When you hear the words "cannabis test" you probably think of a drug test and not a weed DNA test. If that's the case, I'm about to throw you for a loop.
In a game-changing move, Dynamic DNA Laboratories designed at-home DNA tests that tell you exactly how your body responds to cannabis products. Using pharmacogenetics testing, the results are used to measure your reactions to more than just THC weed products, but CBD too! It's pretty revolutionary stuff. Whether you're a seasoned cannabis user, a first-time medical marijuana cardholder, or just plain curious, this test is full of priceless insight. Dynamic DNA Labs also produces the more customary ancestry DNA test, but that's not what drew me to them.
How does a cannabis DNA test work?
At-home DNA tests have been around long enough for the process to become pretty standard. The user purchases a kit that contains all the supplies one needs in order to gather and mail the data. This particular kit includes two sterile swabs, a storage envelope, a cardboard mailer (with postage), instructions, and an agreement waiver.
The collection process
To use the test, you will first take the swabs out of the packaging and rub the Q-tip side of one along the inside of one cheek for 30 seconds. Then you will put the used swab in the provided sterile envelope and repeat the process on the other cheek using the second sterile swab.
Once the DNA has been collected, the swabs are to be sealed in the envelope and boxed up with your signed waiver. Once you've packaged everything, next comes the easy part: drop the box off at your nearest post office or dropbox. A secure portal link will be emailed to you when the results are ready (within two to three weeks). You're then given the option to reset your username and password before downloading your results as a PDF.
Pharmacogenetics testing: How can a DNA test determine potential drug reactions?
I'm no scientist, but I have a pretty good understanding of biology so I'm going to explain this process as plainly as I can without oversimplifying it. You may not remember high school science class, but you should have learned about DNA's responsibility back in those days. It's essentially the code to your makeup on the genetic, molecular level. So depending on the sequence of your DNA, certain innately human traits will be expressed in distinct ways.
Due to this, substances react differently depending on the genetic coding of an individual. The study of people's genomes and their responses to different chemical structures (or medications) is known as pharmacogenomics. And that's exactly the type of testing Dynamic DNA Labs runs with its Cannabis DNA Test kit. The test evaluates 13 genetic traits that relate to how cannabis compounds affect our bodies, one of these traits being the cytochrome enzyme which is found in the liver. This enzyme forms groups around THC and other cannabinoids to make them easier for our bodies to break down. This is where things get interesting.
Your THC metabolism and why it matters
Cytochrome enzymes vary from person to person. The parts that make up the cytochrome enzyme, called alleles, are what is unique for each individual. There are four different types of alleles found in your genetic coding and they're referenced using the letters: A, T, C, G. Depending on the sequence of these alleles, how your liver metabolizes cannabinoids will vary. So if you've ever eaten the same dosage of an edible with your friends and noticed it affected you all a little differently, this is why. Some of you are fast THC metabolizers and some of you are slow THC metabolizers.
Confused? Don't fret, this is pretty complicated stuff. So let's think of it this way: there are two cars, Fast THC Metabolism and Slow THC Metabolism. Fast THC Metabolism advertises it's engineered to get 30 miles per gallon, whereas Slow THC Metabolism is engineered to go 50 miles per gallon. So even though they're both metabolizing the same compound, their engines function differently. This causes the Slow THC Metabolism to go further using less gas than Fast THC Metabolism. Make sense? Cool.
The test will even go as far as recommending the proper dose of THC and CBD, based on metabolic rates and other genetic information it analyzes. According to Dynamic DNA Laboratories, the Cannabis DNA Test optimizes cannabis use by identifying genetic markers that show how your body will respond to a single cannabis product or a combination. Once the scientists have completed your pharmacogenomics testing, they can give you a scientifically recommended first-time dose. The lab will also forward you other relevant information related to your body and cannabis' effects on it.
Some of the most useful results are based on your body's pain threshold, sleep habits, and predisposition to disorders like depression and anxiety. This way, you have the scientific know-how for avoiding potentially negative side effects of cannabis use.
Deciphering the test results
Fortunately, you won't need a science background to understand your lab results. The PDF explains the lab technician's findings thoroughly and in plain English. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of information Dynamic DNA Laboratories provided to me. It's clear that the company doesn't only seek to better your experience with cannabis, but your knowledge of it, too.
The PDF reads eerily similar to an engaging PowerPoint presentation, and that's a good thing. Before you get into your detailed weed DNA test results, Dynamic DNA Labs provides you with a rundown relating to cannabis and how it works. This includes detailed charts covering the legality of cannabis compounds (cannabinoids) at the national level as well as a breakdown of your endocannabinoid system.
Once you get to the pharmacogenetics portion of the test results, you'll likely feel incredibly seen. Even if you've never used a cannabis product before, this section of the PDF is almost unbelievable. Knowing what pharmacogenomics is, I shouldn't be so shocked. But having external validation of the issues I struggle with is so surreal! This cannabis DNA test was able to pick up on my insomnia, anxiety disorders, and poor stress responses.
Implementing the cannabis DNA test results
Despite already using cannabis products to combat anxiety and insomnia, this cannabis DNA test gave me the insight I didn't have before. How you consume cannabis products like THC (weed) and CBD, affects how effective it is. I will say that it's very subjective and nuanced. But nonetheless, important.
Prior to taking the test, I had relied on CBD tinctures to fall asleep. However, I noticed that I didn't always stay asleep. After reviewing my test results, I learned that edible forms of cannabis products stay active in your body longer than other forms of consumption. Not only that, but THC dominant strains of cannabis will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. So if CBD just isn't cutting it for you anymore, THC weed products may be your solution.
Takeaways from the test
That said, there are still other influential factors to be considered. One of them, which is also analyzed by this test, has to do with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). I've mentioned this system before in my guide to CBD, so when it comes to THC the outlooks are relatively similar.
You have protein "buttons" called endocannabinoid receptors located all over your body. These receptors (CB1 and CB2) get pressed when the system is functioning properly. And your ECS is responsible for a lot of physiological activity. It's not just a magnet for THC weed particles. Some of its daily duties require regulating memory, mood, sleep function, appetite, and even reproductive processes. However, different cannabinoids stir up activity in the different receptors. THC, for instance, is known to interact with predominately the CB1 receptors of the central nervous system. While CBD goes after the CB2 receptors. This is one indicator of why THC is psychoactive and CBD is not.
Implementing this new knowledge made my experience using cannabis products so much different. For instance, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't use THC products as an anti-anxiety. CBD, however, is fair game. And that's for a few reasons, the first being that since THC seeks out the receptors that regulate my cognitive function, it will only impair my emotional judgment further.
The second reason is that this test taught me that my body metabolizes CBD quickly, so it activates in my body faster than THC would. Meaning, I feel the effects relatively soon after consuming CBD. The same cannot be said for high THC drugs. Since my body slowly metabolizes the THC compound, it takes a while for me to feel the effects. And once the effects hit, they're more intense than that of someone who metabolizes THC quickly. This can then lead to negative reactions, like panic attacks and paranoid thinking.
Who is Dynamic DNA Laboratories' Cannabis DNA Test for?
Now that I've hyped up this weed DNA test, I'm sure I've got you wondering if this is something that would benefit you. And without knowing a darn thing about you, I'm going to say yes. This test is for everyone. I don't care what your experience level is. Even if you smoke weed professionally, this test will teach you something about yourself.
Even though the language on Dynamic DNA Laboratories' site suggests that this test is for people new to cannabis, it's not exclusively for them. It may make the most practical sense for them, but I think I've made the case for just how much you could learn from a test like this. Personally, I've been smoking weed longer than I've had a driver's license and I took away so much priceless knowledge from this. If you want to be an empowered cannabis user that makes the most out of their product, this cannabis DNA test is for you.
Where can I buy weed DNA tests?
These particular CBD and THC pharmacogenetics tests are available through the Dynamic DNA Labs website as well as on Amazon. Each test retails for $129, which may seem like a steep price to pay but consider how much genetic testing would cost you if you went through your insurance (if you're lucky enough to have it). Suddenly, it's a small price to pay.
Why Dynamic DNA Laboratories?
When talking about DNA and data, it's not something I take lightly. And neither should you! In this ever-capitalistic online world, our data is invaluable. And I'm not even going to entertain the futuristic conspiracies of cloning humans based on DNA data. There are enough realistic and terrifying events that could stem from someone buying your DNA data.
Not so long ago, at-home genetic testing company 23andMe was under fire for selling users' data to third-party companies. According to Business Insider, buyers included drugmakers and Silicone Valley startups. And while the intent of some drugmakers may be for the greater good, we won't assume. Just the idea of your DNA being sold to unknown buyers is horrifying, which led me to reach out to a representative at Dynamic DNA Labs to learn more.
Dynamic DNA Laboratories: Privacy and security
Shawna Batty, the manager I corresponded with, was delighted to answer my questions. She also seemed just as concerned about security.
"You're right there is a lot of concern surrounding DNA data security, and the selling of data to third parties," Batty writes in an email to The Daily Dot. "We do everything in-house. This means your test kit is prepared, packaged, and shipped from our administrative team. And then [it's] processed in our lab. [Where] our scientists analyze and prepare your reports. Our customers' data is never sold to third-party companies, nor is it uploaded to any databases."
It's clear that the safety and security of customers is Dynamic DNA Laboratories' highest priority. The lab undergoes regular evaluations under strict guidelines in order to surpass regulations. This process allows it to maintain its College of American Pathologists accreditation, as well as the company's Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments certification.
"There are a lot of companies that offer DNA testing services," Batty writes. "But far fewer that actually process their own tests, and that have physicians, scientists, and pharmacists on staff to ensure integrity every step of the way. We're proud to be that laboratory."
Batty ensured me that the lab destroys original sample swabs after 30 days. Any raw data will then be anonymous and stored locally at the lab (where there are numerous security measures in place, of course). This is important because one of the main draws to Dynamic DNA Labs is that once you complete one test, you can easily get results to other tests without having to re-do the process. And while that may not be super important to you right now, you haven't completed a test yet.
So in my case, for instance, now that I know my body metabolizes different compounds at drastically different speeds it has me wondering what else my metabolism may be up to. Maybe I'll contact the lab about the comprehensive health, nutrition, or fitness tests offered and see what they say before moving on to the more frivolous tests like skincare and personality.