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Dosing Protocols & the Entourage Effect

Delivery Methods

Inhalation: smoke via pen, pipe, dab, joint, blunt or bong or vapor via vaporizer

Ingestion: edibles, capsules, drinks

Sublingual: tinctures/droplets, sprays, lozenges

Topical: salves, balms, bath soaks

Transdermal: gels, patches 

human hands holding a cannabis joint and lit lighter over a wooden coffee table with a plant in the background

Onset & Duration

stack of 5 chocolate chip cookies next to a cannabis bud on a wooden table

Inhalation: onsets in 1-3 minutes; lasts 1-3 hours

Ingestion: onsets in 30-90 minutes; lasts 6-12 hours

Sublingual: onsets in 15-30 minutes; lasts 2-4 hours

Topical: onsets in 30-60 minutes; lasts 2-4 hours

Transdermal: onsets in 15-30 minutes; lasts 6-12 hours

Beautiful Benefits

Inhalation: systemic relief; fast-acting

Ingestion: systematic relief (extended); longer-acting

Sublingual: easily measurable & controllable

Topical: localized pain relief & reduces inflammation

Transdermal: localized pain relief & reduces inflammation

female hands loading cannabis flower into rolling paper with an open grinder on the table below her

The Entourage Effect

Isolates/Concentrates vs. Broad Spectrum vs. Full Spectrum

“The whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts”
 – Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN, FAND

The hemp + cannabis plants contain harmonious cannabinoids, terpenes + flavonoids that work together beautifully as a unit.

With some benefit on their own, like the calming effects of CBD or the appetite-suppressing properties of humulene, combining the other synergistic plant parts of this healing herb can be a useful treatment tool in helping with anxiety, stress management, pain relief, muscle recovery + insomnia due to the activity + sensitivity of the cannabinoid receptors.

Your choice will be based on several factors, such as:

Your wellness goals
Pain sensations
Sensitivity to THC 
Desired level of impairment/euphoria
Legality in your state

Isolates/Concentrates: Contains no synergistic parts of the hemp or cannabis plant other than one, isolated cannabinoid

  • Non-impairing – good choice for daytime use
  • Good choice for children, elderly + pets highly sensitive to the effects of THC (even in trace amounts)
  • Good for chronic pain
  • Least effective of all 3 product types

Broad Spectrum: Contains all synergistic parts of the hemp + cannabis plants without THC

  • Non-impairing – great for daytime use
  • Good for choice children, elderly, pets + those new to cannabis
  • Great for chronic pain
  • Common in CBD sublingual tinctures, lotions, roll-ons, bath soaks + salves

Full Spectrum: Contains all synergistic parts of the hemp + cannabis plants with THC (i.e. The Entourage Effect)

  • Can be impairing at certain THC levels
  • Potential to test (+) on drug tests depending on THC levels
  • Good choice for those with severe pain + in need of heightened mental relief
  • Best for chronic pain
  • Federally legal full-spectrum CBD products will contain no more than 0.3% THC
    • Little to no impairment/euphoria
    • THC levels will vary depending on manufacturer, product type + state legality
  • Common in hemp + cannabis flower, sublingual tinctures, lotions + roll-ons

Dosing Tips & Reminders

dimly lit room with circular rattan mirror hanging on wall with orangey couch, two teal round throw pillows, a floor lamp and teal curtains
  • Dosing is highly individualized
  • There’s no standard “one size fits all” protocol that exists for cannabis
  • “Start low, and go slow”
    • Start with a smaller dose than you think you need, then slowly increase until you’ve found your desired therapeutic effect
  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
    • Be patient, it can take time to find your perfect pairing
    • Your doses may be too low in the beginning to feel any effect
  • Track your symptoms
    • Be sure to account for the type of delivery method, time to onset, duration of effects + how each dose makes you feel
  • Adjust your dose if you experience any unwanted side effects, such as paranoia or psychosis
  • Pair with nutrient-dense, synergistic foods + beverages
  • CBD tends to be more beneficial for daytime use since it’s non-impairing, so choose products with more CBD + less (or no) THC for times when you need to be productive
  • At nighttime, choose products with less CBD + more THC to assist with sleep (if 21+ and older AND in a legal state)
  • Above all, remain calm + peaceful
    • Engage in stress-relieving activities, like meditation or journaling, to enhance the therapeutic + euphoric benefits
  • Ask for help when you need it!

Helpful Websites

Note: Links with a (*) are affiliate links – when you purchase through these links, I receive a small commission.

  • Holistic Cannabis Academy*
    • Want to teach others about cannabis? Become a Holistic Cannabis Practitioner (HCP) through the Holistic Cannabis Academy*! Follow the link for 50% off the total price of this self-paced training program with over 30 video modules taught by qualified industry leaders on cannabis-related topics from history to legislation to dosing + so much more!
  • Jannabis Wellness
    • Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RDN, FAND is an incredible Registered Dietitian Nutritionist + Holistic Cannabis Practitioner, as well as a public speaker, college professor + product developer!
    • In fact, Janice is the very reason why I’m now part of this industry. I fell in love with everything that she represents (plus she’s just COOL). We have many similarities in our journeys, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have such an amazing mentor, colleague + friend to share this space with – surround yourself with like-minded people!
  • Healer with Dr. Sulak
    • Become a trusted cannabis + hemp CBD advisor through Dr. Dustin Sulak’s Healer Certified Training Program. Dr. Sulak is a renowned cannabis clinician specializing in cannabis dosing protocols, peer-reviewed education + research, and manages over 10,000 patients! This self-paced training program includes 3 courses designed for industry leaders, healthcare professionals, and cannabis consumers.
  • Leafly
    • Well-known for its accuracy in potency record-keeping, is a great resource to find specific strain information, such as therapeutic effects, and terpene + cannabinoid profiles, along with a dispensary locator.
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