Cannabis has expansive therapeutic powers for mental health, pain, and insomnia. But, like any substance, also exhibits potential risks. Adverse effects include paranoia, anxiety, long-term sleep disruption, short-term memory, brain fog, and addiction.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced user, it’s important to understand how to protect your health when consuming cannabis. Here we offer seven tips to help you safely enjoy this incredibly powerful plant.
1. Start Low, Go Slow
If it’s your first time using cannabis or trying a new product, it’s best to start with a small dose and wait at least an hour to see how it affects you before taking more. Overconsumption can lead to unpleasant side effects such as anxiety and mental fog. This approach also allows you to become familiar with cannabis’ impact on your mental and physical state so that you may adjust your dose accordingly.
Additionally, some studies find that low-dose THC products and strains are most effective at reducing anxiety, while higher doses are more likely to increase anxiety. You may be thinking, “Does this mean I can only choose cannabis that is low in THC percentage?” and the answer is, of course not! This research simply offers more evidence that starting with a low-dosing protocol is critical so you may safely enjoy the effects of cannabis at your own rate.
2. Choose Cannabis from a Reputable Source
Not all cannabis products are created equal, so buying from a licensed dispensary or trusted brand like https://www.canadacannabisdispensary.ca/product-category/lit/ is important. Top-tier brands always test products for potency and contaminants with a verified third-party laboratory and publish the outcomes for you to see. Transparent test results allow you to verify that the product is safe to ingest and accurately labeled with THC and CBD concentrations.
Purchasing from a reputable source also guarantees you won’t accidentally purchase a dangerous synthetic product. Synthetic cannabis contains artificial cannabinoids that can be toxic and are much more potent than natural products. Consuming synthetic cannabinoids can cause rapid heart rate, vomiting, agitation, hallucinations, and even death.
Finally, buying cannabis from reputable dispensaries that brand properly handled and stored the product for lasting quality. Improperly stored cannabis can lose potency, degrade, and become unsafe to consume.
To find a trusted cannabis brand, look for companies that publish test results from state-verified third-party laboratories. You can find test results on the product’s website and by scanning QR codes on the packaging. Another method for finding the right brand is checking for consumer reviews and the number of years in business.
3. Know Your Strains & Potency
Cannabis comes in many different strains, each with unique effects. Some strains are more energizing and uplifting, while others are relaxing and sedating. Researching and finding the right strain for your condition and wellness goals is essential to avoid unwanted side effects.
For example, strains with indica genetics are more sedative and help with pain relief and sleep. If you need sleep support but don’t know indicas work best for this condition, you may accidentally choose a sativa. Sativas are typically more energizing, and consuming these strains could further exacerbate your insomnia.
Additionally, different strains vary in potency, so it’s essential to be aware of this when trying a new product. Even two products from the same strain can vary from batch to batch. Starting low and going slow every time you consume cannabis can help mitigate risks, like paranoia, from overconsumption.
Knowing the difference between psychoactive compounds like Delta-8 THC vs. Delta-9 THC is also important. While these compounds only vary slightly in chemical structure, Delta-9 is reportedly about twice as strong as Delta-8.
4. Choose the Right Consumption Method
There are many different ways to ingest cannabis, including smoking, vaporizing, edibles, and topicals. Choosing the proper method is essential because the delivery route can affect the speed, duration, and intensity of the experience.
Each method has pros and cons, so choosing the best one is essential. For example, smoking or vaporizing provides the fastest onset of effects but may be harsh on the lungs and can impact cardiovascular function. On the other hand, consuming cannabis orally, such as through edibles, can result in slower absorption and a longer duration of effects. Longer duration may be a positive or negative effect depending on your needs.
Topicals differ considerably from smoking and eating cannabis because they don’t exhibit psychoactive effects. Cannabis lotions and salves typically work best for localized pain relief.
5. Listen to Your Body
When using cannabis, listening to your body is essential to protect your health. Pay attention to how you feel before, during, and after using cannabis. Take tolerance breaks to minimize adverse effects, such as a high tolerance which can lead to addiction, long-term sleep disruptions, and irritability.
Additionally, when you consume cannabis at high doses frequently, you overload your nervous system receptors, decreasing your ability to feel the psychoactive effects. This requires you to continually consume higher dosages to get the same results. Pay attention to these changes and take occasional cannabis breaks to allow your body’s cannabinoid receptors to reset.
In addition, staying hydrated before, during, and after cannabis consumption is essential to mitigating common symptoms such as dry eyes or mouth. Water also helps flush out cannabis from the body and lower your tolerance.
6. Listen to Your Mind
Cannabis can have different effects on different people, and it is important to pay attention to how it affects you personally. Paying attention to how cannabis affects you can help you to adjust usage accordingly and avoid overconsumption, which can lead to paranoia and other adverse effects.
Consider your “set and setting” to help avoid paranoia, depression, and other adverse side effects. Set and setting refer to your mindset going into the experience, and setting refers to your physical and social environment. You’re more likely to have a positive experience when you feel mentally well and are in a comfortable environment with people you know and like.
7. Pace Yourself
Cannabis is generally safe to consume, beneficial even. However, long-term repeated use can also affect cognitive function, particularly short-term memory. THC, for example, can interfere with the brain’s ability to process and store new information.
You are more likely to experience health issues the more cannabis you use, primarily if you use it daily or nearly daily. It’s a good idea to keep your cannabis use to once a week or twice a week to minimize health risks. Consuming cannabis at a moderate frequency and taking occasional tolerance breaks can help to prevent these risks.
The Main Takeaway
Protecting your health when consuming cannabis is essential for protecting your health and maximizing cannabis’ known benefits like insomnia relief, pain relief, and mood enhancement. By following these seven tips, you can enjoy the benefits of cannabis safely and responsibly.