Cannabis Oil (THC Oil) South Africa
This guide is written for the layperson and provides relevant information and study references concerning Cannabis Oil or THC Oil in general, with some specific context for those living in South Africa. Its purpose is to assist those looking for the best medicinal cannabis option for themselves or others. For this purpose, we have kept medical and scientific jargon to a minimum and included explanations for the terms that we have used.
What is Cannabis Oil or THC Oil?
Cannabis Oil is otherwise known as THC oil, Rick Simpson oil, marijuana oil and made from marijuana, a variety of the cannabis plant which contains both Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), among other cannabinoids. It is usually blended with a carrier oil such as Coconut oil, Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil, olive oil or hemp seed oil. CBD offers a vast range of healing properties, and studies show that it has significant effects on various neurological and physiological disorders. THC in sufficient amounts can cause a psychoactive effect, however, as recommended dosages are small and spread throughout the day, these effects can be minimised.
What are Cannabinoids?
There are over a hundred compounds found in the cannabis plant that belong to the class of substances called cannabinoids. The two main cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant are Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD).
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that modulate the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. There are two types of cannabinoids: endocannabinoids which originate inside the body, and exogenous cannabinoids which arise outside of the body. 2-AG and anandamide are the two most significant endocannabinoids, while THC and CBD are examples of exogenous cannabinoids.
The Endocannabinoid System
The human body contains an endocannabinoid system which are cannabinoid receptors located throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems and in the brain. Cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system which responds to these chemical messengers. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for the psychological and physiological effects of cannabinoids.
Cannabidiol (CBD), is one of the active ingredients in Cannabis Oil and has been found to exhibit many medicinal benefits for a variety of conditions. It offers a vast range of healing properties and human studies have shown that it has significant effects on various neurological and physiological disorders. Such disorders include anxiety, ADHD and ADD, arthritis, bipolar, cancer, chronic pain, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, hypertension and even stress.
What is the Difference Between Marijuana and Hemp?
Marijuana and hemp are simply different varieties of the cannabis plant. Hemp, otherwise known as industrial hemp, is commonly used to produce textiles, clothing and rope. It has a very high CBD content combined with a low THC content of typically less than 1%. These days, most manufacturers produce their CBD products using hemp, as a result of the significantly reduced cost of production, as the THC need not be removed from the product.
Marijuana, in contrast, has higher levels of THC, the chemical compound responsible for the “high” that marijuana users experience. Marijuana is used to produce medicinal marijuana or Cannabis Oil, often used by cancer patients and those experiencing extreme pain.
In addition to the cannabinoid content of cannabis, are the related terpenes or isoprenoids. These are the fragrant oils that give the various strains their diverse range of aromas. Terpenes also bind to receptors in the brain to produce multiple beneficial effects. The relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes is sometimes called the ‘entourage effect’, and is one of the factors that differentiate the various strains.
Many brands of Cannabis Oil advertise a full terpene spectrum, which indicates that they have not extracted the terpenes from the product. Strictly speaking, full-spectrum products refer to an extraction and processing method that has preserved the entire spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids in the original plant matter.
Cannabis products are available in varying strengths, but it may be misleading to compare various cannabis products, and the reason for this is the ratio of CBD to THC. Some products contain CBD and THC is equal amounts, i.e. a 1:1 ratio. however, this is not necessarily the case with all products. With that said, it is fair to compare various products that contain CBD and THC in equal ratios.
Supercritical CO2 Extraction
The supercritical CO2 extraction method utilises a machine called a closed-loop extractor, which employs liquid carbon dioxide under high pressure and ultra-low temperatures to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant matter. When the pressure is relieved and the temperature increases, the CO2 evaporates quickly, returning to a gaseous form, leaving behind no residues or impurities. The resulting oil is amber in colour with no trace impurities.
Liquid Solvent Extraction
The liquid solvent extraction method utilises a solvent, usually butane or hexane to extract the resin from the plant matter. The solution which remains liquid under pressure then evaporates on release, leaving behind a dark oil. Drawbacks of this method are that trace impurities can persist, and it also tends to extract chlorophyll from the plant matter, giving a greener colour and a more bitter taste.
This extraction method involves soaking the plant material for about 5 minutes in high-grade alcohol and then boiling the alcohol off for 15-30 minutes, leaving behind a dark resin that thickens as it cools. Some suspect that this method may destroy many of the plant waxes, which could have health benefits.
Oil extraction using coconut or olive oil involves heating the plant material and the oil to typically below 100 degrees Celsius for 1-2 hours. This method produces an oil that is full spectrum and does not destroy any beneficial compounds.
Cannabis Product Types
Cannabis products are available in a wide variety of forms. Finding what’s ideal for you can often be a challenge and may even involve a level of trial and error.
Cannabis Oil (THC Oil) Tincture
Cannabis Oil (THC Oil) is by far the most prolific of all the various types of cannabis supplements available. Compared to the other product types, tinctures and concentrates are probably the purest forms of Cannabis Oil, as there is no further processing of the oil.
It is best to place the drops under the tongue and leave it there for as long as you can. With that said, you can most certainly add the tincture to almost any drink you enjoy during the day. However, it is advisable to avoid adding it to hot drinks, as these may destroy some of the beneficial nutrients.
Cannabis Oil (THC Oil) Capsules
Cannabis oil capsules are probably the most convenient way to supplement with Cannabis Oil (THC Oil). They are naturally much more straightforward to take than tinctures or concentrates. Capsules usually come in a softgel form and are precisely dosed, making it easy to keep track of your daily serving size.
Take one capsule or more as recommended by your healthcare professional, with water or your favourite drink.
Topical Cannabis Oil (THC Oil)
Cannabis Topicals come in the form of salves, creams, balms, lotions and oils. Use topicals to treat muscle stiffness, inflammation and painful joints. Manufacturers sometimes combine topicals with a range of other ingredients to provide additional benefits such as added pain relief or skin conditioning.
Use topical cannabis products externally on the skin. They are a great way to provide localised pain relief where one does not require full-body effects. Apply liberally to the affected area and rub into the skin until fully absorbed.
What are Some Cannabis Oil Benefits?
For a more in-depth discussion on this topic, view our article Cannabis Oil Benefits.
Is Cannabis Oil Legal in South Africa?
The primary law regulating the use of medicines and substances in South Africa is the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act of 1965. The organisations governing medicines and substances in South Africa are the South African Department of Health, the Medicines Control Council and the South Africa Health Products Regulatory Authority.
On 18 September 2018, the constitutional court, South Africa’s highest court effectively decriminalised cannabis. The landmark judgement ruled that the prohibition of private cultivation, possession and consumption of the plant at home was unconstitutional. Before this, it was technically illegal, even for those using medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of diseases such as cancer.
The ruling does, however, decriminalise the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Previously many of those who used medicinal cannabis products to alleviate various symptoms, such as cancer patients, and those suffering from anxiety, PTSD, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, were technically doing so unlawfully. Read the full article: Private Cannabis Use Now Legal in South Africa.
Scientific studies are now bolstering what was once just anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of medical cannabis or Cannabis Oil (THC Oil) in the treatment of so many ailments and maladies. As always, seek medical advice before trying any new course of treatment.
If you are interested in Cannabis Oil and would like to know more before you buy, please do feel free to contact our customer service team at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are based in Cape Town and deliver nationwide in South Africa.