The best recommendation for cannabis dosing is to “start low and go slow”. As there is no formal dosing schedule, and most medical professionals don’t know how to recommend the correct dose of cannabis, it is crucial to work with experienced and knowledgeable dispensary agents, patient educators, and medical cannabis doctors when learning to dose cannabis medication.
As cannabis dosing is usually a process of trial and error, it can take even the most experienced consumer awhile to find the optimum dose and correct strain to meet individualized needs and achieve the desired results.
Cannabis is a unique medication in that it works differently in every individual; therefore, some patients may require 10mg of cannabis, whereas others require 1500mg to achieve the same results. This has to do with the consumption method, metabolism, diet, exercise, and the conditions being managed. Learning about the correct dose of cannabis takes time and requires patience.
Cannabis and the Multiphasic Dose-Response Relationship
Most medications follow a monophasic dose-response relationship where an increased dose increases therapeutic effectiveness. Cannabis is unique in that it does not follow this pattern but rather follows a multiphasic dose-response relationship.
Multiphasic dose-response relationships require the consumer to take an increased dose of medication over time to achieve the same therapeutic result. This may increase unwanted side effects as cannabis tolerance builds, and higher doses are required.
It is always recommended that medical cannabis patients take the smallest dose possible to achieve the desired results. This prevents over-excitement of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and unwanted side effects from occurring.
Effects on the Endocannabinoid System
The dosing range of cannabis that is considered effective is called the “therapeutic window” and represents the smallest effective dose to the maximum dose where unwanted side effects begin to take hold.
The ECS is a sensitive system with thousands of receptors throughout the body. If the ECS becomes oversaturated with cannabis, it can cause cells to retreat and be recycled or destroyed, or the cannabinoid receptors to become desensitized.
The ECS is responsible for maintaining balance on a cellular level, and it is important not to overwhelm the system. In terms of cannabis, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
As patients are required to continually increase their dose of cannabis to achieve the same therapeutic results, there are times where a tolerance break may be required. This involves taking a break from cannabis consumption for a pre-determined length of time.
Tolerance breaks effectively re-set the endocannabinoid system, and allow patients to return to smaller doses of cannabis to achieve the desired results. A 3-day tolerance break is enough to lower tolerance thresholds and return the consumer to their starting dose levels, although seven days is the recommended length for a full tolerance break.
As tolerance breaks require a break from taking cannabis medication, they can be a difficult task to take on. It is important to remember to stay hydrated, eat well, and exercise during a tolerance break. This will decrease unwanted side effects and support the body’s normal function.
Choosing the Right Medication
WWhen choosing what type of cannabis medication to use, it is important to understand cannabinoid and terpene profiles. This will help consumers make informed decisions on the best medication for their needs. For instance, an Indica strain which is lower in THC and higher in myrcene would be great for someone who suffers from anxiety, whereas a high THC Sativa strain, which is high in limonene, would be appropriate for someone who is trying to counteract fatigue and chronic pain.
Cannabis is individualized medicine, and time and care must be taken to choose appropriate strains and consumption methods. What works well for one person may have unwanted side effects in another individual.
What If I Take Too Much?
At some point, most individuals will end up over-consuming cannabis. As dosing is a process of trial and error, it is easy to take too much cannabis and experience unwanted side effects. The good news is there are several ways to combat the feeling of “being too high”.
CBD is known to combat the psychoactive effects of THC and can be taken to help calm down the feeling of being high. Taking a moderate dose of CBD can combat the unwanted effects of cannabis. Another method that can be used after taking too much cannabis is chewing on black pepper. Black pepper contains the terpene caryophyllene, which combats the effects of THC.
No one has ever died from overconsumption of THC, so take a few deep breaths, chew some black pepper or take some CBD, and you will be back to normal in no time.
At the end of the day, finding the right dose of cannabis for your individual needs is a process of trial and error that requires patience. It is important to heed the old adage of “start low and go slow” to avoid overconsumption and unwanted side effects, but if overconsumption does occur, remember that you have options.
Cannabis is a medicine that should be used with intention. Seek to find the appropriate therapeutic window and discover the minimum dose needed to achieve the desired results. Be patient and trust in the process.