Like an invincible green warrior right out of myth and legend, Cannabis seems to be able to successfully beat back any modern malady it is tested against. But behind marijuana’s might is a marvel of real science – it is actually one of the most chemically complex plants ever discovered. In fact, Marijuana was recently dubbed the Plant of One Thousand and One Molecules by the scholarly journal Plant Science because of its incredible biological complexity.
The most famous of these molecules are cannabinoids, the unique compounds that bind to the human endocannabinoid system and instantly modulate or “balance” any inconsistency they find. There are over 100 and counting cannabinoids that have been discovered and only about a dozen or so have been really tested thoroughly.
Cannabis is also chock full of terpenes and phenolic compounds, which are also found in many other plants and are responsible for their bright colors, strong aromas and medicinal properties. Marijuana smells so strong because it is absolutely full to overflowing with the most potent of these compounds ever discovered. Carvacrol, for example, is an aromatic terpene that makes oregano a powerful natural antibiotic and is also found in cannabis, contributing to its medicinal power.
This means that while the hundreds of studies on marijuana compounds like THC and CBD have yielded fantastic results, isolated compounds are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the plant’s truly healing potential. In fact, many different scientists are now recognizing that the interplay of all these different compounds, in what is now known as the Entourage Effect, is really what makes medical marijuana so damn magical and downright miraculous as a medicine.
There is simply nothing else like it
All of this is really just a fancy way of saying that ingesting the whole plant is the best way to use marijuana as a medicine for most people out there. And that’s good news, as whole plant cannabis is widely available to more and more people as legalization sweeps the land. But smoking herb is not the best way to ingest if you are looking for more than just pain killing or euphoric effects, as many of these molecules we just mentioned go “up in smoke” during the combustion process.
There are however some very simple methods of ingestion that give you high doses of cannabinoids and terpenes, including vaping, homemade oils and juicing. Some will work better for some than for others but if you want to get the most out of your medicinal marijuana you should give these methods a try.
Vaping For Whole Plant Therapy
One of the fastest growing ways to ingest cannabis is through vaporizer rigs that utilize dabs, a kind of waxy resin concentrate of cannabis. Instead of burning the plant material, a vape actually converts it to steam vapor that then is inhaled into the lungs just like traditional bongs and pipes.
Vaporizers do this at a lower heat point than flame combustion meaning that not only are more of the terpenes and cannabinoids preserved, but the toxins found in the smoke produced by traditional methods are also eliminated.
The main drawback to vaporizers as a source of whole plant therapy is not in the vaporizing itself, but in the process used to manufacture the dabs that they use. Because these dabs are made by third party companies and often use butane gas to extract the THC there is some controversy about how pure or even safe a lot of vaping products are as some of the cannabinoids and terpenes can be damaged and lost during the extraction process. Also, dabs are strong, really strong, so those that need to ingest all day while also functioning at work may find that challenging.
Homemade Cannabis Oils For Whole Plant Therapy
Because simple coconut, olive or even butter can be used to extract the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes right at home homemade cannabis oils are a great way to produce a potent whole plant cannabis medicine.
In fact, according to Dr. Arno Hazekamp, a dutch scientist who has been pioneering the research into whole plant therapy, simple oil extractions are the best way to safely and efficiently get all the diverse cannabinoids and terpenes out of the plant for medicinal use. Hazekamp measured the terpene and cannabinoid oil content of a simple olive oil extraction against several other extraction methods, including butane and Naphtha, and found that the precious medicinal molecules were more intact in the olive oil method.
The trick to the homemade extraction is not letting the heat get too high so that the compounds are damaged or lost, which means you must keep the oil below its boiling point. Using a crock point, which lets you set a specific temperature, is another very practical way of doing this.
Once the oil is made, it can be used to bake edibles, put into capsules or simply used in cooking and it allows for a great range of play in terms of dose. Once you get the dose down that is.
Cannabis Juicing for Whole Plant Therapy
Running raw green bud or even leaf through a wheat grass style juicier is another way of ingesting the whole plant with some unique benefits. First of all, because the plant is processed minimally you are sure to get the full spectrum of beneficial compounds. You also will not get a psychoactive effect since it has not been heated, meaning this method is great for those with a chronic illness who do not want to feel “high” at all.
Juicing marijuana has been associated with some incredible healing stories, including that of Kristen Courtney, who was able to get off dozens of pharmaceutical medications with a daily juicing routine. Check out the 15 minute mini-documentary on her story.
The only problem with juicing of course is getting access to fresh marijuana material, since most buds have been cured before they hit the market. The easiest solution to this is to simply grow your own plants.