everything you wanted to know about consuming infused edibles
With all the options available to medical marijuana patients today, many are choosing to explore methods of medicating beyond the traditional pipe or paper. Marijuana infused products, commonly referred to as edibles, provide another option to patients who cannot, or choose not to smoke their cannabis. Edibles come in many different varieties including brownies, candy, chocolate bars, cookies, drinks, pills, snacks, spreads and more. There are even some companies that offer a “medicated” meals-on-wheels service for patients that cannot physically leave the house.
Cannabis consumed orally enters the blood stream after being digested or broken down in the stomach and is absorbed in the intestines. Eating infused products is a healthier alternative to inhaling cannabis smoke because there is no exposure to carbon, tar, carcinogens, etc…
Some patients, such as those on supplemental oxygen, turn to cannabis infused edibles when smoking is no longer an option. For patients with eating and digestive disorders, edibles testing high in cannabidiol (CBD) are not only a great source of nausea-reducing medicine, but also a vital source of essential nutrients and calories. The same is true for cancer patients suffering from nausea caused by their treatments, and expecting mothers dealing with hyperemesis (morning sickness). Additionally, many patients choose edibles as their preferred method of consumption because they are a more discreet way to medicate, while others simply prefer the longevity of effects when ingesting cannabis compared to the fast-acting effects of smoking.
First-time medical marijuana patients typically start with a low dose of 10-15mg active cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.). However, only you can determine what dosage works best for you. This often requires experimenting with different potencies and types of edibles. It’s going to be a learning process through trial and error. Keep a journal and record your experiences with different products, dosages, and try to distinguish what ratio of cannabinoids in what dosage yields the maximum therapeutic effect for your specific ailment / health condition.
Different Types of Edibles
Though there are untold varieties of edibles available on the market today, infused edibles can all be split into three basic categories: those geared towards gastrointestinal uptake (digested through stomach), those geared towards oral uptake (through saliva), and a few that fit into a hybrid category that targets both.
The most common edibles are geared towards gastrointestinal absorption. Any edible where the cannabinoids are absorbed through the stomach falls into this category; this includes brownies, cookies, pill capsules, snacks and many more food-types. These edibles tend to take longer to activate within the body (sometimes as long as two hours), but produce a longer-lasting effect (up to eight hours of relief).
On the other hand, edibles geared towards oral uptake can affect a patient almost immediately but tend to wear off faster (within two to three hours). Edibles that you hold in your mouth for an extended period of time like suckers, lozenges, and tinctures fall into this category.
Some items, such as infused drinks and chocolate bars fall into a hybrid category because they are designed to be absorbed in both the mouth and the stomach. These type of edibles are a middle ground between oral and intestinal absorption, offering fast-acting relief (patients usually feel this type of edible within a half hour) that can last for four hours or more.
The Effects of Edibles
Because most edibles are exposed to some kind of heat during the cooking process, many of the inactive cannabinoids such as THCA and CBDA, are converted to THC, CBD, and CBN. This heating process, known as decarboxylation, as well as the high levels of THC found in edibles, work together to create an ideal treatment for many disorders / health conditions including chronic pain, muscle inflammation and spasms, autoimmune disorders, nervous system disorders, insomnia, and nausea — provided the patient is well enough to ingest the medication. The acid forms of THC and CBD (eg. THCA and CBDA) are highly beneficial and provide their own medicinal benefits, so finding infused edible products that are not completely decarboxylated is preferred.
While anyone can enjoy the benefits of edibles, patients suffering from Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that affects as many as 700,000 Americans, find this method of medicating extremely beneficial. This is because Crohn’s Disease occurs in the GI tract, precisely where edibles distribute useful active and inactive cannabinoids at the root of the problem.
Ingesting cannabis will affect you different than smoking the plant. However, exactly what effect edibles will have on you depends on several factors: the type and potency of the edibles you are using, your tolerance, your body chemistry, and even how much you’ve had to eat. Because the effects of eating an edible differ greatly from the effects of smoking, many first time users are caught off guard by the stronger potency and long-lasting effects.
Despite CBD’s anxiety-relieving properties, many people experience a heightened sense of anxiety and paranoia when they initially ingest an edible. This is caused by various factors, but tends to mostly deal with fact that most people are not used to ingesting cannabis yet and have feelings of uncertainty, which leads to anxiety and paranoia. This seems to fade away the more you eat them, and get used to the effects.
When you smoke marijuana you only receive a small amount of the cannabinoids in each draw, although the effects will be felt instantly. This is unlike eating edibles which tend to hit you much more slowly. In fact, edibles take roughly 30 minutes to 1 hour to reach maximum effect, so be sure to allow adequate time before ingesting more. Eating infused treats tends to release the effects in waves as the cannabinoids are processed by the stomach and digested over a 2-6 hour period.
When selecting an edible, it is very important to pay attention to the potency of the product. This will help you determine how much of the product to eat, as many edibles are designed to be split into multiple doses. However, the exact potency of an edible can be tough for a patient to determine because the strength of an edible depends on the potency of the product used to infuse it.
“10-15mg of active cannabinoids is a good starting point for medical marijuana patients that are ingesting cannabis for the first time.”
Just like the old saying goes, you get out of it what you put into it, and the same is true for edibles. For example, a candy bar that contains five grams of shake or poor quality bud is not necessarily going to be stronger than one that has two grams of primo bud. Some manufacturers list their products in strengths such as 10x, 20x etc. Although these numbers help a bit with dosages (typically 5X per dosage, so 20X is 3-4 doses) it is impossible to determine exactly how much cannabis is in one of these products without asking. Other edible companies label their products with the amount of cannabis that is infused in grams. The problem with this, is that unless you know how potent that gram of marijuana was, there is no way for you to tell how potent the edible will be. The same goes for manufacturers who test their products for total cannabinoid content and list the number in milligrams (mg). These numbers can be misleading because they completely disregard the individual bioactive compounds in the plant (THC-A, THCV, CBD, CBN, CBG, etc).
10-15mg of active cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) is typically a good starting point for medical marijuana patients that are ingesting cannabis for the first time. 30-100mg of active cannabinoids is considered a daily dose by most patients who consume cannabis regularly, although it will vary per individual. Only you and your caregiver can determine what dosage works best for you. Finding your ideal ratio of cannabinoids often requires experimenting with different potencies and types of infused edibles while tracking your progress in a journal.
When purchasing infused products, look for edibles that are lab tested, use quality ingredients, and have proper labels on the product’s packaging (including recommended dosage). Use the cannabinoid content numbers on the packaging as a rough guideline to determine your preferred dose. You may want to ask if the product is lab tested if you do not see any obvious testing data, although chances are the answer will be “what you see, is what you get.” Never hesitate to ask your budtender about a specific product, it’s their job to be educated on the subject and help you navigate through their wide selection of cannabis-infused products. They should be happy to give you advice on edibles as they interact with a lot of patients on a daily basis giving them the ability to hear feedback from people in similar situations as yourself.
Potential Health Risks
Edible medical cannabis is safe and will not cause any long-term toxicity. However, you may want to note that although edibles companies are supposed to operate out of commercial kitchens following all health and safety regulations, there is no entity currently in place to assure compliance with these types of regulations. Unfortunately, because there is no regulation system in place to oversee edible or infused products production, patients must exercise caution when purchasing edibles. Most states require nothing more than a commercial cooking license to sell to a dispensary.
In addition, the quality of the cannabis that is used to infuse dispensary-bought edibles is nearly impossible to determine. Some companies use edibles as a way to dispose of marijuana that otherwise couldn’t be sold; like buds heavily laden with spider mites or mold. Because of this, it is very important to get your edibles from a trusted source that lab tests their products for potency and contaminants. The only sure-proof way to know the quality of your product is to create your own infused edibles using our helpful Cooking with Cannabis guides.
Patients with severe allergies are advised to use extreme caution when selecting edibles, as the kitchen could be contaminated with trace amounts of nuts, gluten, lactose, or even pet dander.
Marijuana infused products, commonly referred to as ‘edibles’, provide another option to patients who cannot, or choose not to smoke their cannabis.
Why a Cannabis Lozenge?
I talk to a lot of people regarding their cannabis usage and one thing that comes up over and over again is convenience of use and discretion. Let’s face it, carrying around cannabis flower is not always convenient and it is never what I might call discreet. In addition, many people look to find cannabis products that might carry the benefits of smoking, but they would prefer not to smoke at all. It seems this is especially true of those that may be new to cannabis as well as the senior community. For these reasons, the cannabis marketplace has been exploding with a wide variety of new products that explore a plethora of delivery mediums. One product which recently came to my attention is a cannabis lozenge by Strovia.
Strovia solely focuses on the creation of lozenges and offers 11 different products with four different ratios: THC rich, CBD rich, Balanced 1:1 and “Just CBD”. When the cannabinoids CBD and THC are combined, patients benefit from the synergistic healing action of THC and CBD. There is also a variety of potency anywhere from 2mg – 32mg, which provides enough variety for the varying needs of patients. Doug of Strovia commented on dosing saying, “In plant-based medicine, each person responds differently to identical doses. Some people achieve a substantial benefit from a micro dose. However, they may encounter that same benefit at the low, standard or high potency doses.”
The lozenges combine familiar flavors such as echinacea, ginger and lemongrass, apple, mango, honey and even pomegranate. Strovia also touts their lozenges to be “infused with premium cannabis, cleanly extracted, lab tested and third party verified for both dose accuracy and purity.”
Delivery Method Matters
If your familiar with cannabis, you may know that different methods of administration yield different results. Lozenges are interesting in that the membrane of the mouth allows for the infusion of cannabis directly into the bloodstream, and quickly. This is different than a swallowed edible, in that the cannabis is metabolized by the liver and may be more susceptible to stomach acids and other digestive enzymes that can decrease the potency of the THC and CBD.
Doug from Strovia explained that “absorption through the oral mucosa is simply the most effective delivery method for reaching the endocannabinoid system. But more than that, lozenges are easier to administer to pediatric and geriatric patients as well as patients who have difficulty swallowing or holding down food down.”
Strovia was interesting enough to us at HelloMD that we decided to do a road test with a few members of our staff. Our staff selected flavors, ratios and potency that appealed to them and below you can read what they had to say. If you would like to purchase Strovia, the lozenges are available for delivery throughout California through True Farma.
HelloMD Strovia Reviews
Bart – HelloMD Staff, Strovia Lemon Honey Echinacea, 20mg THC Rich & 10mg THC Rich
“The first 20mg I took was at a holiday party and it provided just the right amount of “background music” that kept me engaged in conversation, entertained, but not too intoxicated to function. I felt relaxed and social. At the same time and my appetite was stimulated enough to enjoy the dinner and I found the lozenge to be delicious with just enough of sweet from the honey.
The second time I took the 10mg dose and it was after a particularly long day of work and I found it was just enough to take the edge off. In this instance it was like the background music was turned down to a whisper. This product is wonderful if you need to relax, especially for someone like me where I spend the majority of my time talking on the phone. I also found the soothing effects of the honey on my throat after a day of speaking, which is a wonderful effect of this lozenge.”
Veronica – HelloMD Staff, Strovia Pomegranate Antioxidant, THC Rich Strovia – 5:1 THC: CBD
One day last week after work, I decided to open up my new Strovia lozenge and it immediately reminded me of a jolly rancher. I popped it in my mouth and a lovely, strong flavor of pomegranate was what was immediately evident. After a few more minutes I detected a mild cannabis taste, which is fine for me. However, there was a cannabis after taste, particularly on the roof of my mouth, but a glass of water made it imperceptible.
The effects of the Strovia kicked in pretty quickly. What I immediately noticed was that I had less pain in my right knee, and I was able to perform deep squats and return to standing without struggle. My stress levels were reduced and my mood improved throughout the evening, and I was able to fall asleep right away. I enjoyed a restful night’s sleep without interruption, and woke up feeling refreshed.”
Chris – HelloMD Staff, Strovia Lemon Honey Echinacea, 20mg THC Rich
“The Honey Lemon Echinacea lozenge is a nice switch from the traditional edible. The lozenge delivery is reminiscent of a Ricola, both in taste and overall experience, which I found incredibly pleasant. The onset of the 20 mg of THC was fast, but not in an overwhelming way. As a high tolerance user, I found the the high to be immediate but sustained over the course of several hours, which is unusual for me with this dosage, which I consider on the lower side. The lozenge itself is pretty big, so if you’re not a fan of hard candy, you may want to drop it in a cup of tea to dissolve as an alternative.”
Ryan – HelloMD Staff, Strovia Pomegranate Antioxidant, 10mg CBD Rich
“I decided to try the Strovia at my work desk to see the impact of a CBD edible on my workflow. Anxiety can add a lot of noise to your thought processes and CBD clears this up for me. As a result, I am able to focus much better at the tasks at hand, in combination with fostering a relaxed and well adjusted mood.
The lozenge dissolved slowly and the effects also came on so slowly. I barely noticed a change in my own affect, a hallmark of a great CBD edible. I found that the rest of the day very went well for me, conversations came much more smoothly and I was able to focus on what I wanted to when I wanted to. I am looking forward to buying my own Strovia and repeating the experience. I hate to be a fanboy, but I really really enjoyed trying the Strovia 10mg CBD lozenge.”
If you are new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 post. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it’s 100% online, private and efficient.
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Why a Cannabis Lozenge? I talk to a lot of people regarding their cannabis usage and one thing that comes up over and over again is convenience of use and discretion. Let’s face it, carrying around cannabis flower is not always convenient and it is never what I might call discreet. In addition, many people look to find…