Especially with the new compliance laws here in Oklahoma, you may start to see A LOT of confusing numbers on the medical packaging of cannabis products.  The ratios of CBD to THC may feel like a confusing math problem.  But there’s a method to the madness — one based more on anecdotal evidence and broadly recognized scientific research  — but since the government restricts the research on cannabis in the U.S., at least it is a way to measure the cannabis dosing from a medical script perspective.

You will see a variety of vape oils, tinctures, salves, and edibles with numbers like 18:1, 4:1, and 1:1 (noting the amount of CBD to THC) showing up at dispensaries. THC will make you high, while its sister compound CBD generally won’t — and has therapeutic potential. Most cannabis strains have around 18 percent THC with less than 1 percent CBD (with THC sometimes being pushed beyond 20 percent).

Cannabis companies behind the trend aren’t ditching THC; they’re just flipping the ratios. For decades, cannabis and hemp growers have focused on breeding cannabis with increased amounts of THC. That isn’t necessarily changing, but the market is seeing a big demand for CBD-rich MEDICAL cannabis products.  Particularly, with big pharma and governmental entities looking to capitalize on the “Green Rush” – CBD may be the big future of the medical side of cannabis.

But with scant evidence-backed scientific research regarding the impact of each ratio, consumers resort to trial and error to see what works for them. CBD-rich products are great to try for those seeking relief from anxiety, arthritis, seizures, stress, inflammation, and overall wellness, not necessarily a high. They’re also being used to ease those once spooked off by a bad marijuana experience back in the day. Specifically, Baby Boomers are the largest growing customer base for these products.

With older patients being the target market for CBD medical products, it is important to find a dispensary that will take the time to explain all the ratios that can be hard to understand. But hopefully this article may help guide you!

Start low and take it slow

Here’s a rule of thumb: The higher the CBD, the less of a high you’ll get from the THC, both because there’s less of it and CBD generally combats THC’s psychoactive effects, depending on the amount of THC you’ve consumed, according to cannabis researchers and producers. When you’re deciding which ratio is right for you, it’ll take some experimenting. We suggest starting with a high-level of CBD and working your way down to a more balanced product. You’ll have to play around with the amount, too, but remember to start low and take it slow.

“We’re starting to understand what CBD does, but even that is very minimal. And in terms of these different ratios, there’s an idea or a hypothesis that there’s something there in terms of THC facilitating CBD’s action in a different way, if not more in different amounts. But in terms of the science being able to contribute to that in any kind of clear way, we’re not there yet,” Bidwell said.

Elliot Altman, biology director of the Tennessee Center for Botanical Medicine Research, disagrees with that assessment when it comes to CBD’s therapeutic benefits. His lab at Middle Tennessee State University studies CBD and hemp. Cannabis isn’t legal in Tennessee, but hemp is. Most CBD products are made from hemp extract, while the ratio products tend to include a variety of cannabis strains to get the right proportion.

It’s clear to Altman, who does not study THC, that CBD provides relief for those with inflammatory or autoimmune conditions, but if you’re looking for pain relief, that’s going to come from THC.  “THC is for pain, and CBD is for when your immune system is compromised,” Altman said. His take on these emerging products is pretty simple: “If what you’re really after is CBD, but you’re in a marijuana state, take a little THC to take the edge off, but don’t take excessive THC.”  In other words, moderation may be the key if you are looking for true medical benefits.

How to find your proper ratio

THC dominant options (0:1) will provide varying degrees of psychoactivity.  THC also induces appetite, inflammation, and may provide relaxing and/or cerebral effects.  Adverse effects may include tachycardia, anxiety, and paranoia. These can be reduced by introducing CBD into the equation.

A 1:3 ratio of CBD to THC results in a some psychoactivity while minimizing THC’s unwanted side effects, producing a calming sensation with reduced anxiety, stress relief and exhibiting anti-inflammatory properties.  This ratio can act an as advanced pain reliever with the synergistic benefits CBD and THC provide.

A ratio of equal parts CBD to THC (1:1) is considered highly effective for pain relief, anxiety, spasticity, fibromyalgia, insomnia, nausea and appetite stimulation. This ratio shows promise in relieving symptoms associated with Multiple Sclerosis and may be able to kill certain cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth.  A 1:1 can be a good starting point for many due to the multitude of conditions it may treat with minimal impairment.

Higher CBD options, such as 2:1 or 3:1, may be an ideal ratio for combating autoimmune disorders, gastrointestinal issues such as Crohn’s and colitis, arthritis, and psoriasis with little to no psychoactivity.

CBD dominant ratios of 25:1 or 1:0 (hemp based CBD) offer no psychoactivity and may be most effective for curbing high anxiety, depression, seizures, psychosis, PTSD, and neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease.

Remember start low and go slow… work your way up incrementally.  Tapering up to the proper dosage is typical when one begins a new medication and medicating with cannabis is no different.  Cannabis is a very individualized medicine, so feel free to ask as many questions as you have from one of our knowledgeable Patient Consultants at Legal Limit Dispensary.