used together instead of separately.
There is scope for a one-to-one oil to induce a psychoactive high, although your existing tolerance to cannabis and the chemistry in your endocannabinoid system will have a role in deciding this. A new user may experience some psychoactivity, however, not at anywhere near the intensity you would get from a high-THC oil.
A one-to-one oil is a great starter product for patients who are keen to try cannabis and all its benefits but want to remain in mental control of their medicating session throughout.
Depression and anxiety sufferers often pick one-to-one oils. A cannabis-based drug prescribed to multiple sclerosis patients in some countries also has a balanced combo of CBD to THC. Other conditions that can be treated with a one-to-one full extract cannabis oil include head trauma, chronic pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms and gastrointestinal disorder.
4) Full-extract cannabis oils containing other cannabinoids
As of 2018, most of the cannabis oil products available in the United States will fit into the first three categories. But other cannabinoids are making their mark, with CBC displaying neuroprotective properties and THCV helping people to manage their weight.
You may come across a speciality oil at your local dispensary. Ask the budtender for more information if they have any in stock as there are few dosage guidelines for other cannabinoids.
Why are patients turning to raw cannabis oil?
“What even is raw cannabis oil?” you may be asking. Such oil is made without heating the herb during extraction – therefore, the cannabinoids remain in their acidic form. This can have some notable benefits – THCa (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), for example, is non-psychoactive, but becomes psychoactive THC when heated.
Raw cannabis oil is most commonly used by patients who need the medicinal properties of THC to treat their condition, but either don’t want to get high or cannot realistically consume the necessary dosage for treatment to be effective. Raw cannabis oil solves both of these problems and is a phenomenally potent anti-inflammatory.
Raw cannabis oil can be much more beneficial than heated cannabis oil, as cannabinoids and terpenes don’t get so much chance to deteriorate. Sometimes, during the heating process, compounds with low boiling points can burn off and not make it to the final oil.
Advantages of isolates
Pure THC isolates are the preserve of the recreational community, while CBD isolates are pretty much exclusively used by medical users. Isolates can be helpful, especially for patients who need lots of CBD but must keep their THC intake low to none due to drugs tests. Moreover, isolates are good for precise dosing.
A THC acid isolate has just gone on sale in California – the crystals contain an outrageous 99.9 percent THC. CBD isolates also come in crystal form, but also as wax and shatter. Many vaporizers can also handle wax and crystals, although check your device prior to making a purchase.
Isolates do not have the same medicinal value as cannabis oil, though, simply because there’s no chance of synergy as the product is almost exclusively made up of a single compound. There are no terpenes or cannabinoids to enhance the effects of your isolates. Although, some companies are now developing products that are mostly isolate, but also have a mixture of terpenes, in a bid to recreate some of the synergy.
Advice for vaping cannabis oil
Tobacco smokers were the first to make the healthy switch to vaping, but long-time cannabis users are also now realizing the benefits of this intake method. Vape pens are great for people with most standard conditions, however you may be better served by a full-extract oil if you’re treating a serious illness.
If you do want to use a vape pen, there are a few tips and tricks to ensure they provide you with the utmost relief.
Start by checking that the vape cartridge you’re buying contains full-extract oil, and if you can, avoid products made with propylene glycol – vegetable glycerine is a less toxic mixing agent. Organic and lab-tested products are guaranteed to be high-quality. There are many wonderful vaporizers, but you’ll struggle to find an easier one to take cannabis oil with than the Vape Bright Thrive.
Don’t be pressured into taking high-THC cannabis oil. While your friends who use the herb recreationally may love getting baked, medicinal users are looking to obtain the benefits of the entire plant – not just one cannabinoid. For some, a THC-rich mix may be too powerful and cause panic – if you have doubts, these can be made worse by a psychoactive substance. However, high-THC cannabis oil is only available in states where recreational marijuana in legal and those with fully-fledged medical programs.
Please only take the contents of this article as informational and educational. This piece was not written as medical advice and should not be considered as such.