The first step in overcoming cannabis fear is acknowledging the decades of misinformation and propaganda our society has been fed about the plant. In the 1930s, Henry Anslinger was wildly successful in his crusade to demonize marijuana – making highly-popularized yet dubious claims that smoking cannabis would turn an otherwise law-abiding citizen into a cold-blooded killer or bank robber, in a bout of “Reefer Madness.” Sadly, it is well-documented that Anslinger’s budding War on Drugs, through his leadership in the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics, was deeply rooted in racism – citing that marijuana use was common among African-Americans and Mexicans. Gratuitous stories that marijuana use turned black men into seducers of white women, and Mexicans into rapists and murderers were not uncommon and, unfortunately, lead to even more irrational fear (sound familiar, today?). None of Anslinger’s claims were factually founded, but the propaganda’s negative repercussions are as far-reaching as today – more than 80 years later. The good news is that scientists and advocates all over the world have worked diligently to dispel these myths, paving away from a misguided history to a trusted land of science and research. The cannabis plant should not be feared; rather it should be embraced for its wide-ranging therapeutic properties that have been used for centuries. Once we let go of misconceptions, we can move to a place of understanding and healing. Let’s take a look at some of the common questions or fears you may be holding on to.
Is Smoking Harmful?There is no denying that the physical act of smoking will have some effect on your pulmonary health. Combusted cannabis flowers contain carcinogenic compounds that will enter your lungs when inhaled, and can cause a cough, irritated throat and lungs, and, for heavy users, an increased risk for bronchitis. However, research suggests that moderate marijuana use does not impair lung function and is less harmful than tobacco smoke, (i.e. no clear indicator that marijuana use increases your risk for lung cancer). In fact, in one study, low to moderate users showed increased lung capacity compared to non-smokers, and, in another, the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis expanded the bronchial passageways for those with asthma. The key here is moderation, as is evaluating your consumption method. Using a vaporizer, which heats the bud below the combustion point of the flower, will minimize the harmful byproducts of smoking, offering you a healthier way to consume. Vaporizing concentrates is even more beneficial, as a flavorful vapor is produced that is highly potent. And with tinctures, topicals, edibles, and other non-smoking forms of ingestion, you’ve got plenty of healthy options to consume your cannabis medicine that won’t impact your lung health.
Does Cannabis Cause Schizophrenia?The relationship between cannabis use and schizophrenia has been debated for decades, but research suggests that the two are linked more by correlation than causation. While some studies claim that it’s a causal relationship, there is not enough evidence to rule out that those who develop schizophrenia are more prone to cannabis use as a form of self-medicating. The antipsychotic properties of CBD may offer therapeutic relief for schizophrenics; however, the psychoactive THC may have adverse effects, especially long-term, which muddles the research. There is a complex web of genetic and developmental factors that can lead to schizophrenia, and it has been shown that adolescent exposure to cannabis can serve as an environmental risk factor. For this and many other reasons, we highly advise against childhood recreational cannabis use. Adults responsibly medicating, though, should not fear a sudden onset of schizophrenia.
Will I Get Addicted?In the scientific community, you’ll rarely hear the term “cannabis addiction” but rather “marijuana use disorder,” which has indicators ranked by cravings, time spent using, dosage, and the impacts on your daily life. Research suggests that only about nine percent of cannabis users would qualify for a diagnosis of cannabis dependence, noting that heavy use can lead to increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop. More clinical research needs to be conducted to fully understand cannabis in relation to addiction, but it is widely accepted that marijuana is less addictive than some prominent legal drugs, like opioids, nicotine, and alcohol. As society turns more to natural remedies, the wide-ranging therapeutic capabilities of the cannabis plant begin to be more understood and utilized. Ultimately, fear of dependence should not hold you back from this powerful natural medicine. Responsible use is achievable and recommended!
Are There Negative Long-Term Cognitive Effects?A common misconception is that smoking marijuana will make you stupid. While it is known that cannabis can impact your short-term memory, there’s been very little research conducted examining the long-term effects and no solid evidence proving cannabis causes either an improvement or decline in cognitive ability. For the limited research that does exist claiming there is a clear connection between cannabis use and a decline in IQ, critics are quick to point out that the studies fail to account for the confounding factors that affect cognitive development, such as socioeconomic status, drug and alcohol use, mental illness, and other environmental factors. Additionally, there is mounting evidence that the cannabinoids in cannabis actually promote brain health, providing neuroprotective and regenerative properties that may aid in treating brain injury and neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Parkinson’s. Cannabis can also improve your emotional health, opening you up to be more mindful, creative, curious, and aware, as well as more connected to the world and people around you. Overall, it is likely that cannabis will do more to help your brain than hurt it.
Will I Be Able to Function?You may worry that cannabis will render you non-functional. With sensible use, this simply does not have to be the case! In fact, cannabis has the potential to increase your functionality. With an elevated mood and eased pain or tension, you may be able to accomplish more with cannabis than without. And thanks to the wide variety of strain and ingestion options, you can control and monitor the cerebral affects you experience from your medicine. THC is the primary cannabinoid in cannabis that delivers a psychoactive effect–or the feeling of being “high.” If new to cannabis, start with a low THC strain and see how you feel. Or try a balanced 1:1 THC to CBD strain, like our Midnight strain, so that the CBD can naturally counteract some of the potential negative side-effects of THC, like feelings of paranoia, anxiety, or being “too high.” You could also try a topical cream, as this delivery method will ensure you receive the full-plant benefits, without the “high.” For our older readers, it is important to note that the cannabis strains of today are much more potent than those you may have tried in your youth. For this reason, it’s especially important to “start low and go slow,” so that you remain clear-headed and functional after use. When it comes to cannabis, the only thing to fear is fear itself. There are millions of high-functioning cannabis users around the world (pun not really intended), and you can easily be among them. Educate yourself and seek the guidance of a cannabis-trained physician to develop a holistic health treatment plan. Then, ease into your medicine, going low and slow, and monitoring your experiences. We’re confident you’ll enjoy the therapeutic benefits cannabis can bring to your life.
Although antipsychotic drugs have been prescribed en masse to treat PTSD, a prominent study found that they don’t work and cause negative side effects. Cannabis can be used to mitigate the symptoms of PTSD, especially when combined with a support network and positive coping strategies. 29 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam allow doctors to recommend medical cannabis for PTSD, in part because of the strong advocacy of veterans organizations on a state and federal level. If you are suffering from PTSD, do not lose hope. Slowly but surely, stigmas surrounding mental health are being broken and education is the first step. PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition triggered by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, triggering the body’s “fight or flight” response. About 20% of combat veterans suffer from PTSD due to traumatic experiences during war, and many other traumatic experiences can cause PTSD such as physical or sexual assault, natural disaster, abuse, or other trauma. PTSD is actually fairly common. According to the American Psychiatry Association, one in 11 people will experience PTSD in their lifetime and approximately 3.5% of U.S. adults are affected by PTSD. Symptoms of PTSD range from flashbacks to the traumatic event and bad dreams to constantly feeling tense or “on edge,” outbursts of anger, or avoidance of places, people, and things that bring up bad memories. Read up on how PTSD symptoms like anxiety and insomnia can be treated by cannabis on the Tikun blog.
Medical StudiesSeveral medical studies have found that cannabinoids help treat patients suffering from PTSD. A survey of 162 Tikun patients treated for PTSD in Israel found that 96% of patients who followed through with 6 months of treatment experienced a moderate or significant improvement in symptoms. Noticeably, cannabis treatment resulted in an overall improvement in mood: 74% of patients reported a positive or very positive mood after 6 months of medical cannabis treatment, up from just 10% of positive moods reported when starting the program. An Israeli pilot study using a high-THC indica strain for medical cannabis treatment for chronic combat PTSD found that cannabis “was associated with a reduction in PTSD symptoms” based on psychological assessments. A Canadian research study on PTSD nightmares found that 72% of patients either stopped having nightmares or experienced a significant reduction in nightmares after being treated with using a synthetic cannabinoid, nabilone, to stimulate the endocannabinoid system. These patients had been selected because traditional treatments like hypnotics and antidepressants did not work for them. A survey of patients in New Mexico, the first state to legalize medical cannabis for PTSD in 2009, showed that 75% of patients experienced a reduction in Clinician Administered Post-traumatic Scale (CAPS) symptom scores while taking cannabis. To read the study of Tikun patients with PTSD click here.
How It WorksA brain imaging study found that untreated patients suffering from PTSD had much higher levels of CB1 receptor availability and lower levels of anandamide, a naturally occurring cannabinoid known as the bliss molecule. This suggests that the endocannabinoid system in PTSD patients is understimulated. In other words, PTSD patients are suffering from an endocannabinoid deficiency. Too much stress prevents our brains from forgetting trauma and in the case of PTSD can force people to constantly relive it. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD stimulate the endocannabinoid system, relieving stress and bringing a sense of calm. Research indicates that cannabinoid receptors play a key role in helping suppress unpleasant memories and modulating emotions. CB1 receptors located in the basolateral amygdala (the part of your brain that controls fear) and the hippocampus (the part of your brain that controls memory) “may regulate the emotional response to the trauma and prevent stress-induced impairment of extinction,” according to a study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Although cannabis comes from the female flower, cannabis has been marketed to and perceived to be used mostly by men. The tides are turning as more women, especially older women, are turning to cannabis as an alternative to opioids and over-the-counter medications. Women have different health needs than men, and certain medical marijuana products can prove to be effective in both preventative and reactive medical treatments. As cannabis is well-known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s little wonder that women have used it to combat menstrual pain and soreness for centuries. Most famously, Queen Victoria was prescribed a cannabis indica tincture by her personal physicians for “spasmodic dysmenorrhoea,” aka menstrual cramps. As early as the 11th century, the Old English Herbarium recommended a hemp-infused topical for soreness of breasts. More recently, actress Whoopi Goldberg has advocated for dysmenorrhoea as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis. Both New York and New Jersey’s legislatures have considered bills that make menstrual cramps a condition covered by medical cannabis, but so far no bills have been passed. Eighty percent of women experience menstrual pain throughout their lives. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, 20% suffer so much from menstrual cramps that it affects their ability to function day-to-day. Despite the fact that women experience pain more frequently than men and with greater intensity, their symptoms are often overlooked and undertreated. Many modern women suffer silently through pain that harms their productivity and their peace of mind, but cannabis can help.
How It WorksIn addition to blocking pain receptors in the nervous system, preclinical research suggests that THC acts as a muscle relaxant and serves to reduce muscle spasms. One possible reason is that THC activates CB1 receptors that modulate the release of glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter systems. Low doses of THC reduce the production of glutamate, which can cause muscle contractions, and increasing the production of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces anxiety. Meanwhile, CBD activates CB2 receptors which modulate the immune system and help reduce inflammation.
Using Cannabis To Treat Menstrual PainSome find that applying a topical directly to the pelvic region helps reduce the pain of menstrual cramps. Topicals and salves do not have psychoactive effects, which is helpful for women who are concerned about consuming cannabis during work or while operating heavy machinery. For the adventurous woman, you may even try inserting a cannabis suppository. Other methods of consumption include taking a few drops of tincture under the tongue or vaporizing cannabis oil/herb. Be sure to note the CBD and THC content of your cannabis, so that you're in control of the psychoactive response. If you prefere a "high-less" treatment, opt for a high-CBD strain with low THC content, like our Avidekel strain.
Endometriosis and CannabisEndometriosis is a painful menstrual disorder in which tissue that normally grows inside of your uterus begins to grow outside of the uterus, often on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and tissue inside the pelvic region. Endometrial tissue breaks down each menstrual cycle, often causing scarring of internal tissue, along with severe pain. An estimated 1 in 10 American women will experience endometriosis during their reproductive years, sometimes undiagnosed. A recent study suggests that the body naturally deploys endocannabinoids to reduce inflammation during endometriosis flare-ups, as “High levels of CB1 receptors and endocannabinoid ligands” are observed in endometriosis patients. Those suffering from extreme pain, however, may find that their endocannabinoid system is not producing enough of a response. In this case, endometriosis patients may choose to supplement by consuming cannabis to help reduce the pain.
Menopause and CannabisThe endocannabinoid system and estrogen levels work together. When estrogen levels peak, the levels of cannabinoids will follow. This is because estrogen engages endocannabinoids directly, and when estrogen drops the endocannabinoid system changes too. Studies suggest that endocannabinoid deficiencies may lead to early menopause. Cannabis has proven benefits for helping make the symptoms of menopause more tolerable. These include improving insomnia, hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, and even bone density. Transdermal patches placed directly on the pelvis will help directly release cannabinoids into the reproductive system, providing efficient relief from the symptoms of menopause.
Relief For WomenThe potential healing powers of cannabis are only beginning to be discovered. If you, or a woman you know, is suffering from pain or discomfort from women's health issues, we suggest experimenting with low doses of medical marijuana as a natural remedy. The stigma around cannabis should not stop you from finding the relief you seek.
Did you know that the “runner’s high” that you experience after a really good workout is actually your body naturally producing endocannabinoids? While endorphins have gotten most of the credit, endocannabinoids help reduce anxiety and limit pain. For those same reasons, professional athletes and exercise enthusiasts have started bringing cannabis into their workout routine.
Pre-WorkoutThink of using cannabis pre-workout as a preventative measure. Cannabis has been shown to reduce pain with very little side effects. While THC has been show to counteract neuropathic pain, CBD provides inflammatory relief. Neuropathic pain is caused by nerve damage your somatosensory nervous system, while inflammation is due to tissue damage and swelling that causes pain when it pushes against nerve endings. Inflammation can be visible on the surface of the skin (think puffy, swollen ankles) or it can manifest underneath the skin as tension in your joints and muscles. Those creaky joints of yours that get inflamed during exercise might benefit from some CBD topical cream prior to working out, or a few drops of tincture under your tongue could do the trick.
Studies ShowCannabis has been found to be particularly helpful for those experiencing osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. The endocannabinoid system is naturally present in osteoarthritic joints because the ECS helps the body maintain homeostasis and modulates inflammation and pain. If arthritis is preventing you from working out or from exercising to your fullest, cannabis can help. Cannabis also inhibits exercise-induced asthma. This might be because THC is a bronchodilator, temporarily increasing lung volume and airflow rates while preventing bronchospasms with patients with hyper-reactive airways. If you regularly experience chronic or acute pain while exercising, THC-dominant strains may help. And don’t forget to stretch!
Exercise CautionBe careful when using cannabis before working out. There is evidence that cannabis use may affect motor control, leading to slower reaction times, so you will want to incorporate cannabis into an existing exercise routine that you are already familiar with. The first time you use cannabis during exercise, try bringing a buddy along to make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself. Start with a small dosage, and increase it only if you do not feel the desired effects. The World Anti-Doping Agency lists marijuana as a banned substance, so pro-athletes should use take that into consideration when deciding when and how to use cannabis.
Cannabis Post-WorkoutDuring the post-workout phase, cannabis can be used to counteract pain and inflammation stimulated by exercise. THC and CBD’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties can help combat the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), or pain in your muscles that typically shows up 24-48 hours after a particularly intense workout. Pro-athletes in the NFL have been particularly vocal about allowing cannabis as an alternative to opioids for pain management.
How THC Treats PainTHC activates cannabinoid receptors that modulate the nociceptive thresholds that trigger pain, meaning that it blocks pain receptors in the nervous system. Cannabinoid receptors also show synergistic effects with other systems that influence analgesia, including the endogenous opioid system. If you are currently using opioids to regulate exercise-related pain, check out our article on using cannabis to reduce opioid use.
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Finding an optimal dosing regimen for cannabis medicine takes trial and error and mindfulness. Microdosing is the act of consuming small amounts of cannabis (sometimes as low as 1-2mg) on a consistent basis. For some, microdosing might mean vaporizing one or two puffs of cannabis every few hours or it might mean taking a small amount of tincture each morning. Not sure what method of consumption to use? Consult our blog on cannabis methods of delivery.
Why Microdose?Microdosing can lead to enhanced benefits of medical cannabis with little to no psychoactive effects. It can also help reduce costs by allowing patients to purchase smaller quantities, and is especially beneficial for patients who have limited access to quality cannabis. If you have never used cannabis before, most doctors will start you on a low dosage. One reason for this is that everyone’s body reacts differently to cannabis because of factors like weight, diet, metabolism, and sleep cycles. Another reason that ingesting cannabis produces such varied responses is that each person’s body produces a different amount of naturally occurring cannabinoids. Cannabis activates cannabinoid receptors that naturally occur throughout the human body’s endocannabinoid system, which regulates and balances the body's systems such as the immune system and central nervous system. In fact, research shows that one of the reasons cannabis may be so effective as medicine is because of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency—in other words, when the body doesn’t naturally produce enough cannabinoids. For example, low doses of vaporized cannabis (between 1-3.5mg) have been shown to be effective for neuropathic pain in clinical trials in comparison with larger doses. Recent research by Dr. Dustin Sulak based on treatment of nearly 18,000 patients at his Integr8 Health Clinics in Maine has shown that 90% of patients are able to decrease their cannabis dosage by more than 50% while receiving improved health benefits. About 10% of patients need a much higher dose. “For example, while 3-5 mg of cannabinoids may provide relief for a sensitized patient, others may do best on 300-500mg per dose,” says Dr. Sulak. While no one has overdosed directly on cannabis, there is an optimal dosage level for each individual, after which higher doses will result in diminished benefits and increased side effects.
Adjusting Your DoseIf you are already consuming cannabis as medicine regularly, you will need to slowly reduce your consumption levels to avoid the return of symptoms. The process of reducing cannabis intake is called sensitization, which involves finding your optimal dosage level by recording the benefits as you gradually reduce intake. If possible, speak with your cannabis practitioner about your current cannabis dosage and whether it might make sense to reduce your dosage. Any time you are using cannabis as medicine and you are not an experienced consumer, you should work with your practitioner to decide a proper dose. Some patients with chronic conditions like cancer may find that a high dose of cannabis is necessary for their treatment plan. Meanwhile, other patients might find that they need higher doses of cannabis for acute flare-ups of symptoms, but can otherwise microdose to maintain their health. If you are using cannabis holistically to enhance your lifestyle and not in coordination with a health practitioner, you can still record how much cannabis you are consuming on a day-to-day basis and adjust your intake based on how it affects your mood and your experience with symptoms like drowsiness, dry mouth or hunger.
Why Microdosing WorksPreclinical research suggests that low doses of cannabis can increase the body’s natural production of endocannabinoid production, cannabinoid receptor expression, and cannabinoid receptor affinity. It also helps break down the bad habits that your body develops after you have been consuming large amounts of cannabis (persistent agonism of cannabinoid receptors) and building a tolerance level to require larger and larger doses to feel the effects.
About 30-35% of American adults complain of insomnia, affecting around 75 million people.According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine numbers are higher for women and the elderly. While we typically think of insomnia as the crushing inability to fall asleep, insomnia can also manifest as the inability to stay asleep throughout the night or falling asleep and then waking up too early in the morning. Causes of insomnia range from stress, mental health disorders like depression, irregular work schedules, environmental factors like light or noise outside your window, and side effects of other medical conditions or medications. Acute insomnia is defined as lasting for less than three months, while chronic insomnia lasts for three months or more. Insomnia can lead to secondary conditions such as lowered immunity, inflammation, headaches and becoming accident prone. Although insomnia is not recognized as a qualifying condition under US state medical cannabis laws, it is a commonly used sleep aid. Patients who report chronic pain often use cannabis to ease their pain before going to bed, and many individuals holistically use cannabis get to sleep at night.
How Does it Work?All living things have an endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system regulates every major function of our bodies and keeps us in balanced homeostasis. This system stretches from head to toe forming a network of receptors, which are found everywhere in our bodies. The ECS influences the body’s circadian rhythm, the inner clock controlling the sleep/wake cycle. Mindfulness practices, holistic modalities and cannabis can all activate the endocannabinoid system. THC has been shown to facilitate falling asleep and increase the Stage 4 sleep cycle, while decreasing REM sleep. Stage 4 is the slow-wave sleep cycle also known as deep sleep before REM sleep, where dreaming occurs. CBD can be successful with those that have issues with inflammation or compromised immune system. CBD has also been shown to reduce nightmares and might be beneficial for patients suffering from PTSD-related sleep disorders. Indica or indica dominant hybrids, high in CBD are preferred by those with insomnia, in a recent study. Strains with the cannabinoid, CBN will be most effective.
How to MedicateConsume about an hour to 30 minutes before bedtime to ensure that you will feel the effects of cannabis before falling asleep. Strains that are moderate level THC (15-20%) may be better than strains that are higher in THC (20%+), which may leave you feeling groggy the next morning. Go slow and low to find your desired dose. Overconsumption can lead to undesirable effects so once you know your dose, repeat what works. In a Tikun study, 79% of patients surveyed reported that cannabis strains Avidekel, Midnight, Erez, and Eran Almog helped with insomnia.
- High-CBD, Low THC Indica
- Shown to relieve seizures, migraines, anxiety, inflammation, pain, autoimmune and gastrointestinal symptoms. Boosts bone density and immunity.
- 1:1 CBD to THC ratio
- Shown to relieve anxiety, depression, minor pains, inflammation and neurological ailments.
Erez™Serene & Calming
- High THC, Low CBD Indica
- Shown to relieve pain, muscle spasms, nausea, sleep disorders, PTSD, neurological conditions and spasticity. Improves appetite.
- High THC, Low CBD Indica
- Shown to relieve chronic or acute pain, muscle spasms, sleep disorders, nausea. Stimulates appetite.
Nearly 1 in 5 American adults experiences anxiety each year, and nearly 1 in 3 or 31% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety can get in the way of everyday tasks like going to work, socializing with friends, or doing school work. Increasingly, people with anxiety are turning to pharmaceutical treatments to relieve pressure. For a plant-based alternative, cannabis can help when used with intention. Although New Jersey is the only state where anxiety is officially listed as a qualifying condition, states such as California and the District of Columbia allow physicians to recommend cannabis at their discretion. If you live in a state where adult-use cannabis is legal, then you can make the decision to use cannabis holistically.
Sometimes Less is MoreA 2018 study at Washington State University surveyed individuals’ stress, anxiety, and depression after smoking cannabis. It found that just two puffs of cannabis could help reduce anxiety, and that 10 puffs or more of high-CBD cannabis relieved stress.* Micro-dosing, or taking small doses of cannabis throughout the day, is one way to ensure that you receive the therapeutic benefits of cannabis with mild or no psychoactive effects.
Try CBD: How It WorksHigh-CBD strains like Tikun’s Avidekel are particularly effective for relieving anxiety. In high concentrations, CBD is an agonist for the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, meaning that it blocks the reuptake of serotonin in the brain and increases serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical that produces feelings of well-being and calmness. Many pharmaceutical medications called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) are prescribed to help increase serotonin and to treat anxiety and depression.
Tikun StudiesA survey of medical patients in Israel found that 77% of patients reported improvement in anxiety when using our Alaska or Erez strains. Both Alaska and Erez are high-THC, low-CBD strains. Try micro-dosing with high-THC strains to make sure that the psychoactive effects produce a calm rather than racing thoughts. Record how you feel when you are consuming different strains to make sure that you are using the one that is best for you.
Exercise CautionSome cannabis consumers do report increased anxiety when consuming marijuana. To reduce the likelihood that you will feel anxious, be sure to consume in a safe, familiar place where you can safely medicate. Check out our post on how to use cannabis with intent for more tips on how to incorporate cannabis into your treatment. You can also change your strain. Some sativa strains can produce feelings of anxiousness. Did you find this article informative? LIKE our Facebook page to be alerted when new features are published.
When you look at cannabis close-up, it’s covered in small, crystalline hairs. When properly cured and trimmed, buds will often sparkle with cloudy or amber-colored trichomes. Those hairs are actually tiny resin glands that produce cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, the essential oils which give cannabis its medical properties, its smell, and its flavor. When you consume cannabis, it is the trichomes containing cannabinoids like THC and CBD that provide relief and relaxation. If you use a grinder to break apart your cannabis flower, it may contain a screen that catches the remaining crystals, called kief, which you can save and consume. Cannabis oil is made from the essential oils that trichomes contain and is extracted from plant matter to form a concentrate.
Types of TrichomesThe visible hairs on the cannabis plant are “capitate-stalked trichomes”, which are about 50-100 micrometers long. Capitate-stalked trichomes are most densely concentrated on the cannabis flower, where they secrete cannabinoids like THC and and CBD. Even cannabis leaves and stalks are covered in microscopic trichomes that produce cannabinoids and terpenes in smaller amounts. Smaller protrusions of plant cell clusters called bulbous trichomes, are invisible to the naked eye. Capitate sessile trichomes consisting of a stalk and a head also cover the plant. These trichomes can be viewed with the aid of a microscopic lens.
During HarvestGrowers will often use a hand-held microscope under LED light to examine the cannabis trichomes and determine when the plant is mature enough to harvest. The genetic type of cannabis strain and environmental factors such as soil conditions and light exposure determine the rate at which trichomes are produced, and will be different for each harvest.
Why do trichomes exist?The word “trichome” comes from the ancient Greek, “trichōma” or hair. The botanical definition of trichome is “fine outgrowths or appendages on plants, algae, lichens, and certain protists.” These small hairs are found on a variety of plants, from stinging nettles to bean leaves. In the wild, the primary function of trichomes is to protect plants and other flora from insects and animals. Trichomes ward off predators by emitting unpleasant smells to ward off pests or providing a prickly, unpleasant tasting experience for herbivores that might otherwise devour a plant. Trichomes also protect plants from the sun by covering the surface of leaves and reducing the heat that plants absorb from sunrays.
How it worksCapitate-stalked trichomes (the ones you can see without a microscope) contain a head and a stalk. The stalk emerges from the surface of the plant, and cells within the stalk transport nutrients to the bulb on top, also known as the gland head. The base of the head contains cells take the nutrients, metabolize them, and secrete oils that are converted into cannabinoids and terpinoids. These oils, also known as resin, accumulate on the outermost layer of the gland head, producing the fine, crystalline hairs that you see.
In pop culture, cannabis is often depicted as sealed in plastic baggies or hidden away in a dresser drawer. Yet proper cannabis storage is important for health and safety reasons. And, let’s face it, cannabis can be expensive, so you want to make sure you are storing it in the best way possible to make it last as long as possible.