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The definition of mindfulness – mind·ful·ness/ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs – the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
An emerging trend in cannabis is using the plant with mindfulness and intention. Now, for some of you this may seem strange, especially when we’ve all been pummeled with fearmongering for decades with propaganda declaring:
“Marijuana will fry your brain!”
“It will make you go insane!”
“It will make you lazy!”
“It will turn you into a deviant!”
When you look at the plant and its chemistry, and what we know about how it works in our bodies, we can clearly see that there’s a real health benefit and it’s truly a miraculous plant. For one, you can’t consume enough to kill you. You can’t say that about other substances like alcohol or even kidney beans!
In Canada, you can get a prescription for cannabis filled at your local Shoppers Drug Mart. That fact alone is proof that cannabis has very real healing properties.
So yes, you can absolutely use cannabis for wellness, but how?
Once I entered the cannabis space I had to educate myself on the cannabis plant. How it’s grown, the properties of the plant, how it’s extracted, how it’s used in products. Once I did my mind was blown, I saw how much this plant can teach us about our own bodies, and this is huge.
I also have to keep up with the science on cannabis and I can tell you that there are countless studies coming out about cannabis now that it’s legal in Canada and scientists are free to study the plant.
However there’s a lot of catching up to do, there’s still so much we don’t know about the plant. What we do know about it, gives us a pretty good view of the potentials for cannabis.
Knowing a bit about how cannabis works in the body and the properties of the plant, will help you in using cannabis for mindfulness
Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s scientists discovered an entire regulatory system in our bodies called the endocannabinoid system. (ECS)
The ECS regulates many functions of our bodies from sleep, hormones, appetite, mood, fertility and more- basically its job is to keep our body in homeostasis.
The ECS has a series of receptors that can be found throughout our brain and bodies. Our body creates its own cannabinoids called endocannabinoids.
Endocannabinoids bind to the various receptors found in our bodies which are then broken down by enzymes.
Cannabinoids from the cannabis plant, called phytocannabinoids also bind themselves to the various receptors in our body; basically our bodies were designed to accept the cannabis plant.
So many factors then come into play on how cannabis will feel in your body and why it’s so different for everyone. This depends on many factors, for example-you may have more receptors in your body than me, and I might have more enzymes in my body than you. How the plant works for me will be quite different than how it works for you.
The properties of the plant- cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids
The cannabis plant has many properties that can alter the overall feel and how it works in your body. There’s over 100 cannabinoids found in the plant and they’re discovering more as time goes on. The two most abundant cannabinoids that you’re likely familiar with are THC and CBD.
Other cannabinoids like CBN and CBG are now being extracted for their beneficial properties.
Terpenes are the essential oils of the plant. They play a role in how the plant will smell and taste and how it feels in your body. For example linalool, a terpene also found in lavender- can promote relaxation and ease anxiety.
Flavonoids are also being studied for their effects; flavonoids gives plants their vibrant colour. They also help to ward off pests and protect the plant from disease and UV rays.
“flavonoids also play an important role in providing the distinguishing qualities we use to differentiate between strain varieties. Both odor and flavor are possible in cannabis due to the synergistic qualities that terpenes and flavonoids share with one another.”
All of these compounds work together to give each cannabis cultivar its unique profile and effect. This is called the entourage effect, when all of the plant properties work synergistically so you get the maximum benefits from the plant, you’ll also see this marketed as “full spectrum”.
Knowing this we can see why there’s no one size fits all approach to cannabis. However science has given us some clues and guidelines to follow.
Why it’s important to consume cannabis mindfully and with intention
If you use too much cannabis you run the risk of unwelcome side effects. If you have mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression, you can either find relief with the plant or you can exasperate your symptoms and feel worse.
Science has shown that there’s a fine balance with cannabis, specifically THC. Lower doses of THC with high CBD can help depression and anxiety, too much can make your condition worse over time.
“Washington State University scientists examined how peoples’ self-reported levels of stress, anxiety and depression were affected by smoking different strains and quantities of cannabis at home. Their work, published this month in the Journal of Affective Disorders, suggests smoking cannabis can significantly reduce short-term levels of depression, anxiety, and stress but may contribute to worse overall feelings of depression over time.“
What happens is you build up a tolerance to cannabis when used on a regular basis. This means your dose can increase over time however this can also make your symptoms worse without you even realizing it. This is why mindful cannabis consumption is so important.
Related article: 3 Reasons why you don’t like the way cannabis makes you feel
How to practice mindfulness with cannabis
Using cannabis mindfully means being present while consuming and not scrolling through your Instagram feed, puffing away on a joint or vaporizer, unaware of how much you’re consuming.
It can also be eating more THC than your body needs because you’re not paying attention to the signals.
It’s easy to do, most of us are tired and we’re just getting to relaxation and don’t want to have to think about it too much. Or we simply forget because again, we’re tired.
It just takes some getting used to and over time, you’ll learn your body’s signals. You’ll know when you have the green light to do more, a yellow light to use caution and a red light to say no, now is not a good time.
Some others things to consider when using cannabis as a woman, is our hormones and menstrual cycles. Studies have shown that estrogen can make you more sensitive to THC, therefore certain times of the month, when estrogen is higher you may need to use less cannabis.
For me those are the days leading up to ovulation, I have to use very low amounts of THC or I feel jittery and I can trigger anxiety.
Other factors such as how much sleep you’ve had, if you have a virus, if you’re very stressed out, your diet and current mental state- all play a role in how cannabis will feel.
Related article: How to use cannabis to feel proper and not high
Keep a cannabis journal
Hands down using a cannabis journal is the best way to practice mindfulness when consuming cannabis. This allows you to see patterns over time, things you might not be aware of until you keep track. This will enable you to anticipate if today you should use less or if it’s a good time to use more.
Sometimes you can find the breakdown of terpenes and cannabinoids in the cannabis product you’re using. If so, keeping track of each product and it’s composition will help you make better buying decisions.
It doesn’t matter if you only use cannabis occasionally or daily, using a cannabis journal will give you a good idea of how your body reacts to certain doses and products depending on various factors.
Goldleaf specializes in cannabis journals that you can buy to track your consumption. You can buy an intimacy cannabis journal, one for cooking with cannabis, one for growing and more (they even have a coffee tasters journal!) Check out Goldleaf and get 15% off your order when you but 2 or more journals with code BUNDLE15
Always use CBD
I harp on this a lot on my blog and that’s because CBD reduces the side effects of THC, it also enhances the positive effects of THC. I recommend at a 2:1 or higher CBD/THC ratio. This will give you a better experience overall.
“A lot of consumers seem to be under the false assumption that more THC is always better,” Cuttler said. “Our study shows that CBD is also a very important ingredient in cannabis and may augment some of the positive effects of THC.“
Questions I ask myself before consuming cannabis
It’s easy to fall into the habit of using cannabis and not thinking about why. This is when we can over consume and feel worse, not better.
Being mindful when I consume cannabis means that I stop and think about whether or not it’s a good time for it. Will cannabis be an enhancement in this moment, or a hinderance?
I mostly use cannabis at night after the kids go to bed. I stop to think about how much cannabis, if any, I should use. I like to use cannabis in the evening to unwind and separate myself from the day. So my intention is to feel calm and at ease.
I tap into how I’m feeling and ask myself questions like:
“Am I feeling too anxious today?“
“Am I having a lot of pain today?”
“Where am I in my menstrual cycle?“
“Did I eat healthy today?”
These questions then guide me on how much cannabis I need to achieve the desired effect – feeling calm and at ease.
Sometimes that will mean I can have an edible topped up with dry herb vaporizing. Sometimes that means just dry herb vaporizing on a low temperature, and sometimes that means just using CBD and hardly any THC.
I’ve learned from being mindful in my approach to cannabis, how much I can use on any given day.
When you feel better, you do better
Cannabis enhances so many things that I do to be productive and also to be mindful. For example- I use low doses of cannabis for mindfulness and meditation in the evening.
Meditation for me can be done in the traditional sense however I also meditate by soaking in a hot bath, listening to good music on my headphones, writing in a journal or going for a walk by myself (a rare occurrence with 2 kids).
Related article: 3 ahhhmazing ways to reduce stress and anxiety with cannabis
I use cannabis in low doses to write for work, it helps me focus on what I’m doing. I use cannabis in higher doses for certain things like sleep, pain and for boosting my creativity for artistic projects.
What cannabis helps me with the most is sex. It reduces the pain and helps me get into the mood, without it I wouldn’t be able to have sex as often and that would have a damaging impact on my marriage.
This is why using cannabis in a mindful way allows you to feel better so you do better.
Related article: Edibles and sex is where it’s at Ladies!