The cannabis plant is a factory for growing trichomes, and in these little trichomes are oils, and in these microscopic oils are the substances we need to cure our ills.
Now, in the 21st century, we even know what these substances are called. Here’s the breakdown of what they are and what they do (for most people, your mileage will vary).
First Things First: The Trichome
Check this out:
The image on the left is a growing, plain ol’ cannabis leaf. See the “sugar” dusting, the little white bits on the leaves? That’s what’s magnified on the right, and these are the trichomes: all the drug we want and need are in these little “trees”.
This is one of the first things to realize: the medicine is not in the leaf, not in the bud, not in the little hairs… it’s here, in the trichome, and only here! This is one of the first things Frenchy Cannoli taught me: so many YouTube videos have you making “Green Dragon tincture” by soaking the plant or even blending it with a blender and letting it sit for a week. Trichomes wash off with ice water, or completely dissolve in alcohol in less than 10 minutes! There’s no need to do anything else, all you get is more disgusting liquid that happens to have an affect.
In Frenchy Cannoli’s documentaries, he often talks about “shaking the tree”, and “how hard to shake the tree” – this is what you’re shaking, these tiny little somewhat-clear stalks. By the time it comes to harvest, these stalks will have moved from clear to milky, then from milky to rust-colored. When the trichomes are 70% milky and 30% rust-colored is when most people consider time to harvest.
The magnified image at right is too soon to harvest: the trichomes are still clear and the drugs are developing.
The Meds Within
This fantastic infographic is from one of hundreds of YouTube videos I’ve seen, originating from f2seeds.com , which clearly shows a number of things, such as
- CBD has the most benefits overall
- Sometimes you WANT THCa, so you don’t want to decarboxilate (heating the trichomes up to eliminate the acids – more on that later) completely if you need medicine to address spasm or cancer.
- What kind of pain are you in? Muscle/generic, that’s THC, but for a pinched nerve – that’s CBN!
Next we’re going to break down each of these molecules and how to get them. This material is supported by many sources but a great single place to get it is the Cornbread Hemp channel on YouTube.
Again, affects vary per individual.
The first cannibinoid : CBGa
CBGa is the C21 precursor, the base acid of CBG, and all other everythings are manufactured in the plant starting with CBGa.
Decarboxilated CBG in tincture form is excellent for the above charted ailments and more. I call it CBGoodnight because 3mg of this and I’m absolutely out like a light. When I wake, many of my cramps and nerve pain are gone because it reduced the inflammation between my vertibrae in the night.
The phytocannabinoids: THCa, CBDa and CBCa
From CBGa then comes the other acids, THCa, CBDa and CBCa. CBC is best for cancer treatment, and is one of the major components of the “entourage effect”, as it affects how long THC and other components stay in the bloodstream.
CBD will itself reduce the impact of THC in the body, which is to say that if you take CBD, and then an hour later take THC, what will happen is different than if you took THC alone. Full-spectrum tinctures include more CBC and CBD in conjunction with THC, changing the affect it has on you.
Cannabinoids THC, CBD, CBC et al
All the other cannabinoids form after the phytocannabinoids, and after you decarboxilate the acids off the molecule you get what most people are looking for : THC, CBD et al.
A word about CBN
CBN is what forms after THC is subject to infrared light and heat. When weed has gone stale it turns more rust colored and gives you “couch-lock”, “dry tongue” and related muscle weakness. Apparently when stoners smoke joints this is NOT what they’re looking for as it apparently gets in the way of the “high”.
For medicine however this stuff is fantastic – it’ll help you sleep, relieve some pain, and if you have MS or a pinched nerve, taken in a 1:1 ratio with THC, it’s fucking magic.
My thought was that if you’re growing from seed, you can let your plant start to get “old” so that your trichomes are 55%/45% cloudy/rust colored, respectively. As the plant dries the reaction from THC to CBN will continue a little, so you’ll end up with about 50/50… right? Turns out this isn’t the case. Per The Good Lab in Colorado Springs, CO, CBN is actually very hard to get, and requires 10 THC molecules for every one CBN. According to them, the best way to harvest CBN is chemically and in a lab.
When your plant peaks is when you’ll get the best overall result. Apparently if you let it grow late and allow 80% of the plant to turn amber, your overall return will be near zero across the board, but I have yet to find this out for myself.
The Importance of CBD
Dosing For This Project
For this project specifically, I’m looking for something to help with pinched nerves that cause muscle spasm. After having tried a number of products on the market, my final result needs to contain:
- THC:CBN in a 1:1 ratio (pain, nerves)
- THCa & V (muscle relaxant)
- a touch of CBG & CBGa
Therefore, I need to harvest quite mature plants, but mix mature harvested trichomes in with less mature plants’ trichomes as well to give me more CBD, CBG, CBC. Frenchy Cannoli’s decarboxilation method of rolling a heavy bottle with boiling water in it over the trichomes until they’re paste is absolutely flawless and will give you the acids you need for the medicine they provide. This brings us to:
Finally, the word we’ve all been waiting for! To “decarboxilate” or “decarb” your weed means to cook it for a short time. In this time, the (a) cooks off, so THCa becomes THC, CBDa becomes CBD… etcetera.
Smoking marijuana does this at the same time so weed smokers never had to learn this word. For those of us making hash or other edibles however it’s a crucial step, or you may as well be eating flour.
For getting “high” this method is just fine, but for medicinal use you can do better: if you use lower temperatures for a longer period, you don’t cook off CBD, CBC and CBG, which you otherwise will. So, if you use Frenchy’s method (more on that later), you get everything the trichomes have to offer.
In the next section we start crafting the medicine we need starting with seed selection.