Wellness Weekends: Educated Stoner: The Herbal Chef

When the average person first hears of ingesting cannabis to treat or put real ailments into remission, their first concern is typically, “How will it make me feel?” Most immediately revert to a past memory of eating an entire brownie, not remembering how the evening played out and swearing to never eat another.

The brownie may have been offered to them at a party, and chances are they were already heavily medicated with the world’s favorite legal liquid barbiturate, alcohol. Cannabis is known to enhance the properties of whatever it’s combined with—be it the effects of a prescription pain killer or the extreme pleasure of eating ice cream. If the medible was taken with a combination of prescription medications and alcohol, it can cause a bevy of negative side effects—not all of which are from the plant.

Terpene’s are the essential oils in beneficial plants and where the medicine is found. These oils bind very well to the fats in butter. Depending on how much cannabis was used, that brownie measured predictably higher than the suggested 5–10mg of activated THC typically found in one dose of a properly labeled medible. And even a 10mg dose may be too much if the person has never used or is not used to a tetrahydrocannabinol high.

While we now know that too much THC won’t stop your heart, it does affect the central nervous system and the increased palpitations can make you feel like you are having a heart attack. Too much THC can also bring on paranoia, anxiety and panic attacks. When replacing traditional prescription meds with ingesting cannabis, the plot thickens, as you need to keep a certain amount of the plant in your system daily, without a party atmosphere. This is where it gets confusing to the average patient. How can I maintain the medicine in my system without feeling loopy all day long?

Apothecary is a science, just like cooking and baking are mathematically-based. Stove-top apothecary is basically steeping, simmering and infusing plants in oils and liquids, then using that infusion in foods for flavor and effect.

Pass the Green, Hold the Party

Los Angeles Chef, Chris Sayegh, has worked for Michelin starred fine dining establishments with some of the top chefs in the country. His micro-infused dinners begin with the best locally sourced ingredients he can find, infused with some of the finest flower and paired with the best wines.

His infusions start small, medicating with low percentiles of activated THC.

“Every course has a component infused with THC, so that you get anywhere from 1–15mg in each course—depending on how medicated you want to be and how many courses there are,” he explained. “The reason I do this is so you won’t get the overwhelmingly strong high that one can get from eating an edible.”

Sayegh said the effect is gradual, taking an hour and a half or more. “The food comes first,” he added. “None of the flavors are overpowering. The most important thing to me is that the integrity of the food is kept.”

Stovetop Apothecary to the Table

One evening last winter, Sayegh prepared a meal for a small group above Hollywood and Vine in the heart of Hollywood. The historic “Schwab’s” soda fountain sign hung just outside the high rise apartment, with celebrity stars embedded on the sidewalk below.

A traditional boil was presented with shrimp, potatoes and corn, marinated in citrus and herbs, with sausages marinated in pine. “For the boil, I poached the shrimp separately so I could medicate it,” Sayegh shared. “I had to weigh out the shrimp, then fats and liquid in the pan to make sure I was able to get the correct dosing—at around 1mg per shrimp. And I had to make sure it was homogenized by thoroughly mixing the fats.”

Sayegh handpicks all the ingredients for each meal and chooses the strains himself. Cannabis is the most expensive component of the meal that averages between $200 and $500 per person at catered private parties.

“The strains don’t necessarily make a difference when digested, as Sativa and Indica have the same body high through digestion,” he informed. “I do pick specific strains for participants to smoke, if they choose to do so.”

Since each person has a different level of THC they can consume, Sayegh customizes the meal for each guest. “One guest claimed she didn’t really feel most edibles, so I changed that for her and she received 130 mg,” he said. “The other guests for this particular event received around 80mg. If they say they are lightweights, they might get just 35mg or less throughout the course of the evening.”

People want to know how to use cannabis as medicine. They want to know how to ingest cannabis without getting wasted. Even in a social setting with alcohol, the average cannabis user wants to achieve that feeling of euphoria and still be able to function.

This type of scientific measuring for dosing is welcome in the cannabis industry as patients learn how to incorporate their medicine in everyday foods; keeping illness at bay, while having a good time.

For more information on The Herbal Chef, visit www.theherbalchef.com

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