The last two blogs have been about marijuana (MJ). Wow! I didn't know I'd need three blogs to cover this subject! This one is about the different methods of ingesting the drug. Again, there are a lot more than I'd have thought. Let's start with the most common:
Smoking: Recreational users like smoking because, besides being about the easiest and cheapest way to go, it is the most likely to facilitate its psychoactive properties. Smoking also exposes lungs to many risks. For these two reasons, we can't recommend smoking for the person with LBD.
Vaping: This is a process similar to that used by electronic cigarette smokers. It is much less risky to the lungs than smoking, but just as likely to foster psychoactive properties. (Of course, a lower THC content predicts less psychoactivity. Thus, vaping MJ with a high CBD/low THC content might be considered. However, other forms of use are still likely better.
Edibles: You can add MJ to your own baking or teas, or you can buy products from cookies to popcorn to sodas with the MJ already added. Edibles do not irritate the lungs and have low psychoactive properties, making them good candidates for use. They can be very attractive to the sweets lover, and easy to use. With edibles, the effects are slow to arrive, although once present, they are long lasting.
Tinctures and sprays: These are alcohol extractions of the cannabis (marijuana) plant. Place a few drops under the tongue, or in a liquid like coffee, or even directly to the skin. (I interviewed a local doctor who advocates marijuana use for a variety of symptoms. He suggests this method as the best for a person with dementia.) These provide the instant relief similar to smoking when used sublingually, with a very low risk of psychoactive effects. Try out a small area first if you apply it directly to the skin, to test for allergies or irritations.
Topical applications: Marijuana dispensaries offer a variety of lotions, salves and creams, used to relieve localized pain and reduce inflammation. As with edibles, there is no risk to the lungs and limited if any psychoactivity. There's also some evidence that these topicals can provide better local relief than smoking. As with tinctures and sprays, test a small area for allergies and irritations first.
Capsules: Usually, the capsule contains CBD oil, which is neither water soluble nor easily metabolized. Therefore, the capsules should also contain turmeric oil, which facilitates metabolization. Hemp CBD oil is legal everywhere, but is a much lower quality than that from the MJ plant. Capsules are convenient if your love one can take pills easily. However, dose sizes are limited. Unlike the tinctures or the edibles, you can't cut the dose from a capsule in half.
Aromatherapy: Cannabis flower oil is high in CBD and can be used in a regular distiller. This method is probably not the best for pain relief, since the effect is mild and of course, it will affect everyone in the room. But it can create a calm, relaxing atmosphere.
This is a very broad overview of the ways to use MJ. Like most drugs and their use, it is really much more complicated and varies greatly with the individual and what you want it to do. Thankfully, the people in marijuana clinics are very helpful. They are especially used to questions from "new users," that is from people who likely never considered using what was, until lately, considered an illegal substance. Do ask lots of questions. You want to feel comfortable with whatever you choose to do and use.
MMJ: Medicinal marijuana
LBD: Lewy body dementia
THC: cannabinoid in marijuana that causes the high
CBD: cannabinoid in marijuana that has antipsychotic properites
PlwD: person living with dementia
PlwLBD: person living with LBD
DLB: dementia with Lewy bodies
PDD: Parkinson's disease with dementia
MCI: mild cognitive impairment
MCI-LB: the form of MCI that precedes LBD
BPSD: behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia
For information about Lewy body disorders, read our books:
A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia
Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.