by shanel lindsay

The new frontier of medical cannabis administration

Although a novel dosing concept, direct sublingual application is firmly rooted in science and parallels the most effective traditional uses of medical cannabis.

Direct sublingual application involves placing precisely decarboxylated cannabis under the tongue, allowing the cannabinoids to immediately enter the bloodstream through the vessel-rich tissues within the sublingual cavity. Fast, accurate uptake without the hazards of smoking!

Starts with 100% Decarboxylation

Decarboxylated cannabis plant material may be used sublingually to systemically deliver pharmacologically active cannabinoids (e.g., THC) present without further processing.  This discovery is significant, as sublingual use of decarboxylated cannabis provides accurate and efficient delivery of THC and other useful cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, without the drawbacks of smoking cannabis or cooking cannabis to eat it.  The onset of pharmacological effects is rapid, and their duration equivalent to or exceeding other forms of ingestion.  With sublingual use, delivery of both THC and other useful cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, is significantly improved. Sublingual delivery of cannabis is a superior mode of administration considering the hazards of smoking cannabis, and the pharmacokinetic limitations of ingesting cannabis.  

Decarboxylation in its natural state, the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in cannabis is found as its biosynthesized precursor, cannabinolic acid. To activate this potential THC, a carboxyl group must be removed by heat.  In practice, available cannabinolic acid in cannabis is “decarboxylated” to THC by the heat of smoking or cooking.  The THC may then be delivered relatively rapidly through the lungs when smoked or more slowly in the gastrointestinal tract when eaten. Unfortunately, the conventional methods of preparing and ingesting cannabis involve imprecise and incomplete decarboxylation which lead to an inferior medicine. Find out more about decarboxylation here. 

Benefits of direct sublingual application

  • Immediate relief – no waiting for digestive tract absorption.
  • No negative health effects – better than smoking or vaporizing. 
  • Accuracy – nothing lost in extraction or administration more accurate than tinctures, smoking or eating.
  • Access and choice – pharmaceutical grade solution at home with own cannabis.
  • Safety – safer and more reliable than edibles and extracts. 
  • Cost saving, patients use less, more cost effective solution.
  • Discretion – less obvious.  

Superior to Smoking

Sublingual delivery provides rapid effects similar to smoking without exposing the lungs to heat, tar, or other unwanted collateral effects, including unpleasant smoke smell, smoky taste, dry mouth, throat irritation and caused both by smoke and hot embers that often enter the user’s mouth and lungs during administration. When, ignited, nearly 50% of the cannabinoids present in the cannabis literally “go up in smoke” that is not actually inhaled by the user.  Sublingual delivery is discreet and more efficient, requiring smaller amounts of cannabis for the same effect, as more of the pharmacologically active cannabinoids are absorbed into the bloodstream.  Sublingual administration allows the user to avoid heat, tar, potential kickback, and even the carbon dioxide created by the most popular smoking alternative, vaporizers.  Most importantly, sublingual administration allows for accurate dosing of cannabinoids, ensuring that patients and physicians retain control.

Superior to Ingestion

Sublingual delivery is superior to ingestion of cannabis as well.  While ingesting cannabis can provide long lasting therapeutic effects, and allow the body to reap the benefits provided by exposure to the entire cannabis plant profile, this method presents numerous drawbacks as well.  Onset is significantly delayed, on average beginning over an hour after administration. This delay also makes it difficult to titrate doses as compared to sublingual administration. When ingesting cannabis the onset of pharmacological effect typically takes between 30 minutes and 120 minutes. Conversely, the sublingual dosage form induces a pharmacological effect in a subject within about 30 seconds to about two minutes of placing the sublingual dosage form in the subject’s sublingual cavity. In addition to the lag in time, ingestion is an inefficient form of administration. Decreased bioavailability in the digestive tract results in absorption of only 10% to 20% of cannabinoids, and oral administration subjects cannabis to “first pass metabolism,” whereby the cannabinoids are first processed by the liver before entering the bloodstream.  Processing by the liver alters cannabinoids, leading to distinct therapeutic effects from those experienced with other forms of administration. While ingestion of cannabis may be unsatisfactory on its own, it can be an excellent complement to sublingual administration, and in conjunction with sublingual delivery ingestion can provide the user with a more comprehensive therapeutic experience.

Why try sublingual?

The usual ways of preparing and ingesting cannabis suffer from other drawbacks as well.  For example, smoking cannabis creates harmful carcinogens through destructive pyrolysis of numerous plant compounds due to the heat of the flame and can also cause irritation to the lung tissue.  Eating cannabis requires a significant period of time before onset of effects, and the uptake through the gastrointestinal tract is uneven and incomplete. Also any preparation other than smoking requires extraction of the active cannabinoids into a secondary medium, which results in loss during extraction and inconsistent end results. Direct sublingual application (DSA) of cannabis, however, provides accurate, rapid administration with no negative health effects. 

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  • Caleb Rogers 2 years ago

    Where can I purchase sublingual delivery packets or something similar to what is pictured above?

  • Nichole Marie Bennett 2 years ago

    So your saying that i take the weed pop it in a tea bag like pouch and put it under my tongue and it will help with pain?

  • Cathy Freeman 2 years ago

    I’d like to know how the sublingual is administered. Is it in a tea bag type of pouch? How long under tongue? Would making a tincture be as effective? Do you have a tincture recipe?

  • TJ Ward 1 year ago

    Where can I buy sublingual packets

  • jim kilby 10 months ago

    so, this story caught my interest and I decided to try it out right away. I put about a gram of recently decarboxylated flower under my tongue. I did not use the tea bag pouch but simply left it under my tongue for about 20 minutes. I used some of the same cannabis, decarboxylated in a sealed mason jar in a 260 degree F even for exactly 40 minutes and then made infused cannabutter. I have already tried the butter and it works fine when ingested in some form of edible. Still waiting for the effects to kick in but am quite optimistic as I have some severe pain that I am trying to deal with that is associated with a slow healing wound that started from a bacterial infection 5 months ago.

  • william harvey 8 months ago

    Is there not a way to process the bud into some wafer type product that allows standardization of size & potency. As a nurse I handle other sublingual products ie zofran, that makes me think a cannabis form could be more sophisticated without being too much more complicated.

  • Kathleen Howard 2 weeks ago

    So I can put this under my tongue as soon as I’ve completed the decarboxylation process? That’s all and I’m ready to go? 🤷🏼‍♀️

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