What are cannabis capsules?
Cannabis capsules are cannabis in pill form. They can contain many forms of cannabis, including oil and decarboxylated flower. They can contain single cannabinoids or the full spectrum of compounds the source cannabis plant has to offer. Typically, cannabis capsules are labeled by their cannabinoid contents, such as THC capsules and CBD capsules, for example. Compared to other cannabis products and consumption methods like vaping or smoking cannabis, capsules are easy to dose and consume. Medical cannabis patients sometimes opt for capsules because they can provide a potent dose with long-lasting effects.
How to consume cannabis capsules
If you’ve tried cannabis edibles, then you already have a solid understanding of the experience you can expect from THC capsules. If you’re new to both of these cannabis products, know that every individual’s liver metabolizes compounds differently, which is why edibles and THC capsules can produce different effects in different people. The effects of THC capsules can range from sleep-inducing and pain-relieving to focused and euphoric, depending on the capsule’s ingredients. The entire experience can last anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours, depending on the individual and the potency of the THC capsules.
Meanwhile, CBD capsules may cause only the slightest shift in consciousness or a wave of pain relief, depending on the dose and other ingredients. Finding the right dose and cannabinoid profile for you takes some trial and error, so start with 5 milligrams (mg) of THC or less and wait at least two hours before taking more. If you’re trying CBD capsules for the first time, start with 25mg of CBD or less.
Get to know cannabis capsules
Discover cannabis capsules
Immediate-release capsules work identically to edibles. Cannabinoids enter your body through your mouth and get absorbed by your stomach. In the case of THC pills, your liver then metabolizes THC into a compound called 11-hydroxy-THC, which can last longer and have a more sedating effect than THC.
Time-release capsules follow the same route of digestion and metabolization, but the effects may be delayed or drawn out. Capsule shells engineered with liposomes and drug-polymer conjugates — like hydrogels — allow for the timed release of their contents. These protective and inert ingredients neutralize stomach acid for slower release of THC or CBD into the bloodstream.
Cannabis capsules for beginners
There are many types of marijuana capsules to choose from. Here are the common terms you’ll find on capsule packaging and what they mean:
Ground, decarboxylated flower. Decarboxylation is the process of heating cannabis flower to activate certain cannabinoids. Cannabis flower requires decarboxylation to turn non-intoxicating THCA into intoxicating THC or inactive CBDA into active CBD. Ingesting decarboxylated weed in capsule form allows you to experience the entourage effect without having to smoke weed.
Crystalline. Crystalline is a powdered substance that resembles table salt or sugar. Crystalline capsules contain nearly 100% pure powdered cannabinoids, often in THCA or CBDA-only formulas that allow medical patients to ingest weed without the intoxicating effects associated with THC. The extraction process used to create crystalline essentially strips cannabis of terpenes, minor cannabinoids, and plant matter, leaving behind only the desired molecule.
Distillate. Distillate is a runny liquid that is similar to crystalline in that a distillation process is used to produce it. Its purity can run anywhere from 85% to 95% of one cannabinoid — typically CBD or THC — and the cannabis plant’s terpenes are sometimes reintroduced into the final product. Distillate’s cannabinoids are decarboxylated and capable of providing consumers with some of the intoxicating effects associated with inhaling weed smoke or ingesting edibles containing THC. THC pills made with distillate typically contain just that — THC and no other compounds or terpenes.
CBD:THC. Capsules containing ratios of THC and CBD work to enhance potential medicinal effects and modulate intoxicating effects to meet patients’ individual needs. CBD-infused capsules can potentially deliver relief while mitigating THC’s potentially adverse side effects, making the medication more tolerable to new or sensitive patients.
Full-spectrum. Cannabis capsules labeled as full-spectrum include all of the cannabis plant’s available molecules — terpenes, cannabinoids, and everything in between. Full-spectrum cannabis capsules can contain decarboxylated flower or infused oil bases, and allow patients to feel the effects of weed without any additives.
Broad-spectrum. Similar to full-spectrum, broad-spectrum products have retained most, if not all, the beneficial compounds from the source plants. The key difference is that broad-spectrum products typically refer to CBD products that have been refined to remove all traces of THC.
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