Not Your Average Medication: Self-Titrating Cannabis Safely

Cannabis is different to prescription medication: in many instances, a medical marijuana dosage is the responsibility of the patient, rather than the prescribing physician. As an MMJ patient, I was required to ‘titrate’ my cannabis dosage without the supervision of a doctor. This means I gradually increased the dosage of my medication until the optimal dosage was reached. To ‘self-titrate’ means to adjust the dosage of your own medication as needed. This is common with medical marijuana, and the desired outcome is to consume as little as you need to find relief from your symptoms.

Self-titrating cannabis can be intimidating, both heavy recreational cannabis users and those with no cannabis experience at all may find that responsible research a helpful tool before embarking on this journey. As a recreational consumer, my daily cannabis use masked true symptoms that were treatable with LESS cannabis or with strains known to alleviate certain ailments. Reducing my consumption and being selective about the cannabis I use has assisted medical symptoms and improved my overall health and wellness.

My naturopathic physician trusted my experience and made general suggestions about how to best use cannabis for my treatment. Other prescribing authorities may choose instead to provide a step-by-step plan to help find the best strain, dosage and method of ingestion for you, the patient. It is essential to be educated and confident in your knowledge of cannabis.

Cannabis flower contains cannabinoids which contribute to the effect each cannabis strain has on users. According to Leafly, the cannabis plant contains at least 85 cannabinoids. The following have benefits to the human body:

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Terpenes sit alongside the cannabinoids present in every strain of cannabis. Leafly states that over 100 terpenes have been identified in cannabis plantswith many more waiting to be discovered. Terpenes are heavily scented oils secreted in the glands that produce cannabinoids. They are responsible for the smell of each cannabis strain, and like cannabinoids, terpenes help shape scent, flavor and effect.

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“Cannabis effects individuals differently, and treating medical conditions with marijuana requires your care and close attention. Ingesting cannabis might leave you feeling relaxed and sedated, while the same strain might have the opposite effect on another individual, instead creating anxiety and stress.”

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Medical marijuana can be smoked, although I prefer other methods. Alternatives include ingesting cannabis (eaten via edibles, inhaled via vaporizing, applied sublingually via tincture, orally received in capsule or tablet form) or applying to the body topically (using balms, salves, creams or transdermal patches). Cannabis on the external body doesn’t produce a high, but ingesting cannabis WILL produce a high if you’re using a THC-rich cannabis strain. Low-THC, high-CBD strains are available and induce less intense highs in most individuals.

If you are new to using medical marijuana, start by keeping a diary to monitor your use and to help find the right titration. List your preferences, your likes and dislikes, and strains to try again or strains to avoid. The responsibility is on you, the patient.

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