More and more people with health conditions are turning to cannabis for its benefits. Believe it or not, combining cannabis and essential oils can boosts those benefits even more.
Thanks to a potent combination of cannabinoids, terpenes and other substances, cannabis is whole-plant medicine. And people who have a range of health conditions from anxiety and PTSD to neurological and autoimmune diseases turn to the plant for its many benefits. But combining cannabis and essential oils can boost those benefits—and even provide new ones.
Whether you smoke, vape or consume cannabis another way, adding essential oils from other plant sources like lavender or peppermint can enhance the healthy properties of cannabis in all of its many forms.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts of plant compounds that are usually mixed with a neutral carrier oil (like almond oil or other neutral oils). They’re made this way since pure essential oils are so highly concentrated that they can be harmful if used alone.
Essential oils are highly fragrant and depending on the source, can be used for the following:
- Flavoring foods
- Aromatherapy treatments for a variety of health benefits
Many essential oils are made using terpenes—plant compound oils that are produced in the plant’s resin glands. Cannabis, like most botanicals, contains terpenes that are also found in other plants and fruits. Some of these terpenes are as follows:
- Limonene, which is often found in citrus
- Myrcene, which is present in hops
- Beta-caryophyllene, which you’ll find in black pepper
These and other terpenes not only have health benefits of their own, they also work together with other terpenes and cannabis compounds to produce more potent effects. This synergism is often referred to as the entourage effect, which is a hypothesis that compounds other than THC can interact to modulate the psychoactive effects of the plant. This means you can combine your cannabis with essential oils in a variety of ways to enhance or moderate how you feel. You can even create new effects for a customized experience that targets a specific health issue.
Combining Essential Oils & Cannabis: The Basics
You can use essential oils in lots of different ways. Some, like lemongrass or orange oil, are considered safe for consumption and can add flavoring to a variety of foods. Others, such as tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil, are intended for direct use on the skin or in topical preparations such as creams and salves.
You can either inhale most essential oils or diffuse them into the air. In all of these situations, the molecules of the plant extract are able to enter the body and brain, and affect a variety of processes. These include the following:
- Pain signalling
- Stress reactions
Oils made from the whole cannabis plant and individual cannabis compounds and terpenes work in the same way, so that they can have these effects, too. A recent study reveals that simply sniffing cannabis oil can affect brain wave patterns, causing an increase in the alpha and theta waves that are associated with relaxation and calm.
Popular Essential Oil-Cannabis Combinations
Combining cannabis in any of its many forms with essential oils can offer benefits that can be greater than using either of these alone. Here are some popular combinations to consider:
Lemongrass or mango: Myrcene is a common terpene in cannabis, lemongrass and mango. This terpene is able to cross the blood-brain barrier (a part of the central nervous system that helps to keep many potentially toxic substances from entering the brain). For this reason, myrcene can act as a kind of escort to help other cannabis compounds, particularly tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), reach the brain, so that its effects are felt more strongly.
Lavender: This essential oil can help to promote relaxation, and it can even reduce anxiety in people with Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia. Inhaling lavender oil while using cannabis products can help moderate the effects of THC, so that it doesn’t cause anxiety. It can also enhance the relaxing effects of cannabis strains that are high in CBD.
Peppermint or cinnamon: These essential oils can operate in the same was as lavender to help enhance cannabis benefits for people who use weed to treat digestive issues and other kinds of chronic pain.
Ways to Combine Cannabis and Essential Oils
You can combine essential oils with cannabis in a variety of ways, so marijuana consumers can mix and match to find the right combinations. Here are a few methods to try:
- Put essential oil in the water of your bong or water pipe.
- Add your essential oil of choice to a cannabis tincture.
- Rub essential oils on your skin before a session.
- Inhale essential oils while taking cannabis, so that both the oil and the cannabis enter the bloodstream.
Using Essential Oils With Cannabis Safely
Although you can use many different kinds of essential oils with various ways of consuming cannabis, not all of them work the same way. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Never use essential oils in an undiluted form. Pure essential oils are highly concentrated extracts that can be toxic or cause severe skin reactions. That’s why these oils are generally added to a carrier oil to make them safe to use. If you purchase a pure oil, you can also buy carrier oils separately and mix in a few drops of the pure essential oil to make it safer to use.
- Make sure you know how to safely use a particular essential oil. Some, like orange oil, are safe to ingest or to add to foods for flavoring—but these oils can cause burns when applied to the skin. Likewise, oils that can be absorbed into the skin, such as tea tree oil, can be dangerously toxic when eaten. Also, some oils are safest when they’re inhaled, rather than eaten or rubbed onto the skin.
- Buy organic, high-quality oils whenever possible. These kinds of oils are produced with the safest extraction processes, usually from organic plants. This reduces the risk of ingesting added ingredients that could contain toxins.
- Read labels carefully. Some products that are marketed as high-quality essential oils or terpenes may only have small amounts of these ingredients. They can even be more heavily weighted toward other ingredients, such as vitamins and herbs.
- Avoid heating essential oils to very high temperatures. When essential oils are subjected to very high heat, as in dabbing or smoking cannabis, their chemical composition changes, and they can develop carcinogens and other kinds of toxins.
Essential oils can add a pleasant—and healthful—boost to the many ways of consuming cannabis. They can enhance cannabis products of all kinds and offer health benefits of their very own. Just be sure to heed the guidelines for using essential oils safely.
When in Doubt, Reach Out for Help
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