The potential health benefits of cannabis are undisputed, and more municipalities are taking measures to legalize medicinal, and sometimes recreational, marijuana. Its most common use is pain control and is, according to an article published by Harvard Medical School, safer than the opiate alternatives. More controversial however, is deciding which delivery method is safest and healthiest.
It is tempting, especially with legitimate medical studies showing the medical efficacy of cannabis, to see it as a clean, all-natural product – but the most traditional method of consuming it, which is combustion and inhaling the smoke, does have some drawbacks. Any time plant material of any sort, cannabis or otherwise, is burned, some chemical substances are released, since burning breaks the chemical bonds between the carbon atoms and results in the creation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are toxic and carcinogenic. In short, inhaling smoke of any kind is going to be bad for you.
Both tobacco and cannabis contain PAH, but some studies show that the nicotine present in tobacco, but not cannabis, increases the toxicity of PAH. That said, any steps to reduce or eliminate the presence of such toxic chemicals will create a healthier experience. As a result, the optimal method of cannabis consumption would be to use a dry herb vaporizer.
According to an article on NugRepublic, “PAH emissions cannot be avoided at all when combustion is the primary catalyst. Direct contact with a high heat source inevitably denatures the impacted compound, releasing a series of unwanted toxins. Some emissions, such as carbon monoxide (CO), can be lethal in large doses. However, frequent and consistent exposure can cause long-term problems as well.”
The NugRepublic article does offer an alternative, however, noting that dry herb vaporizers use heated air to vaporize cannabis, rather than actually burning it: “The vapor can draw from the purity of the botanical materials, without inhaling the common residuals of CO and associated PAHs.”
The National Institute of Health agrees, concluding that cannabis smoke is implicated in respiratory function, but, “It should be noted that with the development of vaporizers, that use the respiratory route for the delivery or carcinogen-free cannabis vapors, the carcinogenic potential of smoked cannabis has been largely eliminated.”
How does a dry herb vaporizer work?
There is a common misconception that when you use a dry herb vaporizer, you are actually burning the cannabis inside. This is not the case. The dry herb vaporizer uses convection heating rather than conduction. This process cooks the herb so the active ingredient evaporates and can be inhaled, but the material is not burned.
But does it produce the same result? Absolutely. This process releases the same levels of THC, but with fewer toxins, according to University of California San Francisco researchers. The UCSF study showed “virtually no exposure to harmful combustion products using the vaporizing device,” concluding that “Since it replicates smoking’s efficiency at producing the desired THC effect using smaller mounts of the active ingredient as opposed to pill forms, this device has great potential for improving the therapeutic utility of THC.”
The dry herb vaporizer delivers the same therapeutic impact (or the same recreational impact) as smoked cannabis, but without the downside and potential health risk of inhaling smoke. With the device, you really can be “Mister Natural.”