Vaporizing—or vaping as it’s commonly known—refers to the process of heating dried cannabis flower or concentrates to a temperature below the combustion point (roughly 350°F to 440°F). This releases the desired cannabinoids and terpenes, but doesn’t create the harmful tar, carbon monoxide and other byproducts associated with combustion.
Igniting cannabis in a joint or a pipe heats the material and smoke up to a high temperature, which can be harsh on the lungs (hence, the coughing). Vaping heats cannabis oil and flower at much lower temperatures, releasing the active ingredients into a fine vapor mist.
Although research shows cannabis smoke is less toxic than cigarette smoke, it can still cause lung irritation and respiratory distress—particularly in immunocompromised patients. Burning cannabis produces over 100 chemicals and compounds, several of them known to be toxic.
The effects of vaping cannabis are similar to those of smoking, with similar onset time and duration, and many patients feel vaping is a healthier option for them. Vaping doesn’t ignite the cannabis material, and thus, releases no smoke or carcinogens. That means most of the potentially harmful respiratory effects from smoking cannabis can be avoided.
Research on vaping health risks has found people who use vaporizers report fewer respiratory problems than those who smoke cannabis. The health benefits of vaping cannabinoids can be especially significant for medical cannabis patients, who often consume more cannabis on a regular basis than casual or recreational users.
Vaping also provides the added benefit of producing a virtually odorless vapor. That means it can be done discreetly and without lingering smells.
All vaporizers have a heating source and a delivery system, but there are numerous styles of vaporizers on the market today, including stationary tabletop models, boxy portable vaporizers and pen-style vapes.
Many people find pen vapes with pre-filled cartridges of high-quality oil distillates, like those made by The Clear™, are the easiest types of vaporizers to use. The Clear™ product line features the cleanest and purest THC and CBD products on the market. Quality pen vapes are highly effective and discreet. They’re also the easiest for using on the go.
Pre-loaded vape pens also allow for precise dosing, which is particularly important for patients who are new to concentrates. Pen vapes give users the ability to control exactly how much or how little they want to consume, without wasting any oil.
Distillates—a highly pure form of cannabis oil—offer added advantages for medical cannabis patients looking to benefit from cannabinoids without exposing themselves to any impurities. Many patients prefer vaporizing this type of highly purified oil because it provides strong, specific cannabinoid and terpene formulations designed for specific purposes.
The reason cannabis produces therapeutic and psychoactive effects in people is because our bodies are literally hardwired to react to cannabinoids, the active chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant.
The human endocannabinoid system (ECS), named after the cannabis plant, is a major molecular system that works to help maintain homeostasis—or balance—within the body. The ECS plays an important role in a number of physiological functions, both in the central and peripheral nervous systems and in peripheral organs.
The ECS is actually found in all vertebrate species, and it includes three main components: cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids and metabolic enzymes. It is activated by endocannabinoids produced by the body and cannabinoids introduced from external sources.
Cannabinoid receptors found on the surface of cells throughout the body tell the inside of the cells what’s going on outside, and that information activates certain cellular responses. The two main cannabinoid receptors are CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are found at high levels in several brain regions and in lower levels throughout the body. These receptors are responsible for mediating the psychoactive effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CB2 receptors are found primarily in immune cells, but are also found at lower levels throughout the body.
Endocannabinoids are small molecules that bind to and activate the body’s cannabinoid receptors. The body synthesizes endocannabinoids the same way it synthesizes cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. The main difference is that endocannabinoids are produced naturally within the body. The two main endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-AG.
Metabolic enzymes in the ECS break down the endocannabinoids after they’ve been used by cells. Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) is the key enzyme that breaks down anandamide, and monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL) is the key enzyme that breaks down 2-AG. These metabolic enzymes serve the purpose of making sure endocannabinoids are used when the body needs them and prevents the body from storing them for later use.
Emerging cannabinoid research indicates that modulating the activity of the ECS may present effective therapeutic treatment options for a wide range of diseases and pathological conditions, including mood disorders, spasticity, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, cancer, glaucoma, osteoporosis and more.
Because the ECS plays such a large and wide-ranging role in promoting homeostasis within the body, cannabinoid-based treatments may hold tremendous promise for patients with diseases and conditions that don’t respond well to traditional treatment options. A growing number of preclinical studies and clinical trials are already uncovering novel therapeutic approaches for such cannabinoid-based treatments.
Want to activate your ECS? The Clear™ has you covered with the cleanest concentrates on the market. Learn about The Clear™’s ultra-pure THC distillate and hemp-derived CBD products for wellness-minded consumers.
Image source: Pixabay
Terpenes are the chemical calling cards of the natural world.
They are the volatile organic molecules secreted by flowers that shout “visit me!” to bees buzzing in your garden, they are the carriers of the pitch-perfect fragrance you catch when hiking through a pine forest, they are the carriers of that concentrated scent you inhale when the budtender whips the lid off a container of cannabis at a dispensary, and when herbalists tout the power of aromatherapy through “essential oils” from herbs and plants, they’re talking terpenes.
If there were such a thing as smell-o-vision, terpenes would be its A-list stars.
Terpenes scintillate (or scare) for a good reason. Many creatures navigate the world with their noses, and smell—along with its close cousin, taste—unite memory and learning centers of the brain. Even nasally challenged humans associate particular aromas with happy or comforting experiences, like that cinnamon thing mom had going for the holidays. However, they also can serve as warning signs: the stink in stink (or shield) bugs is their terpene reminder, “Don’t tread on me.”
Many terpenes are sticky and odorous to protect the plant that secretes them. Hence, the ubiquitous funky fragrance of cannabis sativa.
Upwards of 100 different terpenes have been identified in cannabis, and this aromatic advance guard can help you distinguish between various strains and their effects.
For instance, myrcene, which smells musky or earthy, is associated with a sedative effect; myrcene-heavy indica strains make you collapse in-da-couch. The citrusy scents of a limonene in a strain, on the other hand, signal an opportunity to brighten your mood and ’tude. Strains that contain the aptly named pinene are said to boost alertness and memory, and peppery caryophyllales often waft from CBD-heavy strains than can help ease a variety of ailments.
There are dozens more scents and sensibilities to explore. Just like a honeybee seeking out its favorite terpene-laden flower, you can sidestep confusing strain names and learn to select cannabis by associating the effect you’re after with the fragrance of the associated terpene. Let terpenes be your guideposts along the cannabis trail: They can help you follow your nose to your preferred destination. This cannabis color-wheel graphic from strain database Leafly associates the major terpene fragrances with their therapeutic and psychotropic effects.
And cannabis terpenes are not just another pretty or putrid smell. The psychoactive properties of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and anti-inflammatory qualities of cannabidiol (CBD) get all the credit for the potency of pot, but there is more emerging evidence for what is called the “entourage effect,” in which terpenes enable, enhance or moderate the high—and the health effects—of cannabis.
The landmark study Taming THC, published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, details how various terpenes can limit the downsides of cannabis (dopiness, anxiety) and amp the good (memory, concentration, joy). So if you’re not making terpenes part of your cannabis experience, you’re probably missing out on important information about brain and body benefits.
Which strains work best for you? There’s only one sure way to find out: See if they pass your sniff test.
Image source: Pixabay