All About Edibles
What are cannabis edibles?
Any food product that contains cannabinoids, most specifically THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).
The history of cannabis edibles: Modern day edibles have been traced back to India, around 1500BC, where ground cannabis flower, leaves, ghee and spices were combined to make a beverage known as Bhang. Bhang was used in various forms for religious festivals and as a medicine: to cure fever, dysentery, sunstroke, clear phlegm, aid in digestion, improve appetite, and give alertness to the body.
Edibles continue to be one of the most effective ways to medicate and are available in a wide array of products. However, making your own edibles can be much more economical. A great starting point for making your own cannabis edibles is to first learn how to make cannabis butter. In this blog, we’ll outline how edibles are processed by the body so that when you do consume edibles, you’ll have informed decision making as to dose and timing so that you have the best experience possible. In a separate blog, we will detail how to make your own cannabis butter.
Why edibles are a great way to consume cannabis:
- Absorption and potency – Edibles are absorbed and processed by the liver, where delta-9-THC is converted into a much more potent cannabinoid, 11-hydroxy-THC. It is this more potent metabolite that can make edibles have a more powerful effect than inhalation. For this reason, we recommend starting with a low dose around 2.5mg – 5mg.
- Peak effect and duration of action – The typical time to achieve the peak effect of an edible is between 45 minutes and 2 hours. The duration of the effects are typically around 4-6 hours. A common mistake with edibles is taking more too soon, because it can take a long time to feel the peak effects. We do not recommend re-dosing until at least 2 hours after the first dose, or you run the risk of over-medication and more severe side effects.
- Healthier alternative to smoking and inhalation – Smoking introduces irritants into the lungs and chronic smoking of any substance can lead to airway damage. Edibles, on the other hand, do not generally introduce irritants or toxins into the body.
Determining product potency:
When you purchase an edible in a dispensary, it comes with a label with a lot of information, including how many milligrams of THC are in the product. Dispensaries know this information because all products sold in dispensaries are sent to labs for testing. However, when making your own cannabis edibles, knowing how much THC is in the end product does not have to be a guessing game. There are many great cannabis calculators, such as THC Calculator that you can find online. These sites will walk you through all the steps needed to estimate the milligrams of cannabis in your cannabis butter. Keep in mind that this is an estimate to use as a guide – the only way to get an exact measurement is to send the sample into a lab.
The importance of lecithin in edibles:
What is lecithin?
Lecithin is a commonly used ingredient in foods. Lechithin helps fat-soluble and water-soluble substances mix. Since cannabinoids are fat-soluble, hitching them to another fat (lecithin) that also can dissolve in water gives it more opportunities to absorb into the body.
When using a fat other than butter to cook with, it is important to either make sure that the fat has lecithin added already or to be prepared to add it yourself.
Lecithin is an important ingredient because it can increase absorption of THC and other cannabinoids. This means that a 100 mg dose will still be 100 mgs, but more of that 100mg will be absorbed into the body. This way, you can use less oil in your recipes or use the same amount (for stronger edibles)
Since everyone metabolizes cannabis differently, we recommend new patients start with a low dose, between 2.5-5mg. We suggest that you wait at least two hours before re-dosing, since it can take up to two hours to feel the peak effects. If you want to dive deeper into dosing strategies, we think Dr. Sulak’s Healer – Edibles Dosing is a great resource.
Safety considerations for consuming edibles:
As with all medications, you run the risk of experiencing side effects if your dose is too high. This is why we recommend a low starting dose and only increasing it once you know how your body is going to react. Unwanted side effects as a result of too much THC include, but are not limited to:
- Disorientation or dizziness
- Short-term memory issues
- Slow reaction time
- Increased appetite with dry mouth
If you feel you’ve consumed too much THC, we suggest taking a low to moderate dose of CBD, which will help reduce the unwanted side effects. Many patients report a dose of roughly 25mg to be a good starting point.
Edibles and ingestibles provide patients with a discreet and potent alternative to inhalation as a means of consuming cannabis. Patients may find the longer window of effects provided by edible products will enable them to more consistently medicate over a longer period of time. This is in contrast to the relatively quick onset-offset achieved with inhalation. A few of the conditions patients may find edibles useful in treating due to the longer window of relief they provide are, insomnia, pain and anxiety.
Be sure to check out the edibles currently available via our Ritual Dispensary Edibles Menu; and see our blog at Ritual Dispensary Education to learn how to make your own canna-butter, canna-oil and cannabis infused edibles!