The Myth of Indica and Sativa

One of my biggest pet peeves about the cannabis industry is hearing budtenders (and other people) ask me if I prefer Indica or Sativa. I usually cringe a little and side step the question by saying that doesn’t matter to me, I want to see and smell what you’ve got and then I’ll make my decision.

Sometimes I get irritated and I want to yell, “There is nothing substantial about that question at all!” A few years ago nobody gave a damn whether it was Indica or Sativa. Except for the growers, and now we know we didn’t have the proper understanding of Cannabis species when we spoke about it based on its growth pattern and maturation time.

A couple of weeks ago I was on The Real Dirt Podcast talking to the host, Chip Baker (who also happens to be my husband) about the taxonomy of cannabis and this myth of Indica and Sativa. It was a great episode really going deep into what botanists and ethnobotanists have come to hypothesize about Cannabis. I’m going to go into it a little here, but to hear the juicy details and personal rants, check out the The Taxonomy of Cannabis episode!

The Myth of Indica and Sativa

There is a commonly held belief that Indica are short, stout, broad leaf plants that are physically sedating or relaxing and Sativa are tall, narrow leaf plants that are invigorating and uplifting when ingested. There is actually no truth to this belief, but it continues to be perpetuated online and in dispensaries throughout the world. The (present) reality is that the myriad of cultivars that we smoke/ingest are all Indica.

After years of rigorous research from botanists and ethnobotanists, there are still different theories regarding the evolution of cannabis taxonomy, but what is widely accepted by most is that it is C. indica is the vast majority of biotypes in North America and that C. sativa includes only European hemp. In Robert C. Clarke and Mark Merlin, PhD’s comprehensive text, Cannabis Evolution & Ethnobotany, they discuss the history of cannabis biotypes from several different perspectives, the most plausible being from Karl Hillig, PhD.

CANNABIS BIOTYPES ACCORDING TO HILLIG (2005)

Acronym & Biotype Binomial Early Range Uses
PA-

Putative Ancestor

C. ruderalis Northern

Central Asia

Possible- seed and crude fiber
PHA- Putative

Hemp Ancestor

Unrecognized or Extinct Balkan peninsula

Caucasus Mtns

Possible- seed and crude fiber
NLHA- Narrow leaf

 Hemp Ancestor

C. sativa ssp. spontanea Eastern Europe

Central Asia

Seed and crude fiber
NLH- Narrow leaf Hemp C. sativa ssp. sativa Europe Seed and textile fiber
PDA- Putative

Drug Ancestor

Unrecognized or Extinct Hengduan Mtns

Yungui Plateau

Possible ritual and medicinal
BLHA- Broad leaf

Hemp Ancestor

Unrecognized or Extinct Eastern Asia Possible seed and crude fiber
BLH- Broad leaf Hemp C. indica ssp. chinensis China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia Seed and textile fiber
NLDA- Narrow leaf

 Drug Ancestor

C. indica ssp. kafiristanica Himalayan Foothills- Kashmir to Myanmar Euphoria- hashish, “marijuana”
NLD- Narrow leaf Drug C. indica ssp. indica South & SE Asia,

Middle East

Euphoria- hashish, “marijuana,” fiber, seed
BLD- Broad leaf Drug C. indica ssp. afghanica N. Afghanistan, Pakistan Euphoria- hashish

As you can see from the chart, the only ancestor of C. sativa hails from the Balkan Peninsula. The ancestor of C. sativa ssp. spontanea is a Narrow Leaf Hemp Ancestory from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and the modern C. sativa spp. sativa is Narrow Leaf Hemp from Europe. Both the ancestor and the modern C. sativa have been used as seed and crude fiber, not for intoxication/euphoria, as in the case of the Narrow Leaf and Broad Leaf Drug C. indica.

I know this news is hard to accept for some, but we already know that it is the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, CBC, etc) and the terpenoids (myrcene, pinene, limonene, etc) that elicit the therapeutic, invigorating, sedating, and other affects that are associated with ingestion of cannabis.  Since we know that it is the cannabinoids and terpenoids that produce the favorable (and sometimes adverse) effects, why do we keep saying it is because it is an Indica or Sativa?

It is time we stopped disseminating misinformation and educate ourselves about the true properties of cannabis (or what we know so far). Remember there are well over 100 cannabinoids and we have identified only a handful. We still have a very long way to go before we truly understand what contributes to the therapeutic and euphoric effects of cannabis.

To learn more about terpenes and other aromatic and medicinal plants, watch my videos on Youtube!

You can also check out my Baker Botanica 5 Element Essential Oil blends (fyi: the Balance/Earth Element contains Hemp essential oil!)

Follow me on Instagram- baker_botanica and on Facebook at Jessica Baker, LAc

Whether you prefer Indica or Sativa, I always appreciate your support.

With love,

 cropped-cropped-jessicabakerpic-e1435871881480

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Featured image: unknown (but thank you!)

4-part Cannabis Webinar Series Starting June 14th (with yours truly)

 

I am pleased to present a 4-part webinar series on Cannabis: Ancient Medicine, Modern Marvel through the American Herbalists Guild. Join us as we explore cannabis as well as our own endogenous cannabinoid system.

The breakdown of topics for this webinar series includes:
June 14: The Endogenous Cannabinoid System
In the first of four webinars, we will discuss the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and its role in maintaining homeostasis in the body. The ECS is a network of neuro-modulation receptors within our brains, immune systems, and other parts of the body. It is a hemostatic regulatory system essential for key processes like pain, appetite, memory, and mood and pain regulation. The ECS also plays a role in regulating mitochondrial activity and neurogenesis. We will explore how the ECS interacts with other systems of the body and how herbalists can work with cannabis and other herbs to encourage optimum physiologic function.

June 21: Phytocannabinoids: Beyond THC
Phytocannabinoids such as THC (delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), CBG (cannabigerol), and CBN (cannabinol) are found in varying amounts in all cannabis plants. High THC chemovars psychoactive properties are a result of prohibition but research also shows many health benefits of THC, such as being an anti-emetic and anti-inflammatory. Hemp is non-psychoactive and contains higher amounts of the phytocannabinoid CBD. Research on CBD shows it to be anti-convulsant, analgesic, and cytotoxic against breast cancer cells. In this webinar we will discuss the therapeutic and modulating effects of CBD and THC, as well as briefly review lesser known phytocannabinoids.

June 28: The Role of Terpenes in Cannabis
While terpenes are gaining popularity because of the rise in media coverage on medical and recreational cannabis use, terpenes have already been extensively studied for their aromatic and medicinal properties. A constituent like linalool is present in cannabis but is also found in high amounts in lavender, and a multitude of other aromatic plants. This webinar will discuss cannabinoids the most common terpenes found in cannabis, conifers, lavender, frankincense, and other aromatic plants. We will explore the synergy of phytocannabinoids and terpenes and reveal how aroma affects our limbic, endocrine, and endocannabinoid systems.

July 5: Cannabis Application: Inhalation, Ingestion, or Topical Use
In the last webinar we will discuss different ways to use cannabis as medicine. For some disorders inhalation (smoking, vaping, or aromatherapy) may be the most appropriate, for others ingesting edibles or applying topically will be of most benefit. We will discuss the pros and cons of each application method and consider how sugar, propylene glycol, hexane derived terpenes, and other additives make it into cannabis products. We will review the cannabinoid receptors found in the endocannabinoid system and consider which phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and method of application are best used for conditions like nausea, seizures, pain, memory loss, and more.

Register Today! 

With love and gratitude,

JessicaBakerPic

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

Cannabis Chai Recipe

To get us all ready for the big cannabis celebration tomorrow (420) I thought I’d share one of the recipes from my book, Plant Songs.

I hope you enjoy this chai as much as I do. Not only is it delicious, you’ll feel pretty good too!

Cannabis Chai

–       3 grams dried cannabis flowers

–       1 tablespoon Assam or Darjeeling

–       1 crushed cardamom pod

–       1 inch piece of fresh ginger root

–       1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

–       1/4 teaspoon dried orange peel

–        1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Simmer 4 ounces water, 4 ounces of milk (the fattier the better—whole milk or coconut milk), and all ingredients together for 20 minutes. Strain out cannabis and other ingredients and set aside. Drink 2-4 ounces of the tea as needed to promote appetite, reduce nausea or as a gentle relaxer. 

To enjoy this recipe and others, order Plant Songs today!

With love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Realities of Cannabis Legalization in California

Emotions are high as cannabis legalization comes to fruition in California. There is eagerness as the green rush (or weed greed, as I call it) brings professionals into a market where there was once only “criminals” or outlaws. The pink shirts can’t wait to make money off the backs of those once vilified and imprisoned for fighting for the decriminalization of cannabis. I openly hope that the pink shirts like John Boehner don’t thrive, as some of these hypocrites were the loudest to criticize cannabis users.

There is fear from those that have made their livelihood off of the private cannabis market and aren’t sure how they fit into the new legal industry. Those that have been able to conduct business unregulated and untaxed are now in the most over-regulated and over-taxed industries in the state. In the Emerald Triangle (Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties) where cannabis cultivation has been what keeps the local economy afloat, I have heard many growers say they are priced out because local agencies require absurd regulations that have never been applied to any other industry.

There is also excitement as anyone 21 and over can legally purchase cannabis at retail stores across the state (or will soon once local jurisdictions get it together to grant permits). I will admit that I am stoked that I can walk into a store and buy a sack of weed and a bar of ganja chocolate. It will be even better when the taxes on cannabis are not so high.

As those that participate in the new public cannabis market, we have to work hard to make sure that everyone that is still incarcerated for cannabis related “crimes” are set free. I don’t think it’s too much to ask that with some of the tax money from cannabis, that we pay reparations for those whose lives were ruined when they were busted for cultivating or dealing weed. In this new world of cannabis freedom, we have to remember that it is not equal opportunity for all as we like to believe.

With love and gratitude,

cropped-jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

My Top 3 Healing Plants of 2017

Nine days into 2018 and I feel great! All of the political and societal problems are still here but I am taking a different approach to “stress” this year. Instead of getting wrapped up in fear and drama, I pledge to step back, take a deep breath, and let my words and actions be led by love. Not a passive, “sending love and light,” but with compassion, truth, and justice. It won’t always be easy to remember, as I can get easily angered, fired up and passionate. I have to keep this promise. My health and happiness depends on it.

The last few months of last year I felt like I was not accomplishing anything. I couldn’t focus or complete any project I started the last couple of years (my book Plant Songs, my essential oil blends, my new website). I realized I was paralyzed by fear and spun by all the confusion and turmoil in the media. Now that I recognize my fears, I have made huge steps forward on so many levels! I have moved into the final phases of production on Plant Songs and I have a renewed sense of faith in who I am and what I can do. I am ecstatic!

So many plants helped me overcome my fear and distraction. Without my connection to herbal medicine, I would be lost and I am forever grateful for their gifts. For me, these 3 herbs were essential the last 6 months and will continue to be there when I need them going forward.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)– I take a 5:1 tincture of fresh harvested St. John’s Wort flowers almost every day. It is essential in winter when there is very little sun and also for when I get discouraged, frightened, or frustrated by politics. I know it is time to start taking it again when I start beating myself up for not being enough. I also love St. John’s Wort essential oil blended with Vetiver and Rose Geranium and diluted in Apricot kernel oil, and applied to my temples or chest when I need some compassion, courage and strength.

Cannabis SativaHemp essential oil has been key to reducing the pain from scoliosis and an injury from a few years ago. Working with meditation, herbs and different physical modalities to change muscular patterns and dissolve scar tissue has taken a lot of energy and willpower. It has also exacerbated pain as my spine shifts and moves. A roll-on blend of essential oils of Hemp, Frankincense and Pine immediately applied to the top of my shoulders, and around my pelvic girdle has done wonders for my healing.

Milky Oats (Avena sativa)– My morning cup of Milky Oats tea starts my day off with the nourishment my nervous system needs. Avena sativa is a nervine and is sweet and nutritive, taking the edge off like no other herb I know. My favorite blend to ease the tensions of the outside world is Milky Oats, Rose petals, Elderberry, and Lemon Balm. It is nutritious, floral and delicious!

May these plants help you as they have helped me. May you give back to them in return.

For the love of plants,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Photo credit: High Times

Time to Move On

As we all process our emotions from the traumatic events of the last few weeks I am reminded of how much we really need our plant medicine. As devastating as hurricanes and mass shootings are (and the loss of Tom Petty- RIP), it is the devastation we are inflicting on our planet that I mourn most of all.

Everyday I participate in practices that only benefit myself and my own selfish desires. Hummus in a plastic container is more convenient that making my own. I use oils that are shipped from Asia so I can make herbal infusions.  I love the freedom of traveling the world to experience other cultures and see their local plants. I will continue to willingly be a part of the problem as long as petroleum is our main source of fuel. There are a million other ways I am part of the problem. This blog isn’t about how guilty I should feel for being a “bad person.” It is a call to action to participate in healing humanity from the societal sickness that is causing the degradation of the planet and the destruction of our spirits.

Humans have this fucked up idea that we are the “top of the food chain.” Christianity has done a great job in perpetuating this falsehood. It’s time to recognize the lies we have been fed to justify our egotistical destructive behavior. It is not our right to treat all other life forms as they are here for our sustenance and pleasure. I have even seen this belief transfer over to herbalism and aromatherapy, where most people truly love our plant allies.

Plants are not solely here for our physical and spiritual health. Yes plants like to help us, but they were not put here just for you to harvest for your tea or salve. Medicinal plants are not alive to serve us. Plants are sentient beings that were part of this Earth eons before mammals evolved. Humans have a very small concept of space, time, and life on Earth. If we expect to thrive on this planet for millennia to come we have to start thinking bigger. Much, much bigger!

Our psyches can’t take the trauma we experience and watch, every day. The internet makes us aware of all the killings, famine, racism, genocide, misogyny, and natural disasters in real time. This is too hard for us to assimilate, affecting everything from our digestion to our mental health. Our societies are not set up for people to grow emotionally, spiritually or mentally. The industrial revolution set up a system to condition us to be indoors (work in a factory, go to school).  We did not evolve indoors. We are not meant to work all day to perpetuate a society that only survives by harming all life on Earth. People are breaking. The paradigm has to shift. We have to get back to what we truly know is important. We have to integrate back into a simple way of living. We have to get back to the land.

I’ve found the best way to acknowledge and process what I’m feeling is to be out in nature. Just walking among the forest or sitting by the ocean reminds me that humans are just a small part of all the other life in this universe. I see myself as part of the miracle of life. I feel the significance of my own being and my connection to everything around me.

When you are feeling sad, fearful or disempowered, I encourage you to get out in nature and take a few minutes to just sit and listen. Inhale deeply and let in the energy of all life around you. Let the breath of the Earth infuse you with a vitality lighter than grief, brighter than sorrow. Exhale and cry, scream, kick and run for yourself and your fellow woman. Weep for Mother Earth and the extinctions we have witnessed. And then listen to the whispers brought to you by the wind in the trees. Hear the songs of the plants, the birds, and the bees. What is being said? 

What do you hear stirring within you? 

For the love of plants, 

cropped-jess-plant-bath

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

The Herb Walk Podcast Interview with Brigitte Mars

I am thrilled to announce that my new project, The Herb Walk Podcast, is finally ready to air! It has been a year since I started the interviews, but sometimes good things take a while to come to fruition.

On our first episode I interview Brigitte Mars, herbalist, author, professor, and natural chef. In our hour long discussion, we talk about how she became interested in herbalism, her passion for teaching about herbs and nutrition, cannabis, the spiritual use of plants, and so much more!

Brigitte teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University and The School of Health Mastery in Iceland. She has taught at Omega Institute, Esalen, Kripalu, Sivananda Yoga Ashram, Arise, Envision and Unify Festivals, and The Mayo Clinic. She blogs for the Huffington Post and Care2. She is also a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild.

Brigitte is the author of many books and DVDs, including The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing, The Country Almanac of Home Remedies, The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, The Sexual Herbal, Healing Herbal TeasRawsome!,and co-author of The HempNut Cookbook. Her DVDs include Sacred Psychoactive, Herbal Wizardry for Kids of all Ages, Natural Remedies for Childhood Ailments, Overcoming Addictions, and Natural Remedies for Emotional Health. Her latest project is a phone app called iPlant that helps budding herbalists to identify plants in the wild.

Stay tuned for more interviews with other special guests like Mindy Green, Lisa Ganora, and other fabulous herbalists and educators.

Check out The Herb Walk Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play!

I’d love any feedback, suggestions, or requests for those you’d like to hear interviewed. This podcast is meant to inspire, educate, and preserve the science and art of herbalism for generations to come.

With love,

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

 

Oh, How Time Flies (or 20 years in Cali)

20 years today I moved to California! And my entire life changed. I found herbalism, the redwood forest, and a whole crew of people I still call family two decades later. This is my passionate plea to encourage you to Go Live Your Life. Take chances, make that move, call that guy, whatever it is; Do It!

If I wouldn’t have moved to Humboldt County, I don’t know what my life would be like now. Would I have found a teacher of herbalism that resonated with me like Jane Bothwell? Would I have gone to acupuncture school? Where would I live now and what would I do for a “living”? I don’t know what I would be like, but I do know that I was shaped by my experiences of two decades in California.

I love my life and am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had to travel, explore and find what it is that brings me great joy. I have lived many, many places and I am happy I have found my place. Thank you to the redwoods, the ocean, the herbs, and all the people that have been fundamental for me to call Northern California home.

With love,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Wild Humboldt Tea Recipe

Among the old-growth Redwoods of Northern California, my herbal journey began in the late 1990s. Having thousands of acres of ancient forests to explore, my primal self was awakened.  

I wanted to live off the land, eat wild foods, wildcraft herbs and make all my medicine. And so I did that blissfully for years. Then a desire to become an acupuncturist came over me and I completed a four-year master’s degree and passed the licensing boards. I opened a clinic and worked closely with my community to provide much-needed healthcare. Seeing clients and helping people heal themselves is the most rewarding experience, but I knew I had to share the wisdom of herbalism and Chinese medicine with as many people as I could.

And so I left the comfort and shelter of the wilderness to live in Denver, with views of towering downtown buildings instead of majestic forests and Mother Ocean. It is now easier to teach at conferences throughout the US and abroad, and I have the opportunity to work at Colorado School of TCM and Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism.( Not to mention I now actually have consistent, high-speed internet which was hard to get anywhere I lived in Humboldt County, Cali.).

I know it was the right decision because everything has fallen nicely into place since I moved here over a year ago. This year’s teaching schedule is filling in nicely and I have the time to both see a few clients and continue to work on my herb book, “Plant Songs.”

This week I’ll leave you with the tea that made me fall in love with herbalism and our plant allies. It is a delicious and nourishing tea that will leave you feeling more than satisfied. Stay wild!

Recipe: Wild Humboldt Tea (wildcrafted with reverence)

Ingredients:

Handful of fresh nettles

Handful of fresh violet leaves and flower

Handful of fresh plantain leaves

Small amount of fresh dandelion leaves

Small amount of fresh prunella flowers

Instructions:

  1. Infuse all ingredients in the sun in a glass quart jar. 
  2. Infuse one to four hours or overnight on a full or new moon if desired.  
  3. Strain herbs out or be like us herbalists and strain through your teeth or just eat the herbs too.

When energy flows, wellness grows.

Lavender & Ganja Chocolate Truffles

With all the edibles on the market made from butane extracted oils I’ve decided to put out one of my favorite old school ganja chocolate recipes. This one is guaranteed to work those cannabinoid receptors and includes lavender flowers, which are loaded with linolool. Plant synergy is in full effect here! A word to the wise- this isn’t dosed out in 5-10 milligrams like the legal products on the market. Eat one, wait at least 30 minutes and see how you feel before indulging in more!

Lavender & Ganja Chocolate Truffles Lavender Truffle

 3 grams of kief (kief is preferred because it distributes so well into the butter)

1/3 cup organic heavy cream

6 tbsp organic unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 3/4 cups organic bittersweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup organic unsweetened cocoa

2-4 dried powdered organic lavender heads (lavender can taste soapy to some people, so start with a small amount) 

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a low simmer (or put in top of a double boiler to avoid overheating). Add the butter and stir until melted. Once butter is melted add the kief and half the powdered lavender and stir into mixture for 4 minutes and 20 seconds. Make sure mixture is on very low if not using a double burner. Add the chocolate chips and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and pour into a shallow bowl.
  1. Cool, cover, and refrigerate the mixture until firm, at least 2 hours.
  1. Smoke a joint and walk in nature while waiting for truffles to harden.
  1. Use a melon baller or small spoon and roll the mixture into 1-inch balls. You should get around 30 truffles. Roll each ball into the other half of the powdered lavender and the unsweetened cocoa. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  

Always keep these treats out of the reach of children or pets.

Have an irie 420 y’all!

With love,

cropped-cropped-jessicabaker.jpg

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Our Co-Evolution with Cannabis

I spoke on the The Shift Network’s Plant Medicine Summit with David Crow last Thursday and  was reminded once again of the intricate connection with our plant relations. Listening to all the speakers share their stories and love of herbs filled me with deep joy. Something I realized I haven’t felt in years.

I have been cynical and fearful about the future of our planet and that heaviness has now lifted. Many of us are on the plant path and listening to wise people like Margi Flint, David Winston, and Dr. Vasant Lad, have renewed hope for the healing of so much trauma. We are on a long, evolutionary journey that spans so far into the past and future that most of us can’t even imagine.

I know cannabis is good for our personal evolution. Our endocannabinoid system tells me so. We wouldn’t have so many receptors for cannabinoids if we did not evolve alongside it. Cannabis has been cultivated in parts of Asia for at least 10,000 years and there is some evidence that we may have been using hemp as cordage for 26,000 years. With each plant that gains recognition for its medicinal properties, we move one step closer to healing ourselves and our planet. I am honored to share the medicinal and spiritual properties of cannabis, alongside all of my other herbal allies.

If you didn’t get the chance to listen to my talk on Our Co-evolution with Cannabis and would like to, sign up for my newsletter and I’ll send you a link to the talk!

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows

Cannabis & Himalayas  Photo credit: Arne Huckelheim

Do you want to learn more about herbalism and aromatic plants?

If so, join me and other experts for a free online event: The Shift Network’s Plant Medicine Summit! 

Enjoy a vibrant you and thriving planet when you join 25+ leading ecological experts, health practitioners and inspiring educators — including David Crow, Dr. Vasant Lad, Dr. Jill Stansbury, David Winston, Sara Crow, Lakisha Jenkins, Matthew Wood, KP Khalsa, Acharya Shunya and more — as they bring to light the curative and evolutionary powers of specific medicinal plants, many of which you can grow in your own garden or neighborhood!

During this unparalleled 5-day gathering, you’ll discover:

A classic approach to reestablishing our eternal connection with Mother Nature
The cutting-edge science — and overwhelming evidence — of plant intelligence
A unique integration of herbology, Ayurveda and astrology — exploring medicinal plants related to the planets and the astrological uses of essential oils
Rare teachings of Ayurveda sages from ancient texts, bringing to light Ayurveda’s stand on environment & consciousness
“Forest Bathing” as a therapeutic practice
The use of medical cannabis oil in treating patients with cancer

Use the Earth as your healing source, March 20-24, 2017.

RSVP at no charge here: Plant Medicine Summit

I hope you join me!

With love,

jessicabaker

Jessica 

when energy flows, wellness grows

Go On An Olfactory Journey

In Tuesday’s blog I talked about terpenes and how vital these aromatic compounds are for all life on Earth. Today I’d like to take you on an olfactory journey that will allow you to experience familiar smells on a visceral level and give you a little information about the therapeutic value of terpenes.

Items to have on hand for our exploration: a journal to record your experiences and memories, a juicy orange, a bundle of lavender, and a handful of pine needles (fir, redwood, spruce- or any conifer you have access to).

If you don’t have these items handy, you can use essential oils of sweet orange (lemon, mandarin- any citrus really), lavender, and pine (or other favorite conifer)

1. Wash the outside of the orange and smell the peel. What does it smell like? Now slice orange1into the orange. Take a deep breath. What emotions are evoked when you inhale the crisp, citrus aroma?

All citrus is high in limonene, a terpene that is known to have antispasmodic properties and is used for painful intestinal conditions. Limonene is also a potential anecdote for cannabis intoxication- so have that lemonade handy if you decide to partake!

Cleanse your pallet with a sip of water.

lavender-buzz-sidebar-image-350x3502. Crush the bundle of lavender and hold it under your nose. Inhale deeply.  As you smell the familiar floral scent, what do you notice within your body?
All lavender varieties are high in linalool. The sedative and calming properties of linalool
have been extensively studied and recognized as a potent remedy against anxiety, nervous tension and stress.

Cleanse your pallet with a sip of water.

3.Boil a cup of water and place the pine needles into the hot water. Let the needles pine-cone-and-needlessteep for a couple of minutes and then inhale the infused water. Take a small sip if you feel inclined. What emotion/sensation first comes to mind upon inhalation or taste?

All conifers contain the terpene pinene, that familiar smell of pine that many of us remember from childhood. Pinene is a powerful analgesic (pain-reliever) and can also help improve memory.

Cleanse your pallet with a sip of water.

4. Experiment with other aromatic plants (rosemary, sage, thyme) and see what feelings, sensations or memories they awaken within you.

As always when we are working with these plants, give thanks and gratitude for all they provide.

With love,

cropped-jessicabakerpic.png

Jessica

When energy flows, wellness grows

Photo Credit: Pinterest

A Walk Down Memory Lane

Terpenes are found in plants and animals and are responsible for the aromas that we are all so used to smelling. As terpenes have contributed to the evolution of all life on Earth, their therapeutic value  can not be stressed enough.

Close your eyes and think about peeling a fresh juicy orange. Can you smell that familiar orange1citrus aroma? You’re smelling compounds within the large family of terpenes. Do you love the smell of lavender? Terpenes are responsible.  How about the smell of conifers after a refreshing autumn rain? Terpenes again.

These fragrant compounds not only hold many of our childhood memories, but they have contributed to the formation of our limbic, immune, endocannabinoid, and endocrine systems. Our ability to regulate temperature, mood and appetite are all functions of the limbic system. The limbic system is also responsible for olfaction, or smell!

The connection between plants and humans is so ancient we have forgotten who are ancestors are. I encourage you to go out and smell some plants- allow yourself to let your memory take you places you may have forgotten long ago.

More on the limbic system in Thursday’s blog, when we will explore what compounds you smell when you crush up a bunch of lavender, walk past a pine tree, and peel that juicy orange. Together we’re going to have an olfactory buffet!

With love,

cropped-jessicabakerpic.png

Jessica

CBD is now a Schedule 1 Drug

It’s a pity that the DEA can’t see beyond their bias and continue to publicly deny the therapeutic value of cannabis. To further their renunciation of cannabis they have had to demonize a cannabinoid dubbed CBD, a THC antagonist (meaning reducing the psychoactive effect of THC), which has helped reduce the suffering of countless people with seizures, pain, cancer, and countless other conditions.

The newest research on cannabinoids is astoundingly positive if you consider neuro-protection, antagonizing tumor necrosis, and reduction of pain without life debilitating addiction a benefit to the medical community. The U.S. Health and Human Services even has a patent on the antioxidant and neuro-protective properties of cannabinoids. The mounting evidence in support of CBD has not stopped the current administration from declaring CBD (cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid present in cannabis) a Schedule I drug.

This decision is right on the heels of entrepreneurs and big business investing heavily in CBD oil and crystalline extract. The ability to sell CBD products online and beyond state borders without restriction seemed an easy way to get into the green rush, without the stigma or taxation of the cannabis industry. The specific scheduling of CBD (cannabis was already Schedule 1), gives no grey area as to whether or not CBD extracts are legal to sell. It appears they have established that CBD products are indeed Schedule 1. This is disappointing and is just another attempt to control the spread and acceptance of legal cannabis.

As a practitioner I am appalled that our government continues to add to the needless suffering of its citizens. As an herbalist I am concerned for what this means for all plant medicine. Making plants and their constituents illegal takes away our right to treat and prevent illness as we see fit. It is our right to have access to herbal medicine. The prohibition of one constituent makes it all too easy to prohibit another.With the recent designation of  hemp and CBD it is even more important that we dutifully educate ourselves on the benefits and application of cannabis.

wcn-jessicabaker-module7-promoI am on the faculty of the Holistic Cannabis Academy and am incredibly impressed with their program. With two tracks- one for practitioners and one for the canna-curious, they provide a high level of education and turn-key solutions for counselors and health providers with modules on business-building and marketing. Their faculty includes prestigious researchers and clinicians like Roy Upton, Ethan Russo, Jonathan Treasure, and Laura Lagano.

Empower yourself and your community by becoming a Holistic Medical Cannabis Counselor or Holistic Medical Cannabis Practitioner through the Holistic Cannabis Academy!

With love,

cropped-jessicabakerpic.png

Jessica

Photo credit: Vote Hemp

5 Companies for Conscious Shoppers

The consumerism of the holiday season really bothers me. I mean Really bothers me. Too much importance is put on buying stuff that people don’t want or need and for those that can’t afford to buy for their children, much less their friends or co-workers the stress is unbearable and unnecessary. Although I make as many gifts as I can (stay tuned for my free e-book with lots of fun holiday recipes), I also like to support businesses that really care about people and the planet.

Here’s the list of my top 5 companies to support this season:

Carry The Future stands in solidarity with refugee families worldwide by personally providing humanitarian aid to ease their journey while creating meaningful opportunities for global volunteers to be a collective force of action and hope. They donate baby carriers to refugees that are forced to carry their children for countless miles.

United Plant Savers mission is to protect native medicinal plants of the United States and Canada and their native habitat while ensuring an abundant renewable supply of medicinal plants for generations to come. Become a member and receive at-risk plants to propagate in your area.

The Holistic Cannabis Academy is a cannabis education, training, and business-building platform for holistic-minded practitioners about medical marijuana and its integration with other healing modalities. Give the gift of education and empowerment.

 Together California blends an insatiable lust for color, fun, and forward thinking, Lily and Benedict want to encourage fashion lovers and the fashion industry itself to be their best while still looking and feeling gorgeous. Out of their mutual respect for humanity and planet earth, Together is committed to provide clothing that is equally high-fashion and high-­tech. All products are created with the safest and most sustainable manufacturing techniques available without sacrificing style; these methods are reflective of the thoughtfulness and positive change that our current cultural and physical climate demands. Their designs and styles are unmatched, as is their commitment to sustainable fashion.

Samadhi Yoga is my favorite yoga studio in Denver. For those that live elsewhere, choose a locally owned studio in your town. Your friends will love you for it!

Photo credit: Website of Carry The Future

Reflections on the Mountain West Herb Gathering

IMG_0316I cannot say enough positive things about the Mountain West Herb Gathering.  As with any conference there are bound to be unexpected hiccups but my experience as a teacher and attendant was that it was not only a well organized event but extremely heartfelt as well. I’m already getting excited about next year’s gathering.  Thank you Amanda Klenner for putting on such a welcoming event!  Check out her monthly herbal publication Natural Herbal Living

As someone new to Colorado, I am also happy to have met more local herbalists!  Every class I attended was wonderful, but my favorite had to be Healing the Spirit: Using Plants, Song and Prayer in Modern Herbal Practice, with Shelley Torgove and Monticue Connally.  I am glad they are both in Denver so I can learn more from them.  Deep healing occurred in the space created in their class.  There is nothing like singing with the plants!

IMG_0338My favorite part was to see (hear, taste and feel) new and old plant allies.  The mountain yarrow and horsetail looks so delicate and tender compared to our North Coast varieties.  I have found the mountain plants to be smaller, but packed full of vital energy due to their ability to thrive in such harsh conditions.  And the conifers!  I got to taste and smell the differences in some of the pine, spruce and fir.  The medicine in these mountain plants are strong and give us the gift of resiliency.  So needed at this time.

I leave you with a simple tasty tea that can be easily harvested from many places around the world.  Just make sure the trees and flowers haven’t been sprayed or are close to a heavily trafficked area.

Conifer Rose Tea IMG_0181

1/2 cup needles of your favorite evergreen (pine, spruce, cedar, cypress, fir, redwood)

1/4 cup wild roses

1/4 cup wild blackberry or raspberry flowers

Make a sun infusion with needles and flowers for 2-3 hours.  Strain out herbs and drink deeply.

When energy flows, wellness grows

Happy Summer and Abundant Blessings,

cropped-jessicabakerpic.png

Jessica

Gather With Us: An Interview with Herbalist Amanda Klenner

This week’s Herbal Pioneer Interview is with Amanda Klenner, herbalist and publisher a49b59_fdec54436e6342fa87bc92f26db2b804of Natural Herbal Living Magazine. Amanda’s enthusiasm and knowledge of herbalism has inspired her to put on the first annual Mountain West Herb Gathering June 16-19, 2016 in Breckinridge CO to educate about the diverse bio-regions of the Mountain West.

JB: What inspired you to put on the Mountain West Herb Gathering (MWHG)?

AK: We have a beautiful history of herbalism here in Colorado, ignited by Paul Bergner and Feather Jones when they started NAIMH, now known as Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism, which is now run by Lisa Ganora. This school and others have ignited a passion for herbalism, focusing specifically on the bio-regions here in Colorado. There are hundreds of herbalists here, and in the surrounding states with vast knowledge, experience, and passion to share, but there hasn’t been a place for us all to gather, share ideas, and connect.

I decided to start Mountain West Herb Gathering as a place for herbalists to connect and share our ideas, passions, and experiences. It is also a place where we can discuss the environmental changes we are seeing, and talk about what impact this is having on the plants. I am hoping it will be a place to focus on ethical harvesting of native and invasive plants, and help us become better stewards of the land that we work and play on.

JB: How did you choose the teachers for the Gathering?

AK: The teachers were chosen based on their experience in teaching herbalism, as well as their experience with particular plants, microclimates, or modalities. Each herbalist teaching at MWHG has something unique and exciting to share with the herb world, and knows how to present that information in a way that is engaging of not only the mind, but the heart and soul as well. They are experts in their field, and are teaching what they feel passionate about.

JB: You present 2 classes at MWHG, can you please tell us about them?

AK: The first class I am teaching is: A Holistic Approach to Chronic Pain. I have had chronic pain for over 10 years after bulging disks while working in a hospital. That initial injury triggered a few auto-immune diseases, one being Fibromyalgia. I manage my daily pain through lifestyle, diet, and herbs. I know many people who insist that fibromyalgia, and chronic pain, can’t be healed, but they can be managed naturally, if a person has the tools they need to support their body in its natural healing process. This class is meant to be a first step, an idea of the tools we have as herbalists and healers to help others through chronic pain.

Chronic pain is a condition 100 million Americans experience on a daily basis. It is more a more common health problem than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined. It isn’t talked about much, and is often glanced over in holistic health books. Many times this is due to ignorance or inexperience in working with chronic pain. It can seem like a hopeless cause, because there is no quick fix. There is no cure. It is a big, complex problem with many moving pieces, and this is where holistic health can shine. We can incorporate many different healing modalities like yoga, meditation, psychological support, spirit work, exercise, herbal remedies, and custom diets to help manage and reduce chronic pain symptoms.

The second class is A New Hope: Teaching Kids About Their Plant Friends. I have two little ones, my daughter is 5 and my son is 4. They are growing up with an herbalist for a mother, and as such are often out hiking with me into the wild places, and helping me gather plants for food and medicine. They as questions, observe, touch, taste and feel the plants. We talk daily about plants having feelings, spirits, and powers, for lack of a better word. Children see the magic and mystery of the plants, and are able to listen to their intuition when working with the plants. I like to help foster that creativity, and that internal knowing, and help children make life long friends with their plant allies. I like to go to my daughter’s school and teach about the plants, while doing fun kid-friendly activities. I wanted to bring that experience to the table, and share with others some fun kid-friendly ways to learn about the plants.

JB: How can people and sponsors get in touch with you to be a part of the Gathering?          

AK:  People can find more information about MWHG at www.mountainwestherbgathering.com, and register for the conference on EventBrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mountain-west-herb-gathering-tickets-20631884522?aff=ehomesaved .

If people would like to contact me more about the conference, you can e-mail me at mountainwestherbconference@gmail.com.

I hope to see you there this June! It is sure to be a fantastic experience.

JB: Thank you for educating so many of the healing powers of the plants.  I look forward to attending the MWHG!

Abundant Blessings,

JessicaBakerPic

Jessica

A Celebration of Cannabinoids

This blog post continues my interview with neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, Ethan Russo. Ethan has worked with cannabis extensively since the 1990’s img-dr-ethanand continues to pioneer the research on the human endocannabinoid system. He is the former Medical Advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals and Past-President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society. What I like most about Ethan’s work is his ability to scrutinize down to an individual constituent all the while understanding the importance of the synergy of whole plant medicine.

In my final questions with Ethan,  we speak about terpenoids, the future of cannabis laboratory testing and how the FDA is responding to the labeling of CBD products.  It is my hope that these interviews help dispel the deception that has surrounded cannabis since its prohibition and help create a more informed future.

You can read the first part of the interview here Herbal Pioneers Interview with Ethan Russo

JB: The number of terpenes that are significant in lab testing is constantly changing.  Which, if any, chemical constituents are responsible for the enhancement of CBD? THC? 

ER: There have been over 200 terpenoids isolated from different cannabis chemovars, but certain ones predominate, especially myrcene in modern strains, which largely accounts for the “couchlock” that is all too common nowadays, even with cannabidiol strains that should actually be slightly stimulating, but for that.  When limonene is included in sufficient amounts, it tends to “brighten” the effect and exert a pronounced mood elevation that can be quite helpful in many chronic conditions. A rare component these days is pinene. It has a remarkable ability to counteract the short-term memory impairment engendered by THC, an effect that makes cannabis treatment problematic for patients that still need to utilize it while they work or study.

CBD is still a difficult commodity to find in many states. When present in high amounts, it will delay and blunt the peak high of THC somewhat, prolong its effect, and reduce its tendency to increase heart rate and anxiety. Beyond that, it has remarkable benefits on pain and inflammation.

JB: Since pinene is a rare component in cannabis today and has the benefit of counteracting short-term memory loss, and other herbs like pine contain pinene, is research being done on the synergist effects of other herbs with cannabis? 

ER: There may be a lot of experimentation going on out there along these lines. I have current plans for formal clinical trials to examine cannabinoid-terpenoid interactions. The protocol is all set to go—we merely need funding to initiate the experiments.

JB: I have seen the same sample of Cannabis test at different levels from different testing laboratories.  Are you familiar with the laboratory standards of establishing THC and CBD percentages? Are these percentages even remotely accurate?

ER: We need to keep in mind that virtually all the analytical labs are actually contravening federal law by doing these assays. I’m afraid the quality control in the industry is quite hit or miss, with many examples of poor work and extreme variability. There are laboratory certifications available now, and these should be encouraged. Assays of cannabinoids are difficult, and hampered often times by lack of good analytical standards from industry. The best labs develop their own. Terpenoid analysis is even more technically challenging, and few labs offer that at the present time.

JB: The FDA has sent cease and desist letters to some CBD product manufacturers stating that there is some evidence of medicinal use and so cannot be sold as a dietary supplement.  Do you believe research has proven that Cannabis has several medicinal properties? 

ER: It is certain that cannabis has many medicinal properties. Just as a simple example, Sativex® (USAN: nabiximols), a cannabis-based oromucosal spray is approved as a prescription pharmaceutical in 27 countries for spasticity (muscle tightness) in multiple sclerosis. In Canada, it is also approved for pain in MS and in cancer unresponsive to optimized opioid treatment. Another cannabis-based medicine, Epidiolex®, an almost pure cannabidiol extract should be soon approved by the FDA in the USA for treatment of intractable epilepsy in children. However, approval of such a pharmaceutical form of cannabis will not influence the scheduling of other cannabis products. The FDA first went after CBD producers that had no cannabidiol in their products. Now they are issuing cease and desist letters to other companies that are exaggerating the CBD content, or making unsubstantiated medical claims. Rather, structure-function statements should be the maximum claim, as is currently the situation with other herbal products in the USA.

While we’re at it, for better or worse, cannabidiol is still a Schedule I forbidden drug in this country. Claims to the contrary, such as “Our CBD is derived from hemp and is legal in all 50 states,” are a function of tortured legal logic and wishful thinking.

JB: Ethan, thank you for participating in this interview and for your diligence in spreading the truth about cannabis.

To see Ethan Russo speak in person, attend the Medicinal Cannabis Conference in Arcata, California April 23-24, 2016 http://www.medicalmarijuanaconference.net/?page_id=246

For more information on Ethan’s work and our endocannabinoid system, check out

researchgate.net/profile/ethan_russo/contributions

phytecs.com

Happy 420 everyone!  We have witnessed the end of cannabis prohibition and an evolutionary leap of consciousness.

When energy flows, wellness grows

Abundant Blessings,

cropped-jessicabakerpic.png

Jessica

Herbal Pioneers Interview with Ethan Russo

img-dr-ethanI am honored to begin my Herbal Pioneers Interview Series with an interview with neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, Ethan Russo. Ethan has worked with cannabis extensively since the 1990’s and continues to pioneer the research on the human endocannabinoid system. He is the former Medical Advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals and Past-President of the International Cannabinoid Research Society. What I like most about Ethan’s work is his ability to scrutinize down to an individual constituent all the while understanding the importance of the synergy of whole plant medicine.

This became a two-part series as I like to keep my blog posts short and I encourage readers to take the time to follow the links Dr. Russo provides for more in depth answers to the questions.  In the first interview Ethan describes how he began researching cannabinoids, debunks the terms “sativa” and “indica” and explains how those descriptions have nothing to do with the effects attributed to them. (Thank You-this has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time!)  In next week’s blog we discuss terpenoids, the future of cannabis laboratory testing and how the FDA is responding to the labeling of CBD products.

JB:  Ethan, thank you for participating in this interview and for your diligence in spreading the truth about cannabis.

Aa young scientist, what inspired you to research the constituents present in the Cannabis plant?

ER: After several years in practice, I came to believe that I was giving increasingly toxic pharmaceuticals to my patients with less and less progress. Some of my patients were employing adjunctive cannabis to treat their illnesses even back in the 1980s, especially multiple sclerosis. This caused me to look back to my teenage interest in medicinal herbs. I then embarked on a mission to find herbal agents to treat migraine more effectively. The greatest abundance of herbal agents is found in the Amazon, so I took Spanish classes once a week for a year and a half before two trips to Peru. The second took place in 1995, when I spend the bulk of a three-month sabbatical working with the Machiguenga tribe in Parque Nacional del Manù. They had a great abundance of psychoactive agents and migraine treatments. Shortly after my return, I became embroiled in the clinical cannabis controversy. Over the next several years, I experienced continual federal roadblocks to that research and began writing, editing and lecturing on the subject, and eventually, in 2003, it became the primary focus of my work.

JB: Have you published (or will publish) anything on your work with the Machiguenga tribe? 

ER: Yes. I wrote an article on the Machiguenga tribe’s diet and its pertinence to Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It is accessible here: http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/machiguenga-peruvian-hunter-gatherers/

JB: What is your opinion on the debate on whether there are two different species Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica (more if you include ruderalis or afghanica) or if all cannabis plants are Cannabis sativa

ER: I have personally been on every side of this issue. The botanical taxonomists will never agree. To be sure, the way that the terms “sativa” and “indica” are applied in common parlance is absolute nonsense. What consumers need to know is the actual chemical composition of the cannabis, both cannabinoids and terpenoids, in an accurate fashion by a reliable laboratory to have a better idea of its likely effects. I recently was interviewed on this subject at greater length, which is available here: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/can.2015.29003.ebr

Read next weeks 420 blog post with the second part of the interview and celebratory post!

To see Ethan Russo speak in person, attend the Medicinal Cannabis Conference in Arcata, California April 23-24, 2016  Medicinal Cannabis Conference Website

For more information on Ethan’s work and our endocannabinoid system, check out researchgate.net/profile/ethan_russo/contributions and phytecs.com

When energy flows, wellness grows

Abundant Blessings,

cropped-jessicabakerpic.png

Jessica