The practice of vaping THC for its pleasure-inducing effects and therapeutic benefits has been an ongoing trend ever since vaping became a big hit (pun intended). With the use of THC from medical marijuana still highly restricted and legal only in certain states, the easy availability of CBD from hemp offers another option to those wanting to try the potential health effects of cannabinoids without the same legal ramifications (state dependent of course).
Read on to learn more about the CBD vape oil trend and if it’s the right choice for you.
How CBD may be a better alternative to THC
Cannabis has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries, but due to its intoxicating effects and potential for abuse, it was labelled as a controlled substance by the FDA in the 1970s. Since then, a number of states have legalized marijuana for recreational and/or medical use, but still with strict prohibitions.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary cannabinoid in marijuana and the specific compound responsible for its intoxicating effects. The whole plant itself is rich in beneficial cannabinoids — over 120 have been discovered so far — and these compounds work together to deliver certain health effects. CBD, or cannabidiol, is the second most active cannabinoid in marijuana. Several studies have found that combining THC and CBD may deliver better benefits compared to just THC alone — a result which is consistent with the whole-plant or entourage effect of using marijuana in its natural form.
THC and CBD actually share the same molecular formula and, therefore, also share similar potential health effects. A slight difference in their molecular structures, however, make CBD non-psychoactive. And this discovery has opened up many new possibilities for CBD as a therapeutic alternative to THC, especially because CBD can be sourced in higher amounts from hemp. Because CBD does not cause a high, hemp-derived CBD has been given legal status in all 50 states, although each state has their own regulations for its use.
Aside from its legal status and fewer restrictions surrounding the manufacture and use of CBD products, CBD may also be a better alternative to THC because it does not cause intoxication, so using it does not alter cognitive capabilities and behaviors; additionally, CBD oil is a more affordable option.
How does CBD vape oil work?
There are many ways to use CBD oil. Sublingual intake, wherein drops are placed directly under the tongue, offers the quickest absorption rate as the CBD can directly enter the bloodstream through the mucous membrane. Taking CBD capsules or tablets orally is also common, but absorption takes longer as the CBD still has to pass through the digestive system and some of the compound may be broken down during digestion.
Vaping involves inhaling aerosolized liquid so that it goes directly into the lungs and absorbed into the bloodstream. This delivery system provides the fastest way of absorbing CBD and may also provide greater bioavailability — depending on the quality of the CBD vape juice. Bioavailability is the ability of a substance to be absorbed and used by the body; the greater the bioavailability, the more of the substance is absorbed and used and the faster its effects.
Take note that you should not use regular CBD oil or tincture to vape; it is not designed for vaporization as it is too thick. CBD vape oil or vape juice is specifically formulated so it can be safely heated for vaporization and inhalation.
CBD vape liquid typically contains CBD extract and food-grade thinning agents, which may be any of the following: vegetable glycerine (VG); propylene glycol (PG); polyethylene glycol (PEG); or medium-chain triglyceride oil (MCT oil). Some studies have found, however, that when PG or PEG is heated for vaporization, it produces carcinogens that also get inhaled and which have been associated with serious lung problems among vapers. PEG is the most dangerous, and good-quality vape juice brands no longer use it.
CBD vape liquids also come in a wide variety of flavors. Some liquids only use terpenes — which are also naturally-occurring compounds in hemp — to provide the flavors; others use artificial flavorings.
Lastly, you can choose from full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate vape juice. Full-spectrum CBD contains all the beneficial compounds present in hemp so you can enjoy their combined health effects; keep in mind that hemp-derived CBD still contains trace amounts of THC, but not enough to cause a high. Broad-spectrum CBD also contains all the beneficial compounds, except for THC. CBD isolate only delivers cannabidiol.
How is CBD vape liquid used?
Vaping involves the use of a vape pen, which may either be disposable or rechargeable. Disposable vape pens are usually preloaded with the juice and are good for a limited number of puffs. Rechargeable pens come with batteries and refillable cartridges, which contain the juice.
There are also more advanced equipment — called mods — which are customizable and provide advanced features, such as digital heat settings.
Things to keep in mind when vaping CBD vape liquid
- MCT oil and vegetable glycerin have not been shown to produce carcinogens when heated. VG is often preferred by vapers who enjoy producing thick vapors.
- Watch out for artificial flavorings that contain the chemical “diacetyl.” This is commonly used to produce buttery flavors and has been found to cause “popcorn lung,” a serious respiratory condition.
- As much as possible, avoid liquids that use propylene glycol. The quality of the vape pen may ensure safe heating of this thinning agent, but there will always be a risk of inhaling carcinogens.
- Cherry, cinnamon, and vanilla flavors combined with propylene glycol may also produce harmful chemical compounds when heated.
- The more chemicals are used as ingredients, the more health risks the product will carry.
- Because CBD is heated to turn it into vapor, it’s even more important to choose a product that uses organic CBD so you can be sure that there won’t be any residual pesticides, solvents, or heavy metals that you might also inhale.
When buying CBD vape oil/juice, your best bet is a product with the USDA’s organic stamp of approval. If a product does not bear the USDA certified organic stamp, you can still find out where the company sourced their hemp; reputable companies will provide this information on their website. Ideally, the hemp used should have been sourced from local and certified hemp farms.
It’s important to only buy products — vape pens, liquids, batteries, and other accessories — from reliable sources. The lack of regulations in both the CBD and vaping industries should require greater caution from consumers.