Expectations, and Safety in Considering Whole-Plant Cannabis Use
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Whole-Plant vs. Isolated & Expectations
It is important to note that patients should not necessarily expect improvement in their symptoms through the use of raw, whole-plant or isolated cannabis-based medicine (CBM). More evidence needs to be gathered and large-scale clinical trials need to be conducted before it can be stated definitively that cannabis or its components are effective treatment options for the majority of illnesses.
Patients should also understand the difference between whole-plant cannabis (which contains over 400 compounds, approximately 80 of which are unique to the cannabis plant) and the use of isolated/synthetic cannabinoid preparations (which may contain as few as one cannabinoid). For example, there is some evidence that the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) specifically may help in modulating neurodegenerative disease processes. Inhaling or ingesting raw, whole-plant cannabis (especially of unknown cannabinoid concentration and ratio) will not necessarily yield the same results as those achieved in a study using isolated cannabinoids.
Due to the fact that smoking burnt plant material results in inhalation of cancer-causing compounds, vaporization is a safer inhalation delivery method than smoking (although vapor still contains some cancer-causing compounds). Ingestion methods are currently regarded as the safest mode of delivery due to the avoidance of inhalation of cancer-causing compounds and hot air. However, due to the fact that it takes 1-2 hours to feel the full effects of edibles/ingested cannabis (as opposed to a few minutes for inhalation methods), it is important to follow directions for edible/ingestion method use carefully in order to avoid unwelcome side effects as a result of excessive intake.