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If you’ve recently been authorized to use medical cannabis, the next step is discovering your optimal dose. Physicians may also want to learn more about cannabis dosing, as getting the right dose for a patient can be quite difficult.

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There are a few things every patient and doctor should keep in mind. Understanding the basics of cannabis dosing will help you find the right dose.


Cannabis Has a Multiphasic Dose-Response Relationship

The first thing to understand about cannabis dosing is that cannabis has a unique dose-response relationship. Most medications exhibit stronger therapeutic effects in higher doses. Those higher doses also lead to an increase in adverse effects.

This is referred to as a monophasic dose-relationship. The relationship between the dose and the response is linear. For cannabis, however, the dose-response relationship is not quite so straightforward. Instead, cannabis exhibits a multiphasic dose-response relationship. At a certain point, the therapeutic effects of cannabis begin to decrease, while adverse responses increase.

Cannabis has a sort of “sweet spot” where the optimal dose is achieved. The optimal dose varies among individuals, so each person’s optimal dose will be unique.


Finding the Optimal Dose

Since cannabis has this optimal dosing characteristic, it’s important for each individual patient to discover their optimal dose and their therapeutic window. The “window” describes the range between the lowest effective dose and the dose where adverse effects outweigh positive benefits.

Those who are just beginning to use medical marijuana often have a narrow window. A low dose may be effective for them, and even a slightly higher dose could produce negative effects. Those who use cannabis regularly will have a wider window.

At the right dose, the patient will achieve the highest possible therapeutic effect and minimal adverse reactions.


Bidirectional Effects

Cannabis also has another unique characteristic. It has the ability to cause equal and opposite reactions. Different strains and different concentrations of various cannabinoids appear to be responsible for this effect.

An example could be anxiety. In some early studies, it has been suggested cannabis could be effective in controlling anxiety. More research is needed here, especially as it’s known cannabis can also heighten anxiety for some people. The relationship among dose, strain, and reactions needs to be more thoroughly investigated.

The important point here is that the right dose and strain combination is important. It will vary among individuals, and some people could experience adverse effects or even worsen the symptoms they’re trying to manage.


Starting Low, Going Slow

The most common rule of thumb when it comes to cannabis dosing is “start low, go slow.” This is good advice for medical cannabis patients. Starting low and slowly increasing the dose will help the patient determine their optimal dose and the lowest effective dose. It should also reduce situations where the patient experiences highly unpleasant reactions.

The patient may also be able to experiment with different strains or forms of medical cannabis to discover what is most effective for them in the lowest dose. If you can achieve optimal effects with a low dosage of one strain versus a higher dosage of another strain, the low-dose strain is likely more effective for you.


Think about Microdosing

Many people can realize positive health benefits from cannabis in incredibly low doses. This minimizes the risk of long-term problems and the risk of adverse reactions in the present. Microdosing is thus becoming more popular.

If you’ve been curious about medical cannabis but are unsure about dosing, talk to a medical professional. They can assist you in finding the right dose for you.


why-more-patients-are-turning-to-cannabis-for-pain-relief

Dr. Michael Verbora

Michael earned an MBA from the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business in 2009 and an M.D. from Schulich School of Medicine at Western University in 2013, before entering a Family Practice residency at the University of Toronto. A member of the Canadian Consortium for the Investigation of Cannabinoids, Doctors for Responsible Access and the Canadian Pain Society, he has completed over 2,000 cannabinoid therapy consultations and has presented many talks in community and hospital settings while serving as student health physician at Seneca College and Medical Director, Canabo Medical Clinic.

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