The Cannabis Oil Companion:
A Comprehensive Beginners Guide
to Hemp and Marijuana Oils
By Douglas McCort
Notice of Rights
Copyright © 2015 Douglas McCort.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
Notice of Liability
Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.
This book is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.
Cover image ©istock.com
Cover design by Douglas McCort
Book design and production by Douglas McCort
Author Contact: [email protected]
Table of Contents
Part 1: What is Cannabis?
- Historical Use
- Species Designation
- Are All Cannabis Plants Marijuana?
- Confusion of Terms
- Cannabis Sativa
- Cannabis Indica
- Cannabis Ruderalis
Part 2: What is Cannabis Oil and How Does It Work?
- The Endocannabinoid System
- CB1 and CB2 Receptor Sites
Part 3: Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and the Entourage Effect
- THC Extra
- Wrapping up Cannabinoids
Part 4: Cannabis Oils and Specific Illness: Treatment and Dosage Information
- The 1:1 Ratio
- Rick Simpson Dosing Protocol
Part 5: The Best Ways to Consume Cannabis Medicinally
- Dabbing Concentrates and Oils
- Oral Dosing and Edibles
- Rectal Dosing/Suppositories
- Transdermal Dosing/Topical Salves
Part 6: CBD Rich Hemp Oils
- Tips for Purchasing CBD-Rich Hemp Oil Online
Part 7: Producing Your Own Oil and Butter Safely
- A Word on Naphtha and Rick Simpson Oil
- A Brief Word on Decarboxylation
- To Decarboxylate Cannabis in the Oven
- A Brief Word on Kief
- Infused Cooking Oils
- Tinctures: Green Dragon
- Method for Green Dragon from Dry Cannabis
- Method for Green Dragon from Kief
- Hash Oil/Cannabis Oil
- Extra: Pro Tips for Cleanup
Part 8: Conclusion
About the Author
I would like to try cannabis oil . . . but I don’t know where to start.
The above is one of the most common, recurring statements on my Facebook page dealing with the sale of legal hemp-based cannabis oils. Many folks have seen stories in the news and social media regarding cannabis oils or have had a loved one mention cannabis to them in reference to a particular treatment, but oftentimes, cannabis represents a brand new territory, especially for those who lack any type of background with cannabis use. Given the amount of misinformation many of us have grown up with regarding the use of cannabis or marijuana, this might elicit feelings of conflict among some — primarily for those who are now considering the plant from a whole new angle for the first time in their lives. For instance, instead of viewing cannabis negatively as a drug of abuse, these folks are slowly beginning to reconsider cannabis as perhaps being a beneficial tool for making a positive impact on health in a more natural way than what is currently being offered by pharmaceuticals.
With the advent of social media services (such as Facebook) over the last half-decade, anecdotal evidence of the benefits of cannabis is being shared by those located in more tolerant areas of the United States, such as Colorado and Washington. Certainly, it is popping up on people’s radar with more and more frequency. People who had previously viewed cannabis in a largely negative light are doing double-takes when confronted head on with compelling testimonials from others regarding the therapeutic use of the plant across a seemingly wide spectrum of ailments.
This growing awareness is generating a sizable wave of people who are becoming interested in things like cannabis oils for the first time, and these folks are hopping online, looking to buy cannabis oil without really knowing what it is they are getting into, how to judge one oil from another, or even what type of oils, if any, are, in fact, legal for them to possess. This makes many of these folks easy marks for snake oil merchants that are looking to capitalize on the green rush, touting miracle cures for sale on common online marketplaces, such as Etsy.
As is the case with any product (and perhaps this would be especially true for any unregulated health supplement), the buyer must beware and exercise caution: unregulated often means untested. While there are fantastic products sold under the label of nutritional supplements, and there are many quality hemp-based cannabis oils that may be purchased legally online as nutraceuticals, there are also companies selling hemp-based cannabis oils that contain very little, if any, cannabinoids or, in some cases, containing amounts of the substance THC that would make the oil unlawful for purchase in much of the United States. It pays to be a bit cautious when purchasing these types of hemp-based cannabis oils online and to resist the urge to purchase the first product you come across. I will provide some tips in a later chapter of this book to aid you should you decide to look into the purchase of hemp-based cannabis oils online.
Not all cannabis oils are created equally, and in fact, just by the nature of every specific variety of Cannabis being somewhat unique in makeup, there is no way to currently weigh one against the other on equal merits. One might focus in on individual constituents, such as THC or CBD for some sort of metric, but the vast amount of substances involved in cannabis oils are unmeasured and have not been quantified adequately in most cases.
In light of the above, frequently, the initial questions I receive on social media boil down to: What is the best oil to take for x ailment, and how do we get it?
The basic concept I try to impart on folks right away is that whether it is marijuana oil or hemp oil (the difference between marijuana and hemp will be explained later), or cancer or insomnia, there is absolutely no best cannabis oil or strain of Cannabis. There is no miracle concoction that will magically cure illness in the terms that most people like to view things regarding pharmaceutical medications. One of the hard truths one must accept when working with cannabis is that what might work well for one person with one type of cannabis could be completely ineffective for another person attempting to treat the very same ailment.
To start with, let us approach these issues with the basic mindset that there is, in fact, no single best cannabis oil and expand on things a bit further from there with deeper explanations of the variables involved that make determining this assessment to be so difficult.
There are a multitude of reasons why one should not make blanket statements or assumptions about the efficacy of various cannabis oils across a range of conditions, and we will explore many of them during the course of this book. Fundamentally, it boils down to the extreme amount of variability in both the Cannabis plant and the human body.
All Cannabis plants are different, as are all human beings, with each one exhibiting unique chemistry and genetic diversity. When just these two basic facts combine, the result is a staggering amount of variation in the outcome when X plant is combined with Y person.
As many of the substances in Cannabis work in concert with our body’s own endocannabinoid system, the underlying condition of that system has a great deal to do with how exogenous phytocannabinoids will, in turn, interact with a given person’s unique chemistry. What works well for one patient might have little or no effect in another patient, and that might have little to do with the actual cannabis being used and more to do with the person’s underlying endocannabinoid state or yet other factors. One plant or strain might work wonders, while dozens of other strains show no improvement at all—or could, in fact, even help exacerbate the condition being treated.
This scenario also helps to illustrate why modern medicine, which is built around the patentable isolation of compounds for pinpoint dosing and delivery, has largely failed to embrace cannabis in the face of the proliferation of manmade pharmaceuticals on a large scale during the last century. But prior to the spread of synthetic pharmaceuticals, cannabis was one of the most commonly used substances in the history of the American pharmacopoeia.
Cannabis plants present a witch’s brew, so to speak, of substances: most of which are poorly understood and very hard, in fact, to even measure or quantify, currently. Most testing facilities that work with cannabis today are only able to test for a fraction of the hundreds of active substances found within the plants. This basic fact makes consistent dosing from patient to patient and from plant to plant an absolute nightmare under our traditional model of prescribing medication in the Western world.
Currently, most doctors prefer to prescribe isolated compounds that are carefully dispensed in regimented doses so that a consistent dose can be given with a fairly consistent effect in their patients. In fact, most Western doctors will not prescribe a medication that has no consistency from batch to batch. Additionally, pharmaceutical companies prefer to do research on isolates and novel delivery methods in order to secure patents on substances. A main reason for this is that corporations cannot patent a plant, so they invest large amounts of money into the research, development, and marketing of the resulting isolate(s). In fact, there are only two botanically based drugs approved for prescription use in the United States today, illustrating how rare, indeed, plant-based drugs are in Western medicine. In light of all of this, cannabis goes against our entire way of doing things as far as our current healthcare system goes.
Of course, as a species, we have been using many of these plants without knowing why they work for eons. Indigenous cultures have handed down wisdom regarding herbs and plants for centuries, and we still do not know why many of these plants work the way they do in the body: we just know that they do, in fact, work for many conditions. It was once commonplace to trust in plants and herbs before pharmaceutical companies started producing drugs based around many of the same substances found naturally in growing plants and touting them as superior versions of nature’s design.
However, the manmade, so-called advances have come at a trade off. On one hand, we have ultra purified and/or modified substances sold by Big Pharma that are based on naturally occurring compounds or molecules. Pharmaceutical companies alter them slightly or modify the way in which they are delivered in the human body, and the company is then allowed to hold an exclusive patent on the substance for specific use for a given number of years. This allows doctors to know with confidence that what they give to patient X is the same as what they give to Y and that all patients given the drug can be expected to display a given range of outcomes and possible side effects. As a consumer, patients know that when they go to refill their prescription, they will be receiving the identical product each time. This balance provides a certain baseline of stability and consistency for all parties involved—for both doctors and patients, alike.
But to examine the other hand, what we are seeing after a century of use is that, in many cases, these ultra purified or synthetic versions of plant substances do not work as well when removed from the rest of the plants they were originally derived from. Actually, these synthetics can be quite dangerous when isolated, manipulated, and concentrated. The current state of high-powered, synthetic, prescription opiates that are killing people at far greater rates than the illicit natural opiates, such as heroin, illustrates this situation perfectly.
Cocaine or crack is another prime example. Native peoples in areas where coca grows wild have chewed the leaves of the plant for centuries. There are very few problems with its use at that level. But when man takes the base out of the coca leaves, chemically alters it, and further refines it into specific isolates, concentrated drugs such as cocaine and crack are the result as well as all of the associated harms that come from that unnatural increase in the levels of active substances naturally present and balanced in coca. What was once balanced and buffered by nature is turned into a potent poison when altered by man.
Many times, taking a substance out of nature’s design and tweaking it is not such a good idea, after all. Nature, in most cases, it would seem, has already drawn up some very solid plans.
Our entire Western way of relying on isolated compounds is failing. In many cases, these pharmaceuticals are causing more disease than they are treating successfully. When a substance is removed from its naturally occurring matrix and isolated, the original design and balance, as it were, are lost. Whatever your concept of design in nature, be it Divine in origin or a product of Mother Nature, we have to stop to consider that the design of many plants do not need to be further improved upon by man. Man does not genetically modify fruits and vegetables to make them taste or perform better in the body. Corporations genetically modify crops to make them more economical to produce. Similar types of modifications are made to naturally occurring plant-based substances by the pharmaceutical industry, and then, they are remarketed to us as improved versions of Mother Nature’s ancient designs. These are old tools that are being rebranded by corporations as new or better tools, and much of it boils down to little more than marketing tactics at the end of the day.
Focusing on the above in a practical analogy as it might apply to cannabis, if we take a complex dinner recipe, let us say chicken curry, and decide to omit everything but the main ingredient, we would be left with a boring, predictable meal of uninspiring chicken. It will fulfill the requirement for basic nourishment and protein, sure, but it will lack the intangibles . . . the magic . . . the things that make a great recipe stand out. It is the entourage of ingredients that leads to the final effect where any individual ingredient begins to pale when contrasted to the sum of each part, as opposed to when it is taken as a whole. I like to look at cannabis this way in as much as nature has already crafted the perfect recipes with all of the requisite parts in the many types of Cannabis plants.
The parts of the cannabis plant do not need to be isolated to make them better; we simply need to enhance our understanding of the ways in which whole-plant Cannabis interacts with the human body. It is a mistake on our part as a culture to attempt to simplify cannabis to the point of only discussing marijuana or hemp strains, or THC and CBD levels. By doing this, we run the risk of missing the much larger picture that cannabis has to offer as a whole. And it would be a mistake to assume that all cannabis preparations are the same and that all illness will respond in the same manner in every individual. This is truly personalized care, compliments of nature, as cannabis is not a mass produced manmade, artificial substance. It should be viewed as a plant and not as a medicine in the context that we have come to view medications over the last century. Cannabis is indeed a medicine but one that strains the current definition of that term greatly as it has come to be used in our culture in relation to our current expectations with regard to prescription medications.
In an era when we like to fool ourselves into thinking we have some of life’s fundamental mysteries cracked, cannabis offers up a riddle wrapped in an enigma. Despite isolating many of the active compounds in cannabis some 50 years ago, we still, in fact, know very little about what these substances do in the human body. This is in part due to the legal climate surrounding the plant since the time of the Nixon administration and the creation of the War on Drugs in the 1970s. This climate has prevented any legitimate, funded research into the positive effects of cannabis use for a half century now.
Much of the data currently available regarding the therapeutic use of cannabis lies in the form of anecdotal reports from folks that have been utilizing it to varying degrees of success for the treatment of a wide range of conditions over the last 50 years. Very little information is based on science as the term typically applies to medicine. Cannabis takes us back to a time before pharmaceutical companies when we used to trust in the wisdom of plants and herbs.
Indigenous peoples across the planet have used healing plants and herbs for time immemorial. However, today, the United States, as a country, is one of the most reliant on manmade pharmaceuticals; yet, it enjoys a standard of health that consistently ranks well behind many nations of the world. Much of the illnesses faced are complicated and exacerbated by Big Pharma. As a culture, we have come to look to the treatment of symptoms with isolates when we should be looking to the root cause of our illnesses and treating them from that direction—from the foundation up, as it were. Think about it like this: It does no good to fix the leak in the roof if the foundation is already rotten; the building will ultimately collapse in spite of the roof repairs. Sure, the pesky leak is gone, but the root problem in the foundation remains to fester.
So when looking to consider cannabis for the first time, many folks will perhaps need to shake off a bit of this mentality that has permeated our culture so pervasively in the last century. The last 50-100 years have created a tradition in medicine of looking for the most well-marketed, synthetically produced pills meant to treat specific symptoms with little or no regard to the prevention of illness. And when all the best marketed pills fail or have unacceptable side effects, many people are now looking to cannabis oil as an alternative, but they are turning to the plant with this same mentality, assuming cannabis oil to be a consistent, easy thing to prescribe in a one-size-fits-all manner, similar to pills.
Quite simply, there is no best when looking at cannabis oils or medical marijuana. There is a tremendous amount of variation to consider when looking to try cannabis for a desired outcome. There are many types of cannabis oils, Cannabis strains, and cannabis compounds, so to try to reduce the concept of cannabis oil and describe it as an isolate, a singularity, is fruitless. This is symptomatic of our collective mindset toward medications in many respects. We are conditioned to a certain expectation in regard to medications, consistency, and the effects when taking said medications.
Choosing to use cannabis is a leap of faith. It requires faith and belief in the plant and its endless possibilities, and faith that what you are doing is right for you. Accept the fact now that there will always likely be more that you will not understand about cannabis than what you do understand, as far as how it works in our bodies, and just embrace that going forward. Even people like me, who have been looking at cannabis for 30 years now, are still constantly learning new things about it. We all have much to learn.
Folks coming from the recreational side of marijuana into the medicinal side are used to this leap into the unknown and the amount of uncertainty that naturally accompanies a typical cannabis transaction. The required leap of faith, in the medicinal sense, is much easier for people with this type of background to make. The fact that they might need to try many strains to find the one or ones that particularly favor their own unique bodies and chemistry is not a surprise to them. They already consider that to be part and parcel of cannabis culture similar to the way a wine aficionado would be aware of all the various intricacies involved with selecting a particular wine to accompany a particular meal.
For those coming into cannabis cold, however, this concept could be quite a shock. This leap of faith that is necessary with cannabis and the need for individual trial and error is foreign to most that have traditionally looked to their doctors for guidance on how to treat illness. Cannabis use is about empowering yourself to utilize a plant to manipulate your body’s own endocannabinoid system in a natural way, and YOU will be the ultimate judge as far as efficacy goes. You can turn to others for suggestions and advice, sure, but at the end of the day, you will be the final judge to determine what works best for you and your own body.
This book has been written with the above concepts in mind. However, please note that although cannabis is a leap of faith in many respects, we can certainly educate ourselves about what we do know scientifically about the various differences in plants and substances that cannabis has to offer in order to better utilize it as a healing tool. By understanding some of the basic, individual elements of the Cannabis plant and cannabis extracts, we can begin to appreciate the larger picture as a whole as well as how these various elements work together to help explain the overall effects observed with cannabis as it relates back to individual illness.
This book will look primarily at the variances in cannabis, as the variance in individual illness would be far beyond the scope of this text, but the overall concepts can be applied to the treatment of any illness for which cannabis use is indicated. By understanding the parts, you will have a better understanding on how to apply it to your whole, individual picture. I cannot stress this enough: Cannabis oil is an individual medicine. It is not a lowest common denominator, take-a-pill-and-call-me-in-the-morning substance. If you keep that in mind, then you will be fine. Cannabis will lead the way: you just have to learn to listen to your body and instinct (rather than being told by someone else, such as a doctor) and be ready for a bit of trial and error with this plant until you find the variants that work well for you and your body.
This may prove difficult for some more than others, as there are significant legal hurdles to contend with in many parts of the world with regard to cannabis that may severely impact one’s ability to be particularly choosy about the type of cannabis oils that they want to employ. But this equation is changing rapidly with more and more U.S. states enacting medical marijuana programs and some having outright legalized the plant. As much of the world follows U.S. drug policy, other countries are also beginning to question the prohibition of cannabis on both medicinal and recreational levels. As well, cannabis oils are now being derived from hemp for the first time in history, and this opens up a new, legal source of cannabis oil for those living in the many countries that currently accept hemp imports. The picture with regard to cannabis is changing almost daily now, so if you are looking to cannabis as an option, it is more important than ever to be aware of the differences in the various types of cannabis oils being produced. It is my hope that this book will help you to that end.
***End of Introduction***
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