What is Cannabis Oil?
Cannabis Oil is a substance extracted from the Cannabis plant. There are two species of this plant that are the ‘parents’ of all other strains of cannabis plant.
* Cannabis sativa
* Cannabis indica
Each of these species have very specific properties from the way it grows, to the way it can make you feel. Broadly speaking, the following are characteristics of each plant which may help you discern which of the two species are dominant in the cannabis oil you are using.
This is the ‘classic’ cannabis plant. Recreational users will look to this plant (or hybrids from it) to give them the ‘high’ they are looking for. It originates from tropical areas and grows best in the climates associated with these areas.
The sativa plants grow tall and take longer to flower. Their leaves produce long, slender ‘fingers’.
The ‘user’ can expect to feel energised with a sharper focus and experience a general feeling of ‘happiness’. This species generally has higher THC levels. (See section: What are cannabinoids?)
Recreational users look to this plant to experience the typical ‘stoned’ feeling associated with cannabis.
As in the image, this plant (and hybrids from it) tend to be short and squat, darker in colour than their sativa cousins and they yield bigger buds.
The ‘user’ can expect to experience either sleepiness or a feeling of being very relaxed (or both). This is the strain that is particularly good for managing chronic pain. This species has higher CBD levels. (See section: What are cannabinoids?)
As a therapeutic aid, cannabis has been used for thousands of years. It has been described by the ancient Egyptians as far back as 1550BC and written about by the Chinese a long time before that.
Cannabis oil is derived from extracting cannabinoids and terpenes from the flower (bud) of cannabis plants. Simply put, it forms a more concentrated version of the plant.
What is the difference between Hemp and Cannabis…and where does Marijuana fit in?
Cannabis is the genus of plant from which there are many strains. Two of the most well-known are Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Hemp is also a strain of the plant species Cannabis sativa, and is used in a variety of industries because of its high fibre content. So, Cannabis is the genus that produces the strains Hemp, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica. Collectively, Marijuana is used for recreational and medicinal purposes and is produced from both the sativa and indica strains. Whilst Hemp and Marijuana are both produced from the same strains and are bred from the genus Cannabis, they have been bred for different purposes.
Hemp produces higher percentages of CBDs and lower percentages of THCs (these abbreviations are discussed in a moment…read on!). It is Hemp that has been allowed to grow legally (under licence) here in Australia because of its use in the textile and building industries and the lack of interest recreational users have for this plant because of the low THCs.
Marijuana on the other hand is what all the controversy has been about recently and the plant that governments around the world are being pressured to legalise. This is the plant that contains the properties that are most conducive to therapeutic use for a wide range of health conditions
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are a group of active compounds found in cannabis plants. There are hundreds of these compounds and more are being discovered as research into cannabis grows. There are many identified cannabinoids (or compounds) responsible for the physical effects of Marijuana. When ingested (or digested) some of these compounds ‘lock onto’ receptors in the brain called CB1 receptors. These are the cannabinoids, like THC, that are likely to cause the psychoactive response (mind-altering effects) that we associate with producing a ‘high’ when smoking weed. Other cannabinoids have non-psychoactive properties but have other therapeutic properties that have shown benefit for a range of conditions, including cancer. These are the cannabinoids most likely to ‘lock onto’ the CB2 receptors found on white blood cells. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one such cannabinoid that researchers are interested in for this very reason. CBD does not cause a ‘high’.
What is interesting in relation to human health, is that we are born with an endocannabinoid system and produce our own endogenous cannabinoids…the problem is that as we age or our wellbeing diminishes, we make fewer endogenous cannabinoids. The primary function
for the endocannabinoid system is, it seems, to maintain homeostasis in our body. Because of its importance, receptor sites for our endocannabinoid system can be found in our brain, organs, glands, connective tissue and immune cells.¹
Luckily for us, even when our endogenous cannabinoids diminish, we can turn to plant cannabinoids, known as phytocannabinoids. These also engage with several receptors throughout the body that affect functions such as sleep and appetite. According to a 2005 study, there are 70 known phytocannabinoids in Cannabis sativa. This number of known cannabinoids has now increased. The two most well-known of the identified phytocannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the stuff that gets you high whilst CBD is associated with medicinal benefits.
There are many ways of taking Marijuana. Recreational users tend to inhale it by smoking or ingest it by eating edibles – think butter, cookies etc. Those using it for therapeutic purposes tend to use one of the following methods; smoking, as a tincture, as an edible or ingest it as an oil or use the oil in a suppository.
One of the questions I often get asked is “will I get high?” My answer is… Yes and no. It depends on the concentration of either of the active compounds CBD and THC in the plant you choose to use, and how you choose to use it.
Using Cannabis Oil
Anecdotal accounts and research suggest that using Cannabis Oil by extracting cannabinoids offers the user a higher concentration and a stronger effect for medicinal purposes irrespective of the ratio of cannabinoids to THC. (Remember, different ratios are useful for different conditions).
The following guidelines refer to Cannabis Oil made using a heat extraction method. It’s potentially a dangerous process to follow unless each stage of the process is carefully observed and takes between 4 and 6 hours (depending on quantity being made) to complete. For the purposes of this information sheet, the actual process of making Cannabis Oil will not be discussed here.
The Cannabis Oil discussed here uses Cannabis indica. The extraction method uses IPA which is 99.9% isopropyl alcohol. Previously in Western Australia ethanol was able to be used instead of IPA but unfortunately, as of this year (2018) it is now illegal to purchase ethanol and so suppliers have stopped stocking it. IPA is used as an alternative to ethanol.
Once the resin has been extracted from the bud of the Cannabis plant, a thick tar like substance (resin) is left. The resin is mixed 1:1 with coconut oil to produce a more useable product and dispensed in 1ml syringes for ease of use. Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid containing properties known to assist immune, heart, brain and thyroid health.
How do I consume Cannabis Oil?
Dosing advice has not been established for using Cannabis Oil. The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) advise a “start low, go slow” approach.²
With this in mind, we suggest starting your dosing protocol by squeezing 0.1ml of the Cannabis Oil onto your finger and placing a sublingual dose under your tongue for 30-60 seconds (recommended for fastest absorption).
If you use this product consistently, your body will become adjusted to it and you will find that the sleepiness that is associated when you start using Cannabis Oil will ease. If you feel confident with the benefits of using Cannabis Oil, gradually increase your daily dose.
The Rick Simpson Protocol³ suggests building up to take 1ml daily, spread out over the course of each day for 90 days as a protocol to heal from cancer. There are many positive anecdotal stories regarding this protocol but very little in the research literature regarding the efficiency of this approach. Please refer to this website (address below) for further information if you want to follow the Rick Simpson protocol.
* Before taking your dose it may be worthwhile eating a little something 30minutes prior. The reason for this is that most oils (Cannabis Oil included) are, in the main, metabolised in the liver. Eating something prior to taking your dose will ‘occupy’ your liver enabling more of the Cannabis Oil to circulate your body before returning to the liver to be metabolised.
* Don’t increase your daily dose too quickly…let your body get used to it. Listen to your body for guidance.
* Speak to your treating doctor prior to commencing with Cannabis Oil if you are taking prescribed medication.
* Keep up your water intake. You are likely to experience a dry mouth when using Cannabis Oil.
* If you prefer not to be too ‘chilled’ during the day, I suggest you take your dose around 8pm. By bedtime you will feel sleepy and will enjoy a deep sleep.
* If you are experiencing pain during the day, use a smaller dose on rising to help manage the pain.
* If you do not like the taste of the oil (it can taste quite strong), add it to a smoothie or some other food source to disguise the flavour.
* This oil can be applied topically but there have been few research publications about the efficiency of using this product in this way. What is known is that THC cannabinoids are not absorbed as well when applied topically in comparison to ingesting the oil.
If you are at all concerned with any symptoms you experience when taking Cannabis Oil stop taking it and consult your GP.
If you have any questions please contact me (Karen) on 0409 328 768
1. Rappaport T., Leonard-Johnson S. Cannabis Medicine is Back. 2014 www.CannabisMedicineisBack.com
2. Australian Government Department of Health Therapeutic Goods Administration. Guidance for the use of medicinal cannabis in Australia- Overview. Dec. 2017. Version 1.
3. Rick Simpson Protocol www.phoenixtears.ca