Updated on June 26, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
When the immune system is not functioning correctly, it can cause one of many immune system disorders. When a patient has this kind of condition, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues instead of infections or diseases.
Such is the case with Sjogren’s syndrome. This immune system disorder develops when the immune system attacks the glands that produce tears and saliva. Because of this, the main characteristics of the disease are dry eyes and dry mouth.
Although dry eyes and mouth can mainly be managed by over-the-counter medicines and eye drops, Sjogren’s syndrome can happen in conjunction with other autoimmune disorders — such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. When this happens, it’s important to find a medication that can treat musculoskeletal pain and severe inflammation. Medical marijuana is an effective treatment for both these symptoms.
But which method should patients use to take their cannabis medications? There are many ways to do it, such as with topicals, tinctures and edibles — the two most common methods are smoking and vaporization. However, because of the nature of Sjogren’s syndrome, one way may be better than the other.
One of the most common methods of taking medical marijuana medication is by smoking it. This involves using some sort of smoking apparatus — usually a joint, a pipe or a bong — and packing it with dried cannabis flower. A flame is used to combust the plant, and the patient then inhales the smoke produced.
There are a few positive benefits of smoking, the greatest of which being that patients can feel the effects of the marijuana almost instantaneously. It’s also less expensive and gives patients multiple options for strains that are minimally processed.
However, despite these benefits, most doctors recommend patients do not smoke their medical marijuana treatments for the following reasons:
Vaporization is a method of ingesting cannabis that has similar effects to smoking without the combustion. It involves a vaporizer that can be heated up to a recommended temperature. Either dried marijuana flower or extract is placed in the vaporizer and is heated up below its combustion point. It’s hot enough to release a vapor that can be inhaled but doesn’t burn and release other particles.
The positive attributes of vaporization are many. Vaporization units come in all shapes and sizes and are even available in pocket-sized vape pen varieties. Like smoking, users feel almost instant relief. But, they are far less harsh on their lungs and the smell is not as abrasive.
There are a few drawbacks to vaporization, however, including that:
Sjogren’s syndrome patients struggling with severe pain need a method that brings instantaneous relief to this symptom. However, another aspect of their condition is salivary gland inflammation. This can lead to many oral issues such as:
Because of these side effects caused by Sjogren’s, vaporization is a better option for ingesting medical marijuana medications. Smoking will only aggravate any mouth issues patients may be experiencing.
When deciding on a type or method of medical marijuana, it’s important to have a close working relationship with a marijuana doctor. They can offer recommendations specific to your condition, as well as monitor your dosing and the side effects you experience.
To find a physician in your state, browse our extensive list of marijuana doctors and make an appointment.