It’s hard to believe that it was only a few decades ago when smoking tobacco wasn’t considered to be dangerous – in fact, a quick scan through the archives will throw up many examples where health experts even recommended smoking cigarettes! Thankfully, that has all changed now, with vaporizing now much more popular as the risks of smoking have become irrefutable.
The National Health Service in the United Kingdom came out with a study in 2017 which revealed long-term vaping was 95 percent safer than long-term smoking, and politicians from the pro-vaping nation have called for rules to be relaxed on using devices in public spaces.
The facts on vaping are not just relevant for the tobacco industry, but also for the cannabis industry. Cannabis has been for smoked – for medicinal, recreational and spiritual reasons – since the times of Ancient Egypt, and even earlier. Smoking has historically been the first choice for consumption because the cannabinoids can enter the bloodstream without metabolization, as they bypass the gut and liver. Not only does this increase the potency of cannabinoids in the endocannabinoid system, boosting their therapeutic value, but it means that the effects start to be felt within a couple of minutes, rather than a couple of hours. Fast relief is paramount for patients with acute conditions such as neuropathic pain, who cannot afford to wait an hour or more for their medication to kick in.
There is, admittedly, less research on the dangers of smoking cannabis, and studies into psychoactive THC have interestingly found that the cannabinoid is a bronchodilator – hence, it relaxes the lung muscles and widens the airways, which promotes as big a lung capacity as possible. But smoking is smoking, and regular exposure to carcinogens, skin-degrading free radicals and tar accumulation in the lungs are all downsides that can be easily avoided thanks to modern technology and vaporizing.
Many of those who are opposed to smoking cannabis are also averse to the psychoactive properties of the plant. However, the new wave of research which picked up steam in the 1960s – thanks to the isolation and chemical defining of cannabinoids THC and CBD by Israeli chemists – has demonstrated that the effects of cannabis can be drastically altered by varying cultivation and extraction processes.
For example, in recent years, a massive market has emerged for non-intoxicating CBD products, such as CBD vape oil and e-liquid. Most CBD vape juices are made using extracts taken from a strain of cannabis sativa called hemp. Hemp is perfect for making non-psychoactive medicinal cannabis, as the plant contains moderate levels of CBD, but just traces of THC. The growth of the hemp-derived CBD in the United States has been phenomenal, with New Frontier Data estimating that the market was worth $190 million in 2017, up from a mere $49 billion in 2014. This could balloon to almost $550 billion by 2021.
Some growers, such as the Stanley Brothers in Colorado who make the famous Charlotte’s Web medicinal strain, have managed to breed strains where CBD is the dominant cannabinoid, not THC. These strains can be used to make extracts suitable for vaping and other types of consumption, but they can also be ground up and enjoyed in a dry herb vaporizer.
Vaporizing is an effective way of medicating with cannabis, as the boiling point of CBD is between 320°F to 360°F – therefore, the hotter temperatures that come from smoking are not just dangerous, but completely unnecessary. Furthermore, smoking cannabis is not efficient either, as the burning of plant matter leads to a loss of cannabinoids, and a decline in the therapeutic potential of the herb being consumed.
Benefits of CBD
The revolutionary science on CBD is altering how cannabis is perceived by the medicinal community and the public, with researchers learning about a previously-undiscovered network called the endocannabinoid system, and users having a way to sample the benefits of cannabis, sans intoxication.
The endocannabinoid system is a mighty find for biology and medicine, and has introduced experts to new neurotransmitters and receptors, and a whole host of new mechanisms which could be targeted for the development of medication. For example, mood can be naturally improved by promoting anandamide, an endocannabinoid and neurotransmitter that produces antidepressant effects when latched onto the CB1 receptor in the endocannabinoid system.
Inflammation is notorious, with the body’s immune system known to be volatile and easily aggravated. While inflammation can be key for protection from infections and viruses, the immune system often becomes an instigator of health problems by being unable to control it. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes excessive inflammation of the joints, leading to swelling and pain.
Regulating the immune system has proven very difficult, with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) the best development by medical experts. But unfortunately, the side effects from these pharmaceutical drugs can be severe, with patients reporting headaches, stomach pain and ulcers, high blood pressure, complications in the liver and kidneys, allergic reactions and more. However, CBD influences the CB2 receptor in the endocannabinoid which regulates the immune system and therefore inflammation – the side effects from this natural method are much more limited.
A variety of vaping products
The CBD vaping market can be split up into full-spectrum CBD products and CBD-isolate products. The former arguably have greater medicinal value, as these are made using a full hemp extract that consists of each and every plant compound from the strain. For proponents of the “entourage effect”, a theory that suggests cannabis is more effective when administered in whole-plant form because of the synergy that occurs between the cannabinoids and terpenes, full-spectrum products are the way to go.
However, as of 2018, the majority of CBD concentrates are made using an isolated form of CBD. These concentrates can be vaporized with a compatible vaporizer, although CBD crystals can be dissolved into your preferred e-juice and vaped as normal. Concentrates are typically much more potent than e-liquids, and are mainly for those experiencing extreme discomfort.