Are you new to cannabis and apprehensive about experimenting? Are you sensitive to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)? Are you looking to experience just a wee bit of relaxation or pain relief without getting so high you could touch the sky? If so, the newest trend in cannabis was made especially for you: micro-dosing.
One in five Americans now lives in a state where medical and/or discretionary cannabis consumption are now legal. Over half the states now allow medical cannabis. The entire west coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, plus Colorado, Nevada, Maine, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have all legalized cannabis for both medical and non-medical consumption. And that means millions can exercise their natural right in America to partake of the herb.
There are many folks who may have experimented when they were younger but who, due to legal concerns, danger myths, or even just peer pressure, haven’t touched a whiff in decades. These folks, who may have turned to booze to relax after a hard day, now have another option—one with fewer and far less dangerous side effects than alcohol.
What’s a micro-dose?
What is a micro-dose? For inhalation, a low dose is generally defined as one to three puffs of a joint, pipe, or vape. For edibles, in Colorado for example, the law mandates a 10-milligram maximum of THC per dose. There are some manufacturers who have decided to offer even smaller doses, such as 5 milligrams. Sometimes less is more.
New consumers, take heart: Technology has been effective at showing how the different cannabinoids affect the human body, and it also helps manufacturers control how much of each cannabinoid ends up in their products. Companies want you to be a repeat customer, so they are motivated to be forthright in their labeling to the best of their ability.
What’s a cannabinoid?
Cannabinoids are organic molecules that comprise the active ingredients of cannabis, both euphoric and not. For example, famously psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most studied cannabinoid. Cannabidiol (CBD) is the next most studied and is known as the “miracle medical molecule” for its immense array of anti-inflammatory, anti-seizure, and other health-enhancing properties—though THC is a valuable medical compound in its own right, with renowned anti-nausea, anti-spasmodic, analgesic, and cancer cell-killing properties.
Endocannabinoids are cannabis molecules naturally produced by the bodies of mammals (including us), birds, and fish. So, when cannabis is eaten or inhaled, the cannabinoids within the plant work together with the body’s own to help cells communicate and heal. Cannabinoids are designed by nature to work with our bodies, protecting and regulating the nervous system and supporting optimal function across all cell types.
Cannabis contains well over 100 cannabinoids and hundreds of other phytochemicals, and scientists don’t really know exactly how they all function or how they work together. Medical studies tend to focus only on THC or CBD, or sometimes those two together; the numerous and varied strains available make studying the exact effects of the other cannabinoids very difficult. Even the same strain can have varying levels of each cannabinoid depending on the soil, time of year, harvest date, weather, nutrients, etc. Thus, it’s proven much easier (if suboptimal in light of the synergistic entourage effect among the various molecules) for scientists to extract a particular cannabinoid and study its effects in isolation.
One interesting fact to note: cannabinoids change depending on the method of intake. For example, ordinary (non-micellized) CBD when ingested can transform into THC in the stomach. Also, THC when inhaled interacts with the body differently than when eaten. The liver transforms THC into the more potent 11-hydroxy-THC when cannabis is absorbed through the digestive tract. The effects take longer to show, but they last much longer and are reputed to relieve pain and insomnia more effectively. Pain relief and other benefits can last more than eight hours, in contrast with two to three hours via smoking or vaping.
Another, equally compelling reason to micro-dose is the findings of researchers at McGill University in Montreal. They studied the effects of a THC analog on serotonin production and discovered the “dual personality” of THC. Lead researcher Dr. Gabriella Gobbi explains:
“Low doses had a potent anti-depressant effect, but when we increased the dose, the serotonin in the rats’ brains actually dropped below the level of those in the control group. So we actually demonstrated a double effect: At low doses it increases serotonin, but at higher doses the effect is devastating, completely reversed.”
Thus, by carefully monitoring and controlling their dosage, patients in legal states can be medicated without being devastated. Micro-dose edibles combine the best of both worlds: The effects are long-lasting, and those who are sensitive to cannabis or new to it can experiment with no worries of excessive intoxication or depressant effects.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amber Boone considers writing the cornerstone of communication. She interviews MMA (mixed martial arts) athletes for CombatPress.com. She’s passionate about helping folks tell their stories and making the world a better place, which includes working to win the freedom of Americans to partake of the herb. When not writing or playing beach volleyball, she can be found at her day job—for now. Follow Amber on Twitter @thruthetrees11.