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Edibles: How Fats Help Cannabis Absorption

Edibles: How Fats Help Cannabis Absorption

It’s well-known in the world of nutrition that food pairings which maximize the health benefits of each individual item are a great way to move your health care plan forward. For instance, salad dressings that contain fats are typically recommended over non-fat alternatives because they help ensure that the vitamins and nutrients found the vegetables, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, are properly absorbed. In much the same way, many of the healthy cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant are only soluble in fat. This means that they won’t circulate throughout your brain and body without a fat present to extract them, but will instead break down in your digestive tract and pass outside of your body.

Natural terpenes found in cannabis are also inclined to bond with fats in order to take effect. That’s why cannabis edibles made with butter or oils are considered to have more health-boosting qualities than their non-fat counterparts.

Why are Cannabinoids and Terpenes so Important?

Cannabinoids are chemical substances found naturally in the cannabis plant. They work by bonding with, activating, and deactivating key receptors in your brain and body, known as cannabinoid receptors, in order to provide you with a wealth of health benefits that aid in keeping your Endocannabinoid System in an optimal state of balance. While your body produces its own endocannabinoids to do this job, these can sometimes become depleted or damaged, just as happens when you experience a vitamin depletion. That’s when cannabis compounds can be introduced to help provide a natural therapeutic treatment.

Of the over 550 natural compounds found in cannabis, 113 are known to be cannabinoids. Two of the most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and THC. There are also 120 health-boosting terpenes native to the cannabis plant’s essential oils that help give it its signature aroma. Fats allow you to absorb the full range of these natural compounds, and their benefits actually become multiplied when the entire plant works together, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect.

Some of the many medicinal uses of cannabinoid-terpene chemical interactions include the reduction of inflammation, the treatment of pain, anxiety, depression, and epileptic seizures, and the improvement of circulation and cortical functioning. It also has been shown to help reduce tumour growth in certain kinds of cancers and to help fight antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

How Fats Make Cannabis Work for Us

Fats actually trigger the activation of the lymphatic system that’s located in your digestive tract, which helps regulate tissue pressure, acts as a channel for immune surveillance, and transports nutrients such as cannabinoids and terpenes into your main lymphatic system. A recent study shows that these cannabinoids are true lipophiles, or fat lovers. In fact, adding fats to your edibles may increase the bioavailability of THC throughout your body by 100 fold and CBD by 250 fold.

By helping this vital transport system operate at more optimal capacity, fats in your edibles deliver a healthy dose of cannabis’ natural compounds to your body’s key tissues, organs, and neurotransmitters.

Understanding the Best Fats to Use When Making Edibles

There’s a few rules of thumb to keep in mind when picking your cannabis fat. First, oils or butters which contain more saturated fat extract the highest levels of cannabinoids. Coconut oil, for example, is made up of nearly 90% saturated fat and will therefore provide you with a more potent edible than olive oil, which contains closer to 15% saturated fat.

The second point to consider is that, while over consuming many forms of saturated fat can lead to health issues such as heart disease and diabetes, there are certain types of saturated fats that can actually be beneficial to your health. These medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) help protect against high cholesterol, which can lower your risk for heart disease and promote weight loss. One example of MCFA are the saturated fats that make up coconut oil.

Finally, the flavor of your edible, your cannabis strains, and your personal tastes need to be taken into consideration. Many people prefer to use butter because its makes for tasty baked goods, candies, and teas. It’s also easy to make and store your own cannabutter,which contains about 50% saturated fat, a percentage that allows for moderate cannabinoid and terpene absorption.

If you do decide to make your own cannabutter, you can take a look at our app to find strains that others are using to help treat their symptoms, and then use this cannabutter medicinal dosing calculator to help determine the potency of each serving. And don’t forget to stop by our ever-expanding DIY edibles forum to find the best cannabis recipes to help you with all your therapeutic needs.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this article, what fat regarding making edibles would you recommend for patients with gastroparesis ? I have been taking 1/3 tsp of organic almond butter 20 minutes before taking my oil to keep my liver busy and have my medicinal cannabis work better with my ECS.

    0 Upvote
    1. @JoJo this is a great question! Unfortunately avoiding fat is recommended for gastroparesis so I would hesitate to make specific suggestions for you, especially because everyone seems to handle saturated fats differently.

      I think it would be a personal choice based on what your body can handle - as an example some people can tolerate coconut oil well but have issues with MCT oil because their bodies aren't used to the rich medium chain triglycerides.

      I would think choosing the highest saturated fat you can tolerate with the lowest amount of aggravation and side effects would be your best choice and it might include some trial and error!

      2 Upvote
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