Tag Archives: wellness

Image of the inside of the BC Compassion Club's Wellness Centre Apothecary

The Benefits of BCCCS Membership: Our Wellness Centre Apothecary!

Many people become Compassion Club members because of the quality and affordability of our cannabis products. Some also love our dispensary model and our friendly, knowledgeable staff. But did you know we also offer something unique? It’s something that isn’t found in any other medicinal dispensary in Canada. Find out why our Wellness Centre apothecary is one of the greatest perks of becoming a member. And if you haven’t visited it yet, here’s why you should.

Our Wellness Centre Services

Our Wellness Centre is located right next door to our dispensary, and it’s a lifeline to many. Those who come to us are often low-income and have many debilitating conditions including cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, sleep disorders, anxiety, and chronic pain. Often times, they don’t have extended health benefits and cannot afford certain wellness and health services.

That’s where our Wellness Centre fills the gap. There, they offer therapies that can complement medicinal cannabis, or alternative treatments that don’t require cannabis at all; modalities such as acupuncture, counselling, nutrition, herbalists, integrative energy healing, massage, and craniosacral therapy. We also offer one of the most unique features that no other dispensary can offer: our amazing apothecary!

A Dispensary with a Unique Vision

The combination of a dispensary/wellness centre was a vision that began in 1997, with our founders. To this day, the BC Compassion Club is still the only dispensary in Vancouver that offers low cost or free holistic health services to its members.

Through our membership fees and sales of medical cannabis, the Wellness Centre can offer these services to low-income individuals. We offer natural therapies on a sliding scale, thereby subsidizing the cost of sessions up to 82%. In 2018 alone, 2,946 sessions were offered to 293 members at low and subsidized costs. That year, the Wellness Centre also donated over $36,000 worth of herbs and supplements to members in need.  

Largest Apothecary in Western Canada

At the BCCCS, not only do we believe in natural healing, we have a whole room dedicated to plant-based medicines.

Remember the potions room in the Harry Potter films? Even if you don’t, imagine our apothecary is just as magical. Rows of carefully grown organic herbs, flowers, and plants, line shelves as high as the eye can see. The air is filled with the familiar smells of lavender, chamomile, and wild herbs, mingling with some other scents you may not recognize. But the experience of walking inside is amazing, and immediately you are captured by the way your senses come alive.

It may fit in one room, but our wellness centre apothecary is one of the largest in the whole of Canada. Many of our natural plant-based ingredients are grown and wild-harvested by our herbalists. Some are even handpicked on their own farms, as far away as Salt Spring Island and the BC Interior, on the Secwepemc territory. Other ingredients are ethically sourced from small-scale producers.

All our apothecary products, whether they’re handmade formulations or pre-prepared, are certified organic, made in small batches to ensure quality.

We also have teas, tinctures, and essential oils, infused honeys, infused oils, salves, creams, and glycerites. We only source from skilled ethical herbalists and generally give away anywhere from $30,000 -$40,000 in herbal formulas to members in need, each year.

How Can You Access Our Apothecary?

If you’re a member of the BCCCS, you can access our Wellness Centre services. You may be able to visit our apothecary even as a private client. You just won’t be eligible for free or reduced cost supplements or herbal formulas. There may also be waitlists for treatments, as our services are in high demand and members are given priority.

To take advantage of our apothecary you will need to see one of our herbalists. Health Canada still requires an herbalist consultation to access medicines such as tinctures. Right now, we are doing consultations by phone. Once the pandemic is over, we may return to in-person appointments, when it is safe to do so.

After your initial consult, our herbalists will give you recommendations and will suggest herbal medicines, supplements, and customized formulas that will be helpful for your unique symptoms and medical conditions.

Interested in accessing our herbalists? Call the wellness centre at 604.709.0448 to add you name to our waitlist.

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)