You could be wasting valuable medicine when you smoke

So apparently there’s a right and wrong way of inhaling cannabis. Have you ever thought about it, or do you just light up and toke without too much consideration?

According to various reports you could be wasting a lot of precious and expensive medicine when you smoke cannabis, and not even be aware of it.


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Most of us learned to take that puff nice and deep and hold it in for as long as possible before exhaling. Psychologically, we thought, it meant better absorption of the precious smoke into the lungs, but according to these reports, we were wrong.

Not only were we wrong for believing that old wives’ tale, there is allegedly a right way to smoke and a wrong way, in order to maximize effects. But before we get there, let’s take a look at the way the lungs absorb compounds in medical cannabis.

Lung absorption of cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are the active compounds within cannabis which are known to affect anything from mood to appetite in humans. They have painfully long names, but their abbreviations are bite-sized; THC, CBD, CBN; all of which are absorbed into the blood stream via the lungs.

Without wanting to get too technical on you, when smoke is taken into the lungs, various gases and particles are absorbed by small air sacs called alveoli, of which there are millions.

Those alveoli transport the active compounds in the bloodstream, they enter the heart and then get pumped to the brain. When that happens, you feel ‘medicated.’

However, the way the lungs work might not be the way you envisage, in fact almost certainly not. The lungs are so complex that they boast a combined surface area of 540-810 square feet using those alveoli as a base, that’s the size of a tennis court!

As such, the lungs consist of densely folded, intricate tissue and air pathways serving a single purpose: The exchange of gases like oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide, or in this case, medical cannabis.

That means that all the compounds are absorbed into the blood via the lungs within milliseconds, and that basically means instantaneously. So next time you almost faint from air restriction after a deep puff of something, relax, just exhale.

how to inhale
Image credit- Youtube.com

From lungs to brain

As you already know, the brain is a remarkable organ, and extremely clever. For example, the brain doesn’t allow just any molecule to come hang out. If it senses these chemicals to be a potential threat, it denies them access. As far as cannabis is concerned, it has a free brain pass, as some molecules inside the plant seek out CB1 cannabinoid receptors, located in the body, and attach to them.

There is supporting evidence to suggest that some compounds in cannabis fit perfectly with that CB1 Receptor, relating to cannabinoid signalling and the endocannabinoid system in the body, which you can read about in more detail HERE.

Don’t waste your medicine

Cannabis can be expensive depending on where you live. You wouldn’t go get some prescription medicine then throw half of it the garbage, that would be foolish, so why do that with cannabis?

The low-down is like this: THC, CBD and all the other compounds, are only absorbed above the first bronchial split. That means that any excess smoke which exceeds the capacity of the lungs, will overflow into the trachea and even the mouth and nose. All of that is as good as wasted medicine.

Reason number 2 for not holding in tokes excessively is that with smoke (as opposed to vapor) there are also some toxins and carcinogens, which shouldn’t be let to hang out in the lungs for longer than necessary.

The ‘right’ way to inhale

It’s all about filling the lungs with the right amount of smoke or vapor, along with some fresh air. If you do this right, you will be getting the most from your medicine, and not turning red in the face fighting to hold that precious puff in for as long as possible.

Try incorporating the following steps into your medicating regime, and see if you notice the difference:

  • Ensure you have take in an invisible column of smoke-free, fresh air, to plunge that hit deep into the lungs
  • Inhale slowly, smoothly and constantly, filling your lungs 2/3 full with smoke or vapor, then inhale some fresh air, nice and deep.
  • Inhale as deeply as you can in order to totally fill the surface area of the lungs.
  • Wait a few minutes between puffs so as not to over-titrate. You may get the same effects from one puff as from three.

Another great tip is the concept of ‘mindful inhaling.” Take a moment before you take your medicine to breath deeply, smile, in anticipation of this wonderful natural remedy that makes you feel relief from your pain or ailment. Think about why you are taking the medicine, and what you want to feel like in ten minutes time.

Smoking Vs. Vaping

If conserving your medicine is an issue for you, and you truly want to get the most from your cannabis, you might want to consider vaporizing instead of smoking.

While no one is suggesting that cannabis smoke is anywhere near as toxic, addictive or dangerous to health as tobacco smoke, when you combust plant material into your lungs, there are unavoidable carcinogens and toxins that come as part and parcel. When you vaporize cannabis, you inhale only the useful compounds without the carcinogens.

With vaping you can also set the temperature to vary the harshness on the throat, as well as the effects. For example, a daytime session for a patient may commence at a mellow 365 Fahrenheit, while a patient vaping for nighttime use to fall asleep could bump that up to 420 Fahrenheit for a stronger effect.

The other benefit of vaporizing cannabis is that it is far less smelly, more stealthy, and best of all is the AVB. Never heard of AVB? It stands for ‘already vaped bud’ and is what’s left in the bowl after the vape session is over. The contents are brown rather than green, as all that lovely green goodness already went from your lungs to your brain. But you can still use what is leftover. The AVB is still rich with some leftover compounds, and can be eaten, made into butter, or added to a salad or sandwich. That means you recycling your medicine, and using it also orally when you consume it.

Stop wasting your medicine, try vaporizing!

[Featured image credit: Wikimedia.Commons]

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