The cannabinoid compounds found in raw cannabis (THCA and CBDA) are not the same as those found in cannabis that has been heated – such as those inhaled (THC and CBD) when you ignite or vaporize cannabis, or when cooking with cannabis. The process of heating and “activating” cannabis is called decarboxylation. It is what makes cannabis psychoactive, and also more potent for medicinal applications.
Generally speaking, THC is psychoactive and CBD is not. But THC does a lot more than change your state of mind! Studies show that THC has even stronger pain and stress-relieving properties than CBD, which is known to help with insomnia, seizures and inflammation. While they each have notable and distinct stand-alone benefits, an oil or salve containing both CBD and THC has the highest potential for a wide array of health benefits (albeit illegal in some places). Known as the “entourage effect”, the synergistic combination of both THC and CBD through whole-plant cannabis consumption and extracts is more powerful than either one on its own.
Cannabis oil is made by lightly heating (and thus infusing) cannabis in a “carrier oil”. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC, the most active components in cannabis, are both hydrophobic. That means they don’t like water, and are actually repelled by water molecules. On the flip side, CBD and THC are both fat-soluble. They like to bind with fatty acid molecules – such as those found in oil. When cannabis is steeped in oil, the THC and CBD molecules leave the buds or plant material and become one with the oil instead.
Why Make Cannabis Oil
Cannabis oil is the foundation ingredient for ultra-healing homemade topical lotions, ointments, and salves – my favorite way to use it! Both THC and CBD have excellent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that cannabinoids have the ability to reduce acne, fine lines and wrinkles, soothe redness and irritation, and balance natural skin oils. Also, cannabinoids (THC especially) are analgesic – meaning they reduce pain. I regularly use our homemade cannabis salve on my knees, ankles, and other aching or inflamed joints and muscles.
Follow along with these step-by-step instructions to learn how to make homemade cannabis oil. We’ll also briefly discuss the science behind cannabis oil, and what types of cannabis to use to make oil. Finally, we’ll go over various ways to use homemade cannabis oil, including some notes about caution and dosing with edibles.
A wide variety of oils can be used to make cannabis oil. However, coconut oil and olive oil are the most popular and common. Coconut oil and olive oil are both pleasant-tasting and very nourishing for skin, making them versatile options for either medicated edibles or topical applications. Plus, they both have strong natural antifungal and antimicrobial properties. This helps prevent mold and extends the shelf life of your cannabis oil. Coconut oil is higher in saturated fat, which may bind fat-loving cannabinoids even more readily than olive oil.
Most cannabis oil recipes call for cannabis that has already been properly decarboxylated first. The most common and fuss-free way is to decarb cannabis in the oven, and then add it to oil over a very low heat afterwards – avoiding further decarboxylation. Some folks choose to decarb their raw cannabis on the stovetop simultaneously with the oil infusion process. However, that requires significantly more careful monitoring to hit that time-temperature sweet spot (and not ruin it).
The most effective way to take cannabis oil is sublingually, where the oil is placed under the tongue with a dropper and absorbed by the mucous membranes that lead directly to the bloodstream. This method allows it to bypass the stomach, which raises the bioavailability (the number of cannabinoids that make it to your bloodstream when your body absorbs the medicine) and takes about 15 to 30 minutes to kick in.
Just like with any cannabis product, dosing depends on the individual. It will take a bit of experimentation to find the right dose for you, but the general rule of thumb is “start low and go slow.” You want to find the lowest dose that provides the effects you are looking for, and that might be lower than what is recommended on the product label.
You can also use cannabis oil like you would an edible or a capsule by adding it to food and drinks. While this method is effective, the bioavailability of anything you ingest is generally lower, meaning you won’t absorb the cannabinoids as thoroughly because they must pass through the stomach and the liver. Ingesting cannabis oil can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to kick in depending on things like what you’ve eaten and the speed of your metabolism.
How to Use Cannabis Oil
Choosing a method of cannabis consumption is about personal preference. While cannabis oil doesn’t work as fast as inhalation methods like vaping or smoking, it can work more quickly than ingesting edibles. It also comes in a variety of potency options, from oils that contain only CBD to those with a wide range of THC concentrations.
Start with a few drops and wait at least an hour to see how you feel. Slowly increase the dose until you experience the effects you desire. Keep in mind that more isn’t always better and there could be a tiny dosage window or “sweet spot” that works best for you. You might need to adjust your dosage over time, but many people find that a consistent dose can work for their needs over the long term.
You’ve heard a lot about cannabis oil lately – and for good reason. It’s a great method for consuming cannabis with a long list of benefits, and a good option if you are new to medical cannabis or don’t like the idea of inhalation. Figuring out how to use cannabis oil can seem a little complicated at first, but we are here to help. This article will go over the basics of how to use cannabis oil so you can learn how to make it work for you.
While there are many methods of extracting oil from a cannabis plant, some are safer and more effective than others. CO2 extraction is quickly becoming the gold standard because it produces a safe and potent product that is free from chlorophyll, waxes, and any toxic residues that other solvents can sometimes leave behind.