Category Archives: Cannabis science

Image of cannabis flower bud, photo by Jeff W at Unsplash

Understanding Terpenes & What They Tell Us

If you’ve sampled your fair share of buds, you’ve likely built up a bit of a nose for the different scents that cannabis can have. While many may complain about the smell, it is one of the most important parts of the plant, the terpene profile. From floral puffs to wafts of sour spice, plenty of information is given to us by the unique nuances of each strain. And it’s worth paying attention to.

What Are Terpenes and Why They Matter?

If we understand what terpenes are and why they are important, we can talk about why we feel drawn to certain aromas and make more discerning decisions about the strains we pick.

First, we need to explain what a terpene is.  They are molecular compounds that are produced in the secreted oils of cannabis, as well as countless other plants. They are found throughout nature, including in trees, fruits, and fungi. They are the source of the signature scents of plants like pine trees, which contain the appropriately named Pinene. What are sold as essential oils are extracts with concentrated amounts of terpenes. Most plants have unique relationships to specific terpenes and will have varying levels of a single terpene.

The cannabis flower has a unique relationship to terpenes. Different variations in these flowers have been found, with a range of terpene profiles. Cultivation factors like parent strains, fertilizer pH, and sun exposure will influence what kind of terpenes can be produced by a cannabis plant. This is one of the leading factors in what differentiates strains classed as cannabinoids and flavonoids. Other naturally occurring molecules that interact with terpenes will affect how a particular ‘high’ will feel.

How Terpenes Affect Your Experience

Cannabinoids are what gives cannabis its signature high, but the interaction of cannabinoids with terpenes will give a specific effect. Something like the citric Limonene will impart an uplifting high with relief for anxiety and depression, while the earthy musk of Myrcene has a euphoric effect that will help you unwind and relax.

Several terpenes can be found in some of the most popular strains. Their unique combination of effects seem to match the needs of those who love them. Cultivators have worked with generations of the plants to carefully create different profiles and to develop new strains.

Because terpenes are found throughout nature and in a variety of foods, you have likely felt their medicinal benefits in one form or another. The nose, often, will know what it is looking for, and you will often find that scents that are pleasing to you contain terpene profiles that could be beneficial for your unique condition or symptom.

This is the main reason why, before COVID, we allowed members to smell dried flower before they purchased.  We will strive to find ways to do this once again when we revert to our pre-COVID business model.

We will explore specific terpenes in future articles, but for now we can begin to pay more attention to scents and notice how different plants make us feel. Everyone’s body reacts differently to each terpene, but there is enough consistency between them that general recommendations can be made. By knowing what a specific strain has been able to do for members of our community, we can make informed decisions and continue the conversation on healing.

Further reading:
https://thcdesign.com/blog/its-all-about-the-terpenes/
https://cannacon.org/15-terpenes-cannabis-explained/
https://www.leafly.ca/news/cannabis-101/terpenes-the-flavors-of-cannabis-aromatherapy
https://www.leafly.ca/news/cannabis-101/irradiation-101-canadians
https://www.cannabistech.com/articles/cannabis-irradiation-canadas-hot-topic/

Photo of kitten and dog on grass

CBD Oil and Pets: What You Need To Know Before Buying

Pets are an important part of our lives, and some of the closest friends we have. It’s difficult to see them in pain or distressed, and hard to know what to do when they are. While CBD oil is a popular product for people experiencing inflammation, nerve pain or anxiety, you may also wonder, can it work the same way for my cat or dog? Here is some information that can help you make a safe and healthy decision when it comes to selecting, buying, and using CBD oil for pets.

Is there anything CBD cant do? Its broad range of symptom relief and relative lucidity makes it a go to for members at the BCCCS. Turns out that pets love CBD as well! Just like humans, most animals have an inner endocannabinoid system that reacts to the intake of cannabis, which explains why CBD can give the same symptom relief as it does in humans.

However, there are several cannabis products that should not be considered viable for pets, and many of the pet CBD oils you see on the market are, in fact, not strong enough to provide much relief. So, before you go out and buy, it’s important to understand how CBD affects your pet, as well as other cannabinoids like THC.

The Potential Benefits of CBD for Pets

Giving medication to pets can be complicated. Pets trust us with their safety, but they cannot tell us, nor can we understand, exactly what they’re going through. We’re often making the decision for them when we give them something new, like medications. Because of this, it’s important to know that what we’re giving them is effective, safe, and has as few side effects as possible.

CBD is a fantastic fit for all three of those requirements. It’s a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that is cultivated from cannabis, and it helps with symptoms like chronic pain and IBS, and can provide life changing pain and symptom relief. When taken with a small amount of THC, ideally THC-A, the positive effects of CBD oils are even more noticeable.

But be cautious. High levels of THC can be toxic to your pet. Look for a high CBD product with minimal amounts of THC-A. Our 20:1 CBD to THC-A MCT Coconut Oil is a perfect example of what to look for. It won’t make your pet sick or high and it’s the main product we recommend when asked about CBD for pets, though MCT oil has been known to cause digestive upset in some animals.

Be cautious when using any CBD product and always take into consideration your pet’s general health and any special health concerns before administering any CBD oils.

CBD Dosages for Cats and Dogs

When it comes to CBD oil for pets, follow the recommendations given by your veterinarian, and follow the instructions on the bottle or those given to you by your trusted cannabis supplier. Our table below gives you some general dosage guidelines for medium-sized pets of the mammal variety, primarily cats and dogs. Smaller mammals like rats, gerbils or ferrets, or non-mammals like reptiles or birds, will have different needs around dosing. Ask your vet for details.

CBD Oil for Pets: Dosage Guidelines 

Based on our 20:1 CBD: THC-A MCT oil (contains 0.5mg of CBD per drop)

A table for dosing CBD for cats and dogs

As for how often you should give CBD to your pet, there isn’t much research yet on the exact effects of CBD oil on pets, so it’s difficult to give hard and fast guidelines. A 2018 study on dogs with osteoarthritis showed the most effective dose for increasing mobility and easing discomfort was 2 mg per kg of weight.

Many vet blogs recommend dosing at least twice a day to see measurable results. However, it really depends on the animal in question, their health, weight, age, and any current medical conditions. It’s crucial to start with a small dose. Then monitor your pet’s reactions, positive or negative, and adjust from there.

For separation anxiety and fear issues, we usually recommend giving the medicine 30 minutes prior to onset of anticipated behaviour. As for how long it will last? This Healthline article on CBD for dogs gives some good suggestion about how to tell if your pet’s dosage is adequate, and how to tell if they’re benefitting from the medicine.

You also need to be familiar with your pet’s normal behaviours and patterns. Know how to recognize when something is off. When your pet is taking CBD oil, watch for sudden changes in mood, physical activity and digestion. That doesn’t mean these changes are necessarily bad. They should be noted and considered, and as always, you can learn much about the health of your pet based on their bowel movements.

If any of these changes concern you, stop CBD oil treatment immediately and consult your veterinarian. Take note, a calming effect is sometimes experienced by your pet, but should not be mistaken for lethargy. CBD is also not a miracle cure. It will not aid all symptoms, and it may never get your pet to where they were before, though pain relief can make it easier for pets to move.

What to Look Out for

While CBD has caught on as an effective pet aid, there are a wide range of CBDs on the market. We recommend avoiding the following:

  • Hemp derived extracts – not as effective as cannabis derived products
  • Products that haven’t been properly tested for safety and cannabinoid count
  • CBD products that sell themselves as 100% cure-alls
  • High THC products! Make sure CBD oils contain a minimal amount of THC

Don’t trust the packaging. Anyone can print a label and slap it on a product. It’s important to work with a trusted and consistent cannabis supplier. Learn what has worked for others in your community and develop an active understanding of where to look for reliable products. 

Conclusion

Just like humans, pets can receive all kinds of benefits from CBD oil, yet CBD may or may not be a good fit for your specific pet. Any cannabis use requires the same considerations as any other medication. Be mindful of what to expect and search for a product that is safe and effective for use in pets.

If you have any further questions about CBD, pets, or general information around medical cannabis, please feel free to reach out to us by email at: info@thecompassionclub.org or by phone 604-875-0437.

** Please note: The information in this article should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a medical professional or veterinarian. If you are considering CBD oil for your pet(s) please ask your vet about potential side effects. Many vets may not feel comfortable giving advice on cannabis. In that case, you may want to consult these helpful articles about CBD oil for dogs and CBD oil for cats.

 

 

 

Explaining the Cannabis “High”: THC’s Psychoactive Effects

Do you like the benefits of cannabis, but are hesitant to try anything that could get you too high? Maybe you stick primarily to CBD medicines, and steer away from anything that contains too much THC, because you want to avoid anything that could alter your mental state? There’s a lot that’s misunderstood about THC and its psychoactive effects. So, let’s begin by explaining the cannabis high, and whether it’s helpful in ways you might not have considered… 

The Buzz Behind the Buzz

Some people love the euphoric “high” that comes from cannabis. But for a first-time medicinal user this can be a frightening proposition. Will you be in a dream-like state or unable to function? Will there be any negative side effects?

The fear of a “bad trip” is completely understandable, especially when cannabis is new to you and you’re not yet familiar with all the strains and how they affect your body. What you may have heard is that CBD or cannabidiol – one of the main active ingredients of cannabis – has, by itself, very few psychoactive effects. In fact, it can even suppress the effects of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the compound mostly responsible for the mood and mind-altering effects associated with cannabis.

Yet, people react very differently to different levels of THC. Some people have enjoyable experiences, while others do not. And though these mechanisms aren’t completely understood, researchers have uncovered some of the science behind why we get high. Understanding this experience may help you better understand your choices around THC vs. CBD.

Explaining the Cannabis High

You might be asking, why do people want to get high in the first place?

THC can have pleasant side effects, such as feeling relaxed, more sensitive to sight, touch, taste and sound, feeling euphoric and creative. On the flip side, there can be negative side effects, which include feeling confused, anxious, paranoid, having a rapid pulse or racing heartbeat, or even in extreme cases, delusional thoughts. The more cannabis you take and the higher the THC content, the more intense the “high” can be, for better or worse.

The way your body processes THC will also affect your experience. In a recent review published by the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology (Catherine J. Lucas, 2018), Dr. Catherine Lucas explains what happens when THC is processed by the body through either smoking or vaporizing, two of the most common delivery methods. There are 4 steps:

Absorption: Happens right after use. Within minutes, THC concentration in the blood is around 10-30%.

Distribution: THC flows to major organs, including the brain. This is when you will feel the highest.

Metabolism: Leftover THC is metabolized in the liver, where it is destroyed by enzymes.

Elimination: THC levels have now tapered off and left the bloodstream via your urine. This can take anywhere from 6 minutes to 22 hours, depending on how the cannabis is administered i.e. edibles vs. smoking, with edibles generally taking longer to fully leave the blood stream.

The “Blissful” Effect:

How the Brain Processes THC

So, where does the high come from? In every human body are receptors that make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS helps regulate everything in our bodies, from memory, to sleep, to pain and the immune system. The ECS is also responsible for controlling certain neurotransmitters in the brain, which can affect how neurons communicate and therefore how the brain functions.

When THC molecules pass through the blood-brain barrier, they fit into specific ECS receptors throughout the brain and body. Once they fit into these receptors, they will activate and excite them, leading to disruptions in the way neurons communicate, which can lead to the spacey, intoxicated sensation that some people associate with a high. This can also cause a sudden flight of ideas that make everything ordinary seem fascinating and exciting!

Main ECS receptors like the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) can also affect things like sensory perceptions, motor skills, emotional responses, or behaviours. While the cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) affects things like immune function.

It was first believed that THCs high came from activating these CB1 receptors and the resulting flood of ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, which affect the pleasure and reward centres in the brain. However, research in the 1990s uncovered that cannabinoids mimicked a neurotransmitter called anandamide that is naturally found in the brain. Anandamide creates a heightened sense of happiness and joy; so much so, that they named it the “bliss molecule”, and THC just happens to simulate this blissful effect!

How About Using THC for Mental Health?

While research is still unclear about whether THC is helpful in the treatment of mental health disorders, some studies have looked at cannabis use for the management of post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, generalized anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults, and have found cannabis to have some beneficial effects (Sarris, 2020).

For many who swear by THC, it’s an experience that can heighten creativity, stimulate the appetite, reduce the perception of pain and stress in parts of the body like muscles, and can lessen anxiety (social or otherwise), while leading to increased calm.

This doesn’t mean everyone should consider cannabis as a treatment for mental health conditions. If you or your family has a history of severe mental illness, it’s important to be cautious, as you may be more prone to some of THCs negative side effects. 

Should You Try a Little THC?

The good news is that most people who experience a cannabis high will see its effects taper off after a few hours. And there are safe ways to explore THC medicines. When trying THC for the first time, dosing low is always a good idea, to see how your body will react. Also, consider cannabis products that feature a larger ratio of CBD to THC (like our 20:1 tinctures) so that psychoactive effects are lessened.

To learn more about how THC affects the mind and body, ask our dispensary staff. Call us at (604) 875-0437 or email us at info@thecompassionclub.org for general info.

There are also some great additional resources at weedmaps.com and a fun explainer video on YouTube that can give you more details. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeF6rFN9org

 

Additional References:

Catherine J. Lucas, MD, Peter Galettis, Jennifer Schneider. The pharmacokinetics and the pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, July 12 (2018). Online publication: British Pharmacological Society Journals; https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bcp.13710

Christopher G. Fichtner, MD, Howard B. Moss, MD. Medical Marijuana and Mental Health: Cannabis Use in Psychiatric Practice. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/medical-marijuana-and-mental-health-cannabis-use-psychiatric-practice

Sarris, J., Sinclair, J., Karamacoska, D. et al. Medicinal cannabis for psychiatric disorders: a clinically-focused systematic review. BMC Psychiatry 20, 24 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-019-2409-8

Sara Zaske. Can marijuana ease mental health conditions. Vol 49, No. 11, page 22 (2021). https://www.apa.org/monitor/2018/12/marijuana

Weedmaps. Reviewed by Dr. Adie Rae, Ph.D on 8/4/20. Why THC gets you high and CBD doesn’t. https://weedmaps.com/learn/cbd/thc-vs-cbd (2021)

Grant Currin. How does cannabis get you high? Live Science; September 10, 2020. https://www.livescience.com/how-cannabis-high-works.html (2021)

Amy Loriaux. Meet Anandamide – The “Bliss” Molecule, NOV 01, 2018. https://www.labroots.com/trending/cannabis-sciences/13150/meet-anandamide-bliss-molecule (2021)