Although a novel dosing concept, direct sublingual application is firmly rooted in science and parallels the most effective traditional uses of medical cannabis.
Direct sublingual application involves placing precisely decarboxylated cannabis under the tongue, allowing the cannabinoids to immediately enter the bloodstream through the vessel-rich tissues within the sublingual cavity. Fast, accurate uptake without the hazards of smoking!The Science Behind the ScenesDecarboxylationIn its natural state, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis is found as its biosynthesized precursor, cannabinolic acid. To activate this potential THC, a carboxyl group must be removed by heat. In practice, available cannabinolic acid in cannabis is "decarboxylated" to THC by the heat of smoking or cooking. The THC may then be delivered relatively rapidly through the lungs when smoked or more slowly in the gastrointestinal tract when eaten. Unfortunately, the conventional methods of preparing and ingesting cannabis involve imprecise and incomplete decarboxylation which lead to an inferior medicine. Find out more about decarboxylation here.The usual ways of preparing and ingesting cannabis suffer from other drawbacks as well. For example, smoking cannabis creates harmful carcinogens through destructive pyrolysis of numerous plant compounds due to the heat of the flame and can also cause irritation to the lung tissue. Eating cannabis requires a significant period of time before onset of effects, and the uptake through the gastrointestinal tract is uneven and incomplete. Also any preparation other than smoking requires extraction of the active cannabinoids into a secondary medium, which results in loss during extraction and inconsistent end results. Direct sublingual application (DSA) of cannabis, however, provides accurate, rapid administration with no negative health effects.
For patients, sublingual cannabis can eliminate the barriers to effective use.
- Immediate relief--no waiting for digestive tract absorption.
- No negative health effects--better than smoking or vaporizing.
- Accuracy---nothing lost in extraction or administration more accurate than tinctures, smoking or eating.
- Access and choice--pharmaceutical grade solution at home with own cannabis.
- Safety--safer and more reliable than edibles and extracts.
- Cost saving, patients use less, more cost effective solution.
- Discretion--less obvious.
Sublingual as the new frontier of medical cannabis administrationDecarboxylated cannabis plant material may be used sublingually to systemically deliver pharmacologically active cannabinoids (e.g., THC) present in the decarboxylated cannabis plant material without further processing. This discovery is significant, as sublingual use of decarboxylated cannabis provides accurate and efficient delivery of THC and other useful cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, without the drawbacks of smoking cannabis or cooking cannabis to eat it. The onset of pharmacological effects is rapid, and their duration equivalent to or exceeding other forms of ingestion. With sublingual use, delivery of both THC and other useful cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, is significantly improved. Sublingual delivery of cannabis is a superior mode of administration considering the hazards of smoking cannabis, and the pharmacokinetic limitations of ingesting cannabis.
Superior to Smoking:Sublingual delivery provides rapid effects similar to smoking without exposing the lungs to heat, tar, or other unwanted collateral effects, including unpleasant smoke smell, smoky taste, dry mouth, throat irritation and caused both by smoke and hot embers that often enter the user’s mouth and lungs during administration. When, ignited, nearly 50% of the cannabinoids present in the cannabis literally “go up in smoke” that is not actually inhaled by the user. Sublingual delivery is discreet and more efficient, requiring smaller amounts of cannabis for the same effect, as more of the pharmacologically active cannabinoids are absorbed into the bloodstream. Sublingual administration allows the user to avoid heat, tar, potential kickback, and even the carbon dioxide created by the most popular smoking alternative, vaporizers. Most importantly, sublingual administration allows for accurate dosing of cannabinoids, ensuring that patients and physicians retain control.Superior to Ingestion:Sublingual delivery is superior to ingestion of cannabis as well. While ingesting cannabis can provide long lasting therapeutic effects, and allow the body to reap the benefits provided by exposure to the entire cannabis plant profile, this method presents numerous drawbacks as well. Onset is significantly delayed, on average beginning over an hour after administration. This delay also makes it difficult to titrate doses as compared to sublingual administration. When ingesting cannabis the onset of pharmacological effect typically takes between 30 minutes and 120 minutes. Conversely, the sublingual dosage form induces a pharmacological effect in a subject within about 30 seconds to about two minutes of placing the sublingual dosage form in the subject’s sublingual cavity. In addition to the lag in time, ingestion is an inefficient form of administration. Decreased bioavailability in the digestive tract results in absorption of only 10% to 20% of cannabinoids, and oral administration subjects cannabis to “first pass metabolism,” whereby the cannabinoids are first processed by the liver before entering the bloodstream. Processing by the liver alters cannabinoids, leading to distinct therapeutic effects from those experienced with other forms of administration. While ingestion of cannabis may be unsatisfactory on its own, it can be an excellent complement to sublingual administration, and in conjunction with sublingual delivery ingestion can provide the user with a more comprehensive therapeutic experience.