There are a variety of different ways to use medical marijuana. While people often think of routes like smoking, tinctures and oils, or edibles, researchers are finding new routes for delivering marijuana’s benefits most efficiently to the parts of the body that need it most. This is especially important to people with health conditions that cause sudden and strong symptoms like shortness of breath, muscle spasms, seizures, intense pain, migraine headaches, and the nausea and vomiting caused by cancer or chemotherapy. Being able to get relief from these symptoms can make a significant difference in a patient’s quality of life. One of our Ohio Medical Marijuana Doctors can help you discover the best route and dose for you from currently available products. To find out if you pre-qualify to become a medical marijuana patient, take our quick eligibility survey

 

Bioavailability is defined as “…the relative amount of a drug administered in a pharmaceutical product that enters the systemic circulation in an unchanged form and the rate at which this occurs.” (1) First- pass metabolism refers to how drugs taken by mouth are absorbed and processed through the digestive system before entering the circulation; this process often affects the amount and quality of the medication available to the body. (2) These are important considerations to keep in mind when choosing a route for any type of medication, including MMJ. Certain routes provide more rapid effectiveness than others because of how the drug is processed and how quickly it reaches the area that needs to be treated. One such highly effective route is oral inhalation via smoking, vaporizing, or using some form of inhaler. As the medication is inhaled it goes to the lungs, where the majority of it is absorbed and made available to the body almost immediately. (3) These concepts are important when deciding which route to use for your particular situation. Here are some examples of the bioavailability of different routes of marijuana administration:

 

  • Smoking a joint – approximately 30% THC 
  • Vaping – 50-80% depending on the device and consumer
  • Edibles – 4-20% (the reasons for this are still being explored but may have to do with first-pass metabolism, what the patient has eaten, stress levels, activity, and a number of other factors)
  • Sublingual Tinctures – 40-50% (most likely due to sublingual absorption avoiding the first=pass effect)
  • Topicals – 5-10% (the skin acts as a barrier, preventing the psychoactive effects of THC while providing positive therapeutic outcomes)
  • Inhalers – 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. Inhalers tend to be more effective for rapid relief due to the purity and increased levels of THC or CBD delivered with each use. (4)

 

Inhalers that deliver medical marijuana are a relatively new product, still being researched and developed. Aside from bioavailability, preliminary studies have shown 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 when using a method that involves burning the plant or extracting its beneficial components and adding thinners or solvents to them. 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. (5) 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. (6)

 

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 and the results can vary in size as well as dose. 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 of the newer products available in other states even have a dial that allow patients to determine their own dose. 

 

There are also CBD-only inhalers also available in most states that can help with a variety of disorders including:

 

    • Pain – One of the first uses of medical marijuana was for the pain associated with glaucoma. As a result of that discovery, CBD has been used to relieve the discomfort associated with cancer, AIDS/HIV, MS and other autoimmune disorders, as well as many other chronic pain issues.
    • Seizures — while THC helps a seizure in progress, CBD oil taken daily can help decrease the number, severity, and length of seizures on an ongoing basis.
    • Depression – Cannabidiol has proven mood-lifting effects, which can be extremely beneficial for patients suffering from temporary or ongoing depression.
    • Nausea – 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.
    • Anxiety – CBD has been shown to have a calming effect on patients suffering from anxiety due to a variety of causes.
    • Diabetes – CBD helps moderate the need for supplemental insulin by boosting the efficiency of insulin produced by the body as well as helping increase the storage and usage of glucose in the bloodstream.

 

  • Weight Loss – Acting to help regulate insulin levels and maintain a healthy weight is a noted benefit of CBD. (7,8)

 

 

While the availability of marijuana inhalers is still extremely limited, it is a growing trend in the US and worldwide. These devices offer discreet, precise, and rapidly bioavailable doses to patients who need and want this delivery system. The development of more ways to use and benefit from medical marijuana is an exciting thing to watch, and the positive effect it exerts on the lives of patients is noteworthy. Medical marijuana is a rapidly growing and important part of the healthcare market. Speak with an Ohio Medical Marijuana doctor to see how it can improve your quality of life. 

 

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/drug-bioavailability
  2. https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/first-pass+effect
  3. https://accp1.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00912709922008281
  4. https://www.royalqueenseeds.com/blog-bioavailability-the-story-of-how-cannabis-enters-the-body-n943
  5. https://www.allbud.com/learn/story/are-cannabis-inhalers-new-healthier-consuming-meth
  6. https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/fa269471/files/uploaded/THC%20Aerosol%20Asthma%20Clinical%20Study.pdf
  7. https://heymissadventures.com/health-benefits-medical-cannabis-inhaler/
  8. https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-for-diabetes#potential-effectiveness