Would you be able to differentiate between Corn Chowder and Gazpacho? Excellent! It means your senses of smell and taste are working. What you’re sensing in meals, fruits and even cleaning products are terpenes.
Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give plants flavor and smell and it is the reason why you can tell the difference between strawberry and blueberry. These terpenes are also present in cannabis flowers.
So without further ado, let’s explore the world of cannabis terpenes, what they are, what their uses are and how you as a consumer can make informed decisions about terpene profiles when buying cannabis medically or recreationally.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes or Terpenoids are aromatic compounds found in the oils of all plants. There are in excess of 20,000 terpenes in existence and over a 100 are present in the cannabis plant. The development of terpenes in cannabis plants began for adaptive purposes; to repulse predators and draw in pollinators, primarily as a defense mechanism.
Terpenes are synthesized in cannabis in secretory cells inside glandular trichomes, and production is increased with light exposure. These terpenes are mostly found in high concentrations in unfertilized female cannabis flowers prior to senescence (the condition or process of deterioration with age). The essential oil is separated from the plant material by steam distillation or vaporization.
Many terpenes vaporize around the same temperature as THC (which boils at about 157°C), but some terpenes are more volatile than others. They also play a critical role in protecting the plant from bacteria, fungi, insects and other environmental stressors, in the same way our immune system protects us from infections.
When cannabis plants are collected and processed properly, their trichomes usually remain intact and you end up with excellent quality cannabis with strong and distinct, colors, smells and flavors. To humans, terpenes act as guides to discovering which cannabis strains our endocannabinoid system is most likely to benefit from.
Before modern research on cannabis and terpenes was conducted, many people decided on cannabis based on typical characteristics and effects of indicas and sativas. However new preliminary research has now demonstrated that terpenes altogether impact the flavor and smell of buds. They can also amp up, change or lower the intensity and duration of effects for strains.
Terpenes and The Entourage Effect
Several studies have demonstrated that terpenes cooperate to help cannabinoids like THC and CBD pass through the bloodstream easier and lower the “blood to brain” barrier. Basically you feel more or less of the effects of a strain based on the terpenes found in it. Since terpenes have their own therapeutic effects they work together to enhance or downplay the dominant effects of the other cannabinoids. This is called the entourage effect because of the way terpenes work together with other cannabinoids. If cannabinoids and terpenes are working towards the same goal you will notice stronger effects, if they are counterbalancing each other, the effect on the whole is muted.
With this revelation growers are able to create progressively effective marijuana strains that are focussed on creating the best experience for patients as possible. Whether that means tempering the high of THC with anti inflammatory and anti anxiety properties of a particular terpene or doubling the antidepressant properties of a CBD rich strain, the opportunity for medical uses are endless. However research in this area is still ongoing and the industry is looking forward to learning more about how terpenes interact with other cannabinoids and with our body.
How Terpenes Work in Our Body
So how do terpenes work in our body? We know that terpenes can modulate the effects of cannabinoids in the human body, but do they also serve any other purpose? The answer is a definitive, Yes! Terpenes can impact the human body in a unique way, more specifically they target different neurotransmitters and receptors within the body.
For example the terpene, limonene which is present in just about every citrus fruit, binds with receptors in the endocannabinoid or neuroendocrine system that in turn produce antidepressant effects. In some cases, after activating those receptors, those systems become more active and produce more of the necessary hormones needed to maintain homeostasis.
They may also cause certain receptors to become more sensitive to incoming hormones, thus improving their efficiency. As homeostasis is maintained, the body benefits in very specific ways. For example, some experts believe that shifts away from a homeostatic balance can lead to depression. Thus when terpenes encourage homeostasis they can also reduce the risk of depression.
There are a number of other physiological benefits that are commonly associated with terpenes. These benefits underline the main principles of aromatherapy. For example, there are terpenes that reduce stress, increase energy, and improve immune system function. In many of those cases, those benefits are the direct result of maintaining homeostasis that the body was struggling to maintain on its own.
Examples of Terpenes found in Cannabis
Pinene (pine): Pinene is the most well-known terpene on the planet, and has calming properties. It’s additionally found in orange strips, pine needles, basil, and parsley. It’s been known to counter short-term memory loss from THC, improve airflow to your lungs, and promote alertness.
Myrcene (earthy, musky, fruity): Myrcene can be found in mangoes, hops, thyme, lemongrass, and basil, and is the most regularly discovered terpene in cannabis.. It can compose up to 50 percent of a cannabis plant’s terpenes. Myrcene has also been shown to be useful as an anti-inflammatory, a sedative, and a muscle relaxer. Numerous indica strains have elevated amounts of myrcene, which add to the worn out/stoned feeling (if higher than 0.5% myrcene in a strain, it creates the “couch-lock” feeling in users).
Limonene (citrus): Like its name suggests, limonene smells like lemons, oranges, mandarins, limes, and grapefruits. It’s also — interestingly enough — probably found in your favourite cleaning products or perfumes because of its’ citrusy scent. It’s been shown to elevate mood, relieve stress, and has antifungal and antibacterial properties to boot. It also improves the absorption of other terpenes and chemicals through the skin, which makes it great in strains that you use for tinctures, ointments, and other topicals.
Humulene (hoppy, earthy): Humulene is found in hops, coriander, cloves, and basil. It’s best known for its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to suppress appetite (while many other strains only increase appetite).
Linalool (floral, spicy): Linalool is found in flowers and spices like lavender and coriander, and is widely known for its stress-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and anti-depressant effects. The linalool terpene balances out the anxious side effects of THC, which makes it a useful treatment of both anxiety and psychosis. Some studies also suggest that linalool can boost the immune system and significantly reduce lung inflammation.
Caryophyllene (peppery, spicy): Caryophyllene is found in thai basil, cloves, cinnamon leaves and black pepper. Studies show that it can help treat anxiety, depression, and act as an anti-inflammatory.
Terpinolene (smoky + woodsy): Terpinolene can be found in sage and rosemary, and has slightly sedative, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. It’s also been found to depress your central nervous system, and therefore induce drowsiness and reduce excitement or anxiety.
Significant advances in Science have enabled us to better understand our health, but getting to the root cause of a chronic disease still poses a challenge. Autoimmune conditions are an area of medicine that is frequently misunderstood. Around 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune conditions. Presently there are more than 80 registered autoimmune disorders, affecting various parts of the body.
What are Autoimmune Disorders?
Autoimmunity is an “attack on self”, that causes abnormal over activation or under activation of the immune system. In the case of over activation, the immune system gets triggered and thinks that the body’s healthy tissues are invaders. In response, the B cells in our immune system produce antibodies to attack the perceived threat while the T cells take action as if the body’s own cells were foreign to bring the body back into homeostasis. In the case of under activation the immune system experiences difficulty in fighting off infections.
Some of the more common autoimmune diseases include psoriasis, arthritis, crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis. The location of the autoimmune attack varies based on the condition. For example if there is Autoimmunity in the joints rheumatoid arthritis may occur. If the attack occurs in the thyroid it may result in Hashimoto’s. For skin disorders like psoriasis the dermal layer is the target. Autoimmune disorders can also attack more than one part of the human body at the same time. Lupus is an example of an autoimmune disease that can manifest in the skin, digestive system, joints and the brain while Multiple sclerosis affects the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves.
While we know how autoimmune disorders occur, more research is needed on why they occur. Common consensus is those with Autoimmunity have a genetic predisposition to these types of conditions, where even a particular event like an Infection, leaky gut syndrome or a traumatic experience is enough to set off the autoimmune response. Autoimmunity can remain latent in the body for many years, resulting in ailments that have not been properly ponpointed. In fact, autoimmune diseases are frequently misdiagnosed as their symptoms can mimic other ailments.
Conventional medicine ideology believes that once the immune system is triggered there can be no way to control it and revert back to the body’s normal state. However many alternative medical professionals believe that the autoimmune condition can be reversed through alternative therapies and lifestyle and dietary changes. In typical treatment protocols however patients are not given information about dietary and lifestyle changes and are simply told to rely on pharmaceutical medications to get better.
Conventional Treatment for Autoimmune Disorders.
Conventional treatment currently relies on Prescription medications that “turn off” the immune system all together. Immunosuppressive drugs are synthetically created antibodies that attack the autoimmune antibodies in effect turning off the immune system. Immunosuppressive drugs can create many potential side effects.
These medications may make someone more susceptible to infections and could also lead to the development of cancer. Steroids are often prescribed for Autoimmunity to lower inflammation and suppress the immune system. They are meant to be taken short term as its a temporary solution which does not address the root of the problem. Not to mention long term use of steroids can result in decreased blood supply to various parts of the body and increased accumulation of fatty deposits in the face or other areas. In general immunosuppressive drugs are incredibly expensive and not always effective.
The aim should be to modulate the immune system and bring it back to balance not turn it off completely. This calls for a more holistic approach in dealing with autoimmune disorders which includes getting rid of stressors and sensitivities, including environmental, food, chemical and others. Dietary and lifestyle changes have been reported to help reverse these conditions. Experimentation with Cannabis has provided relief for some individuals living with an autoimmune disease. For example, people living with psoriasis report that cannabinoid oil eases their pain and inflammation while a survey of fibromyalgia sufferers in Israel showed that Cannabis consumption significantly improves the quality of their sleep. Current cannabinoid therapies focus on reducing inflammation, modulating the immune system and bringing the body back into balance.
Cannabis as a treatment for Autoimmune Disorders
Cannabis is an immunomodulator, which means it can help to modulate the immune system. Cannabis acts as a regulating tool by bringing an over or under reacting immune system back into balance. Investigations have demonstrated that CB2 receptors regulate many complex pathways of the immune system. Preclinical studies show that triggering CB2 receptors can modulate immune system response, which can be beneficial for those suffering from autoimmune disorders.
There have been a few studies focusing on the role of cannabinoids in autoimmune disease models. CBD has been found to modulate the immune system rather than suppress it. CBD also slows down T cell production and suppresses the immune system memory, which means that CBD has the potential of curing future autoimmune attacks. CBD has also been found to increase the expression of genes which deal with oxidative stress, which may reduce cell damage from autoimmune attacks. Few studies have also indicated that Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has the potential to modulate the immune system by inhibiting the production of pro inflammatory cytokines and enhancing the formation of anti inflammatory cytokines which helps to reduce inflammation.
Cannabis terpenes which give Cannabis its flavour also merit further investigation in the role they play in the management of autoimmune diseases. The terpenebeta-caryophyllene found in certain marijuana strains and in black pepper is known to decrease inflammation through its ability to stimulate the CB2 receptor. Another terpene, Mycrene also has anti inflammatory properties. Based on initial clinical research cannabinoids may help bring the immune system back into homeostasis, protect against damage from autoimmune attacks, slow down overactive T cell production and prevent the immune system from being triggered.
Some compelling findings from Research on Marijuana as a cure for Autoimmune Disorders
Preclinical data from the University of South Carolina published in 2011, shows that CBD can suppress inflammation in mice with hepatitis thereby slowing down damage to the liver.
An in vitro investigation of human skin cells distributed in 2006 in the Journal of Dermatological Science found that THC, CBD, cannabinol (CBN), and cannabigerol (CBG) would all be able to hinder the multiplication of keratinocyte cells, contingent upon the concentration of the cannabinoids utilized. Keratinocytes are in charge of the painful inflammation and scaly buildup of skin cells experienced by psoriasis sufferers.
Spanish scientists conducted surveys of 56 patients, 28 of whom consumed Cannabis routinely. The discoveries distributed in 2011 demonstrated that Cannabis consumers experienced essentially decreased pain and stiffness two hours subsequent to consuming Cannabis. They additionally demonstrated increased sleepiness and improved feelings of well being.
Distributed in 2011, in the Israel Medical Association Journal, a clinical eight-week investigation of 30 patients unresponsive to standard Crohn’s illness treatment, found that 21 patients encountered a noteworthy decline in manifestations in the wake of taking THC-rich cannabis. The specialists had the capacity to exhibit that inside about two months, Crohn’s patients likewise experienced enhanced well-being with no serious side effects.
While there are no notable side effects of using Cannabis to treat certain autoimmune disorders, one must be mindful of the fact that cannabinoids can be biphasic, meaning that low and high doses can produce opposite effects. So work with your doctor to figure out the right medicating strategy for you. There’s no denying that the benefits of Cannabis for treating autoimmune disorders far outweigh the drawbacks if any.
Why do Bees love hemp plants, and what does this mean for the survival of their species?
Bees, An Endangered Species.
Exciting preliminary research indicates that Bees love hemp plants. Does hemp have the potential to restore the dwindling bee population?
According to Greenpeace, since the late 1990s beekeepers around the world have observed the mysterious and sudden disappearance of Bees with most reporting a drastic decline in bee colonies.
The decline in the bee population seems to be directly linked to the increased industrialization of agriculture, parasites and pathogens, climate change and the widespread use of bee-killing pesticides.
But why are Bees important, and how does their sudden decline affect us? The answer to this lies in the value that Bees bring to our ecosystem, particularly as facilitators of pollination.
Consider this alarming statistic, nearly a third of our food production depends on pollination. So, you can imagine how devastating a world without pollinators would be for our food production.
To understand the economic impact of declining bee populations around the world, imagine if we were to hand pollinate the crops. Such a system would be labour intensive, slow and very expensive. It would cost an estimated €265 billion, annually, worldwide, so from a purely economic point of view, it pays to save the Bees.
But how do we go about it? Greenpeace recommends shifting from destructive industrial agriculture towards more sustainable and ecological farming techniques.
This would involve banning bee-harming pesticides.
Having an action plan in place for fostering the bees.
Adopting organic means of agriculture.
However a recent study published in the Journal of Biomass and Bioenergy has found that restoration of the declining bee population may be achieved with hemp flower.
Hemp Pollen, a Food Source for the Bees?
This study was conducted in Northern Colorado where hemp flowers between late July and late September. It was led by Colton O’Brien, an entomology student at Colorado State University’s Graduate School.
The idea for the study came to him when he first stepped onto the university’s hemp fields. He was surprised to discover that swarms of bees were gravitating to the hemp. This was even more surprising because hemp is a wind pollinated plant and bees essentially play no role in their pollination.
This revelation fueled O’Brien to further study how hemp fields contributed to the ecosystem of the bees. What helped his research was that during the period of this study, there were few other crops that pollinated in the region.
So, he set up a couple of traps when the hemp was in full bloom with the goal of finding out what bees are attracted to the pollen given off by hemp. With the traps, O’Brien was able to confirm that the bees were collecting pollen from hemp.
Colorado is home to around 66 species of bees of which 23 of these species were found to be gravitating towards the hemp fields. They found almost 2,000 bees from 23 different bee genera. Most of those (38 percent) were classic honeybees, but there were also specialized genera such as Melissodes bimaculata and Peponapis pruinosa that turned up in surprisingly high proportions.
Furthermore it wasn’t just the bees that were benefiting from the hemp pollen but also parasites of certain bees. Although the parasites weren’t taking the pollen directly from the hemp flower, they were utilizing the pollen bought back by the bees. O’Brien believes that hemp fields created the “dynamics of an ecosystem” for bees that previously didn’t exist without the hemp plant.
This study could hold immense potential as economists attempt to reverse the trend of the declining bee population. In hemp, scientists may have found a suitable pollinating crop to improve their habitat and safeguard their lives, not to mention provide a valuable food source for endangered bees. The researchers concluded that hemp can be an ecologically valuable crop whose flowers are attractive to a number of species of bees.
While further studies are very much needed to analyse the nutritional value of hemp pollen to bees as well as the interactions of the several cannabinoids in the hemp flower with the physiology of the bees, this research puts the spotlight on hemp cultivation which is slowly becoming more popular than ever, since it has been recently federally legalized. But with increase in hemp production, there is an increased risk of pests attacking the crops. It will ultimately be up to the farmers to develop an integrated pest management plan designed to protect pollinators while controlling pests.
Making cannabis oil isn’t easy. It is an involved process that takes time, patience, and some understanding of chemistry. The good news is that if you’re determined, you can master the process of making cannabis oil.
What is Cannabis Oil?
Cannabis oil is a concentrate, but more specifically, it is an extract. Cannabis oil is sub-classified as an extract because it requires a solvent whereas things like hashish, kief, and rosin, are solvent-less concentrates.
In this sense, all extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts – make sense?
How is Cannabis Oil Made?
Making cannabis oil is achieved through any of the following methods, albeit with varying degrees of difficulty and safety.
Supercritical CO2 Extraction
Butane Blasting or Closed-Loop Extraction
Ethanol Extraction of Cannabis Oil
This process is relatively straightforward, and can be done at cooler temperatures or warmer temperatures. You need to soak the cannabis flower in ethanol which strips the flower of both the cannabinoids and terpenes.
It is a highly efficient method of extraction for making cannabis oil, with a low risk of toxicity. The ethanol evaporates and what is left behind is your cannabis oil. Depending on what temperature is used for extraction, the cannabinoid acids in the flower could decarboxylate and become “active”.
A few additional clarification measures may need to be applied to your extracted oil, but all in all ethanol extraction is one of the best methods for making cannabis oil.
Supercritical CO2 Extraction of Cannabis Oil
This process is quite difficult in that it requires that carbon dioxide be held at its supercritical temperature and pressure. In simple terms, this means that its ambient environment must be adjusted to keep carbon dioxide in its fluid state – something that cannot be maintained in the open air.
Supercritical CO2 extraction is exceptionally clean and precise, it is a natural sanitizing agent and allows for manufacturers to select and filter for specific compounds in cannabis by their molecular weight and density.
It is the gold standard for making cannabis oil, but it requires expensive equipment and isn’t conducive for those of you considering making your own cannabis oil.
Well, in layman terms, the CO2 (in a supercritical state) is passed through a compartment containing cannabis – stripping all of the trichomes, cannabinoids, terpenes, and waxes from the flower. The extracted solution is then separated into its constituents and the CO2 is filtered from the solution. At this point the CO2 is condensed and reused for the next batch of cannabis oil, and the extracted material is collected – any remaining CO2 reverts to a gaseous state in our atmosphere and evaporates.
Butane Extraction of Cannabis Oil
We have discussed butane extraction before on our post “What is Hash Oil?“, but for any newcomers, butane blasting entails spraying pressurized butane into a ceramic tube filled with ground weed or kief. The ceramic tube is open on both ends, and what exits is an oleoresin. This process is dangerous because the butane is released into the open air. It is highly volatile and carcinogenic so its not a safe process.
This butane blasting has given butane extraction of cannabis oil a bad wrap. This is unfortunate because in a closed-loop system, where the butane is collected, the safety concerns are addressed, the butane is purged from the finished product, and many of the terpenes are preserved – which are largely destroyed in other methods of extraction.
The issue is that open-loop butane extraction damaged the perception of butane as a solvent in the public eye. A lot of the criticism surrounding it is misguided. When used under appropriate conditions, butane extraction is a terrific method for making cannabis oil, rivalling Supercritical CO2 extraction.
As a method of extraction, distillation has a unique appeal that other processes do not.
Distillation actually requires that the desired cannabinoids, terpenes, waxes, and trichomes be stripped from flower with a hydrocarbon or CO2 extraction technique. The stripped constituents are then “winterized” with ethanol to remove any unwanted compounds.
Finally, the remaining isolated compounds are put through short path, steam distillation. This yields a pure cannabinoid isolate.
This finishing method has been around for many years, and has been the go-to extraction process for cannabis research and testing. However, it has many applications in consumer markets as well. As product differentiation and consumer individuation evolve, distillation could become the preferred method for making cannabis oil.
We have discussed it here before, but for those who don’t know a hookah is technically a water pipe. The apparatus consists of a long stem that inserts into a glass basin and is secured with a rubber grommet. Atop the stem sits the shisha bowl which is also secured with a rubber grommet, albeit a different sized one.
Towards the bottom of the stem there are two ports, one of which is used for the hose attachment while the other is used as a release valve so that air can be drawn through the closed system. In the event that the shisha smoke becomes harsh or stale, this valve can be used to clear the smoke from the glass basin – a quick exhale through the hose should be enough to clear the basin.
How to Set Up Your Hookah
Setting up your hookah is a relatively simple process. It requires that you fill the basin, roughly 3/4’s full, with water or a liquid of your choosing.
Moreover, that you secure the basin (once filled with water) to the stem and finally to attach the hose and shisha bowl to their proper ports with fitted grommets.
At this point your hookah is nearly ready to smoke. All that remains is to pack your shisha bowl and ignite your coals – which are placed on top of the shisha bowl. The shisha and coals are separated by either a metal windscreen or a perforated sheet of tin foil.
Packing a shisha bowl is nothing short of an art form. It requires patience, finesse, and no small amount of dexterity.
The first hurdle is determining how much shisha tobacco to use. A common mistake is that people tend to overpack the shisha bowl. This restricts airflow and prevents the heat (from the hot coals) to penetrate to the bottom of the bowl. In a matter of minutes, this can lead to the entire top layer of shisha burning.
A mistake like this is fixable, but exceptionally frustrating, so it is best if you avoid it altogether. You can prevent your shisha from burning by not overpacking the bowl, and by taking the time to separate the shag tobacco so that it is loosely and lightly packed.
If you are looking to engage in marijuana hookah smoking, the packing technique is all the more important. For the best hookah experience, it is advisable that you grind your marijuana into very fine kief, and make sure that it sits towards the middle or bottom of your bowl. The indirect heat of the coals will slowly decarboxylate your cannabis, and provide a low and consistent titration of cannabinoids.
How to Smoke Your Hookah
If it is your first time smoking shisha, please do not draw on the hose too forcefully. You should be looking for extended and deep inhalation, not a short burst. The reason for this is twofold;
First, the harder you draw on the hose, the more at risk your shisha is of combusting.
Second, the harder you draw on the hose, the harsher and hotter the smoke is.
This could make or break your hookah session, particularly if you are marijuana hookah smoking. This is because burning the top layer of shisha too quickly without decarboxylating and utilizing the marijuana beneath means wasted bud – and nobody wants that!
Share with Your Friends
Never entice someone to smoke, as hookah smoking, like all forms of smoking or vaping, are not good for your health. However, if you have friends who enjoy shisha or marijuana smoking, marijuana hookah smoking could provide them with a unique experience and sensations they wouldn’t otherwise get from more mainstream modes of ingestion.
Marijuana hookah smoking is a great way to engage with friends through a common experience in a relaxed, stress-free, environment. All too often, people focus on getting high as fast as possible, and not enough on the moments leading up to, and culminating in, the mental state of being “high”. Marijuana hookah smoking demands that you slow down, take your time, and enjoy the ride.
Take a puff, pass the hose, and chat with friends. Marijuana smoking or smoking in general, doesn’t have to be a solitary activity.
If you are an avid marijuana user, chances are, you have come across hashish or hash oil in one form or other.
Hashish is a resin derived from cannabis plant matter. Methods of extraction may vary, but cold water distillation and “pressing” are the most common.
The former yielding what is commonly referred to as “bubble hash”, and the latter yielding the malleable solid concentrate known as hashish. Depending on how refined the extraction methods are, the coloration, purity, potency, aroma, and texture of the product can change.
In keeping with current market trends, growers, manufacturers, and distillers continue to push the boundary in terms of methods of extraction, new modes of ingestion, alternative substrates, potency, and concentration of cannabinoids – this is the case for cannabis generally, but more and more for hashish.
So, what is hash oil?
Hash oil, much like its malleable-solid counterpart, is classified as a resin. The difference between the two, as intimated in the preceding paragraph, is the method of extraction or distillation used to make them.
What is Butane Hash Oil (BHO)?
In order to adequately describe and appreciate what butane hash oil is, an understanding of organic solvents and oleoresin is foundational.
An oleoresin is a semi-solid extract which contains a resin in a solution. Unlike traditional hashish, oleoresins such as hash oil, are viscous and obtained through the evaporation of the organic solvents used for their production. In this case, the organic solvent is butane.
An organic solvent is a volatile compound that vaporizes at room temperature. They are typically used for dissolving certain materials or substances.
Typical hashish is made by “pressing” very finely ground kief until it adheres together. The more “pressing” used, the more the texture and density fluctuate. When making hash oil, a ceramic or glass tube (open on both ends) is packed tightly with finely ground marijuana or kief, and pressurized butane is pumped through the tube. The distillate that exits the tube is butane hash oil. The butane evaporates at room temperature so what remains is an oleoresin.
Should You Make or Ingest Butane Hash Oil (BHO)?
Organic solvents, like butane, are highly volatile. They react in sunlight and the atmosphere producing ground-level ozone. Butane is also a carcinogen and highly flammable. The risk of injury when making butane hash oil (BHO) is high and it should not be attempted by anyone other than professionals with proper safety equipment in a lab.
As far as ingesting it is concerned, butane hash oil, certainly poses health risks. If you are an avid marijuana user and are itching to try hashish, there are many variants that have cleaner and safer methods of extraction, with fewer contaminants remaining in the final distillation, that you should consider trying before BHO.
Similar to traditional methods of making hashish, bubble hash is pressed, but beforehand marijuana passes through a series of sieves with hole sizes in the micron range. These sieves are filled with marijuana, and extremely cold water is passed through them to freeze and separate the trichomes from the rest of the plant matter. The separated trichomes subsequently pass through the increasingly small holes in the sieves.
What remains is a highly refined resin that is left to air dry to remove any excess water. This substance is then pressed into a malleable solid, with a much finer and crumble-like texture than traditional hash.
It is incredibly pure, and nearly free of extraneous contaminants.
Few substances in the world have garnered as many nicknames as the Cannabis plant. The note by Mr. G. A. Grierson, appended to the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report, which catalog references to the hemp plant occurring in Sanskrit and Hindi literature, includes terms celebrating the spiritually and physically invigorating properties of the herb, such as Indracana, ‘the food of Indra’, Bhanga and Vijaya or ‘Victory’.
Franz Rosenthal’s study of the use of hemp in medieval Islamic culture and its associated controversies includes catalogues of epithets drawn from the lists of medieval Muslim commentators. These include names like, ‘the shrub of understanding’, the shrub of emotion and some names still in use today, like the Turkic esrar, or ‘secrets’.
A browse through any dictionary of street slang will likewise yield an abundance of terms for Cannabis waxing and waning in popularity through the twentieth century from’ gaje’ and ’muggles’ of the Jazz age to the language of contemporary street culture. Be that as it may, the most recognizable name for the dried buds of the Cannabis plant, and one of the few older terms still in use today, is “marijuana”.
The Mysterious Origins of the term ‘Marijuana’
The word marijuana comes from Mexican Spanish, Marihuana, also spelled Mariguana. Very little is known about the origin of the Mexican Spanish word but in English the term, ‘Marijuana’ refers to the variety of the Cannabis plant with the scientific name, Cannabis Sativa var. Indica. It’s the variety with a high concentration of the psychoactive compounds in marijuana. On the other hand hemp refers to the variety of the plant with much less potent significant psychoactive properties.
In the Sino-Platonic Papers, published by Alan Piper which delves into the origins of the word, ‘Marijuana’, he refers to the 1894 Scribner’s Magazine feature “The American Congo”, by John G. Bourke as being the first attested usage of a term resembling ‘marijuana’. The word Marijuana, together with the use of herbal Cannabis as an intoxicant, is consistently identified as coming into the USA from Mexico, being bought there by migrant workers.
Weston T. La Barre in his book, Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany suggests that marijuana may ‘plausibly be derived from a Chinese word for hemp, bought by Chinese coolie labourers in Western Mexico’. This speculation was rooted in the coincidental presence of phonetic elements of Chinese expressions which sound similar to the Mexican Spanish, marijuana. For instance ma hua which means ‘hemp flowers’ is attested as a term for the psychoactive preparation of Cannabis by Joseph Needham in his book Spagyrical Discovery and Invention: Magistries of Gold and Immortality, Alchemy and Chemistry, in Science and civilization in China. Ma ren is attested as the standard term for Cannabis seed. ‘Ma Ren Hua’ if such a term existed, would mean ‘hemp seed flowers’, a term which could well be applied to the resinous ‘flower heads’ prized for their intoxicating powers.
Marijuana, a troubled history
In the early 1900s, the Mexican revolution sparked a convergence of mass migration north and individuals of Mexican heritage in the United States increased from 100,000 in 1900 to 1.5 million in 1930.
During this period anti-Mexican sentiments spiked in the U. S fueled by the Illegal Bisbee Deportation in 1917, where armed vigilantes rounded up over 1000 Mexican mine workers, herded them into filthy boxcars in Bisbee, Arizona and abandoned them across the New Mexico border. Further the government backed Mexican repatriation in the 1920s and 30s that forced people of Mexican descent, many of whom were US citizens across the border without due process added fuel to already sour relations between Americans and Mexicans. The Great Depression during that period didn’t help the situation as Americans contended with Mexican ranch workers, who frequently consented to work for lower compensation.
Against this setting prohibitionists like Henry Anslinger – a former alcohol prohibitionist who ran the federal bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962 – started to use the term “marihuana” (marijuana) instead of Cannabis sparking preposterous claims about the drug. Anslinger sought and ultimately received, as head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, an increase of reports about smoking of marijuana in 1936 that continued to spread at an accelerated pace in 1937. Before, smoking of marijuana had been relatively slight and confined to the Southwest, particularly along the Mexican border. The Bureau first prepared a legislative plan to seek from Congress a new law that would place marijuana and its distribution directly under federal control. Second, Anslinger ran a campaign against marijuana on radio, newspapers and at major forums. He was quoted saying, ”Most marijuana smokers are colored people, jazz musicians, and entertainers. Their satanic music is driven by marijuana, and marijuana smoking by white women makes them want to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and others. It is a drug that causes insanity, criminality, and death — the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
Assisting Anslinger in this spread of misinformation was Media tycoon and newspaper publisher William Hearst who also echoed the same anti-Mexican sentiments. He was born in San Francisco, California as the only child of, George Hearst, a self made multimillionaire miner and rancher. In 1887 at the age of 23 he became proprietor of the San Francisco Examiner. Inspired by the journalism of Joseph Pulitzer, Hearst turned the newspaper into a combination of reformist investigative reporting and uninhibited sensationalism. At his peak he owned 28 newspapers and 18 magazines. He would often resort to ‘yellow journalism’, the in your face, outrageous editorial style made famous by Pulitzer. He used his newspaper chain to frequently stir up racial tensions. Hearst’s newspapers portrayed Mexicans as lazy, degenerate and violent, marijuana-smokers who stole jobs from “real Americans.” Hearst’s hatred of Mexicans and his hyping of the “Mexican threat” to America likely was rooted in the 800,000 acres of timberland that had been confiscated from him by Pancho Villa during the Mexican revolution.
Marijuana – A Foreign Drug
Anslinger used the term Marijuana to make the plant seem foreign and stoke the already simmering anti Mexican racism. His goal was to disassociate Marijuana with Cannabis and in this he succeeded. The general public of the time did not have access to television or internet, just newspapers that often printed yellow ink, telling them about a new Mexican drug that made people go crazy. Even people who took cannabis for medicinal reasons turned against the new Mexican menace.
In 1937, Anslinger went before the Congressional Ways and Means Committee, and testified about marijuana use. Anslinger said, “Some people will fly into a delirious rage, and they are temporarily irresponsible and may commit violent crimes,” while Doughton called the “menace” an “evil” that made people “become criminals.” The only person who disagreed with these assessments was Dr. William Woodward of the American Medical Association who argued against Cannabis prohibition by saying, “I use the word ‘cannabis’ in preference to the word ‘marihuana’ because cannabis is the correct term for describing the plant and its products. As noted by the doctor in the hearings, people who embraced marijuana prohibition often had no idea it had anything to do with Cannabis or hemp. Anslinger and his deputies very smartly turned the public against Cannabis by popularising the term Marijuana and making it the enemy while disguising the fact that the prohibitionists wanted to ban Cannabis.
Marijuana – The current climate
While several states in the US have legalized marijuana and more are still to follow suit, that hasn’t stopped law enforcement from punishing those who own even negligible quantities of illegal weed. After legalization in Colorado, arrests of black and Latino juveniles for illegal possession increased.
In 2016, there were almost 600,000 US marijuana arrests, more than for all violent crimes combined. The vast majority of those pot arrests were for low-level possession – and disproportionately affected minorities. With legalization, some states and communities want to help those carrying minor cannabis convictions to be able to clear their record. Similarly, several cities and states are trying to create so-called equity programs to enable entrepreneurs from communities hit hardest by the war on drugs to join the industry.
Although the term Marijuana isn’t inherently Racist, there’s no denying that Cannabis prohibition is rooted in racism, xenophobia and trickery. It’s clear that Americans need to do more to get rid of the racial divide which to this day still exists while also distancing themselves from prohibitionists of the past whose goal was to spread hatred and dissent among the working class.
This is not an easy question to answer, but the truth is that cannabis models other drugs of abuse, and conditioned stimuli predicting drug availability, when it comes to increasing mesolimbic dopamine transmission.
In addition, a decrease in mesolimbic dopamine function is observable during drug withdrawal – including during cannabis-withdrawl syndrome.
What this means is that cannabis elicits a similar neurochemical response to other drugs of abuse that could shape drug-seeking or reward-seeking behaviour, as well as persistent relapsing behaviours.
So, despite the misconception that cannabis is unique from other drugs of abuse, the reality is that it exerts identical effects on the mesolimbic dopamine system.
The Mesolimbic Dopamine System
If it isn’t already clear, the mesolimbic dopamine system plays a major role in drug-seeking behaviour, and persistent relapsing behaviours due to withdrawal symptoms.
The mesolimbic pathway, or reward pathway, is a series of projection neutrons in the brain that release and synthesize the neurotransmitter dopamine.
The mesolimbic pathway releases dopamine to the ventral striatum, a cluster of neutrons in the subcortical basal ganglia of the forebrain.
What is Incentive Salience?
Together, nucleus accumbens and the olfactory tubercle form the ventral striatum. When dopamine is release from the mesolimbic pathway in the midbrain into the nucleus accumbens in the forebrain, it activates a cognitive process known as incentive salience.
This cognitive process confers a desire or want attribute, and entails some motivational component to a rewarding stimulus.
In other words, it is the attractive and motivating property of a stimulus (like a drug) that causes appetitive behaviour, approach behaviour, or consummatory behaviour.
The fact that cannabis patterns other drugs of abuse, albeit to a lesser degree, means that there is a risk of cannabis addiction.
Cannabis-withdrawl is characterized by a set of symptoms ranging from anxiety, nervousness, decreased appetite and weight loss, to restlessness, sleep difficulties including strange dreams, chills, depressed mood, stomach pain, physical discomfort, shakiness, and sweating.
It is important to note however, that the severity of withdrawal in lab tests differed depending on how the symptoms were induced. In cases where test subjects were abruptly forced to abstain from using experimenter-administered cannabinoids, the symptoms were mild and difficult to detect.
However, when withdrawal was induced with a CB1R antagonist known as Rimonabant, robust and immediately observable withdrawal symptoms occurred.
This leaves little room for debate as to whether or not cannabis addiction exists.
What remains to be answered;
what are the risks of cannabis addiction, are they as severe as other drugs of abuse?
how does disrupting endocannabinoid signalling show potential for treating addiction?
The entourage effect; it has been discussed here before, but can you leverage this phenomenon to enhance your experience of cannabis?
Well, the answer is not so cut and dry. The observable phenomenon known as the “entourage effect” should be a focus for future research into cannabis and its biological consequences in the human body. However, as it stands today, the entourage effect is still a hypothesis not a theory.
Granted, the reasoning behind the entourage effect may be persuasive, but it is not, as of yet, a substantiated theory.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect is a hypothesis that seeks to explain why the therapeutic effects of cannabis seem to be greater when the plant is ingested holistically rather than when ingested as an isolate or extract.
This is to say that when dry or fresh cannabis is used, either smoked or vaped, its therapeutic potential in the human body appears to be greater than singular cannabinoid extracts such as THC, CBD, or CBG.
The proposed explanation for the observable phenomenon is that when the plant is ingested holistically, the effects of cannabinoids are modulated by the presence of the terpenoid compounds also in the plant.
When cannabinoids are isolated and ingested in the form of extracts or isolates, the concentration of terpenoids is reduced or removed, thereby lowering the therapeutic potential of the extract compared to the ingestion of the unadulterated plant.
The exact mechanism through which terpenoids modulate the metabolization of cannabinoids in the human body is not fully understood. So, while it is certainly a persuasive explanation, the entourage effect hypothesis is not settled science.
However, this does not mean that we cannot speculate as to how this phenomenon, should it prove to be true, can be leveraged to enhance our experience of cannabis.
TokeSmart: The Natural Way to a Better High
One company that is seeking to leverage the entourage effect to enhance a user’s experience of cannabis is TokeSmart.
TokeSmart is a supplement company that boasts a “natural supplement specifically formulated to reduce tolerance in medical marijuana users.”
The Marijuana Facts reached out to TokeSmart through twitter, as we were intrigued by the ideation behind the product, and because the company seems to be marketing the product with the aim of making the ingestion of cannabis more economical.
We offered to post a review of TokeSmart, and their representatives agreed. Our motivations for the review are strictly to be informative. We feel that reviewing products, like TokeSmart, is a great way to engage consumers who are actively searching for marijuana online, and hopefully, educate them about cannabis along their path to purchase.
The Marijuana Facts does not endorse TokeSmart, nor do we recommend using the product. That being said, we have conducted a thorough review of their product and hope you will take the time to read it.
What is TokeSmart?
As stated previously, we found the ideation behind TokeSmart intriguing. After conferring with company representatives, we came to understand that TokeSmart is an ingestible capsule comprised primarily of dried thyme and lemongrass.
On the bottle, this is referred to as the TokeSmart Formula. Other ingredients include rice flour, silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate and vegetable cellulose – which according to company representatives are “flowing agents” used by the manufacturer to get the dry material into the ingestible capsules and are only present in trace amounts.
There are 60 capsules in the bottle we were given, and each capsule contains a combined total of 1 gram of thyme and lemongrass.
The recommended dosing is 2 capsules to be taken 15 minutes before using cannabis.
How Does TokeSmart Work?
This question is more complex than it appears to be. As discussed, the entourage effect is a hypothesis seeking to explain the observable phenomenon that the therapeutic effects of marijuana appear to be greater when the plant is ingested holistically.
The connection between TokeSmart and cannabis hinges on this hypothesis. Thyme and lemongrass share a common terpene with cannabis called myrcene. The ideation behind the TokeSmart product is that by pre-dosing with thyme and lemongrass, the concentration of the terpene myrcene in your body will be higher, thereby potentiating the therapeutic effect of your cannabis.
This rationale is suspect, insofar as the entourage effect is not, as of yet, settled science. This means that in order for TokeSmart to do what it claims to do, in the way it says it does, the entourage effect would need to be a substantiated theory.
Seeing as the entourage effect is only a hypothesis, then using it as a basis to explain how TokeSmart works would also be a hypothesis. This is not to say that the product doesn’t work, rather that the explanation for how it works is a conditional statement. In other words, it is only true if it is derived from a true premise – in this case the premise is the entourage effect.
That being said, The Marijuana Facts reached out to the TokeSmart representatives and asked for clarification on this point. We postulated four ways that TokeSmart could work to enhance a user’s experience of marijuana, they were as follows:
Increasing the bioavailability of ingested cannabinoids, and consequently the efficiency of the dose.
Increasing the affinity endocannabinoid receptors have for cannabinoids.
Decreasing a user’s metabolic resistance to cannabinoids.
Up-regulating endocannabinoid receptors – the number of binding sites for cannabinoids.
For your edification, the following is a brief overview of each mechanism of action we proposed.
The bioavailability of a drug is the amount of the drug available for absorption after it has been ingested. This is relevant insofar as the first-pass effect (drugs enzymatically metabolized in the liver) decreases the bioavailability of a drug to be absorbed by receptors.
Intravenous drugs have 100% bioavailability because systemic circulation can be achieved directly. Other routes of administration, such as drops, pills, etc., pass through the liver which results in lower concentrations of the drug in the bloodstream for receptors to absorb.
In the context of Tokesmart, increased bioavailability would only have been relevant for cannabis or extracts ingested through means other than smoking or vaping.
Moreover, the TokeSmart Formula would have needed to inhibit the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of cannabinoids, or by acting as a protectant to cannabinoids as they pass through the digestive tract and liver, thereby increasing the amount available for absorption.
This explanation was also not compelling due to the fact that cannabis, more specifically THC, increases in potency in its metabolite form, 11-Hydroxy-THC. It is one of the few compounds that increases in potency when enzymatically broken-down in the liver.
The affinity of a receptor can be described, generally, as the attractive forces between two like structures, and the tendency of those structures to form bonds. This binding rate is critical for the absorption, and efficacy, of certain drugs.
In the context of TokeSmart, it isn’t clear how the terpene Myrcene would increase affinity endocannabinoid receptors have for cannabinoids.
The term metabolic resistance, when used in the context of drug efficacy, can be described as a user’s tolerance of a drug. When a drug is ingested, it affects a number of physiological processes, and our bodies work hard to maintain homeostasis.
In order to maintain homeostasis, our liver enzymatically breaks down a drug before it reaches systemic circulation. This is an attempt to mitigate the degree to which a drug affects physiological processes.
Over time our ability to enzymatically break down a drug improves, which increases our metabolic resistance to that drug. This is why some drugs require larger doses the longer you take them – to compensate for increased tolerance.
In the context of TokeSmart, metabolic resistance could have been applicable in two ways. The first of which is that when ingested through means other than smoking or vaping, it could inhibit our liver’s ability to enzymatically break down cannabis or extracts thereby increasing the amount that reaches systemic circulation. The second of which is that it could prevent the down-regulation of endocannabinoid receptors brought on by their repeated, and long-term exposure to cannabis or extracts.
You may be wondering, isn’t decreasing metabolic resistance in the liver, and increasing the bioavailability of cannabinoids ingested through means other than smoking or vaping, the same thing? The answer is no, but the result is the same.
It depends what the TokeSmart Formula acts upon – the extract or isolate, or liver enzymes. Whether it inhibits the enzyme responsible for breaking down cannabis or preserves the integrity of the isolate or extract through the liver, has the same consequence – higher concentration in systemic circulation.
As stated previously, the enzymatic break-down of cannabis, particularly THC, actually produces a more potent metabolite called 11-Hydroxy- THC. For this reason, a decreased metabolic resistance in the liver would not be a compelling explanation for how TokeSmart works.
In contrast, the possibility that the TokeSmart Formula, particularly the terpene Myrcene, could prevent the down-regulation of endocannabinoid receptors brought on by their repeated, and long-term exposure to cannabis or extracts, is a more compelling explanation, albeit an unlikely one. To determine whether the TokeSmart Formula works via this mechanism entails extensive in vitro and in vivo studies, and chemical assays in a lab.
Up-Regulation of Receptors
The term up-regulation refers to increasing the number of receptors on a cell for a particular molecule. This can be achieved with an external stimulus like a drug. A cell can have a number of sites for a molecule to bind to, and increasing the relevant cellular component elevates the cell’s sensitivity to a molecule or drug.
In the context of TokeSmart, an up-regulation of binding sites would mean that Myrcene temporarily elevates the sensitivity endocannabinoid receptors have for cannabinoids. Similar to what was said previously regarding the down-regulation of receptors, to determine whether the TokeSmart Formula works via this mechanism entails extensive in vitro and in vivo studies, and chemical assays in a lab.
The basic idea behind up-regulation and down-regulation is that cells receive signals (from hormones or neurotransmitters), and depending on the strength of the signal, can either increase or decrease the number of binding sites on the cell. This can positively or negatively impact a cell’s sensitivity to a molecule such as a cannabinoid. In order for TokeSmart to work via this mechanism, it would need to modulate how these signals are sent.
We cannot say definitively whether TokeSmart works via this mechanism, but we are skeptical to the idea that dried thyme and lemongrass could elicit such effects.
It is important however, to discuss the association between affinity and up-regulation. The term affinity, as stated previously, refers to the attraction between two like structures – in this case ingested phytogenic cannabinoids and endocannabinoid receptors. There are two features of affinity worth mentioning, they are the tendency of molecules and receptors to bind to one another, as well as the strength of the chemical bond itself.
When we use the term up-regulation, it refers to an increase in the number of binding sites on a cell. This of course increases the tendency that molecules will bind with receptors, but this is not the same as saying that the affinity a receptor has for a molecule has increased. In order for this to happen, the molecule (cannabinoid) would need to be modified directly in order to approximate the receptor site more closely. This is reflected in the type of chemical bond that is formed.
The likelihood that TokeSmart, more specifically its active ingredient Myrcene, acts upon the cannabinoid directly is unlikely. We could not find evidence that would support the claim that the terpene Myrcene could alter the molecular structure of a phytogenic cannabinoid.
According to the TokeSmart representatives, the formula somewhat increases endocannabinoid receptor affinity for cannabinoids as well as somewhat decreases a user’s metabolic resistance to cannabinoids. These two effects exacerbate one another to provide a user with an enhanced experience of cannabis. However, they were quick to point out that they are not certain how exactly their formula achieves these results. Further research is required to make definitive statements.
It is our position that whether TokeSmart increases endocannabinoid receptor affinity for cannabinoids or decreases a user’s metabolic resistance to cannabinoids, or both, cannot be understood at this time. The state of research just isn’t at a point where it is possible to address these questions.
Although, it is our opinion that the mechanism of action by which TokeSmart enhances a user’s experience of cannabis is more likely due to an increase in the permeability of cell membranes – particularly the permeability of the endothelial cells in the capillaries that form the blood brain barrier.
The endothelial cells only allow small molecules, fat-soluble molecules, and some gasses, to pass into the brain. It has been suggested that myrcene increases the permeability of these cells thereby shuttling more cannabinoids to the brain tissue. This coupled with the fact that myrcene, in and of itself, elicits strong analgesic effects in high doses, could account for the enhanced experience of cannabis when pre-dosing with TokeSmart.
However, there is a lack of hard data on the effect myrcene has on the permeability of endothelial cells in the capillaries forming the blood brain barrier. So, no matter how compelling we feel our hypothesis is, it should not be taken as fact.
Regardless of which explanation for how TokeSmart works seems most plausible to you, a fair test of its efficacy is to try it yourself.
Our Experience Using TokeSmart
Did it work?
Answering this question proved difficult, in that it was hard to distinguish any perceivable difference in our use, or experience, of cannabis with or without TokeSmart.
In order to communicate whether TokeSmart enhanced our experience of cannabis, we needed a baseline or control group to compare against. Moreover, we would have needed to control the mode of ingestion, the size and titration of the dose over a fixed period of time, as well as have a sample group sizeable enough to draw accurate conclusions about the product.
The other issue was maintaining objectivity insofar as our evaluation of the product is subjective, experiential, and anecdotal – and our evaluations were made while “high” on cannabis. Consequently, it was rather difficult for us to retroactively determine whether TokeSmart had any perceivable effect.
We also struggled with trying to evaluate our experience of the product because we couldn’t agree on the parameters that would characterize someone as a habitual or regular user – a metric that we felt would be significant for testing efficacy.
Given these challenges, we could not make a determination as to whether TokeSmart had a perceivable effect on our experience of cannabis. It is important to recognize that this is neither an affirmation or refutation of whether the product works.
We are aware that this does not qualify as a product endorsement or testimonial, but it was never intended to be.
Our intention was not to galvanize you to try this product, rather to provide you with enough information to decide for yourself.
As for why we chose to try the product, even though we had reservations about the credibility our evaluations would hold, is that we felt we had a responsibility to give the fairest assessment possible – even if our assessment was not substantive.
If you have ever smoked a hookah, then chances are, you have considered adding weed to your shisha bowl.
I say this because I too have considered, and attempted, to add weed to my own shisha bowl – with, I might add, varying degrees of success.
It is for this reason that I resolved to make my own homemade weed shisha, and given that Ontario has banned shisha bars, the timing of my efforts couldn’t be more poignant.
What is Shisha?
Shisha is a simple product, comprised of tobacco, molasses, glycerol or glycerin, and flavouring – either artificial or natural.
Despite its humble beginnings, shisha has evolved into a niche market replete with dozens, if not hundreds, of unique flavours.
The product itself, and the act of hookah smoking more generally, has steadily increased in popularity over the years.
Unfortunately, both shisha and hookah water pipe’s have come under fire, at least in Ontario, for conflicting with the Smoke Free Ontario Act.
This has made it difficult to source popular shisha brands like Al-Fakher or Starbuzz.
Very few businesses carried these products to begin with, and their scarcity will only increase now that legislation governing their use has become more prohibitive.
For an avid shisha lover like myself, this trend forced me to scour the web for the best homemade weed shisha recipe I could find.
How to Make Weed Shisha
Making weed shisha is not much different than making regular shisha tobacco.
The difficulty is achieving the right balance between all of the ingredients.
In order to achieve the perfect balance between ingredients, you need to determine what is most important during your hookah smoking session.
Vegetable Glycerin (VG) is a sweet-tasting, non-toxic, and viscous liquid. In weed shisha, it is used as a protectant for the mixture by slowing the rate of burning, and to create the characteristic clouds we often associate with hookah pipe’s. Due to its intrinsic sweetness, it also imparts some of its flavour to the shisha mixture.
However, if there is too much glycerin in the shisha mixture it can actually detract from the overall flavour, as well as leave your lungs feeling heavy and uncomfortable.
Glycerin is non-toxic, but when aspirated into the lungs it can cause discomfort, and potentially, lipid pneumonia. Some people argue that glycerin is an alcohol, not a lipid, so it cannot cause lipid pneumonia, but it is perhaps wise to assume there is some risk involved.
It is for these reasons, that striking the right balance between glycerin and the other ingredients in your weed shisha is vital, not only for the enjoyment of the hookah session, but also to preserve the integrity of your lungs.
You should be looking for 99.99% food-grade USP glycerin.
As is the case with glycerin, determining the right amount of flavouring for your shisha mixture can make or break your hookah session.
In my own homemade weed shisha, I used fresh apples for flavouring. I began by slicing the apples and then heating them slowly in a non-stick pan. My goal was to remove as much moisture from the apples as I could without browning them.
After cooking, I then mashed the apples and set them aside to cool.
If the apples are not dry enough, your coconut coals or quick-light coals will not be able to burn your weed shisha, and if they are too dry the mixture could burn too quickly – like I said, balance is critical.
As far as how many apples, or any fruit of your choosing, to use – that is a matter of preference. When using natural sweeteners, it is advisable to use more rather than less because the tobacco and molasses will tend to overpower the flavour of the fruit.
Much like glycerin, molasses is used for a more efficient distribution of heat, and to impart some of its flavour to your homemade shisha.
I personally use dark molasses, which is more bitter than sweet, and pairs better with the flavour of tobacco.
The flavour profile of my homemade weed shisha tends to reflect more of the tobacco and weed than fruit, but if sweetness is more palatable to you then use a light molasses and lots of fruit.
In my weed shisha, I use a shag tobacco. Sometimes it is flavoured and other times not. Loose tobacco, although already shredded, should be even finer when used in your shisha mix. So depending on which brand you buy, you may need to use a food processor or scissors to achieve the right consistency.
As said previously, the flavour of tobacco can be too much for some and can overtake any other flavours you have added to the mixture. If this is of concern to you, consider soaking your shag tobacco in water for a few hours and then setting aside to dry. The water will leech some of the flavour and nicotine out of the loose leaf which will make your homemade weed shisha milder.
Like fruit, the tobacco must be fairly dry. So, let it sit for a while before adding it to your mix – especially if your soaking it in water.
When it comes to adding weed to your shisha, there are many options to consider.
Obviously, fresh or dried cannabis can be added to the shisha mix, but for an even distribution of marijuana, an extract such as butters or oils may be preferable. They’re typically viscous and will fuse with the glycerin and molasses.
The use of extracts has several benefits including, but not limited to, less potential for burning and much less wasted product. Every bit counts.
Finding the Right Proportions
Tobacco is clearly the base of your homemade shisha, and a typical shisha bowl holds around 20 grams.
If you are making 100 grams of shisha, then you can expect to have 5 smoke sessions.
This is significant insofar as it can guide how much glycerin, cannabis, and molasses to add.
The prevailing rule when determining how much cannabis to use is to start low and increase slowly. I would say that this extends to your homemade weed shisha as well.
If you typically ingest a gram of cannabis at a time, then 5 grams of marijuana, or equivalent volume of extract, in 100 grams of shisha is probably adequate. Remember that if you are using dried or fresh marijuana versus an extract, these figures can fluctuate.
As for the glycerin and molasses, you should make sure that your tobacco is thoroughly coated, but not so much that there is residue pooling at the bottom of the container or bowl you are using.
I would keep the glycerin around 30ml per 100gram of shisha, and add more if needed or according to your preference.