It shouldn’t be a surprise that many people, especially those with any chronic illness, are tired of the conventional medicine system – doctors throwing countless pills your way just to see if one will work, but then they have to add on a few more medications to take care of the side effects from the first medications, and on and on it goes. After years of being written off and given meds to try that made me feel like crap – I finally got fed up and began understanding ways that cannabis, a medicine that has been used for millenia, can work for me! These are some of the reasons I chose to manage my health and well-being using cannabis:
“Today we know that cannabis contains more than 530 chemicals, including 109 cannabinoids,” explained Dr. Marilyn Huestis, chief of the chemistry and drug metabolism section at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “THC binds to cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and affects all aspects of brain function, including paying attention, memory and learning, decision-making, emotion, coordination and motor control, appetite and pain sensation,” she said. (Lets Be Clear)
It is pretty common knowledge these days that cannabis is said to help with pain relief. This is due to the various properties of the cannabis plant – the cannabinoids & terpenes present in the various plants are what make certain strains more effective for certain symptoms or ailments versus another cannabis strain. Thanks to my genetic connective tissue disorder I experience a wide variety of symptoms – including intense wide-spread pain throughout my entire body and migraines. Over the years I have become very good at hiding the pain and pretending to be “normal” mostly because it was my normal, I grew up assuming everyone felt this way in their bodies. By my mid 20s I had hit my rock bottom, I was no longer able to manage my pain enough to remain a functioning member of society, let alone be a happy person. The doctors had run out of ideas on how to help me and had thrown so many narcotics and other prescription drugs to trial and error, mostly error – I was miserable. Until I started using cannabis as pain relief – I didn’t really understand the HOW at the time, I just knew that while I was “high” I was free of pain. I devoted time to understanding how to responsibly medicate so that I was able to use cannabis daily for pain relief and still be a productive person, not just get couch-locked for hours. Over this last year I began learning what works for me and what doesn’t.
It seems like we see CBD everywhere these days, locally I could find it at the gas station or the Family Video store (yes, somehow we still have video stores). I have heard time and time again that someone has tried CBD and didn’t get anything out of it. This could be due to many reasons, your endocannabinoid system needs time to wake up and recognize these cannabinoids you’re finally giving it, the CBD you consumed is not full spectrum, not sourced from a good place … the list could go on but that’s another post entirely. I can understand being hesitant to try any “full spectrum”, out of fear you may receive some type of psychoactivity with the presence of even a small amount of THC, but personally I didn’t get much out of using just CBD.
“Full spectrum means that an oil or product contains all the cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant in nature, rather than just CBD (Cannabidiol). Full spectrum products are associated with the “entourage effect” – this refers to the increased effectiveness of these products due to the different cannabinoids working synergistically. Full spectrum products can be more effective than products that are CBD isolate derived. Products that are isolate derived will only contain the isolated CBD molecule.” (extractlabs.com)
Now I have built up my tolerance so high that it takes a LOT of THC for me to feel high – but I think the article on Leafly said it best:
What is the entourage effect?
When we smoke or vaporize cannabis, our bodies take in hundreds of botanical compounds. Each one arrives with unique effects and benefits, and their behavior may change in the presence of other compounds. This is the entourage effect.
It’s kind of like how your mood might change depending on your social environment. How do you behave when you’re alone, at a party with strangers, or hanging out with your best friend? Your mood and the personality you project shift depending on who’s in the room. (Leafly.com)
Everyday anxiety and depression associated with being a chronic pain badass, the anticipation of the next flare – depression and anxiety are debilitating on their own, and often doctors will write off chronic pain as depression (at least in my experience) – saying “you just need to work out” or “you’re depressed and sitting around a lot – you need to move your body more.” There are many ways that cannabis aids in treating depression and anxiety, I will just go over a few that I have noticed! I know I talk about Limonene a LOT – it is one of my favorite terpenes! – Limonene is often noticed for the citrus smell or flavor that a particular flower has. It is also the happy terpene – with its mood elevating qualities, limonene is also good for stress relief! With the added benefits of its anti-fungal properties, antibacterial properties, it has also been shown to relieve heartburn and gastric reflux, as well as aiding in the absorption of other terpenes and chemicals through the skin, mucous membranes, and digestive tract (Leafly)!
Alleviating the constant muscle aches and tensions that comes with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, constantly holding my own body parts in place, my muscles are now just in a constant flex state – anyone who works out can tell you that after holding a flex for any extended period of time, it HURTS! The CBD in cannabis helps to relax these muscles allowing the THC in my medicine to penetrate the overactive/angry nerves that lay underneath. Topical patches and creams work really well to target specific areas of your body, as opposed to inhaling your meds and getting more of the systemic relief, topicals have the ability to really target those painful muscles without much, if any, of psychoactive effects.
When you struggle with any type of anxiety or chronic health condition really – going out in public is quite a feat! Getting ready to go out takes a lot out of us and going to an environment where we have little control over the stimuli we are exposed to – it’s a lot! I used to LOVE going out to dinner, to the movies, going to concerts and sporting events (believe it or not – I used to be the girl who pushed all the way up to the front row at the rock show back in the day!) but when my symptoms flare up it is very hard to push myself out of my own little bubble. As I have stated before, cannabis has helped me manage the physical pain – but certain strains also help me be social! Not only does it give me the motivation to get ready and leave my house, but when used properly certain strains help aid in mental clarity and alertness, Pinene heavy strains, as well as Limonene heavy strains that help with mood elevation – cannabis is a plant that brings people together by way of stimulating, intellectual conversations! 😉
It wasn’t until I read GanjaYoga by Dee Dussault that I really started to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into my wellness routine. If you haven’t read her book yet, do yourself a favor and get on it! I am not lying when I say it is life changing! Whether you’re new to cannabis, new to yoga and mindfulness, or an experienced consumer of both practices – Dee taught me how to use cannabis to get the most out of my wellness routine by combining mindful consumption and incorporating small yoga or breathing exercises throughout my day! I have now made my medicating sessions into mindfully medicating sessions, where I focus on my breathing as I am inhaling on my vaporizer – allowing me to center my thoughts and slow down for a few minutes. Meditation is incredibly beneficial to our wellbeing – it can improve your memory, and improve attention span, and brain function, can slow down or even prevent some neurodegenerative diseases, reduce blood pressure, can be an effective pain killer, aid in overcoming addiction, reduces stress and improves heart health, and some even say that meditation can be more effective than sleep (15 Surprising Facts about the science of Meditation).
Creativity & Motivation
I know the “stoner” stereotype that says people who consume cannabis are lazy or stupid – but in my personal experience, and from what I have witnessed this last year working in the industry is that cannabis users, or “stoners” as we’ve been called for decades, are some of the most creative, intelligent and motivated individuals I have met. Obviously I won’t have any scientific studies to back me up here, but I think that part of the reason this may be the case is that cannabis use allows us to take a minute to evaluate what is or isn’t important to us, what we do and don’t care about, and what we should or shouldn’t react/respond to. When used in a group of like minded individuals, some of the very best ideas or concepts come out of those circles! Maybe not the best snack choice, although there have been some pretty delicious creations driven by the munchies – when utilized properly, with the help of the lovely terpene Ocimene which is responsible for the creative effect of some strains, cannabis can actually act as a neuroprotectant and for individuals who struggle with ADD/ADHD it can act as a stimulant of sorts to aid in focus and productivity!
I know this sounds crazy! Trust me – I have heard ALL of the jokes about the munchies. But for those with chronic illnesses like mine, who suffer from gastrointestinal disorders or digestive issues – sometimes the munchies are welcome as we often forget to eat or choose not to eat because of the physical pain brought on by our bodies trying to digest anything we put in our bodies. It wasn’t until I learned more about terpenes that I was able to understand how to control my eating habits with the help of medical marijuana ((ProTip: The Humulene terpene is actually an appetite suppressant – meaning it will combat the munchies!)).I do not have Celiac disease, but I do have a gluten intolerance – I am also an EXTREMELY picky eater, I mean like pretty much only eating the same 12 foods I have my entire life (pizza, chicken nuggets, you know .. the good stuff ;)). So by cutting gluten from my life is not only expensive, but finding gluten free versions of those few meals that I enjoy eating is not always an easy feat. When I eat things that I know will cause me to pay later, I am now able to eat an edible along with my meal that will be digested with my meal and aid my digestive system to work properly, with little to no pain! I am now able to balance my meals and eating habits which has helped me put an end to the drastic weight fluctuations I’ve experienced my entire life!
I have lived with this guilt/desire to please my parents, family, etc. always pushing my limits but still too afraid to fall too far out of line or off track. Not that my family was super closed minded or anything, but my views on marijuana have changed dramatically since I was that high school girl too afraid to try the joint being passed around at the party out of fear I would disappoint my parents. Now 30 years old, I have taken the last few years to come to understand the ins-and-outs of the cannabis plant – I have taken the time to understand what the plant does for my body, to learn my proper dosage for both medicinal purposes and recreational purposes. This plant started as an alternative to drinking for me in college, during graduate school, it became a coping mechanism for the mental and emotional stress (& brain fog) that came along with grad school. After years or fighting my own rebellion, I have found my life’s purpose to teach others about the benefits cannabis can bring to their holistic health routines to help them live their best lives!
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