Cannabis affects the body using what’s known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). It’s a specialized system that uses cannabinoids and receptors. Specifically, whether or not cannabinoids bind or don’t bind to the receptors.
The ECS is responsible for regulating your bodily functions like sleep, appetite, pain and immune system responses.
Coincidentally, cannabinoids are one of the major components found in cannabis. And so when you inhale, ingest, or absorb cannabis oil, these cannabinoids interact with your ECS and produce all of the effects you expect.
Let’s take a look at what cannabis oil is, how to use it, and the health benefits and side effects of consuming it.
What is Cannabis Oil?
Cannabis oil comes primarily in two forms: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC-based cannabis products — such as oils, flower, creams, pills, edibles — are derived from the cannabis plant where the grower’s focus is to cultivate crops with a high THC content. This is your marijuana plant.
CBD-based cannabis products, which also includes forms like oils, creams, pills, and edibles, are derived from the cannabis plant as well. But the grower’s intent is to reduce the THC content of the plant to below 0.3%, according to U.S. guidelines, and increase the CBD content as much as possible. This is your hemp plant.
THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis — the “high”.
CBD has the health benefits of marijuana but without the psychoactive effects.
No matter which oil is produced, the process for extracting the cannabinoid compound is similar.
First, the cannabinoid compound is extracted from either the marijuana or hemp plant using a variety of methods — steam distillation, extraction by solvent, CO2 extraction, or olive oil extraction, among others.
Lastly, the extract is often mixed with a carrier oil like MCT or hemp seed.
Before we get into how to use cannabis oil, it’s very important we talk about the different levels of cannabis oil strengths.
Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, and Isolate Cannabis Oil
The truest to the complete experience of smoking or vaping marijuana, full-spectrum oils involve maximizing the “entourage” effect.
There are over 500 medical compounds in cannabis responsible for effects, flavours, and aromas. The “entourage” effect means as many of these cannabinoids interacting with each other to create the full range of experiences when consuming cannabis.
Full-spectrum oils are cannabis oils that not only have the dominant cannabinoid compound — THC or CBD — but as many of the other compounds responsible for creating a well-rounded experience as well.
Broad-spectrum applies to CBD cannabis oils.
Similar to full-spectrum, broad-spectrum cannabis oils contain the dominant cannabinoid (CBD) and many of the other compounds to satisfy the “entourage” effect. The major difference is the chemical removal of the THC compound to below 0.3%.
Distillate is the complete opposite of full-spectrum.
In distillate cannabis oils, the dominant compound —- THC or CBD — is isolated and all other compounds are removed as much as possible.
How to Use Cannabis Oil
The most effective way to take cannabis oil is sublingually, where the oil is placed under the tongue with a dropper and absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
However, there are many more ways to consume cannabis oil:
- mixing them into food or drink
- taking them with a pipette or dropper on the tongue
- swallowing capsules
- massaging a cream into the skin
For how to use cannabis oil for pain (chronic or temporary), sublingually works best. Ingesting oils requires the cannabis to pass through your liver which takes longer than the alternative.
Cannabis Oil Benefits
Depending on the strain, dosage, and quality of THC oil or the dosage and quality of CBD oil, you’ll find varying degrees of these benefits:
- Reducing chronic pain
- Reducing arthritis or joint pain
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Relieving sleep disorders
- Reducing migraine and migraine frequency
- Relieving nausea
- allergies or asthma
- Mood altering effects–euphoria, clarity (present in THC oils)
Side Effects of Cannabis Oil
Depending on the delivery method, dosage, and quality, side effects of using cannabis oils can include:
- changes in weight
- changes in appetite
- liver damage
- interactions with other drugs and alcohol
- changes in alertness, which can make driving dangerous
- gastrointestinal problems and loss of appetite
- mood changes, including irritability and irritation
- a reduction in fertility for males
It’s very important to highlight, however, that the WHO has stated of CBD specifically, that it “exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
There are so many ways to use cannabis oil no wonder its application to everyday life is becoming more and more normalized. Managing chronic or temporary pains; mood disorders like anxiety or depression; or even chemotherapy side effects like nausea can all be achieved using this high-benefit low-cost and safe plant.