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Cannabis dosing for pain

Dosing cannabis for pain is difficult. Most people want a dose that takes care of their pain but leaves their mind alone. (Some want to go into couch-lock and completely forget the pain. They will take higher doses.) The general rule is to start with a small dose and slowly raise it until it helps enough with the pain. If you can get your doctor involved, they can be your best guide to determining a dose.

Note that with cannabis more does not need better. Everyone has a sweet spot. As you take smaller doses and move up to your dose, it may feel like every increase is better. But as you go past that dose, additional amounts are often wasted in your system – or can start lessening their effects. Your sweet spot may be 1 mg or 15 mg or 250 mg. You just need to find it.

CBD

It is difficult to take too much CBD. CBD dosing ranges from 10 mg to 3000 mg per day. Bowel disease has a recommended 10 mg/day dosage. Cancer pain can call for 600+ mg/day. Poor sleep calls for a 25 mg dose. Anxiety is 300-600 mg. All of these recommendations are on early studies, and researchers are finding different doses and uses frequently.

You should start with a small dose – about 2 mg, and raise that amount until you feel the desired effects. Or until you cannot afford the dose any more. That’s my limit, the cost.  I take 5 mg once or twice a day (depending on how long I need to be active). I have a tincture to supplement that amount if it isn’t getting rid of the pain, but I don’t use it often because I cannot afford to.

THC

THC dosing generally falls into a smaller range. Pain treatment can start out at a micro-dose of 1-2 mg. Five to 20 mg/day is a fairly common dose for pain. Recreational uses tend to use 10-15 mg. Be careful going over 20 mg /day because you are very likely to get negative effects. Some people with pain, particularly cancer pain, can go up to 150 mg under a doctor’s supervision.

It is good to start slow with THC. Take two mg and wait. If you don’t feel better in 2-3 hours, take another two mg. Five mg works well for me, in maximizing pain killing effects while minimizing disruption to my thinking.  Do not take more than that until you know how it affects you. People take too many edibles when they eat more assuming the dose isn’t working and get in trouble. (Edibles can take 2-3 hours to start working.)

Combinations

When you are taking CBD and THC together the dose of each will affect the other one. So if you are already taking 25 mg of CBD each day and you add in 10 mg of THC, your CBD needs may stay the same or go down to a lower dose. And the amount it goes down does not have a direct relation to the amount the other rises. Basically, it’s a crap shoot. Most people taking cannabis for pain have to go through a long trial and error period.

Other cannabinoids

There are many more substances contained in cannabis and its extracts. Some of these have given folks great pain relief. People find relief with CBN, CBG, CBA, and THCV.

Actual bud

When you buy cannabis in it’s natural form, dosing can get quite difficult. I would recommend first finding your dose through more measurable types of cannabis – and then doing the conversion over to the actual plant.

When you purchase bud, most sellers have the amount of THC and CBD listed on the product. Some types are high in CBD and low in THC and vice-versa. Different strains can affect your body entirely differently. You can use trial and error for different strains.In the end, you will have to try several strains to get the one that works for you.

The amounts of THC and CBD sellers list are only averages. You could grab a bud that is higher or lower in these components. When used in something like an edible, the amounts of weed may not spread evenly through the food items. You will never get the even dosage with bud that you will get with a tincture or an oil.

Note well: I’m not that kind of a doctor. (I’m a JD / PhD.) Never stepped foot in medical or nursing school. This is not meant as medical advice. It’s just based on my experiences. Always take things to your doctor – and listen to their advice. They may have to adjust your other medications to fit with the cannabis.

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Ways to use cannabis (for pain)

I use edibles (mostly) to get my cannabis – Mindy’s Gummies 5 mg CBD/5 mg THC, to be exact. This is one of many ways you can use cannabis. I am giving you my review of the different methods of taking cannabis.

Smoking

Smoking cannabis is the traditional way that most people took it for years. Smoking is one of the most “natural” ways to take cannabis, in that the weed is minimally processed. It is also one of the ways to access the greatest number of varieties or strains. Each variety feels different in the body and the mind, so this allows you to finely tune your cannabis therapy.

Smoking comes in several forms. Rolled cigarettes and cigars are popular. To take smaller doses a pipe – regular or water – is handy. But remember marijuana smoke is carcinogenic, but less so than tobacco smoke.

Effects come on fastest with smoking, but they also go away the fastest. It takes 10-15 minutes to feel the effects and you need to re-dose every half hour or so to maintain pain relief. This is not good for most pain control, unless your pain is spiky and doesn’t hit you often. I want a product that lasts as long as possible.

Additionally, smoking comes with all the lung problems. I smoked cigarettes for 18 years before I quit. Now, when I try to smoke anything I cough, wheeze, and have problems. So no smoking or vaping for me. If breathing is at all an issue with you or those around you, do not smoke the weed.

Vaping

I have problems with vaping or, more correctly, people who vape. I remember (unwillingly) riding in a car with someone vaping. She blew her smoke right in my face to prove that it was nothing but water vapor. Bad way to make a point, plus I got stuff more than water from smelling it.

Vaping does have several benefits over smoking. It does not contain the combustion that causes some of the problems with smoking. You are inhaling a vaporized version of a cannabis oil. There are ways to vape with crushed cannabis as well as dabbing or super-heating a resin.

Vaped cannabis does hit fast and leave fast like smoked cannabis. It still harms the lungs. And the oil it uses can have added ingredients (like vitamin E acetate) that are causing new sets of problems.

Tinctures and oils

Tinctures are mixtures of alcohol and water into which cannabis plants (or their constituent parts) are infused. Oils are similar, where cannabis oils are mixed into carrier oils.

These can be dosed through a dropper, a spray, or put into capsule form. Capsules tend to work well for pain management. You can use these oils and tinctures in baking or creating your own edibles. The most popular way is to mix the oil into oil or butter. You can also mix them into tea, water, or another drink.

Many people place oils and tinctures directly under the tongue to go quickly into the bloodstream. This placement allows the cannabis to affect you faster than taking edibles, but slower than smoking. It’s a good choice for those folks are not ready for how long edibles last. I generally place my edible gummies under my tongue, with the theory that some of the relief will happen faster,

Edibles

Edibles are one of the healthiest ways to take cannabis, as long as you do not take too much too fast. Edibles generally take two hours to start working and three to peak. The cannabis effects last 6-8 hours and provide full-body relief. This lasting effect is the largest reason I use edibles.

People do have problems navigating around this slow start. Folks tend to think that the weed is not working and take more before the dose kicks in and take too much. Overdose can involve paranoia, increased heart rate, and panic attacks – not fun. You have to trust the edibles maker that they contain the amount of cannabis they say they will. Start small, at about 2 mg of THC and initially give it about 4 hours between doses, so you can trace how it affects you. I take 5 mg of THC, once or twice a day. Check with your doctor if you go over 15 mg, because some people have bad side effects at higher doses.

Edibles come in many forms: gummies, drinks, chocolate, honey, butter, even ranch dip mix. You can even make your own, but know that cannabis needs to be heated to certain temperatures for certain times and do your research before you start. Decarboxylated is the technical term.

Topicals

Many pain-people get relief from topical application. They use cannabis salves or lotions to apply it directly where the pain is. This method is good for when your pain is limited to a small area. Topical application will not bring on a “high”. This is a good choice for those who want to avoid that side of marijuana entirely.

Unfortunately, I am not one of the folks who can get relief this way. And I am not the only one. have tried a number of creams and rubs and felt no relief at all for my pain. I did discover, on the side, that hemp oil is great for my dry skin – so I still use it that way.

Transdermal

Transdermal patches look promising at delivering a steady dose over time, however my store doesn’t sell these. Many of these seem to be tied up in the maze of deregulation and medicalization of cannabis, at least in Illinois where I live. I expect to see these more in the future as they maximize the cannabis you receive over time by getting it directly into the blood stream and delivering whole-body relief. It also minimizes the psychoactive effects of the drug.