Microdosing THC: How to consume this magical molecule without getting high

WRITTEN by SY

 | Last revised

Apr, 2022

CBD is becoming very well-known for the plethora of health benefits it can offer users. There’s also growing evidence that THC plays a significant role in treating a range of conditions such as chronic pain, insomnia, nausea and mood disorders.

While many medical cannabis patients are eager to try CBD, some are still hesitant to consume THC due to its mind-altering effects and propensity to cause paranoia and increase anxiety.

What if there was a way to get the therapeutic benefits of THC without experiencing any adverse side effects?

We explore four ways you can consume medical cannabis without getting high, plus a few antidotes for overindulgence.

THC micro dose in capsule form. Capsule in person’s outstretched hand.

Microdosing THC: What do you need to know?

Sometimes less is more, and this is especially true when consuming THC.

Taking a THC microdose is a popular way of getting all the benefits without the buzz that often impedes day-to-day activities.

Anecdotal reports suggest many people are turning to a tiny dose of THC to conquer symptoms of anxiety, depression and pain, and also as a strategy to improve focus and concentration throughout the day.

Dr Dustin Sulak refers to this consumption method as “precision dosing”. He explains that if patients get the correct ratio of CBD and THC or a small enough THC dosage by itself, it can provide health benefits without affecting cognition or motor skills [1].

How do I microdose THC?

It can take a bit of trial and error to figure out the optimal dosage that works for you. Every person is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.

Dr Sulak recommends consuming 1 mg of THC two to three times per day and then taking a self-assessment to see whether this dosage provides the desired effects.

If not, he then recommends increasing to 2 mg dosages the following day and repeating the process until you find the dosage that gives the best benefits.

For regular cannabis users, whether they smoke, vape, or otherwise, Dr Sulak recommends abstaining from consuming cannabis for 48 hours before commencing a microdosing regimen. This brief window of abstinence is enough time to reset the endocannabinoid system.

A 2016 brain imaging study found that even in heavy cannabis smokers, cannabinoid receptors bounced back to baseline levels within two days [2, 3].

What is the best way to consume a THC microdose?

There are numerous ways to consume cannabis, but for the purposes of microdosing, taking a sublingual oil or tincture offers the most precise control over the dosage.

Vaping medical cannabis can also offer a fast way of determining the correct dosage, as effects are felt almost immediately. However, if you consume home-grown or green market cannabis, it can be challenging to assess strength and dosage.

Edibles are another way of consuming a specific dosage. However, they are usually a pre-determined dosage per gummy. This option doesn’t offer as much control over titration as an oil or tincture.

Once again, purchasing green market gummies or making your own edibles can often be an unreliable way to know precisely how much THC you are consuming.

Accessing edibles and cannabis flower via the medical pathway ensures consistent dosage information.

Variety of cannabis products including capsules, vape pen, oil, and bottles. Multiple products to show how to microdose THC.

Finding the right ratio of CBD & THC to avoid feeling high

CBD has a little known superpower; it can actually inhibit some of the psychoactive effects of THC.

It is well documented that cannabis strains containing high concentrations of THC may induce feelings of paranoia, anxiety and addictive behaviours in some people.

Steven Laviolette, PhD, and his team of researchers used rats to study the role of a molecule in the brain’s hippocampus called extracellular-signal regulated kinase (ERK) and how it contributes to the neuropsychiatric effects of THC [4].

“For years we have known that strains of cannabis high in THC and low in CBD were more likely to cause psychiatric side-effects…Our findings identify for the first time the molecular mechanisms by which CBD may actually block these THC-related side-effects.” said Laviolette.

Researchers found that rats given THC had higher levels of activated ERK, and as such, displayed more anxiety behaviours and were more sensitive to fear-based learning.

Rats given a combination of both CBD and THC showed fewer anxiety behaviours and were less sensitive to fear-based learning [4].

Many doctors prescribe a balanced ratio of CBD:THC; the CBD softens the psychotropic effects of THC, and in turn, both cannabinoids work synergistically to provide a better therapeutic experience, known as the entourage effect.

THCA: Go raw

THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) is the raw form of THC.

THCA is converted into THC through decarboxylation, a process where heat is applied to activate the cannabinoids.

THCA offers many of the same medical benefits as THC minus the high [5], and if you don’t have access to a CBD dominant strain or product, trying THCA may be an alternative way of accessing these benefits.

If you cannot access THCA or raw cannabis products, another option is to juice the flower, trim and stems of the cannabis plant and consume it.

“Because THCA does not directly stimulate the CB1 receptor, it does not produce euphoria or impairment like THC. One might assume that THCA would not be effective in relieving pain, since CB1 stimulation is also the way in which THC reduces pain, but my clinical experience suggests otherwise. For years, my patients have found that products containing some THCA along with THC are the most effective for pain and other symptoms” Dr Dustin Sulak.

Topical THC

Topical cannabis preparations can offer a great way to relieve aches and pains, joint or muscle inflammation and skin conditions in specific areas of the body.

The transdermal delivery of THC involves using the skin to absorb cannabinoids before reaching the bloodstream [6].

A topical cannabis cream or balm may offer targeted relief without impacting the mind. While THC can cause some form of impairment from transdermal delivery, the formula would need to contain high concentrations of THC and be spread across a large area of your body to cause impairment [7].

The best way to start with a cannabis salve is to apply a small amount to a localised area and monitor the effects.

While human clinical studies are far and few between, scientists have conducted research on rats to determine the efficacy of cannabis on joint and muscle pain and inflammation.

In one study, researchers found that topical applications of CBD have the potential to relieve arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation without evident side effects [8].

A few things to try if you’re too high: how to counteract the effects of THC

If you’ve found yourself consuming too much cannabis and want to reduce the THC-induced buzz, there are a few tricks of the trade you can use to come back down to earth.

Firstly, the good news is too much THC won’t harm you. You may feel slightly uncomfortable for a while, but remember that you are safe, and the effects will pass shortly.

A few things to try if you’re too high:

1. Grate some lemon peel and sprinkle on food. Limonene is the terpene responsible for the distinct scent of lemons and is found in the skin of lemons. Limonene may help relieve anxiety and depression and is reported to calm the uncomfortable aspects of cannabis intoxication [9].

2. Many people swear by sniffing or chewing black peppercorns to sober up. Author Dr Ethan Russo states that terpenes such as beta-caryophyllene found in black peppercorns can help “tame the intoxicating effects of THC.” [10]

3. Try light snacks, hydrating, or light exercise to take your mind off the experience.

Whether you want to try microdosing THC or need help finding the right balance of CBD and THC to avoid a body-buzzing high, speaking with your prescribing doctor or cannabis clinician about this subject is a great way to open the conversation and begin the journey.

 

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References

1. Dr. Dustin Sulak, "What Is Microdosing?".
Healer.com.
https://healer.com/what-is-microdosing/.
2. Adam Hoffman, "Microdosing cannabis: benefits without the buz".
Leafly.com.
https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/microdosing-weed-guide.

1 Comment

  1. Scott

    Good article, full of important information if you’re about to try THC. Though unfortunately no links to obtaining it.

    Reply

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