Swiss scientists have taken a leaf from the pothead recipe book to brew an e-cigarette cannabis liquid for medical use they said Thursday is safer than a joint and better than a pill.
"Therapeutic cannavaping", they argued, should be examined as an alternative to existing treatments which can come in the form of a syrup, pill, mouth spray, skin patch, suppository, or a plain-old spliff.
It may be mentioned that medical marijuana can be legally prescribed in some countries for pain relief, appetite stimulation, nausea reduction or the relief of muscle spasms.
The team copied an improvised method popular among marijuana afficionados using butane gas to extract and concentrate cannabinoids -- the active, high-causing compounds of cannabis. "We were inspired by what is done illegally, underground, on the web fora," said study co-author Vincent Varlet, a biochemist and toxicologist from the University Centre of Legal Medicine in Lausanne, Switzerland.
"Normally, they use this form of cannabinoids to get high. Based on what is done illegally, we found that it could be interesting" for the medical field. The method yields super-concentrated "dabs" of butane hash oil (BHO) -- comprising about 70-80% THCa -- the precursor of THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive ingredient. THCa is transformed into THC at high heat.
Usually the dabs are burnt and the fumes inhaled. But for the study, the team mixed their activated BHO paste into commercially-available e-cigarette liquid at different concentrations -- three, five or 10%. They then put "vaping machines" to work: sucking at the e-cigarettes and blowing out vapour, which was measured for its THC content, according to results published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.
"Cannavaping appears to be a gentle, efficient, user-friendly and safe alternative method for cannabis smoking for medical cannabis delivery," the team concluded with a nod to "the creativity of cannabis users". It was also more reliable than consuming cannabinoid pills or foods which are poorly and erratically absorbed, said Varlet.
Battery-powered e-cigarettes heat up liquids containing artificial flavourings, with or without nicotine, to release a vapour which is inhaled and exhaled much like smoke. They are touted as safer than the real thing, and an aide for giving up cancer-causing tobacco -- which is also an ingredient of the traditional cannabis joint. - Weeding potheads from patients -Cannabis-infused e-liquids are advertised online, along with a rash of recipes for making your own.