Cannabis has an incredible amount of variety, and with that variety comes the potential for many different effects. Some of those effects are ones you’d prefer to avoid because they can turn a helpful experience into a cannabis nightmare. Luckily, we’ve got some tricks you can use that will reduce or eliminate these adverse effects, thereby ensuring a positive cannabis experience.
There are few things as frustrating as finding a medicine that would work great, if not for its negative side effects. While not everyone who consumes cannabis has an adverse reaction, for those who do, it can be a big problem. For some, it can even make cannabis unusable.
The potential side effects of cannabis can include:
But they don’t always occur. This makes patients unsure of how to medicate consistently: Though cannabis may work incredibly well, at other times it may leave them feeling worse than before they consumed.
If you find yourself dealing with negative side effects when consuming cannabis, try these five tips to kick them to the curb.
Because the large variety of cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis can create a variety of different effects, it’s important that you pick your strains carefully. People respond differently to different marijuana strains. As one of my first budtenders used to say: “Different strains for different brains.” While some marijuana strains may produce the effects you’re looking for, others may create the negative effects you were hoping to sidestep.
Start recording your cannabis experiences so you can remember which strains work for you and which give you adverse effects. When something affects you negatively, stop using it and try something else. Keep searching for strains that work best for you and then stick with them.
Sometimes, the reason why you’re experiencing a negative effect is because you’ve had much marijuana. If you use a higher dose than you need, you may get negative side effects. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), for example, usually reduces pain, but if you take too much, it can actually increase pain levels.
Experiment with lower doses if negative side effects are getting in your way. Start with the smallest dose you can and work your way up until you find a dose that alleviates your symptoms without giving you more problems.
In some cases, the problem isn’t having too high of a dose. Rather, you may not have had enough cannabis.
When people are just getting started with cannabis, or only use it occasionally, certain side effects—such as disorientation and paranoia—may come on much stronger. When you use cannabis more consistently, your tolerance goes up, and these side effects tend to diminish. It may take a week or so of adjustment before your system gets used to cannabis and those effects start to die down.
Sometimes, sticking with it is the only thing you need to do. Other times, increasing the frequency of your cannabis use can help. Stay tuned for our upcoming article where we’ll talk more about how to a build a tolerance to cannabis.
Sometimes, the method you’re using to take your cannabis can be the reason why you’re experiencing negative side effects. Are you smoking, vaping or eating your cannabis? Is it a sublingual tincture or a topical? When it comes to the effect profile, the method of taking cannabis can be as important as the strain you select. Some methods may work well for you, while others produce negative effects.
For example, I find that I have my best experiences when I smoke cannabis flower or take cannabis in low-dose edible form. When I use the right strains, these methods alleviate my symptoms with no noticeable negatives effects. Vaping flower, on the other hand, makes me feel jittery and gives me a headache every time—even with my favorite strains. Vaping is so uncomfortable for me that I feel better without any cannabis at all, than I do after vaping. Still, for others, vaping is their preferred way to medicate with marijuana. You have to find what works best for you.
If you experience negative side effects from one particular method of consumption, explore other methods to see if something else is a better fit.
Many of the negative effects of cannabis come from THC, the powerful psychoactive compound in cannabis. While highly medicinal, THC can be hard to handle, and may leave you feeling too high, disoriented and paranoid—with a dry mouth, dry eyes and a racing heart. If that’s an experience you’ve had or one you’d like to avoid, cannabidiol (CBD) is here to help.
CBD actually works with THC, modulating its effects. When you use CBD with THC, it helps reduce negative effects while still providing THC’s powerful medicinal properties. If you want to avoid THC’s psychoactive effects, CBD can also be used on its own. The World Health Organization recently reported that CBD can help with symptoms related to epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, psychosis, Parkinson's disease and other serious conditions.
In our next installment of our Cannabis for Newbies guide, we’ll get into how to embrace cannabis’s positive side effects. While this might sound like an easy task, stigma around cannabis’s mood-altering abilities leaves some patients feeling guilty about feeling so good.
Photo credit: Joshua Wood
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