It has been a while since I posted, but it isn’t for lack of anything except time. I kind of let the cannabis community dictate what I write about by watching for the most common questions that patients have, and there is no lack of questions, so today I want to address the use of CBD (Cannabidiol), one of the more famous cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, as a rescue remedy when the THC in a cannabis product is too strong.
Recently in one of our cannabis community Facebook pages a patient asked:
“So it’s read that CBD actually counteracts THC…yes? So, with a Cannabis Oil that is 20% THC – 80% CBD, does the THC completely get overridden? What about the “Pure” CBD oils that have the super low 1% THC & 90% CBD?”
These were such great questions. My answer to the first question is that “counteracts” isn’t the right word to use in this situation, even though cannabis users hear it time and time again. What would be more correct is to say that CBD regulates the way THC is used in your body.
Some cannabis patients, (newbies as well as experienced users), may find that the effect of a cannabis product is too strong, and they will experience what is sometimes called a THC overdose. I believe that “overdose” is a strong word and too often associated with drug deaths. Because cannabis has never killed a soul, I choose to call this circumstances “over medicating”.
Over medicating with cannabis may show itself in many ways and not all of them are unpleasant, but I want to deal today with the unpleasant effects such as increased heart rate, anxiety, paranoia, and general uneasiness. Using products that have even a small amount of CBD can eliminate the unpleasant side effects that some people experience, or at very least lessen them. Why is this?
CBD is a strong medicine in its own right, and can be used for many ailments that THC alone doesn’t work for, as in some forms of epilepsy for example. Some people need both THC and CBD for their illness, some need THC only, and some will use CBD for daytime relief and THC for night time because it helps them sleep.
The cannabinoid CBD is a regulator utilized by our body’s Endocannabinoid System, aka eCS, (that’s the system of the body that we didn’t learn about in health or science class because it wasn’t discovered until the 1990s). The eCS exists in all mammals and also in living creatures of the ocean, sky, and insect world. It is the system that helps a body regulate itself into homeostasis when things have gone awry. Our body tries to regulate itself using the endocannabinoids we self produce, and as needed we can supplement this as needed through the use of plant cannabinoids, (known as phytocannabinoids) found in cannabis, hops, and a few other plants as well. Cannabis has the largest concentration of cannabinoids in the plant world, and the vast array of strains contain various amounts of any number of cannabinoids in an even more varying array of percentages. This is why some strains work better than others for individual patients and their individual needs.
CBD can regulate the “high” associated with THC, lessening the psychoactive effects that can sometimes cause the anxiety and paranoia associated with over medicating. But it also must be realized that the same exact medicine, and same dose of that medicine, can be tolerated very differently in any two people who consume it. Patients new to cannabis medicine may also have an adverse effect to any cannabis product containing THC just because they aren’t used to the high. These effects can be so worrisome that it will also trigger hyperventilation and heart palpitations, increasing anxiety and paranoia. CBD can come to the rescue, and I advise anyone teaching a new patient how to use cannabis to always have some fast acting CBD medicine, like a sublingual tincture or a “CBD only” strain of smokable cannabis on hand to quickly help if these unpleasant side effects occur. (Another item to be used in this situation can be a couple of whole black peppercorns, chewed to release the beta-caryophyllene terpenes under the tongue for fast acting calming of the THC high. As far as I know neither CBD nor black pepper will completely take away the total high from cannabis. They just tame THC to be more tolerable.
Some people just can’t handle high percentages of THC at all, and that is ok. I have a story – a friend who suffers diabetes, neuralgia, and osteoarthritis was willing to try cannabis at the encouragement of her friends only to have terrible side effects because the cannabis flower she was given to smoke had a high THC content. She was willing to give it another try a few months later and this time it was a strong chocolate made with concentrated cannabis oil and again, anxiety and sleeplessness was the result. A few months after that another friend made her some crackers with cannabis butter containing CBD and a little THC. Those crackers worked really well for ailments but she kept running out despite the fact that she was using only bits of the crackers to dose. I suggested that before signing up with the NM Medical Cannabis Program so she could get her own meds as needed, she should try CBD only medicine that is locally available to anyone and made from Colorado grown hemp.
I had just experienced a CBD only vape pen, (like an e cig, but with CBD oil in it), so I suggested that as a delivery method and it is working very well for her. I will still encourage her to to get her MC card and try CBD/THC products for a fuller effect, but not yet. For some people CBD is the best place to start, especially if they have any anxiety at all about using that “demon weed”. All those years of propaganda and brainwashing can be very hard to overcome!
CBD only products may be enough for a good many people, but for patients with a more complicated list of ailments I suggest utilizing cannabis that has both THC and CBD for a well rounded regime of health and well being. The way I look at it is that we were designed with an endocannabinoid system to assist our bodies to achieve optimal health, and that same designer has also given us a backup – cannabis – to help us more fully when our environment has caused things to go to shit. Pretty good planning, I’d say.
Most NM Dispensaries carry CBD products made from cannabis and/or industrial hemp. To purchase hemp CBD products without a NM Medical Cannabis card please visit The CBD Boutique in Nob Hill. It is a great place to start and you may never need anything more. Please DO NOT buy products made from Asian hemp, as these crops and products are not regulated and you never know about the safety or quality. Caveat emptor!
For more great information about the Endocannabinoid System and its discovery please visit this link courtesy of O’Shaughnessy’s.