Everything You Need to Know About Cannabis Inhalers
Most of us know someone with asthma or other lung conditions that benefit from the use of inhaled medication from a metered dose inhaler, a vaporizer, or a spray for the mouth or nose. It is growing in popularity for an increasing number of patients because of how easy they are to use as well as how quickly they work.
Patients affected by medical conditions that cause acute pain, difficulty breathing, muscle spasms, or other symptoms can benefit from using a THC inhaler, even though a cannabis inhaler is not the first type of medical THC that patients consider for therapeutic use.
This is especially important to people with health conditions that cause sudden and strong symptoms like shortness of breath, muscle spasms, seizures, intense pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Being able to get relief in minutes or even faster can make a significant difference in a patient’s quality of life. There are many reasons why THC inhalers may be a better choice for patients.
What is Bioavailability and Why Does It Matter?
You may think that all of the different types of medical cannabis work the same way. When you ingest THC, it causes both psychoactive and physiological effects. But if you are a patient and heading to a local dispensary, the cannabis product you choose matters. It is about finding the most efficient way for patients to use cannabis and choosing the ideal solution for their wellness needs.
Patients may have a preference for one or two different types of medical marijuana, but other consumption methods that have higher bioavailability may provide better results. As the active compounds in medical cannabis can start working sooner to help provide relief of debilitating symptoms.
Bioavailability for Different Medical Cannabis Routes
Smokable cannabis products are not the healthiest way to consume medical marijuana. But it is popular compared to other cannabis products because the active ingredients are absorbed quickly through the lungs.
Here are some examples of the bioavailability of different routes of marijuana administration. This may change your preferences for consuming cannabis:
Whole Flower Pre-Rolled Cannabis
Bioavailability for raw cannabis that is smoked is approximately 30% THC absorption. It enters rapidly into the bloodstream, and the effects can be felt in under five minutes for most patients. Smokable cannabis may be the preference for many patients, but marijuana inhalers are easier to use and waste less product.
When cannabis vaporizers are used, the bioavailability of THC falls between 50% to 80%. Like smoking marijuana, the active ingredients are noticeable within minutes after consumption. Unlike marijuana inhalers, however, it is impossible to track how much THC you are ingesting with a smokable product.
Edible medical cannabis, such as baked goods, gummies, losengers, or hard candies, have a bioavailability rate of 4% to 20%. The absorption and effects of edibles can be impacted by stress levels, physical activity, and whether the edibles are consumed on a full or empty stomach.
Capsules and Tablets
When you consume medical cannabis in a tablet or capsule form, some of the active ingredients are lost in the digestive process. The bioavailability can range from 4% to 20%, depending on the patient’s metabolic rate. Tablets and capsules take from thirty minutes to two hours before you may feel the effects.
Tinctures are available in every medical cannabis dispensary, and like a marijuana inhaler, sublingual uptake provides rapid absorption directly into the bloodstream. Because tinctures avoid the “first pass effect” and are not metabolized by the digestive tract or liver, the beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids are absorbed right away. The bioavailability of tinctures ranges from 40% to 50%.
Cannabis Topical Creams or Gels
Topical creams do not absorb into the bloodstream the way other routes do, and the bioavailability of a cannabis topical is approximately 5% to 10%. That is because the skin acts as a barrier, preventing the psychoactive effects of THC while providing some anti-inflammatory benefits.
these have effects similar to smoking or vaping, with a couple of significant differences. They deliver pure, uncontaminated product without additives. In addition, an inhaler provides a way to determine a precise dose each and every time it is used.
How Does a Cannabis Inhaler Work?
Aside from bioavailability, there are other benefits to using an inhaler for MMJ. Because they don’t involve lighting or burning the plant matter, no carbon, other toxins, or irritants are released into the lungs. This can be especially helpful for people who experience lung irritation.
Inhalers are discrete and give off no odor, which makes them easier to use in public. In the case of patients with COPD, bronchial asthma, or emphysema, the THC being delivered directly to the lungs enables it to help patients breathe easier almost immediately by relaxing and enlarging bronchioles (breathing tubes), which spasm and tighten when stressed.
A study done in 1973 showed THC administered via a metered-dose inhaler had a dilating effect on the lungs of patients with bronchial asthma and may have a longer effect than other medications that work in a similar fashion.
Exploring Cannabinoid Inhalers for Symptom Management
Cannabidiol clinical-grade inhalers can be easier to find than cannabis inhalers. And they are as easy to use as an asthma inhaler. With the simple press of a button, you can dispense a measured dose of cannabinoids that may help provide relief for chronic pain, muscle spasms, anxiety, low appetite, and more.
Some of the most common symptoms where patients may choose to use marijuana inhalers or CBD inhalers:
Seizures and Muscle Spasms
While THC helps a seizure in progress, CBD oil taken as part of a daily routine can help decrease the amount, severity, and length of seizures on an ongoing basis.
Nausea and Vomiting
Whether caused by chemo, antibiotic therapy, or other intestinal disorders, it can be effectively treated by an inhaler, even when the patient is unable to tolerate oral meds. Some types of prescription medications can also cause transient symptoms of nausea, and a cannabis inhaler may help.
Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to have a calming effect on patients suffering from anxiety due to a variety of causes. One of the benefits of having a medical cannabis inhaler on hand is that it can help provide immediate relief if the patient experiences high stress or a panic attack.
Cannabinoids act as a natural bronchodilator and help open airways in the lungs. This can help you get more air if your breathing is constricted due to stress or anxiety. And a marijuana inhaler can work faster than other forms of medical marijuana.
Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Cannabidiol has proven mood-lifting effects, which can benefit patients suffering from temporary or ongoing depression. Patients with an MMJ card wish to avoid unwanted attention if they need to take a microdose. Weed inhalers are discreet and easy to use, and there is no telltale scent to worry about. Some patients have shared that inhalers work quickly, with no mess.
Cannabis inhalers may be suitable for patients with diabetes, particularly if the strain contains a high ratio of cannabidiol (CBD). CBD can help boost the efficiency of insulin produced by the body as well as help increase the storage and usage of glucose in the bloodstream.
MMJ patients looking to control their THC intake through the practice of micro-dosing may find using an inhaler is a good way to accurately and consistently get the precise amount of medication they need. Most edibles come in 10mg doses, and that may be too much for someone who only wants to use 2-3mg at a time; dividing a small edible can be difficult.
Vaping and smoking doses vary with the potency of the product. Tinctures can create portability and storage issues. Inhalers are small, portable, and easy to use while delivering a specific dose with each puff. Some weed inhalers even have a dial that allows patients to determine their precision dose.
While the availability of marijuana inhalers is limited, it is a growing trend in the US cannabis industry and worldwide. Using a medical THC inhaler can offer discreet, precise, and rapidly bioavailable doses to patients. Cannabis inhalers deliver accuracy and reduce waste with standardized doses.
Make DocMJ Your Cannabis Healthcare Provider
Now that you have thought about all the different ways to take cannabis let one of our friendly physicians provide expert advice tailored to your symptom management goals. Schedule an appointment with DocMJ. And apply for (or renew) your medical card with us.
With over 25 years of specialty training in Internal Medicine, as well as fellowship training in Functional and Sexual medicine, Dr. Maginso added Plant Medicine (Medical Marijuana) to her niche practice as of 2017. She is licensed in the State of Florida and attended the University of the East (UERM) in Quezon City, Philippines as well as the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, NJ.
She joined DocMJ in 2019 to align with a known group of compassionate physicians that empower their patients to be better versions of themselves. Her favorite hashtag is #powerpassionperformance, using the combination of optimized bioidentical hormones, medical marijuana, plasma therapies, and sexual wellness.
She is an author, speaker and community advocate for Medical Marijuana, Sexual Health, and the empowerment of mature women.