While the medical marijuana movement is currently focused on the benefits of smoking cannabis, that is not how things will always be. It is great that the movement has progressed further towards the benefits of vaporizing, but that still delivers cannabinoids in an improper medium, that medium being the lungs. Medicine is not meant to be absorbed that way; it is meant to pass through the digestive system, the set of organs most capable of absorbing nutrients. The lungs are designed to process oxygen, not cannabinoids or other medicinal substances. Despite this, just smoking cannabis is more effective than many pharmaceuticals, even though the delivery system is so inherently inefficient. This is because low levels of cannabinoids still affect the body in positive levels, but only enough to alleviate symptoms to some degree, not attack the root of the disease.
There is one benefit that smoking or vaporizing has over ingested extract medicine, and that is immediate effect. When consuming oil, it often takes ten to sixty minutes for it to be physically felt. But for the alternatives, effects are realized within seconds of smoking/vaporizing. This is useful for breakthrough nausea and pain, and when combined with extract medicine, can be very effective for controlling sudden symptoms and healing the disease over the longer term.
However, smoking or vaporizing simply is not sufficient for eliminating a condition. For that to occur, one must fill their system with concentrated endocannabinoids, so that work is being done to balance the body at all times. In short, smoking simply does not provide the body with enough cannabinoids to make a drastic effect. Only by ingesting extract medicine at consistent times in large quantities can true healing take place.
For different conditions, extract medicine has varying paths of working, but since not much research has been done on it (besides the empirical results which drive the movement) there is no way to know specific mechanisms for certain. The most research that has been done is on cancer, and shows that tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol (the two most prominent cannabinoids in cannabis) kill cancer by inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death), inhibiting angiogenesis (blood vessels that feed tumors), and other cancer-specific ways. And although smoking cannabis is so relativey ineffective, studies show that cannabis users have a lower chance of getting head and neck cancers tha non-smokers, up to 62% better. This is incredible, and although smoking cannabis may have some effect on preventing cancer, it cannot heal it like extracts can.
By: Justin Kander