No one was more surprised than me to have arrived at the realization that I actually enjoy Twitter (@ColleenHiggy). I thought it would be a bunch of aggressive bullies but was happily surprised to encounter a group of people who are knowledgable, kind and passionate, just like in real life.
I am part of a group of Canadian and American doctors, nurses, writers, pharmacists, growers, patients, and advocates (along with one opponent) who chatter all day, everyday, about the ins and outs of the medical value of cannabis and the current state of legalization.
A while ago, a patient posted a picture of their cannabis tincture and complained about how there were no uniform label standards that helped them to figure out how to measure the proper dose.
It got me thinking how the nomenclature for liquid cannabis products can be quite confusing for most people who walk into a dispensary. So let’s clear up the confusion today. Feel free to pass this onto anyone who needs help calculating dosages for liquid medications.
Liquid cannabis products, such as tinctures and solutions, are ideal products for people who are just starting to use medical cannabis. New patients need to start with very low doses of THC (1mg-2.5mg) in order to safely determine their appropriate tolerance. This is most easily achieved with a liquid formulation.
So…..what are the differences between liquid products?
Liquid, edible cannabis products will differ based on the base that is used when combined with the cannabis extract. Cannabis oil is not soluble in water and therefore must be combined with other solvents.
Most cannabis products found in dispensaries are tinctures, solutions, nano-tinctures or a micro-emulsions.
A tincture is a liquid product that uses alcohol as the base, which can make for an unappealing (or gross) delivery. The best way to administer a tincture is to measure your dose and place it in milk or another liquid that can counteract the alcohol burn. I tell patients to place it in a shot-glass of liquid and get it down fast.
A solution in the most common liquid formulation for all liquid medications on the planet. Most products in dispensaries use something called MCT oil (micronized coconut oil) as the solvent. Cannabis oil is added typically along with some other ingredients to make a uniform solution. No shaking required.
A nano-tincture is used to add flavoring to a product since cannabis oil has a fairly unpleasant flavor. A surfactant is applied to the cannabis oil molecules to make them very “water-friendly” before they are added to a water-like solvent. These “tinctures” tend to be easier, and more pleasant to administer than thicker, bad-tasting oils.
A micro-emulsion follows the same process as used for nano-tinctures, but does not shrink the oil droplets as much, and therefore requires you to use as much as ten times more surfactant to make the molecule “water- friendly”. Large amounts of surfactants can lead to unpleasant side effects. So, stick with nano-emulsions if given the choice.
How to determine a dose in MG (milligrams) from a liquid cannabis product.
In order to calculate a dose from any liquid product, you will need to do a little math. For instance, if you have a bottle of solution that has 500mg in the bottle, how do you get a dose of 5mg? The bottle has 30ml in it.
Use this formula:
Divide total (mg) in bottle by the total (ml) in bottle = mg in 1 ml.
This is the milligrams in 1ml of your tincture.
If a 1ml dose is too high, then calculate the following:
0.5ml = mg in ml divided by 2
0.25ml = mg in ml divided by 4
I take a dose of 5mg THC at bedtime. How do I get this dose?
The total MG in the bottle is 500mg. First, divide this number by the total amount (ml) in the bottle, int his case it’s 30ml.
500mg divided by 30ml is 16.6mg per 1ml
At this point, we set up an equation where the only missing piece is how many ml we need to get 5mg.
16.1mg = 5mg
Divide and cross multiply to get:
16.1 X = 5 (1)
16.1 X= 5
divide 5 by 16.1
X = 0.3ml
this means you have 5mg in 0.3ml.
I apologize to those who are math impaired. Contact me and I will calculate your dose for you.
Award Winning Author & Coach
Colleen Higgins, R.Ph.
Colleen Higgins, R.Ph. is an author, speaker, and consultant who educates patients and cannabis manufacturers on the most effective ways to deliver cannabis as a medicine to the patients who need it.
Colleen Higgins, R.Ph. has worked directly with patients in the role of pharmaceutical and cannabis distribution for over 25 years. She is certified in diabetes education (CDE), medication management (MTM) and as a Pain Management Specialty Pharmacist (PMSP).
Have you recently been prescribed medical cannabis and now feel completely lost?
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