Adverse effects in general may include an increased appetite, reduced attention span, a reddening of the normally white part of the eyes, or dry mouth for example. Other adverse effects, more common when ingested or when used at higher than the subjective therapeutic dose may include an unsteady gait, the inability to speak clearly, unusual perceptions of all senses including hallucinations, psychological anxiety or panic attack, a slight increase in heart rate, or subtle shifts in blood pressure depending on the position of the body.
The good thing is that these adverse effect relatively easy to avoid. This process is called “finding your subjective therapeutic window.”
When patients use amounts of cannabis below the threshold of their therapeutic window it does not work or it does not work as well as it could because the dose was sub-optimal. How many times have you heard “I tried it once but it does not work for me?” Or, conversely if someone had taken a higher amount than their subjective therapeutic ceiling they may enter the psychedelic realm where the uninitiated may experience a panic attack or actually increase the very symptoms they are attempting to treat.
So, what do we do? How do we turn cannabis-medicine into a precise medicine?
How we establish our own therapeutic window is governed by three things: our present bodies endocannabinoid state (relative balance or deficiency), the cannabinoid profile in the medicine to be taken, and the form in which it is consumed.
If you’re a patient that deals with neurological disorders or mental/emotional problems your most likely lacking CB1 activation. On the other hand if you are immune compromised or dealing with chronic inflammations you’re most likely CB2 deficient. In these cases you would most likely choose a strain with a higher THC:CBD ratio or a lower THC:CBD respectively because each would modulate your specific deficiency accordingly.
Important Safety Tip: Inhaling vapors produces near instant results, ingesting plant materials may not show effects until hours later, especially when taken on a full stomach.
When inhaling cannabis smoke or vapors take one short to medium inhalation and wait 5 to 10 minutes. See how you feel? Did this dose achieve your desired effect? If not, inhale another vapor of about the same length. Wait again for about 5 to 10 minutes. Don’t be impatient… the line between an effective dose that really meets your needs and an adverse effect is indeed very thin. Continue this process until you have found the sweet spot and stop. Do not inhale more. More is not better.
Also, stop if you’re experiencing unwanted effects. In the case of adverse effects you may wait a full day and start again starting at slower and lower dosages.
If however you were happy with the results… let’s say it took 2 medium size inhalations to feel the desired therapeutic effect, use two inhalations for relief of symptoms in the future. This is your subjective therapeutic window or optimal dose with this delivery mechanism and cannabis batch.
When it comes to ingesting cannabis-containing medicine such as cookies, oils, tinctures, it is advisable to use an exact and measured amount preferable on an empty stomach and wait at least one hour (in case of a full stomach wait two hours) before increasing the dose by the same amount. Repeat this process until you achieve the desired effect. Do not be impatient.
If you feel you are happy with the results remember the amount it took to achieve the effect. They next time you need to use this medicine and in accordance with the recommendations of your health care provider repeat the total amount of drops (or cookies) minus about 20% (to allow for changes due to time and rate of digestion) as your starting dose.
Many patients have made the mistake while eating and said to themselves “I’m not feeling anything” and keep eating until it’s too late and adverse effects occur. In case of ingesting too much cannabis, the effect may last many hours and can be intense and very unpleasant.
So, start slow, be as precise as you can be, be patient, and remember what it took to achieve the desired result and you will know the secret to the optimal therapeutic dose that is right for you.