Tips for getting the correct dose of medical cannabis.
The wild west of medical cannabis in South Africa can be extremely daunting for new medical cannabis patients. To make matters worse, dosing out cannabis can be extremely challenging. To help make your online shopping a little easier, here are suggestions to find the right dose of medical cannabis. Of course, working with a knowledgeable medical practitioner is recommended.
The amount of medical cannabis that you take, or your dose, will vary based on the type and severity of your condition, the level of experience you have with cannabis, and the delivery method you choose for your medicine.
The one important recommendation to follow: Start low and go slow.
You will likely need to experiment with a few different products before finding the product and dose that works best for you.
Dosing medical cannabis can be quite difficult. Every individual cannabis plant produces different levels of cannabinoids, which are the active components in the herb. Both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are cannabinoids. THC, however, is the only one that causes the psychoactive “high”.
Finding the right dose of medical cannabis is a highly individual task. If you’ve been consuming cannabis for a while, you are more likely to be tolerant to the herb. This means that you are better able to handle a higher dose and may need to consume more than the standard dose to achieve the desired effects.
Unfortunately, if you are not working closely with an experienced doctor who can help you measure and make estimates on the dose you should be consuming, finding the perfect dose can be a process of trial and error.
Cannabis therapeutics is personalized medicine. The right treatment regimen depends on the person and condition being treated. For maximum therapeutic benefit, choose cannabis products that include both cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis. CBD and THC interact to enhance each other’s therapeutic effects. They work best together. A patient’s sensitivity to THC is a key factor to determining the ratio and dosage of CBD-rich medicine. Many people enjoy the cannabis high and can consume reasonable doses of any cannabis product without feeling too high or dysphoric. Others find THC unpleasant. CBD can lessen or neutralize the intoxicating effects of THC. So a greater ratio of CBD-to-THC means less of a “high.”
How much Cannabis do I need to use?
Edible forms of Cannabis, including food products such as dagga cookies and space cakes, lozenges, and Cannabis capsules, can produce effective, long-lasting, and safe effects. These forms of Cannabis are also the most likely to produce unwanted effects and overdose symptoms, which can be very unpleasant. The difference is, of course, the dose.
Here, you’ll find a chart that describes typical effects felt at different ingested doses. However, there are factors to consider when choosing the right dose for you, which you can read more about below.
The Right Dose Varies Between Individuals
Every person has a unique internal physiologic environment and can therefore experience different results with various medications. One person’s response to a dose of edible cannabis can vary significantly from the next, even more so than other medications or herbs. Why? Several factors are involved, including previous history of cannabis use, gastrointestinal factors, and the function/sensitivity of one’s endocannabinoid system. Approximately 3% of my patients area ultra-sensitive to THC and do well with very low doses (e.g. 1mg).
Understand CBD and THC Contents
Adding CBD to THC can enhance the medical benefits, such as pain or anxiety relief, while decreasing the adverse effects, such as impairment and elevated heart rate. CBD partially blocks the intoxicating effects of THC, so consumers who wish to experience the medical benefits of cannabis without as much impairment can best achieve this with products that contain both CBD and THC. It’s important for consumers to know the content of each of these components, and the ratio of CBD to THC.
Products with a CBD:THC ratio of 1:1 are powerfully therapeutic and produce less impairment than a THC-dominant product. Excessive doses of these products can still produce classic cannabis overdose symptoms.
As the CBD:THC ratio increases, the likelihood of unwanted intoxicating effects decreases, and the quality of the medical effects will also change. At a 4:1 ratio or higher, adverse intoxicating effects are unlikely unless one takes a very high dose. For example, a person who feels impaired after taking 5mg of THC will likely feel less or no impairment when taking 20mg of CBD + 5mg of THC.
Dosing Recommendations for Consumers New to Cannabis Edibles
Starting dose: 1-2.5mg of THC (plus CBD if available/desired)
To avoid the potentially erratic absorption via the gut, I recommend starting with an edible that can be held in the mouth and absorbed primarily though the oral blood vessels under the tongue and in the cheeks. Tinctures, oils, lozenges, mints, troches, dissolving tablets, and gummies are all good options. Cookies, chocolates, and other food products can also be used if they are intentionally held in the mouth for 1-3 minutes before swallowing. Tinctures and oils are usually the easiest to use for precise dosing and gradually increasing the dose to find what works best for you.
I encourage those new to cannabis edibles to wait two hours before taking an additional dose of cannabis. The most common mistake in cannabis dosing occurs when a person doesn’t feel any effect from an edible after one hour and decides to take another dose; two hours later, the individual experiences the unpleasant effects of an overdose.
If you’re unsure if a particular dose of cannabis is affecting you, I recommend learning Healer’s “Inner Inventory,” a fast and simple self-awareness tool that can be used to determine if you’re feeling the effects of a particular dose of cannabis. For strategies to methodically increase your dose of cannabis to achieve optimal results.
More Tips for Consuming Infused Edibles
- If you don’t feel any effects from an edible after one hour, try eating a snack like an organic apple to turn on the digestion and absorption in your gut.
- Some people who are new to cannabis require 2-3 doses before they feel anything at all, so it’s often best to try the same low dose three times with 8 to 24 hours between trials before increasing the dose.
- I’ve infrequently met patients who seem unable to absorb any significant amount of THC through the gut. In these individuals, absorption via the oral blood vessels or the lungs is the best option.
Tips for Relieving an Edibles-Induced “Overdose”
- A calm, safe environment and gentle reassurance that everything will be okay is the primary treatment.
- Stay hydrated.
- Try and distract yourself by watching a movie, listening to music, taking a bath or going for a walk.
- Some people report that chewing 2-3 black peppercorns brings relief. You could also try smelling the crushed black pepper. Terpenes found in pepper have been shown to knock out THC side-effects of paranoia and anxiety.
- A large 50-200mg dose of CBD (without significant amounts of THC) can act as a partial antidote. Lemon oil, found predominantly in the rind and in lower amounts in the juice, has also been used historically for this purpose. Grate a tablespoon of lemon zest and chew it up before swallowing.
- Most people do not need emergency medical care unless they have pre-existing heart disease or other serious medical conditions. For ongoing vomiting and diarrhea, intravenous rehydration may be necessary.
Listed below are the standard starting doses for various medical cannabis products. These doses are considered starting points and many patients find that they scale up or down depending on individual need.
A good measure of a “dose” with dried flower is 0.25 to 0.5 grams of either high-THC or high-CBD cannabis. A half gram is the most common amount found in pre-rolled joints meant for individual consumption. A full gram pre-roll is often considered a bit of a specialty item or is used by patients who have a higher tolerance.
When just starting out, many people find that consuming about 0.25 grams is an easy way to test their reaction to Cannabis. 0.25 grams is about half of the standard joint – 1/4-1/2 a ‘cigarette’ size. Novices will feel the effects of THC kick in after just a couple of tastes. For some, this might be enough.
Smoking joints, however, is not the most medicinal way to consume cannabis. To place less stress on your lungs, vaporization or a water pipe is recommended.
A single dose of an edible is 10 mg of either THC or CBD. After testing out a single dose, most medical cannabis patients are recommended to increase in increments of 5 mg until they achieve the desired effects.
However, depending on how your body metabolizes the cannabis, it can take between 30 minutes and two full hours before the effects of the edible present themselves.
It is not recommended to increase your dose of edible cannabis before the full two-hour window has passed. Oral cannabis is one of the strongest ways to consume the herb, and it can be easy to overdo it with edibles. It is impossible to fatally overdose from edibles, but consuming too many high-THC treats is a sure-fire way to have a bad time.
Some medical cannabis products can contain over 100 milligrams of THC. These edibles are typically recommended for patients with severe medical conditions like cancer and are not meant to act as a single dose. For high-dose therapies, it is best to work closely with a savvy doctor.
Full Extract Medical Cannabis Oil
Full Extract Cannabis Oil is considered one of the most potent forms of medical cannabis. These types of oils are frequently used by patients with severe conditions like cancer, epilepsy, and neurological disorders.
Medical cannabis oil is highly concentrated, which means that it can have powerful effects on the brain and body. Children are often given small doses of medical cannabis oil for a variety of serious health conditions, including seizure disorders, autism, and cerebral palsy.
When first starting out with a full-extract medical cannabis oil, most patients take a small droplet about the size of a single grain of rice or a matchstick head size. At this small dose, many patients repeat the dose three to four times per day. Many advanced medical cannabis patients work up to 1 full gram of cannabis oil per day, divided into multiple doses.
A daily gram of full extract cannabis oil is a very large amount and it is not recommended to self-treat at these high doses.
If you are buying FECO Full Extract Cannabis Oil in South Africa, also known as “Pure” Cannabis oil or RSO – Rick Simpson Oil please make sure that you ask your supplier how this Cannabis Oil was made and what solvent was used in the extraction process. Stay away from people who use Benzene, Acetone, Isopropyl alcohol etc. as these methods of extractions are outdated. We only suggest using or buying Cannabis oil in South Africa which was made using certified food grade ethanol extraction or CO2 extraction methods. Stay safe, know thy medicine! There are ignorant and profit driven Cannabis oil suppliers who use trim, leaves and stalks, and even petrol to make Cannabis oil so make sure you know exactly how your FECO was made. Our personal preference is to only use top quality Cannabis flowers and certified food grade ethanol extraction.
Many South Africans are choosing to buy CBD/THC Cannabis tinctures online. Medicinal Cannabis tinctures are one of the oldest and recognised delivery methods for dosing with medicinal Cannabis. Also known as green dragon tinctures, these are alcohol-based cannabis extracts – essentially, infused alcohol. In fact, tinctures were the main form of cannabis medicine until the United States enacted cannabis prohibition. With a name like “green dragon,” you might think cannabis tinctures are not for the faint of heart, but they’re actually a great entry point for both recreational and medical users looking to ease into smokeless consumption methods.
How do you use tinctures?
If you want a tincture to kick in fairly quickly, the best method of delivery is to use a half or full dropper (depending on your preferred dose) under your tongue.
The sublingual (under the tongue) method allows your body to absorb the cannabanoids more quickly. Expect to feel the effects after about 15 minutes. But it can take up to two hours to feel the full effects.
If you take it under the tongue, don’t swallow the liquid right away. Leave it under your tongue and give it some time to absorb over a minute or two.
If you decide to not go with the under-the-tongue method – and you instead want to use it to infuse food or drinks – your tincture will kick in much more like a standard edible, taking an hour or two before you feel the effects.
To use a tincture to infuse your own edibles or drinks, just full the dropper with your desired dose and then drop it onto or into whatever you want to infuse. New generations of tinctures are starting to appear on the market with a variety of flavors – making it even easier to figure out what foods or drinks they would pair well with.
What about dosage?
Start with a maximum two drops under tongue. Hold it there for as long as possible to allow it to get absorbed via the saliva glands. Wait at least two hours between dosing so to not double up. Increase drops to suit your needs. If you are struggling to get the right amount of drops out then try placing the drops on a teaspoon then placing this under the tongue as outlined above.
If you are wanting to buy CBD/THC Cannabis tinctures in South Africa then please contact us, we’d love to assist you with a choosing a medicinal Cannabis tincture which is right for you.
- Hemp CBD extracts
For the most part, a standard dose of an oral CBD extract begins at 10 mg. However, it’s also possible to microdose CBD at 2.5 to 5 milligrams daily. For more severe conditions, a much higher dose may be needed.
CBD oils and other products sold online should have serving recommendations listed directly on the packaging or on the brand website. CBD oils and similar products can vary widely across different brands, and it is recommended to reach out to the company in question for more specific information about how the product should be consumed.
- Cannabis/Dagga Tea
Start with about 1g of dried Cannabis flowers or leaves and bring to the boil using 250ml of water. Add sugar or honey to taste. Dagga tea should not make you high unless you add a fat source like milk or butter. This will convert the THCa into the psychoactive THC. An easier method is simply to add a some dried Cannabis plant material into a strainer along with a Rooibos teabag or another flavoured herbal tea and allow this to soak for a few minutes. You could also make a larger batch and store in the fridge for 2-3 days. A good ratio to work on is 1-3g of dried Cannabis plant material, depending on tolerance, to each 250ml serving of water.
- BHO extractions/Dabs/Shatter
Butane Hash Oil (BHO) and other extractions are typically sold in 0.5 and full gram quantities. Unfortunately, a “dose” of BHO is typically measured by visual size rather than total weight. However, a half-gram of BHO is thought provides about 20 servings or dabs.
Vapor cartridges all tend to have different recommended doses depending on the individual product. The dose you’re getting may also depend on how hot the cartridge is heated, as well as how long and hard you inhale. Most people just try a puff or two and wait 10 to 15 minutes to see how much an inhalation affects them.
How to find the right dose of medical cannabis
While it’s always best to work with a medical professional when trying medical cannabis for the first time, there are a couple of general tips that can help get you started in the right direction. Many medical cannabis patients are elderly, and experimenting with a psychoactive substance might seem a bit daunting.
Here are a couple of ways to make the process easier:
Start with products that contain cannabidiol (CBD)
There are some cases where going straight for THC might be recommended by a medical professional. For the most part, however, it is far easier to begin with a product that contains CBD.
As mentioned above, CBD does not cause a psychoactive high. Rather, it provides ample physical benefit without many changes in cognitive ability.
Starting with either a strain or product that contains close to a one-to-one ratio of THC to CBD would be an excellent first choice. Both THC and CBD work with one another synergistically to produce medicinal effects.
Mixing both THC and CBD is thought to provide improved pain management and relief from symptoms like anxiety, chronic stress, and depression.
CBD also helps “tame” THC, reducing the psychoactivity of the cannabinoid. Strains that contain a 1:1 ratio of the two compounds will have very minimal psychoactive effects.
Another option is to start with a CBD product that does not contain any THC at all, such as a hemp CBD Oil. These oils will have no psychoactive effect whatsoever.
Start small and work up
To play it safe with medical cannabis, it’s always best to start small and work up. Unfortunately, because cannabis can be very difficult to dose, most patients have to experiment quite a bit to find the products and regimens that work best for them. However, using the lowest possible therapeutic dose is always recommended.
You can also try dosing cannabis capsules when looking for a dosage that suits you.
Disclaimer: the information presented in this article is intended for educational purposes and should not be used in place of medical advice or treatment. Always work with a medical professional whenever possible.