CBD: Don’t Believe the Hype

Cannabis is now all over the media. That makes me really happy! As an avid Cannabis user, educator, and advocate, even I am more than a little concerned about the ever-growing hype about CBD (cannabidiol, one of the many phytocannabinoids in cannabis). Yes, CBD has therapeutic properties. No, it is not the panacea miracle drug that so many people claim it to be. Yes, CBD is effective for extreme childhood seizure disorders. No, this does not mean taking CBD is going to cure all of your illnesses.

We are a culture of trending health diets and fads. I’m afraid CBD is falling into that category. Plant medicine is for real. Cannabis medicine is for real. CBD does have therapeutic benefits that interact with our own Endocannabinoid System. This does not mean that every hyped up CBD product on the market is going to work. Since most of them are derived from industrial hemp in Eastern Europe or China, they’re probably not going to. Price does not guarantee quality. I see all sorts of outrageous prices on the market! Researchers found that only 30% of CBD products on the market have within 10% of what is actually on the label. 42% had more CBD than listed on the label and 26% had less CBD than stated (Marcel O. Bonn-Miller, Mallory J. E. Loflin, Brian F. Thomas, Jahan P. Marcu, Travis Hyke, Ryan Vandrey. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold OnlineJAMA, 2017; 318 (17): 1708 DOI: 10.1001/jama.2017.11909)

We need a holistic approach to health. Including when working with Cannabis. We also need to be able to discern and weed through the marketer’s exploits. A stand alone CBD is only going to be have limited effectiveness. I always go back to what Ethan Russo, neuroscientist and cannabis researcher who theorizes that there is a synergistic effect between all constituents found in plants, including phytocannabinoids (THC, CBD) and terpenoids (aromatic compounds that have known therapeutic benefits and create the pungent smell of cannabis). That means that CBD alone can have some therapeutic benefit, but when we combine that with other constituents in the plants, we have an even stronger effect. When we ingest anything, we also have to take into account our own physiology, metabolism, and healing ability. All  of these factors play a role in how plant medicine works within the body.

That’s why all herbal medicine, OTC and pharmaceutical drugs can react differently for each person. And that’s why we can’t make claims that CBD is saving everyone’s life and curing all illnesses. CBD companies shouldn’t be making health claims anyway. It violates FDA rules and many businesses are getting cease and desist letters because of it.

The beauty of what is happening is that there are millions of us that love Cannabis! Millions more have wanted to love Cannabis and have been lied to for decades about how dangerous and addictive it is. Now everybody’s curiosity is justified by the medicinal benefits of CBD!  That’s great and all, but now we need to update our weed knowledge now that Cannabis has come out of the closet.

The more people excited about plant medicine the better! With all this enthusiasm- let’s drop some education about cannabis.

1. Cannabiscan be used in phytoremdiation. This means that Cannabis can be used to accumulate heavy metals like cadmium.  Because heavy metals can be present in plant material (and even more concentrated in CBD products) it is so important to know where our CBD products come from. Know your supplier! And always ask to see proof of heavy metal and pesticide testing of the CBD used in their products.

2. Terpenoids, like linalool, beta caryophellene, and pinene are found in Cannabis. And also found in other medicinal plants. The same aromatic molecules are in plants like lavender, pine, citrus, and countless others. It is the synergestic effect of terpenoids and phytocannabinoids (CBD, THC, and others) that illicit Cannabis’s effects. Read Ethan Russo’s research article Taming THC.

3. The way we describe Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa is completely wrong. This is too in depth to go into here so I embedded The Real Dirt podcast interview where I speak in detail about the differences between the two species. You may be surprised at what you find out!

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to learning about Cannabis. Information and enthusiasm is spreading fast. Let’s stay informed, and high. Let’s definitely stay high!

With love,

Jessica

when energy flows, wellness grows 

PS: Speaking of Cannabis, I had so much fun interviewing Dr. Michele Ross for The Herb Walk Podcast this week. She is a wealth of information! Our conversation was exhilarating, reminding me how far we have come with cannabis in just a few years. And how far we still have to go! The episode will be released next month and I am so excited to share it with you.

For now, enjoy my episode, The Taxonomy of Cannabis on The Real Dirt instead.

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

 

Finding My Tribe

Yesterday was sunny and 70 and today we wake up to a blizzard here in Colorado.  It feels like a little shock to my system but I know the hot, long days of Summer aren’t too far away.  I’ll take this opportunity to enjoy one of the last days of Winter weather to stay cuddled up inside with a big mug of hot tea.

Tribeca+Film+Festival+2011+Portrait+Studio+cZmeFy2dMKAlToday I also woke to the news that Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest passed away. RIP Phife Dawg!  I was immediately taken back to 18 years old and driving around with my best friend, Amber.  Always a reminder that life is impermanent.  A motivation to continue on my path.  An inspiration to finish my book, Plant Songs.  Winning a self-publishing contract has re-inforced my thought that it is time for the wisdom of the plants to be shared with more people.  My  life has been so enriched by plant medicine and it is an honor to share their stories with you.

Today and Everyday, Live your Dream!  You are supported in your decision to listen to your higher self and fulfill your desires.  If you need reminding,  Contact me via Facebook and I’ll encourage you! 

Also, in living my dream I will be asking some of my favorite people (scientists, herbalists, musicians) a few questions and will share their answers on my blog.  In the line up will be Ethan Russo, cannabis researcher and scientist.  Stay tuned for his expertise on the chemistry of Cannabis!

To find out more about my teaching schedule Go to my website to see where I’ll be!

I leave you with a heart-opening, life inspiring tea that will help you hear your inner guidance (and actually believe it!)

Try & Be You Tea (thanks Phife)

2-3 tsp Violet flowers & leaves

2-3 tsp Rose petals

1-2 tsp Rosemary

1-2 tsp Raw Cacao nibs

pinch of ground Cinnamon

Infuse (steep) all ingredients in a quart of boiled water for 15 minutes.  Strain and drink 1/2 cup throughout the day as you need inspiration and guidance.  Allow yourself a minute to listen to what it is you really want/need out of your life.  What do you want to accomplish before you die?  What difference do you want to make?  Write down steps to Accomplish it! 

When energy flows, wellness grows

Abundant Blessings,

cropped-jessicabakerpic.png

Jessica

 

The American Herbalists Guild Symposium & A Recipe to Embrace the Divine

After weeks of working on releasing suppressed anger, grief, and fear I feel lighter and more at ease.  

With these clearings, I’ve moved even deeper within myself and have tapped into a shame so embedded in my matrix that it is almost overwhelming me.

As the anxiety rises from knowing I have to look at this aspect of my growth process, I just breathe. A long belly breath that expands my belly and my chest. I remember that I am infinitely supported by the universe and my human and plant allies.  I know that any information gained will be transformed into wisdom and love and I will release all residual fear, anguish or disgust that embodies all shame.

Last weekend at the annual American Herbalists Guild Symposium in Granby, Colo., I had the pleasure of meeting and gathering with so many of my herbal heroes. Teaching alongside people I admire so deeply and being acknowledged for my accomplishments was incredible — and intimidating! The symposium also brought up these feelings of shame and I am glad I had the courage to overcome them. I know I was chosen by the plants to teach their wisdom and I am honored to have the opportunity.

I want to thank the AHG for putting on such an epic event! Every teacher at the Symposium is amazing, but I wanted to recognize two of my favorites. Check out their links as they are a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.

Ethan Russo, MD

The top of my list is Ethan Russo, MD, he is a board-certified neurologist, psychopharmacology researcher, and former Senior Medical Advisor to GW Pharmaceuticals. I heard him speak in Bern, Switzerland in 2002 when he was part of the team that developed the first patented cannabis product.  So much of his work is finally being recognized in the scientific community as CBD and Terpenoids become the new buzzwords in cannabis research. More importantly, he is a plant person and understands the synergy of whole plant medicine! His team at Phytecs is researching the Endocannabinoid System and its role in our physiology and our evolution with cannabis. Ethan is a humble likable guy that you will be hearing a lot about in the future.

Mindy Green

I finally got to attend a class of my favorite aromatherapist, Mindy Green. Her four decades of work with essential oils and in the natural products industry makes her an authority on botanical medicine.  She runs a consulting company, Green Scentsations and specializes in botanical therapies, product development, and aromatherapy education. Mindy has welcomed me into the aromatherapy community and is a genuinely kind person.

As you see I was in the presence of people that have been studying botanicals since I was a wee baby. I had to convince myself that I was worthy of being on the stage alongside these giants in our industry.  Acknowledgment from our peers (and heroes) is important, but ultimately it is how you feel about yourself that is important. I continue to liberate this deep feeling of embarrassment of who I think I am. Just like you, I am beautiful, strong, kind and worthy of all the love and acceptance the universe has to give.

I’ll leave you with a simple soul nourishing, energy building recipe that will help you open up to the loving embrace of the Divine.

Recipe: Embrace the Divine

Use all organic ingredients (of course)

Ingredients:
1 small handful of fresh or dried rose petals
1 handful fresh or dried milky oat tops or oatstraw
1 handful fresh or dried hawthorn leaves and flowers
1 handful fresh or dried tulsi basil
1/2 handful fresh or dried violet leaves
1/2 handful fresh or dried calendula flowers

Instructions:

  1. As you blend the herbs together, honor each plant for its offering of medicine and ask it to open your heart to the infinite wisdom you are about to receive.  
  2. Steep the herbs in 4 to 6 cups of boiled (not boiling) water for 15 to 20 minutes.  
  3. Strain herbs and set aside for a second use. The bitter quality of some of the herbs will help clear toxins and negativity from your body.  
  4. If the taste is unpleasant add 1 tsp honey and thank the bees for their role in our nourishment.  Drink anytime you need of day or night.  It is a great ally on days when you need extra support or love.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my ramblings.

When energy flows, Wellness grows