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!)

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

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

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,

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Jessica

Photo credit: Vote Hemp

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,

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Jessica