Getting started with cannabis
The Human Endocannabinoid System
You get all that?
If it took you a couple of read-through’s you are not alone. The ECS is a simple yet highly complex system that helps regulate a number of things in our bodies, from pain to appetite to stress and nephropathy issues. The unique part of cannabis being we share these things called cannabinoids which are found in nature, specifically the cannabis plant. I like how Martin Lee explains it all in his article on the ECS via his website, Project CBD. Additionally Kristen Williams made this great VIDEO!!!
Categories of cannabinoids; Phytocannabinoids which are cannabis (or other plant species) derived, and endocannabinoids that are produced from within the body recognized by cannabinoid receptors.
CBDA (cannabidiolic acid)
THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid)
The Known Endocannabinoids
Anandamide or AEA (Arachidonoylethanolamine)
Noladin Ether (2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether)
NADA (N-Arachidonoyl dopamine)
Hooray for Terpenoids!
Aren’t terpenes fascinating?!?!? Used to great effect in essentials oils and herbal homeopathic remedies we shouldn’t be surprised with the enormous impact they have in combination with cannabinoids. Learn more below about how different terpenes are known to provide different effects. There are even products available that are cannabis-free but contain effective cannabis terpenes.
Alpha-pinene and Beta-pinene
Delta 3 Carene
Understanding Ratios & Profiles
The Entourage Effect
Cannabis Lab Testing; Show me the ratios!
This is one of the greatest assets of having access to your products lab testing results and where the road map scenario comes in, with this information comes a great deal of perspective. If you have this level of data on the cannabis product you treat with it gives you an “ingredient” list of what is working, it may also give you some insight into why it may NOT be working. Once you personally have a grasp on what ratios and terpene profiles achieve your desired outcome you know what to look for in a new product. This information is available for cannabis flower and other cannabis consumables like edibles and tinctures, this is also true for any concentrates. By identifying the components that are working you can also determine whether terpene profiles are having an impact on your outcome or not. For example did you vaporize flower to a greater effect than the wax you are using? The flower may have been less mg’s of THC but may have a full profile of cannabinoids and terpenoids. Knowing this information can be game changing for some.
Common ratio jargon you may overhear are: 20:1 (twenty to one), 18:1, 5:1, 3:2, 3:1, 2:1, 1:1. These are references to CBD:THC by content. For example, 1:1 is one measured unit (mg) CBD to the same in THC. Not all ratio’s begin with CBD, always read the label to see how they have it listed for each product or brand.
Discovering the perfect ratio is a personal journey, we all have different body chemistry and varying states of our own endocannabinoid system. A dosage for someone treating migraines will not be the same for everyone, another person treating migraines may also be suffering from an auto-immune deficiency. Due to the homeostasis achieving nature of cannabinoids it all really depends on where you need them for a balanced system.
The Strain Game: What’s in a Name?
Strains, NOT STRANDS, are the cannabis genus and cultivars. Much like a variety of blooms like roses or tulips they are cross-bread, but whereas cultivators of the roses can trademark a genus, cannabis currently does not (as a federally illegal substance) allow for such. So, the standard protocol is individual growers naming any “new” breeds or strains they cultivate. That’s how we end up with names like, “Alaskan Thunderfuck”. There are a large grouping of standard strains that have been grown enough to establish an expected profile, such as Blue Dream, and that information is helpful. But don’t become dependent on name alone, one woman’s Blue Dream is not necessarily another’s.
This is where the importance of understanding cannabinoids and terpenes come in, that is how you determine how to proceed. Pay attention to the full profile, it ALL matters.
Websites like Leafly have expansive online libraries for the various strains and profiles they have come across. This is no substitute for actual lab testing results for the product in your hand. There are actual brands out there that cater to a specific ratio and profile educated consumers, like Dosit and The Legion of Bloom.
Quick note re: Cannabis Ruderalis
There are a lot of assumptions about ruderalis out there. It is a feral genus that grows smaller yet flowers on a faster cycle, this makes cross-breeding beneficial for those looking to speed up their cultivars growth cycle. (aka the auto-flower) It is NOT the “hybrid” in the “Sativa, Indica, Hybrid”, trilogy of old school terminology.
Quick note re: Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica
Misnomers in that it is the description given by visual inspection not necessarily the chemical profile.
Know the Law; Recreational/Medicinal
State resources and regulations for Medical Cannabis Patients. Costly but ROI is greater with the reduction in taxes with medical status.