For cannabis consumers, there is an ever-growing selection of cannabis administration methods available. Cannabis can be inhaled, ingested, applied topically and transdermally, taken as a sublingual, inserted rectally and vaginally. Out of all of these options, inhalation is the most popular route of administration with smoking reigning supreme as the number one consumption method of cannabis users everywhere.
Inhaled cannabis takes effect within minutes, is easy to titrate up as needed, and has the shortest peak time out of all of the administration methods. Basically, inhaling cannabis gives the consumer the most control over their experience. These are some of the reasons why cannabis consumers prefer inhalation, especially smoking. But is smoking cannabis safe? Well, the answer in my nurse’s opinion — smoking is never completely safe. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that smoking is not the safest or healthiest method of cannabis administration, mainly from the people who smoke cannabis. Reports of sore throats, bronchitis, sinus congestion, sinus infections, and frequent colds are not uncommon amongst cannabis smokers.
Why do cannabis consumers report these symptoms?
Inhaling smoke exposes the sensitive throat, airway, and lungs to irritants like heat, toxic chemical compounds such as carbon monoxide, and tar. Plus, plant material is often burned with paper or cigar wraps which increases toxic chemical exposure. Mucous membranes found throughout the respiratory system are designed to protect against viruses, bacteria, dust, mold, and allergens. These mucous membranes become irritated and inflamed when exposed to heat, plant debris, and chemicals. As a result, the owner of these inflamed mucous membranes may find it difficult to fend off colds and other yucky illnesses.
On top of this, many cannabis smokers inhale very deeply and hold their breath which is erroneously thought to increase the high experienced from cannabis. Doing so causes a little oxygen deprivation which may cause dizziness acutely. This little bit of dizziness is often mistaken for an increased high. This habit may also cause damage to the brain long-term as the brain never likes to be without oxygen. So if you’re holding your hits in, you may want to consider changing this habit.
At risk for heart disease? Have heart problems? Work with qualified health provider to determine if cannabis use is safe.
In addition to irritating the respiratory system, the products of combustion inhaled as a result of smoking cannabis may also be detrimental to heart health. According to Harvard Medical School, cannabinoids have a complex impact on the cardiovascular system, producing dilated blood vessels and increased heart rate. Certain cannabinoids may also cause the heart to beat harder. For these reasons alone, it is important for a person with heart disease, or a history of heart problems to work with a qualified health provider to determine if cannabis is safe to use. People with heart and lung conditions should abstain from smoking anything at all.
Harm reduction happens with vaporization.
It’s important to note that cannabis promotes healing in the body if consumed in a therapeutic way. There are many therapeutic methods of cannabis administration to try. A safe alternative to smoking cannabis flower is vaporization.
Vaporization is the process by which cannabis flower is heated to a temperature below its point of combustion (392°F) that effectively releases cannabinoids from the trichomes (the resin glands.) The resulting vapor is then inhaled. Since the cannabis flower is not heated to the point of combustion, and fire is not the heating element, less respiratory irritants and toxic chemicals are produced. As a result, vaporization greatly reduces or eliminates the negative impacts that smoking cannabis can produce which means more benefits from the cannabinoids can be enjoyed, and bouts of yuck related to smoking cannabis can be avoided.
There are many vaporizers available on the market ranging from discreet handheld devices, to large table top devices. A heating source combined with a delivery appliance comprises most vaporizers, yet the models available on the market are as varied as cannabis strains. If you’re shopping for a vaporizer, make sure you do your research. You’ll want to scoop up a vaporizer that produces a high percentage of vapor and a very low percentage of smoke to maintain your health and safety. It’s a worthy investment into your health and well-being. In case you were wondering, you deserve to be well.