Before getting into working with and making medicine from cannabis I wanted to talk about what it takes to heal. For some people, using cannabis for medicinal purposes means they take a hit off of a pipe to deal with some pain. For others with more complicated illnesses, they need to saturate. I talk about this in Confessions of a Back Porch Herbalist, but I wanted to hit the high points on this page as well. Many know that I have rheumatoid arthritis and I’ve used cannabis to put that into remission. But I couldn’t have done that without using the saturation model.
I use cannabis in raw form in smoothies. I also juice leaf along with other vegetables when making juice, but in a smoothie, nothing is wasted, so I prefer that method to juicing. Also, I made and used cannabis-infused coconut oil as well as cannabis-infused glycerin tincture. Along with these ingestion methods, I also smoked and used a vaporizer. It was an all-in approach and I felt it was necessary given how ill I was at that time. My doctor had all but given up on me, telling me he was doing all that he could and at that point his main concern was keeping me comfortable. Comfortable until what exactly??? He evidently didn’t understand that with pharmaceuticals it was impossible. But with cannabis, I healed. I still have RA, but it’s minor now with the cannabis and herbal tinctures I’ve formulated.
But here’s the deal. If your problems are severe, consider that going to a dispensary will be too expensive if you adopt the saturation approach. You really need to be growing for yourself and then making your medicine. Depending upon your grow limits, you should have enough to saturate your body’s cannabinoid receptors with cannabis. And whatever you do, stay away from “legal in all 50 states” cannabis oil. It’s not what you think. And try to use cannabis that has a nice balance between all the CB whatevers and THC. Although CBD is useful for specific conditions, it’s the whole plant that’s needed. We need that balance, so don’t feel pressured to use high CBD/low THC plants in your grow. You’re better off with the THC particularly if used in raw form. Plant acids are still viable when eating cannabis raw and they’re especially healing, so you’ll want to include raw cannabis leaf and bud in your diet.
I guess the most important concept to stress is that you need more cannabis than you think when reversing serious conditions or imbalances. If you grow your own, you’ll have enough to make oil, which is the best cannabis medicine you can have. It’s also extremely expensive if you have to buy it at a dispensary, assuming you can find any. So, again, grow your own, and make your own. And then use a bunch..daily. Not just a hit or two off of a pipe in the evening. It’s not enough to reverse serious illnesses.
So there are various methods to make cannabis medicine. Tinctures, oil, butter, and salve are typical preparations. Decarboxylating the cannabis before doing anything with it activates the THC in the plant material, increasing its strength. Various menstruums can be used, including grain alcohol and glycerin for tincture, and various oils such as olive, grapeseed, coconut, and butter. Cannabis can also be infused into honey, but you want to put the cannabis into something to infuse it in such as cheesecloth or a large tea ball you can buy at Mountain Rose Herbs. Honey is far too thick to simply pour it in. It would be difficult to strain. Lastly, and oil extraction can be done to create cannabis oil lovingly known as Rick Simpson Oil.
I use an oven turkey bag on 240° for 40 minutes. Some people grind it up before they decarboxylate, but I don’t. I break up the bud with my hands (use latex gloves) and then put it in the turkey bag and fasten it with the enclosed tie. Every 10 minutes or so I shake the bag a little bit to mix it around. After 40 minutes, I remove the pan from the oven and let the cannabis cool for a few minutes so that the terpenes that stick to the bag during heating settle back onto the cannbis. Otherwise, they escape into the air. So I let it settle for a couple of minutes before opening it. Then you can grind the cannabis if you want, or break it up further into whatever menstruum you’re using. I really don’t like grinding cannabis because it typically leaves trichomes in whatever you’re grinding it with. I use the dry container of my VitaMix and it gets really coated inside. After decarbing, the cannabis tends to break up really easily, so I don’t see the need in grinding it further.
Tinctures are easy. The simplest way to tincture is to fill a quart mason jar two thirds with decarboxylated cannabis and then add your menstruum of choice up to the top. The plant material is going to swell a bit and you want to be able to shake up the mixture. I use a skewer to tap around in the mixture after pouring in the menstruum to make sure it filters all the way through. You’ll want to also check it after a few hours to see if you need to add more menstruum if most gets soaked up by the plant material.
Anyway, glycerin is spendy, but it’s nice to use, particularly if alcohol is an issue or the tincture is for a child. I like it because it sweetens the cannabis a bit, and it’s really nice in tea.
If you want to use alcohol, then grain alcohol is my choice. You want an alcohol that is around 99% alcohol by volume. Vodka isn’t strong enough. Even 100 proof vodka gives you only 50% by volume, so Clear Springs is what you’ll need for tincture. It gives you about 95% alcohol by volume, so it’s close enough and works well. Since you’ll be ingesting it, you want something that’s food grade, and Clear Springs works for that as well. After shaking the jar once daily for a month, the tincture is finished. I strain it in my fruit press and bottle it for future use. I like to use 4 oz sized amber bottles with droppers to keep on the counter. The rest, I keep stored in a cupboard.
Another way to make glycerin tincture is to use the crockpot method. It’s nice because it’s finished in 24 hours. I actually use this method for glycerin instead of the month long jar shaking method. It’s the same prep work, then the cannabis goes into a crock pot with a Keep Warm setting. Low is apparently too high, so use the Keep Warm setting. Cover the cannabis with enough glycerin to make it a little soupy. The cover the crockpot and enjoy the amazing aroma for the next 24 hours. Let the mixture cool a little before straining. I use my fruit press. I find it easier than squeezing it in cheesecloth.
Making Cannabis Oil
It’s time again to make some cannabis oil. It’s that thick, sludgy resinous oil made from cannabis that saves lives. I know because it saved mine. I originally used a method described by Rick Simpson, but then I found an oil distiller that sits on my kitchen counter and I like that even better. With the oil distiller, I can capture my expensive grain alcohol rather than letting it evaporate into the air.
Although I’ve done some posts about making cannabis oil in the past and I included the method in Confessions of a Back Porch Herbalist, I thought I would go through the methodology again in case anyone needed a refresher. It takes a pound of dried cannabis bud and two gallons of grain alcohol to strip the cannabis bud of its lifesaving properties.
I like using the work bag from my hash payload bag set to run the alcohol through the cannabis. It’s strong and has the largest screen on it to allow the resin to pass through into the alcohol. The other payload bags have smaller screens and they’re used to make hash. So we added some cannabis bud to the work bag and then poured half of our grain alcohol over it after which we mixed it around.
After squeezing out the first rinse, we discovered my husband grabbed the wrong bag so we carefully transferred the cannabis along with the resin that accumulated into the work bag we should have used originally. The smaller micron is necessary for capturing the resin, but since we want that resin to stay in the alcohol, the larger micron bag needs to be used.
So after my husband put on his glasses, we rinsed the cannabis a second time with the other half of the grain alcohol. Most of what we need is stripped during the first rinse, but it’s best to rinse it again to get what is still left on the bud. And it’s particularly important when you’re old and can’t remember to wear your glasses.
Now after squeezing out the second rinse from the proper bag, we poured the alcohol mixture into the oil distiller, plugged it in, watched as it eventually began dripping the extracted alcohol into the catch container. Grain alcohol is expensive, so it’s really nice to be able to reuse it. When the alcohol reached a little above half way, we turned off the unit, waited the suggested 20 minutes for it to cool, and then opened it to add more alcohol mixture. We did this one more time before we were finished. Each time we added more alcohol mixture, we poured what had collected in the container into another bottle for future use.
When the distilling process is complete, I put the remaining oil in a cup and placed that on a coffee warmer to finish the extraction process. There’s always a little bit of alcohol at the end in the oil and letting it sit uncovered on a coffee warmer allows the remaining alcohol to evaporate. It appears as bubbles on the surface and when the bubble stop, it’s finished. The oil can then be put in a jar or drawn up into a syringe for easy dosing. I use a jar as well as a silicone container for mine. If the oil is going to be used slowly then I would keep it in the refrigerator.
A pound of bud only creates a quarter cup of oil, so it would be impossible for me to use any of it if I didn’t grow my own cannabis. I have no clue what a pound of medicinal quality bud costs these days but I know it’s out of my price range. Dosage reportedly begins at an amount the size of half a grain of rice and then with conditions as serious as cancer you work up to a dime’s size amount.
Cannabis oil can be used topically as well and many folks use it to treat skin cancer. I used it on an area on my back that didn’t look right and within two weeks it was gone. It seemed to draw out the mass and then it came off. I don’t know what it was but that’s what happened. I also use it in cannabis based salves to give them additional strength. Cannabis is versatile, whether ingested raw, smoked or vaped, or ingested as a prepared medicine and irrespective of the method used to medicate, healing is the result.
I always get about a half cup of oil initially when I put it on the coffee warmer and today was no different. That will reduce by half and I’ll end up with a quarter cup of oil which I’ll use to keep my RA in check. This oil was made from Cuveé, a strain from TGA Genetics. Cuveé grows prolifically and outside the buds get really big. The branches tend to get heavy and droop so it’s best to keep the lower branches pruned. When they drag on the ground it only invites bugs and other problems. I love Cuveé. It’s beautiful and it’s a wonderful, relaxing medicine.
So that’s it. We began the process around three in the afternoon, which is too late by the way, and finished around 1:30 am, but the oil distiller makes it far safer than letting the alcohol evaporate outside with a fan blowing on it. Plus I was able to capture almost all of the two gallons of grain alcohol we used.
There are lots of videos online to look at and it’s great to see the different equipment people use to make this incredible medicine. To think we can both grow and then make the medicine that saves our lives is amazing. And we can do it in our kitchens! Patients network with other patients or go online to find out what works and what doesn’t. And what seems to work the best and most consistently is the whole plant and not simply one of its components.
The Goddess must of been with me because yesterday I made tomato soup from garden tomatoes as well as another batch of potato soup, began infusing some cannabis into corn syrup for candy, and made oil. But then there’s nothing like a witch who multi-tasks.
Note – this is the distiller I use: Megahome oil distiller