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,

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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,

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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,

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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, 

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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,

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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,

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Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows