Understanding the endocannabinoid system is the key to unlocking its effects. A Toluca Lake cannabis dispensary sheds some light in this post.
While we often think about cannabis as if it were a single organism, the truth is it’s one of the most astonishingly complex entities in the natural world. Rather than containing a single “active ingredient,” cannabis contains hundreds of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds still. And while each of them acts independently from each other, many researchers believe that they often combine forces to elicit especially profound medicinal and psychotropic effects on our bodies. The common name for this synergy is the “Entourage Effect.”
For decades now, the Entourage Effect has been more or less accepted as an established facet of the cannabis plant. But while there’s strong clinical evidence that it works in some regards, some new and competing findings seem to indicate that it’s not as widespread as once believed.
What’s the straight dope on the Entourage Effect? Strap yourself in for a deep dive into the realm of cannabis compounds!
In terms of their effects on the human body, cannabinoids are without doubt the most significant of the natural chemicals found in cannabis. Thus far, researchers have isolated roughly 150 of them. They include two you’ve probably heard of—THC and CBD—and they interact with the body through a network called The Endocannabinoid System, which in turn controls some of the body’s most important regulatory functions.
What are some of those effects? THC is responsible for the plant’s distinctive euphoric “high,” as well as several other medically useful effects. CBD doesn’t impart an intoxicating psychoactivity, though some users report a mild “buzzy” effect. In recent years, its come under study for a large number of potential benefits, including the ability to reduce anxiety, several types of pain, and certain types of seizures, among others.
It’s well-established that cannabinoids such as THC and CBD interact for beneficial effects. For one thing, CBD helps counteract some of the negative side effects of THC, including paranoia and foggy-headedness. And a study demonstrated that cannabis containing THC and CBD functioned much better in reducing cancer-related pain than THC alone.
And that says nothing about cannabinoids like CBN, CBG, and many others still. Many researchers believe they play a part in modulating and optimizing the effects of THC and CBD, but thus far there haven’t been a lot of clinical studies to back these assertions up. You can expect that to change soon as studies on such “minor” cannabinoids near completion.
Terpenes are another hugely important player in the world of the cannabis plant. A family of fragrant oils, they give different strains their characteristic flavors and aromas. There are believed to be over 200 terpenes in cannabis; in addition to lending their enticing odors, they can elicit anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects, anti-inflammatory responses, and many other useful physiological actions.
In recent years, many cannabis researchers have theorized that terpenes are involved in an entourage effect with cannabinoids too. While it’s known that terpenes can interact with the Endocannabinoid System, it’s unclear whether or not this actually contributes to the Entourage Effect.
One study published in 2011 suggests that the terpene alpha-pinene interacts with THC, helping to counteract the cannabinoid’s negative impact on short-term memory. But the exact mechanics of these interactions aren’t yet clear. Further clouding the picture, a recent study found the opposite. In this report, five common terpenes—including alpha-pinene—all failed to elicit an entourage effect by binding to the receptors in the Endocannabinoid System. Yet another study—this one conducted on a rodent model—showed that three other terpenes did in fact activate these receptors.
Still, a growing body of evidence supports the conclusion that—at least when it comes to interactions among cannabinoids, the entourage effect is both real and medically useful. As is so often the case in the world of cannabis, a more definitive answer as to the interactions between terpenes and cannabinoids will require more research.
What with all these lingering questions, one thing is certain: That in the years to come, a lot of attention is going to be focused on unlocking the mysteries of the Entourage Effect. We’re hopeful that once it’s fully understood, it will help clinicians formulate highly personalized cannabis-based treatments and take our knowledge of plant medicines into an exciting new realm.
As study after study shows, Americans are turning to cannabis for pain relief in record numbers. Not only can it effectively treat several types of pain, but it’s helping reduce our dependence on objectively harmful pharmaceuticals such as opioids.
It shouldn’t be a surprise as to why. As long ago as 2900 BCE, Chinese physicians were using cannabis to treat pain and inflammation, as well as many of the other conditions we depend on it for today. Today, a growing number of clinical studies only confirm what those ancient doctors already knew: That when it’s used properly, cannabis can be a game-changer in the treatment of pain, easing symptoms and boosting overall quality of life.
But many of us—including many doctors—don’t know how to use cannabis for pain relief. In this article, we’ll talk about the roots of pain, how cannabis helps treat it, and how to choose the best types of cannabis for different kinds of pain.
Pain, much as we might dislike it, is a fact of life. For most of history, we understood it to be a symptom of an injury. But recently, that’s begun to change. that researchers have begun to shift their thinking on chronic pain, recognizing that it’s a serious disorder with several types. Here are the three major ones:
While each of these types of pain is different, they’re all alike in that cannabis has the potential to treat them. And the principal way it does it is through a group of natural chemicals called “cannabinoids.” You’re probably familiar with the two most important ones: THC and CBD. THC, of course, is the one responsible for the cannabis plant’s euphoric “high.”
What’s important to know here is that THC and CBD work with the body in different ways to help reduce pain and swelling at injury sites. And every cannabis product we sell is labeled with a cannabinoid ratio, which tells you exactly how much THC, CBD, or both it contains. This is important when it comes to choosing which products will work best with each type of pain.
Speaking of which, let’s revisit that list of specific pain types again.
As you see, there are a number of ways cannabis can help with pain relief. But no matter which strain or product you use, we want to point out the importance of regulating your dosage. That’s because cannabis is biphasic, meaning that its effects change depending on its dosage.
While it may sound strange, research indicates that the majority of us experience greater pain relief (and other medical benefits) from using less cannabis, not more. That’s why we always suggest you use the least amount of cannabis needed to achieve optimal results. It may require a little more trial and effort to find that amount, but once you do, you’ll experience gentler, more effective, and more sustainable results!Do you have more questions about using cannabis for pain relief? Just reach out; we’re always here to help!
Concentrates have become some of the most popular products in the legal market—and for good reason. Concentrates feature exceptional terpene and cannabinoid content that makes them super potent and extraordinarily tasty. Shatter, sometimes called shatter wax, is one of these concentrates.
Shatter is a cannabis extract known for its intense potency and flavor. It is a thin sheet of solidified oil that can range in color anywhere from translucent to dark amber. This concentrate gets its name from its extremely fragile consistency. Because it is so brittle, it tends to shatter into many little pieces when handled.
Not all shatter is equal. Some shatter extractions are of better quality than others. A good general guideline is the darker the shatter, the lower the quality. Darker shatter may contain fewer terpenes, fewer cannabinoids, and more contaminants. And if your shatter has a rich aroma and flavor, that’s a good sign that it’s loaded with terpenes and is of high quality.
Shatter can be made using several different extraction methods, but it is most commonly made using butane hydrocarbon extraction.
It is made using a closed-loop system where cannabis source material is placed into a tank before being blasted with liquid butane, stripping it of its trichomes, terpenes, and more. This mixture of solvent and concentrate is then heated for up to forty-eight hours to vaporize and remove as much of the butane solvent as possible—ideally all of it.
Of course, for health and safety reasons, the production of shatter is best left to experienced professionals who have the right equipment and who know what they’re doing.
Wax is another popular cannabis concentrate that is commonly found in medicinal and recreational dispensaries. Since shatter is also sometimes called ‘shatter wax,’ it can be easy to confuse the two.
There’s no difference between wax and shatter when it comes to the effects they produce and how long they last. But there are some other differences worth noting.
One difference between wax and shatter is that these two extracts have very different consistencies. Shatter is a smooth sheet of solidified oil, while wax is a solid and chunky concentrate that is creamy and buttery in texture. This means that wax is easier to handle as it can be more easily manipulated without the worry of it immediately breaking into pieces as shatter would.
Additionally, shatter tends to last longer because the molecules in its chemical structure are bound together more tightly. Wax also tends to degrade more quickly because it has a greater surface area than shatter.
Shatter is typically vaped out of a vaporizer or dabbed out of a dab rig as shatter wax dabs. Shatter wax dabs are known for their intense and delicious flavor and quick-effect onset. It can also be added on top of the ground cannabis in bowls and joints to give them a serious potency boost. Additionally, shatter can be used to bake edibles or can be melted into a more liquid form to be placed into gelatin capsules. Interested in trying out some shatter, wax, or another cannabis concentrate? Check our online menu for a selection of cannabis concentrates that you’re sure to love! And while you’re at it, drop by our deals page to take advantage of special offers on concentrates and other outstanding cannabis products!
By now you’ve probably heard about THC and CBD, two cannabinoids believed to be responsible for most of the mind-altering and therapeutic effects of cannabis. But there’s much more to cannabis than just cannabinoids. One of these compounds that have recently been getting attention is terpenes.
What are terpenes? Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbon compounds that exist in all plants, including cannabis. What do terpenes do? These compounds are responsible for giving plants their signature scent. Whether it’s the sweetness of a strawberry or the refreshing scent of mint, you can bet terpenes were responsible for it.
When it comes to cannabis, terpenes give buds their aroma and flavor. When you catch a whiff of your favorite strain, it’s the terpenes that you’re smelling. Over 100 different terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant, although some are much more common than others.
It is thought that plants developed terpenes as part of their evolutionary process to help them lure pollinators and deter threats. Each cannabis strain features a unique terpene profile (different terpenes in different concentrations), giving it a unique scent and flavor. Some strains are named after their aroma, making it easier to guess which terpenes it contains. For example, Lemon Kush gets its lemony taste from the terpene limonene, a terpene that is common in citrus-flavored strains.
But the terpene content of your buds will depend on more than just their genetics. It is also dependent on factors like the plant’s growing environment, growing soil, age, the curing process used, and how carefully the buds have been handled.
Now that you know what they are, you may be wondering, “What are terpenes used for?” As previously mentioned, terpenes give cannabis its iconic aroma. But recently, researchers have found that cannabis terpenes may do much more than that.
Terpenes are now thought to contribute to the therapeutic effects produced by cannabis. Recent research found that certain cannabis terpenes may be able to modulate pain perception and may even have anti-inflammatory effects.
Additionally, cannabis terpenes are believed to work in synergy with cannabinoids and other plant compounds to produce more comprehensive effects than cannabinoids could on their own. This phenomenon has been termed ‘the entourage effect’.
You can see the entourage effect in action whenever you vape full-spectrum oils. When compared to THC distillate, full-spectrum oils produce more intense and long-lasting effects because they contain the full spectrum of cannabis compounds instead of just THC. But terpenes don’t just boost THC’s effectiveness, CBD terps can work to boost the effectiveness of full-spectrum CBD products as well. As a result, many people consider full-spectrum products to be superior to isolates.
Here are some of the most common terpenes found in cannabis strains and what you should know about them.
Myrcene: The most common terpene in cannabis. Has a herbal and earthy aroma and may potentially have anti-inflammatory effects.
Pinene: The most common terpene in the natural world. Smells like pine needles and fresh-cut grass.
Caryophyllene: Peppery and spicy. This terpene is also thought to act as a cannabinoid and may produce anti-inflammatory effects by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
Limonene: Fruity and citrusy smell. Could potentially alleviate anxiety and stress.
Terpinolene: A multidimensional terpene that smells piney, floral, and citrusy. Believed to have uplifting effects. Only one in ten cannabis strains feature terpinolene as their dominant terpene.
Check out our online menu for a selection of terpene-rich cannabis products you’re sure to love and take a look at our deals page to enjoy these products for even less!
With so many different cannabis strains producing a bevy of effects, properly categorizing them is crucial to ensuring that patients know what to expect from their cannabis. The simplest way to categorize these strains is by breaking them up into three simple groups: indica, sativa, and hybrids.
Indica and sativa strains produce very different effects.
Indica strains are known for their strong physical buzz and sedating effects. Indica weed will calm you and relax you both physically and mentally. Indica strains are known for their ability to produce a full-body buzz that is sedating, relaxing, sleep-inducing, and appetite-stimulating. Additionally, indica weed produces a spacey and stoney head high that is much more toned down than that produced by sativas. Because of their sedating effects, indica strains are best used at nighttime and are preferred by those seeking relief from pain, insomnia, and eating disorders.
What’s the difference between indica and sativa? Sativa strains are known for their uplifting cerebral stimulation and their strong cerebral euphoria. These strains are prized for their head buzz and typically feature only a mild body high. They have also been known to boost creativity, improve focus, energize, and instill a sense of happiness. Because of their uplifting effects, these strains are perfect for daytime use and can be useful to those who seek relief from anxiety, stress, and depression.
There are also differences between the plants that produce these buds. Indica plants tend to grow shorter and bushier, while sativa plants tend to grow tall and lanky with thinner leaves. Additionally, physical differences can also sometimes occur in the buds themselves. Indica buds can sometimes be wispier and looser while sativa buds tend to be a little more solid.
Not all strains fall into either category. Some strains contain a combination of genetics from both types of plants. These strains are called hybrids.
Depending on how much of its genetics are influenced by each side, hybrid strains can be either indica-dominant or sativa-dominant. These strains will produce a mix of physical and cerebral effects depending on their genetics. Some strains are a perfect 50/50 mix of both categories. These strains produce both a significant head buzz and a significant body buzz. When it comes to indica vs. sativa vs. hybrid, patients seeking both physical and mental relief are usually better off with a hybrid strain.
Originally, the difference between indica and sativa had nothing to do with effects. The two terms originated in the 18th century as a way to describe two species of cannabis: Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Sativa referred to the hemp plants that originated from Europe and Eurasia, while Indica was used to refer to the mind-altering and intoxicating variety of cannabis that originated from the Hindu Kush mountain range in India and Pakistan.
Today, these terms have been repurposed to refer only to the effects produced by strains. In reality, all cannabis strains that produce any kind of intoxicating or mind-altering effects are of the cannabis indica variety. Looking for top-shelf cannabis? Check out our online menu and deals page for a selection of cannabis products you won’t be able to resist!
Cannabis oil has become one of the most popular and convenient ways of enjoying cannabis. Not only are they a safer alternative to smoking, but cannabis oils are also very easy to take and super convenient to use. Thinking about trying out some oil for yourself? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about cannabis oil and how you can make the most of it.
Cannabis oil is a liquid extract that is pulled from the cannabis plant. This potent extract has quickly gained popularity for its potency, effectiveness, and ease of use.
Be careful not to confuse CBD oil with cannabis oil. While CBD oil is indeed an oily extract pulled from the cannabis plant, it is typically stripped of all other compounds, leaving behind just CBD. By comparison, most cannabis oils are usually THC-dominant and typically feature a broad spectrum or full spectrum of plant compounds.
Some cannabis oils are made to be applied sublingually or ingested orally, while others are specifically designed to be vaporized or smoked. It’s important to know which is which so you can use them as safely and effectively as possible.
If your oil is designed for sublingual application, the easiest way to use it is to load up the dropper and use it to place the oil under your tongue. Let the oil sit there for a few minutes before swishing it around your mouth and swallowing it. The contents of the oil will be absorbed by membranes under the tongue and on the inside of the cheeks from where it can be transported into the bloodstream leading to fast-acting effects.
Using a cannabis oil pen is just as easy! Pre-filled oil cartridges can be quickly attached to 510 thread batteries to produce instant vapor at the press of a button or even just as you inhale.
What are the advantages of using cannabis oil instead of another cannabis product? Cannabis oil is a more discreet dosing option that is easy to use and carry, making it perfect for on-the-go dosing. Additionally, cannabis oil is a safer alternative to smoking or vaping cannabis since it requires no inhalation of any kind of foreign substance.
Pain is one of the most common reasons why people turn to therapeutic cannabis products like cannabis oil.
What’s the best cannabis oil for pain? Research shows that THC and CBD may affect pain perception and may alleviate inflammation and inflammatory pain. THC is believed to be especially effective at managing central or neuropathic pain, while CBD is thought to be better suited for reducing inflammation.
While these two cannabinoids may be effective on their own, the best cannabis oil for pain will contain a combination of these two cannabinoids. Working together in synergy, these cannabinoids can take advantage of the entourage effect to produce more comprehensive pain relief than either could on their own. If you find that your THC or CBD oil just isn’t getting it done, try a combination of the two before moving on to another treatment option.
Looking to try out some cannabis oil for yourself? Check out our online menu for a selection of cannabis oils and other cannabis products. Love a good deal? Take a look at our deals page to see special offers you can take advantage of right now!
How is cannabis able to produce its intoxicating, mind-altering, and therapeutic effects? Mostly through the use of cannabinoids. The two best-known cannabinoids are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). But there are actually many, many more in the cannabis plant worth knowing.
Cannabinoids are a group of lipophilic molecules found in the cannabis plant. The precise number that exist in cannabis is unknown, but so far more than 100 individual cannabinoids have been detected.
Cannabinoids are believed to be responsible for producing most of the therapeutic and intoxicating effects of cannabis. It has been theorized that other cannabis compounds, like terpenes, work together in synergy with them to produce more complete effects (the entourage effect). Nevertheless, the overwhelming therapeutic and intoxicating potential of individual ones is undeniable.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are considered to be ‘phytocannabinoids’. This means that they are external cannabinoids that are introduced into the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a physiological system that helps the body to remain well-balanced (homeostasis). It is believed that the ECS is responsible for modulating functions like sleep, mood, appetite, pain perception, and much more.
The ECS is primarily composed of protein cell receptors, endocannabinoids, and phytocannabinoids. Cannabinoids produce their effects by interacting with these cell receptors in various ways. For example, THC has been known to bind directly to CB1 and CB2 receptors. By comparison, CBD has been found to stimulate these receptors, even changing the shape of CB1 receptors and making it harder for them to bind with THC.
That’s why, when THC and CBD are consumed together, some of THC’s stimulating effects are muted. Some people tend to experience anxiety or paranoia when consuming THC, but adding CBD into the mix can help to negate some of the negative effects of cannabinoids like THC. Their effects can be seriously altered by bringing other cannabinoids into the mix.
But phytocannabinoids like THC and CBD aren’t the only cannabinoids that work with the ECS–there’s also the role of endocannabinoids to consider. Endocannabinoids are endogenously produced cannabinoids made by the body specifically for the purpose of interacting with the ECS to maintain homeostasis.
After endocannabinoids finish their job, they are broken down by enzymes and recycled, kind of like they were edible cannabinoids that the body eats up. But research shows that phytocannabinoids can alter this process. For instance, CBD is believed to inhibit the breakdown of endocannabinoids, allowing them to work for longer.
Now that we’ve addressed the common question “what are cannabinoids?” let’s take a look at some of the most common ones found in cannabis and what they do.
THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol. This intoxicating cannabinoid is responsible for the mind-altering high cannabis produces. Most of the negative effects of cannabis (anxiety, paranoia, drowsiness, overeating) are associated with THC.
CBD: Cannabidiol. A psychoactive yet non-intoxicating cannabinoid with serious therapeutic potential for alleviating pain, anxiety, and more.
CBG: Cannabigerol. Found in small concentrations in cannabis. Is believed to have the potential for fighting inflammation, pain, nausea, glaucoma.
CBN: Cannabinol. A mildly psychoactive cannabinoid that is more abundant in older and aged cannabis.
CBC: Cannabichromene. May have pain-relieving effects. Believed to stimulate the release of the endocannabinoid anandamide.
THCA: Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid. The acidic precursor to THC. Visible as the crystals that cover the leaves and buds of the cannabis plant. Is converted into intoxicating THC when exposed to heat.Looking to take advantage of a specific cannabinoid? Check out our online menu for a selection of cannabis products that can harness the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids. While you’re at it, check out our deals page as well for some serious savings.
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ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF CALIFORNIA LAW.You expressly acknowledge that The Smart Cannabis services are for qualified patients under California Health & Safety Code Section 11362.5, 11362.7, et seq., and a physician has recommended the use of medical marijuana. You also expressly acknowledge that the use, possession, cultivation, transportation and distribution of cannabis is illegal in California unless all participants are acting completely within the scope of California’s medical cannabis laws as set forth in the Attorney General’s Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use and the Medical Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act (consisting of AB243, AB266 and SB643) and any amendments thereto.