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Alternative ways to use medicinal cannabis

The general public is increasingly aware of the medicinal benefits of cannabis, while the plant is being accepted in ever more countries as well as states of the U.S.A. As a result, the need for alternative methods of ingestion is growing, especially among medicinal users. After all, there are healthier ways of using cannabis than the prevalent habit of smoking.

Sensi Seeds is delighted to see more and more countries relaxing their cannabis policies. In many cases, this entails granting patients access to medicinal cannabis, such as recently in France. However, legalising recreational use is being considered more often as well, or even arranged statutorily, such as in Ecuador, Uruguay and two American states.

Using cannabis in combination with tobacco can constitute a psychological barrier, especially for non-smokers who have or will have access to medicinal cannabis in its natural form. Patients associations focussing on alternative medicine regularly receive questions concerning alternative ways of ingestion. And yes, they do exist. Cannabis is perfectly suited to be processed in all sorts of dishes and drinks, and even inhaling can be done in a way that is almost harmless to your health. However, the method of ingestion influences how the effect kicks in and how long it lasts. Sensi Seeds, in this article, will look at some of the differences in order to help patients make the right choice. In any case, if you contemplate using medicinal cannabis, Sensi Sends advises to always first consult a medical specialist.


An effective and pure way of ingesting cannabis is by means of a vaporizer. A vaporizer heats the cannabis to a temperature of between 180 and 220 degrees Celsius. Because no combustion takes place, only the active ingredients are released and no, or very few, harmful by-products, such as benzene, and tar and carbon particles. Controlled heating also ensures that vaporizing is much more efficient and allows up to 95% of active ingredients, such as THC and CBD, to be ingested. Therefore, smaller quantities of cannabis are needed for the same effect, unlike uncontrolled heating — as in smoking a joint — which renders a large percentage of the cannabis ineffective. Finally, the effect kicks in quickly, which can be very useful when needing to alleviate pain instantly.

Eagle Bill during the Cannabis Culture Awards 2004.

Heating herbs to extract certain substances is a century-old method which originated in ancient Egypt. There, stones were placed in a fire until they were red-hot. Then, the Egyptians took them out of the fire and placed aromatic herbs on them. The heat released the essential oils from the herbs, creating a nice and fragrant vapour without smoke polluting the air.

Vaporizing remedial herbs such as cannabis is based on this method and was made accessible to the general public by Frank William Wood, better known under his pseudonym Eagle Bill Amato (U.S.A., 1942 – 2005). This cannabis activist and champion of medicinal cannabis discovered the principle in 1993 through a Californian cannabis grower, who had constructed a primitive vaporizer in which cannabis was heated with a heat pistol. Wood immediately recognised the medicinal potential of the system. He improved the design and marketed it as ‘Eagle Bill’s peace pipe of the future’, for which he was awarded a Cannabis Culture Award in 2004.

Wood’s design is made of glass and the sphere at the end must be heated with a butane lighter. Over the years, the design has been improved on several times and it’s still one of the most common vaporizers. By now, several electronic variants are available as well, some of them as big as a pack of cigarettes. These modern devices heat the cannabis to exactly the right temperature by means of a heating element.

Eating: a powerful effect that lasts longer

Cannabis can also be mixed with foodstuffs. This method of ingestion produces a powerful effect, which lasts longer, making it extremely suited for chronic ailments for which permanent medication is required.

Many people think that the powerful and long-lasting effect of eating cannabis is caused by more active ingredients being absorbed in the blood through the digestive system. However, precisely the opposite is true. When smoking a joint, only 20% of the cannabis used is absorbed, while this is only 6% for oral consumption. As it happens, a large percentage is broken down by the digestive process. What is left to be absorbed still has to deal with the detoxifying properties of the liver. The reason why the effect is nevertheless more intense and long-lasting, is because absorption into the blood stream is a much slower process compared to smoking or vaporizing. This causes the effect to build up more gradually and remain active longer, sometimes up to 8 hours,

which also constitutes a danger. The effect of cannabis can be controlled well when smoking or vaporizing. If it becomes too strong, the user simply quits inhaling and after a short while the effect will wear off. When eating cannabis however, it can take a while for the effect to kick in, even up to 90 minutes. The fact that nothing is happening could suggest that nothing will happen. This could be an incentive to eat some more, resulting in too large a dose, and a seriously intense and long-lasting effect. Therefore, it’s sensible to build up the quantity of cannabis in food gradually. Start with a small dose or eat just a little bit of the food, and gradually build up the quantity day by day until the desired effect is reached.

Drinking cannabis

Bhang Lassi shop in India.

Medicinal cannabis can also be drunk. Milk and tea are two common carriers. Consuming cannabis drinks is similar to eating in that it can take up to 90 minutes for the effect to kick in, so please keep that in mind.

The use of cannabis goes back some 5000 years, to China. In those days, hemp fibre was already used to make rope, and cannabis was used in traditional Chinese medicine, of which, according to Chinese legend, Shen Nong (or Shennong), a character from Chinese mythology, is one of the founders. He is also alleged to have discovered tea, when he was boiling water in a forest and some leaves twirled into his broth. This released a pleasant aroma and the hot drink tasted nice as well. The fact that the use of cannabis in drinks is not uncommon in Asia, is also emphasized by the Bhang tradition in India, about which Sensi Seeds has written earlier.

Raw cannabis

The American physician William Courtney recently presented research which shows that the use of fresh, ‘raw cannabis’ in fruit drinks has a particularly positive effect on preventing and curing several conditions. With raw cannabis, Courtney is referring to the use of almost all parts of the plant for preparing juices and salads. One of the advantages of using all parts is that the psychedelic effects are toned down because those parts of the plant that do not possess consciousness-altering properties are used as well.

Raw cannabis.

For an optimal effect, Courtney advises the following: add about 120 – 240g of plant parts (leaves, stem, flowers) to a smoothie, consume 5mg of cannabidiol (CBD) per kilogramme body weight, eat a salad containing hemp seeds and finally, add 50mg of THC to your diet in 5 daily doses. Click here for more on this method.

Sensi Seeds is delighted to see more and more people getting access to medicinal cannabis. However, we realize that this gives rise to questions. In order to answer these questions, to inform people about the possibilities of medicinal cannabis and to improve the plant’s image, Sensi Seeds publishes relevant articles on its blog on a daily basis.


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