Everyone has bacteria in and on their body. When in the proper place, it provides protection; when not in the appropriate place, it harms. Legally sold cannabis in most states is tested for various bacteria, fungus, and other mycotoxins to prevent harm. However, no one tests your appliances used to consume cannabis, which can harm your health. At 2 Leaf Nurses, our experienced cannabis nurses teach more than just plant and body interactions. We look at safety in consumption, and that's where this topic takes us.
While there are multiple consumption methods with cannabis, a common form is an inhalation, from a rolled joint to herbal vaporizers and vaping devices. Each has its pros and cons for patients to assess. Still, all vaporizing tools must be kept extremely clean to avoid spreading harmful bacteria such as streptococcus, pseudomonas, E. coli, and proteus. These consumption tools are brought to the mouth to inhale the contents where the bacteria gain direct access to the lungs and bloodstream. So, where do these mycotoxins come from, and how do they grow to cause you harm? Let's take a look.
First, the water used in a bong can contain bacteria. Whether one chooses tap, bottled, or distilled, there can be bacteria in the water. This water is not harmful when one drinks it. However, when allowed to sit in the container, exposed to temperatures, backwash, and spit (I know it's gross), it can grow to dangerous proportions that are inhaled into the lungs.
Next, plant materials left inside the bong provide nutrients for bacteria to grow. Remember, the plant product has been tested if purchased from a state-licensed dispensary. However, inside that pool of nasty water, the plant provides food for bacterial growth. If the device is not cleaned, those bacteria head straight into the lungs and bloodstream the next time the device is used.
Finally, Unwashed hands carry more germs than any of us want to think about. Again, in the proper place, we need those germs to protect us. However, touching the plants, grinding container, water, and mouthpiece adds to the mix of a disaster recipe. Have you ever heard of a staph infection? So, always wash your hands before touching tools designed to provide you with medicine. Better yet, consider putting on clean gloves after you wash your hands.
What happens if the bong is not cleaned routinely and well? The results of these exposures can be skin irritation, stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, urinary tract infection, and pneumonia. Recently, I had a call from someone hospitalized with sepsis. Their products came from a licensed dispensary, and the person denied sharing products or devices with anyone. Ultimately, the determination was that the source came from the water bong they had not cleaned. The result was a lengthy, expensive, and scary hospitalization and recovery.
If you or someone you know is considering cannabis, please schedule a consultation with one of our experienced cannabis nurses today.
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