HEALTH & MEDICINE
Cannabis is by far not the only medicinal plant on the planet. Here we explore the vast world of medicinal plants and healthy foods. In today's day and age, let us be more health-conscious and evolve our diet, after all, we truly are what we eat!
The Healthiest Type of Salt and Why It’s So Important
by Helen Sanders
Salt is an essential element of good health and it has historically been an significant part of human civilization. True salt has many trace minerals and elements that are vital for a well functioning body. Sadly, the bright white substance in most people salt shakers has been processed into something quite different.
Here is why it's so important to swap damaging sodium chloride for the healthiest type of salt, the best place to get it and the benefits it can bring to your body.
What Is Table Salt?
The sodium chloride you buy in the supermarket sold as table salt is actually primarily an industrial product. It is made in large processing plants and over 90% of it is used in commercial industry.
During manufacturing it is heated to around 1200 degrees Fahrenheit and treated with caustic soda to remove other minerals. Anti-caking agents, like aluminum hydroxide, are then added to improve how it pours. Unfortunately high levels of aluminum in the diet are now suspected of being a possible cause of Alzheimer's disease. You can read more about the other side effects of aluminum hydroxide here.
When you have this mineral stripped version of salt in your meals, intracellular water is drawn out of your body's cells to counteract it. This starts a chain of events the puts strain on your kidneys and can, over time, impair their ability to remove waste products from your blood.
Longer-term there are many health issues associated with too much sodium chloride in the diet. Let's have a look at some of the most serious ones.
Health Dangers of Sodium Chloride
High blood pressure
Having too much sodium chloride in your body increases the volume of your blood, leading to high blood pressure. This happens due to the extra intracellular water needed to counteract it. Prolonged high blood pressure may lead to serious cardiovascular problems, kidney failure and many other diseases.
Impaired Nerve and Muscle Function
Some sodium is essential for proper muscle function and communication within your nervous system. There's a balance that is needed though and high salt diets can lead to negative effects like muscle cramps, tension, dizziness and disorientation.
Eating those salty snacks can alter the sodium to potassium balance in your blood. This reduces the filtering functions of your kidneys and put them under stress. Eventually this can lead to renal disease and painful kidney stones.
Proper calcium absorption and utilization can be affected when you consume too much sodium, resulting in porous bones and an increased risk of fractures. Osteoporosis is affecting more and more elderly people with our modern high sodium chloride diets. By reducing your table salt intake now you can help lower your risk of developing this debilitating disease later in life.
Excessive sodium chloride can damage your digestive tract, may provoke acid reflux and is a known risk factor for ulcers and gastrointestinal cancers. Drinking more water can help but ideally cut down on foods that are high in processed salt.
Dehydration and Fluid Retention
You feel thirsty after those french fries because the sodium you eat with them is literally drawing water out of your cells and into your tissues. Fluid retention, especially in the lower legs, is often a direct result of having too much table salt in your meals or snacks.
Change Your Salt for Better Health
Despite all of these health dangers of sodium chloride, you do benefit from some natural salt in your diet. Used in moderation, it should be a rich source of trace minerals that are vital to a well functioning body, even in very small amounts.
True sea salt is far better than industrial sodium chloride with aluminium derived anticaking agents. But because the human race has polluted the oceans to such an extent, there is some concern about contaminants, even with real sea salt.
The healthiest kind of salt avoids this issue completely. This is because it was laid down millions of years ago when the oceans were unpolluted by man. Himalayan crystal salt is sourced from the deep mines within the Himalayas in large salt crystals. It is a beautiful pink color and contains over 80 essential minerals and trace elements for good health and well-being.
10 Benefits of Himalayan Crystal Salt
Reducing your sodium chloride intake, particularly from processed foods, and replacing damaging table salt with mineral rich pink crystal salt can have some significant health benefits. Here are some of the best of them.
Provides essential minerals. So many important cellular processes rely on very small amounts of certain minerals. These trace elements are often processed out of modern food products but Himalayan crystal salt contains up to 84 different types of minerals in their natural form.
Improves your body's pH balance. Real salt helps to remove acidic toxins from your system and can assist in bringing your body's pH levels back into the normal, slightly alkaline range.
Maintains proper intracellular water levels. Being in its natural state, Himalayan crystal salt does not dramatically affect fluid balance in the same way processed sodium chloride does. Switching to this healthiest type of salt is a good step towards better cellular health.
Improves nervous system function. The minerals in Himalayan crystal salt increase nerve conductivity and communication, potentially reducing tension and stress within your body.
Enhances nutrient absorption. The addition of more trace minerals into your diet helps improve the way you absorb the nutrients in the food you eat. A small pinch of pink crystal salt over your vegetables or in your meals can actually have health benefits, much unlike sodium chloride.
Improves muscle function and strength and reduces the incidence of cramps. Real salt is needed for properly working muscles, particularly after exercise or weight training. The more you sweat, the more need you have for real salt.
Anti-histamine effect. Himalayan crystal salt is said to be a natural antihistamine and can help clear up lung congestion and excessive mucus.
Minimize fluid retention. Replacing sodium chloride with crystal salt should reduce fluid retention and help to prevent varicose veins and swollen ankles and feet.
Lessen the chances of developing osteoporosis. In moderation, the mineral content of true salt like this can improve bone density and structure, helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Lower the risk of kidney problems and heart disease. Choosing Himalayan crystal salt reduces the burden on your kidneys and cardiovascular system from sodium chloride, leading to better overall health and well-being.
Himalayan crystal salt is clearly superior to sodium chloride. I use this fine-grained pink salt and it's surprisingly inexpensive for how good it is for you. Even the taste of it is much nicer than regular table salt.
You can simply pour out the aluminium laced sodium chloride from your salt shaker and replace it with this real and mineral rich salt. It's one of those simple changes really worth making for better health.
Cannabinoids remove plaque-forming Alzheimer's proteins from brain cells
Scientists have found preliminary evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds found in marijuana can promote the cellular removal of amyloid-beta, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Preliminary lab studies by Salk Professor David Schubert suggest that the molecule THC reduces beta-amyloid proteins in human neurons.
Salk Institute scientists have found preliminary evidence that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds found in marijuana can promote the cellular removal of amyloid-beta, a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer's disease.
While these exploratory studies were conducted in neurons grown in the laboratory, they may offer insight into the role of inflammation in Alzheimer's disease and could provide clues to developing novel therapeutics for the disorder.
"Although other studies have offered evidence that cannabinoids might be neuroprotective against the symptoms of Alzheimer's, we believe our study is the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells," says Salk Professor David Schubert, the senior author of the paper.
Alzheimer's disease is a progressive brain disorder that leads to memory loss and can seriously impair a person's ability to carry out daily tasks. It affects more than five million Americans according to the National Institutes of Health and is a leading cause of death. It is also the most common cause of dementia and its incidence is expected to triple during the next 50 years.
It has long been known that amyloid beta accumulates within the nerve cells of the aging brain well before the appearance of Alzheimer's disease symptoms and plaques. Amyloid beta is a major component of the plaque deposits that are a hallmark of the disease. But the precise role of amyloid beta and the plaques it forms in the disease process remains unclear.
In a manuscript published in June 2016's Aging and Mechanisms of Disease, Salk team studied nerve cells altered to produce high levels of amyloid beta to mimic aspects of Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers found that high levels of amyloid beta were associated with cellular inflammation and higher rates of neuron death. They demonstrated that exposing the cells to THC reduced amyloid beta protein levels and eliminated the inflammatory response from the nerve cells caused by the protein, thereby allowing the nerve cells to survive.
"Inflammation within the brain is a major component of the damage associated with Alzheimer's disease, but it has always been assumed that this response was coming from immune-like cells in the brain, not the nerve cells themselves," says Antonio Currais, a postdoctoral researcher in Schubert's laboratory and first author of the paper. "When we were able to identify the molecular basis of the inflammatory response to amyloid beta, it became clear that THC-like compounds that the nerve cells make themselves may be involved in protecting the cells from dying."
Brain cells have switches known as receptors that can be activated by endocannabinoids, a class of lipid molecules made by the body that are used for intercellular signaling in the brain. The psychoactive effects of marijuana are caused by THC, a molecule similar in activity to endocannabinoids that can activate the same receptors. Physical activity results in the production of endocannabinoids and some studies have shown that exercise may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease.
Schubert emphasized that his team's findings were conducted in exploratory laboratory models and that the use of THC-like compounds as a therapy would need to be tested in clinical trials.
In separate but related research, his lab found an Alzheimer's drug candidate called J147 that also removes amyloid beta from nerve cells and reduces the inflammatory response in both nerve cells and the brain. It was the study of J147 that led the scientists to discover that endocannabinoids are involved in the removal of amyloid-beta and the reduction of inflammation.
Other authors on the paper include Oswald Quehenberger and Aaron Armando at the University of California, San Diego; and Pamela Maher and Daniel Daughtery at the Salk Institute.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, The Burns Foundation and The Bundy Foundation.
Why Is Cannabis-Infused Coconut Oil So Powerful?
Cannabis-infused coconut oil is quickly gaining popularity. But, is it more effective than butter? Why is coconut oil the best carrier fat to use with cannabis? Why is it necessary to use oil at all? Here’s why cannabis-infused coconut oil is such a healthy and powerful medicine.
Compounds in cannabis are fat-soluble. What does that mean, exactly? They break down in fat rather than water. This means that in order to reap the benefits of dietary cannabinoids, you’ll need to consume them with some fat.
Coconut oil is superior for nutrient absorption. This is true not only for cannabis but for other fat-soluble nutrients as well. Vitamin E and beta-carotene are two examples.
In fact, when you purchase nutritional supplements, opting for liposomal (fat-based) delivery systems can dramatically enhance the total amount of nutrients you actually absorb.
When you combine cannabinoids with fat, the fat helps the cannabinoids travel through your digestive tract where they will eventually be broken down and released for your body to use.
The high saturated fat content in coconut oil provides ample binding opportunities for cannabinoids. Coconut oil contains around 90% saturated fat, which is far superior to olive oil (15%). (But, don’t worry! This fat won’t clog your arteries or put inches on your waistline. This topic is discussed in detail below.)
Since cannabis is fat-soluble, the higher the quality of the carrier fat, the better the extraction will be. The abundance and purity of the fat in coconut oil gives cannabinoids like THC and CBD have plenty of material to work with. This means that infused coconut oil provides the greatest bang for your buck.
Different types of fat
Different fats come in different shapes. Coconut oil contains an abundance of saturated fats of unique quality. Specifically, coconut oil is high in medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). Other oils, like canola and sunflower oil, are primarily made of long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs).
The body can break down the MCFAs in coconut oil much more easily than it can those of LCFAs. In fact, LCFAs require special enzyme proteins to break them down. Rather, MCFAs are directly metabolized into energy by the liver. This means that your body can burn those fats and put them to use right away.
Liver metabolism makes for a stronger psychoactive experience. When consuming cannabis via an edible or infused oil, greater amounts of THC is converted to the psychoactive metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC.
This makes the edible cannabis much stronger than smoked or vaporized cannabis. 11-hydroxy-THC crosses into the brain more easily than THC. Using coconut oil or other products that contain medium-chain triglycerides (MCT oils) triggers a relatively rapid release cannabinoids when compared to other oils.
It also limits the fat stored on your waistline. Coconut oil gives you a quick energy boost without forcing your body to expend energy to free up the fat for use. When using other oils like canola, you’re more likely to store that oil as fat and it will take longer for your body to metabolize.
3 Benefits of coconut oil
There are a few other reasons to choose coconut oil. Not only is it a rich source of metabolism-boosting medium chain fatty acids, but some of these fats have specific health benefits, including,
1. Lauric acid
Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid with antimicrobial properties. If you’re a fan of cannabis topicals, using slaves or creams with a coconut oil base provides natural protection against pathogens and infection. Lauric acid also promotes balanced cholesterol levels, making it a heart-healthy fat.
2. Caprylic acid
Caprylic acid is another MCFA with anti-microbial properties. Specifically, caprylic acid is anti-fungal. Research as early as 1949 found that this fat contained a natural fungicide, which could be beneficial for both topical and oral use.
The over half-century old patent cited above found that the fat could be useful in treating mycotic infections on living organisms.
3. Vitamin E
Coconut oil contains small amounts of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that is excellent for skin and hair. While the oil itself is not the best dietary source of the vitamin, it does help the body absorb vitamin E more readily.
Including more coconut oil in your diet helps ensure that your body is making the best use out of the phytonutrients that you consume on a daily basis.
Cannabis-Infused coconut oil recipe
You can make cannabis-infused coconut oil yourself right at home. For best results, opt for organic extra virgin coconut oil. It may be a little pricey, but it will help you get the most benefit from your cannabis. A herb that you won’t want to waste. You can use the oil as a butter replacement in recipes, put some in smoothies, use it as a topical, or use it to fill pill capsules.
by Sean McAllister
The year 2019 was a watershed year for efforts to reform the laws around psilocybin mushrooms, commonly referred to as “magic mushrooms.” Since psilocybin’s categorization in the 1970s as a Schedule I drug under US and international law, reform of laws related to psilocybin and other psychedelics had not been a significant focus of the drug policy reform community.
However, in the spring of 2019, Denver became the first U.S. city to effectively decriminalize possession and cultivation of personal possession amounts of psilocybin. Oakland quickly followed Denver’s lead and went further by effectively decriminalizing all activities related to naturally occurring or entheogenic psychedelic substances. Also, in 2019, reform advocates in Oregon and California submitted proposed statewide ballot initiatives to allow voters to liberalize psilocybin laws through the 2020 ballot process.
This article summarizes the various reforms enacted in Denver and Oakland, along with summarizing the proposed new regulated models in Oregon and California. Controversial or groundbreaking provisions of each of these laws are briefly discussed.
Denver Psilocybin Decriminalization Initiative
The Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative 301 (“I-301”) was organized by reform advocates in Denver, including Kevin Mathews, Matthew Duffy, Cindy Sovine, and others. The initiative went to a vote of the public on May 7, 2019 and passed by a narrow margin of 50.6% in favor out of over 170,000 votes. Denver passage of this measure was the first example in the nation of a ballot victory for psilocybin mushroom reform, or for any psychedelic drug, for that matter.
I-301 did three main things. First, it made enforcement of laws within the city of Denver prohibiting the personal use and possession of psilocybin to be the City’s lowest law enforcement priority. Next, I-301 prohibited Denver from spending any resources on enforcing laws against personal use and possession within the City. Finally, I-301 created a Psilocybin Mushroom Policy Review Panel to assess the impacts of the initiative on the City and issue a report to the City Council.
It is important to note that I-301 defined “personal possession” to include “the possession, storage or propagation of psilocybin by an adult for personal use.” This broad definition of personal possession makes both the possession and cultivation of psilocybin the lowest law enforcement priority. I-301 did not decriminalize the sale or public use of psilocybin and the initiative explicitly states that sale for remuneration remains illegal under state laws.
While Denver’s initiative is titled and commonly referred to as a “decriminalization,” in reality, all activities related to psilocybin mushrooms remain illegal both under the municipal law of Denver and under Colorado state law.
While Denver’s initiative is titled and commonly referred to as a “decriminalization,” in reality, all activities related to psilocybin mushrooms remain illegal both under the municipal law of Denver and under Colorado state law.
However, by prohibiting Denver from spending any city resources to enforce these laws, the law amounts to a de facto decriminalization within the city of Denver. Since I-301’s passage in May 2019, there have not been any arrests of adults by Denver police related to psilocybin (two minors were arrested and charged with psilocybin possession in October 2019).
The following concerns have been expressed about I-301: (a) The initiative does not clarify what quantity one could possess and still be protected by the law. Could someone stockpile a year’s supply and still avoid prosecution? Denver police and prosecutors have said they are struggling with this ambiguity; (b) simple decriminalization does not provide a legal way to obtain psilocybin mushrooms without attempting to grow them yourself; and (c) the legality around sharing psilocybin or joining together to form cultivation coops remains unclear and will likely lead to some test cases under criminal law in the future.
Shortly after Denver passed I-301, advocates in Oakland came together and asked the City Council of Oakland to pass a resolution decriminalizing all naturally occurring psychedelic substances in Oakland. The effort was spearheaded by Decriminalize Nature Oakland, which was started by local advocates including Carlos Plazola, Bob Otis Stanley, and members of ERIE including Larry Norris. On June 5, 2019, Oakland City Council adopted the resolution (“DNO Initiative”), making the enforcement of laws prohibiting the planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, possession or use of entheogenic compounds to be among the lowest law enforcement priorities for Oakland.
The DNO Initiative law is broader than Denver’s law because it applies to all entheogens, which includes ayahuasca, iboga, psilocybin, and any other forms of psychedelic compounds derived from cactus, plant or fungus.
The DNO Initiative law is broader than Denver’s law because it applies to all entheogens, which includes ayahuasca, iboga, psilocybin, and any other forms of psychedelic compounds derived from cactus, plant or fungus. Like the Denver initiative, the DNO Initiative prohibited the City from spending any resources for the investigation, detention, arrest, or prosecution of violations of state or federal law related to the use or possession of naturally occurring psychedelics, or entheogens. Personal possession and cultivation is decriminalized and no clear limits were set on what quantities are allowed in Oakland.
The resolution does not protect the commercial sale or manufacturing of entheogens. It does not protect possessing these materials in schools, driving under the influence, or creating a public disturbance. The DNO Initiative directs the City Administrator to report on the impact of this resolution after one year. It also calls upon the Alameda County District Attorney to cease any ongoing prosecutions of individuals charged with the use of entheogens.
The following concerns have been expressed about the DNO Initiative: (a) the initiative decriminalized all psychedelics, including peyote, without any meaningful involvement of Native Americans, some of who are concerned that this initiative could spur the continued unsustainable harvest of peyote across the southwest and peyote is a considered vulnerable species; and (b) the initiative both decriminalizes the cultivation and distribution of psychedelics but then talks in terms of not protecting any commercial activities, creating some ambiguity on the legality of these activities; (c) some believe this model is unlikely to prevail beyond very progressive cities like Oakland or Chicago, given that entheogens like ayahuasca and iboga are not very well known for the general public.
In October 2019, the City Council of Chicago approved a resolution making the investigation and arrest of individuals involved with naturally occurring psychedelic substances to be the lowest priority for Chicago. Because the measure is a resolution, and not an ordinance, it is not enforceable under the city code. Therefore, while media widely reported that psychedelic plants had been decriminalized in Chicago, that is not truly the case. The measure was intended to provoke additional study into the issue through various city departments.
The Oregon Psilocybin Program Initiative (“OR Initiative”) would create a regulated system of manufacture and sale of psilocybin products by licensed “Producers.”
The Oregon Psilocybin Program Initiative (“OR Initiative”) would create a regulated system of manufacture and sale of psilocybin products by licensed “Producers.”
The OR Initiative is being led by the Oregon Psilocybin Society, founded by Portland area psychotherapists Thomas and Sheri Eckert. The OR Initiative is gathering signatures for placement on the 2020 statewide ballot and would allow for limited licenses for manufacturing psilocybin products, for facilitating psilocybin services, and for testing psilocybin products. The Oregon Health Authority (“OHA”) is tasked with developing standards for providing psilocybin services to adults 21 years of age and over through a process that consists of preparation, administration, and integration services.
All proposed psilocybin services must take place within a licensed psilocybin service center. Individuals may own no more than one manufacturing facility and five service centers. Until 2025, there is a two-year residency restriction on obtaining a psilocybin license under the initiative, so non-residents will not be eligible for licensure immediately. The OHA may prohibit marketing to the public. Local governments can ban manufacturing and service activities and can impose other reasonable regulations on these license types. Licensure can be denied to convicted felons if the conviction is substantially related to the fitness and ability of the applicant to carry out activities under the license. A special tax of 15% is imposed on retail sales.
Concerns expressed about the OR Initiative include: (a) there is no protection in this initiative for private cultivation, manufacturing, possession or use of psilocybin. Anyone caught with psilocybin outside of a psilocybin center could still be criminally prosecuted; (b) there is no formal role for advocates of reform in the OHA’s decision making process on what criteria are appropriate to license a provider, and many are concerned OHA could impose many burdensome requirements; (c) there are no provisions in this initiative for the sealing or expungement of prior criminal convictions; (d) there are confidentiality concerns, such as data collected in the program could be used against immigrants or others; and (e) provision centers are not allowed to be located within any city limits, so they would need to be in remote rural locations.
In 2019, a former cannabis entrepreneur, Ryan Munevar, started a campaign that has submitted two potential ballot initiatives to the California Attorney General that would overhaul California’s laws related to psilocybin. One of the initiatives is a simple decriminalization of psilocybin and the other is a fully regulated model of cultivation, distribution, and commercialized sale of psilocybin. The campaign has not decided which avenue to pursue at this time.
The simple decriminalization initiative would remove psilocybin from the criminal code. This initiative would not create any regulations regarding the possession, use, storage, cultivation, processing, or distribution of psilocybin, but would simply mean it is not a crime in California to engage in any of these activities.
This means adults over the age of 18 could cultivate and possess personal use amounts, and share psilocybin in personal use amounts, legally under California law.
The commercialized model can be summarized as treating psilocybin like any other agricultural product for adults over the age of 18. The initiative legalizes the personal, spiritual, religious, dietary, and therapeutic and medicinal use by adults, including the cultivation, manufacture, processing, production of edible products and extracts (with or without solvents) derived from psilocybin, distribution, transportation, possession, storage, consumption, social consumption, on-site consumption, public events, farmers’ markets, and retail sale, whether or not for profit. This means adults over the age of 18 could cultivate and possess personal use amounts, and share psilocybin in personal use amounts, legally under California law.
The initiative would allow psilocybin mushroom businesses to be regulated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (“CDFA”). The CDFA would regulate the cultivation, production, distribution, and sales of psilocybin, with a mandate to not engage in burdensome regulations that would make the operation of a psilocybin business commercially impracticable. CDFA shall begin issuing licenses no later than September 20, 2021. However, the initiative allows for local governments to place limits or bans on psilocybin mushroom businesses on the ballot in even-number years to potentially restrict such businesses locally.
The commercialized model also protects licensed health care providers engaged in psilocybin-assisted therapy and research.
The commercialized model also protects licensed health care providers engaged in psilocybin-assisted therapy and research. The initiative says licensed health care providers cannot lose their state licenses based on engaging in psilocybin-assisted therapy or research. The California Department of Public Health is required to work with harm reduction experts to create protocols for health care workers engaged in psilocybin mushroom therapy. No special or excise taxes on psilocybin mushrooms are allowed. The law also prohibits employers from discriminating against adults who use psilocybin and has provisions allowing for the expungement or sealing of criminal records related to psilocybin.
The following concerns have been expressed about the California initiative: (a) the initiative is a broad legalization and regulation of psilocybin that goes far beyond a therapeutic model and would allow largely unchecked access to anyone over the age of 18; (b) the initiative attempts to legalize psychedelic-assisted therapy in a very brief section that leaves a lot of uncertainty associated with its implementation; (c) the initiative does not define what quantity of personal possession is allowed, and this is likely to create uncertainty for adults and law enforcement; and (d) the initiative does not meaningfully address the social justice aspects of regulating psychedelics by providing for automatic expungement of past criminal justice records or any preferences in licensing for communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
The elections in 2020 could be a watershed year for the reform of laws around psilocybin mushrooms. In addition to California and Oregon, the organizers of the Denver campaign are talking about running a statewide initiative as well. It is theoretically possible that, by the end of 2020, psilocybin mushrooms will be legal in three states. At a minimum, the public will be engaged in a serious discussion for the first time ever about these laws at the state and national level.
A few themes jump out based on a broad overview of the initiatives to date. While decriminalization efforts do very little to provide access to psilocybin and create significant uncertainty for the general public, they are important efforts that start a conversation around psychedelics. None of the initiatives to date have any dedicated attention to social justice issues, or the legacy of the drug war.
Some consider the focus only on psychedelics as elitist because laws regarding other drugs are the main drivers of mass incarceration, particularly of people of color. Finally, whichever initiative allowing for therapeutic or adult use that succeeds at the state level first is likely to set a precedent and become a model for future initiatives. Therefore, getting these initiatives right at the outset is critical for creating and maintaining momentum for future change.
It is no secret that large pharmaceutical conglomerates have repeatedly shown that they are typically more invested in generating profits than improving the health of their constituents. As more consumers are beginning to demand safe alternatives to more harmful treatments such as antibiotics, natural remedies have again begun to take center stage as appropriate and efficient treatment options.
Within established traditions of ancient medicine, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, naturally occurring remedies have always been central to healing objectives. One of the most widely accepted and touted natural medicines, which has been utilized for thousands of years is Golden Honey or honey infused with turmeric. This combination of two of nature's most potent medicines could prove to be one of the planet's most powerful, yet safe, antibiotics. Both contain a myriad of benefits that address and mitigate a variety of concerns and are even more efficient when used together.
Honey has centuries-long been considered one of the most easily accessible medicines for human use, providing an impressive array of benefits. Honey has been proven to be an effective remedy for persistent sore throat, as well as healing skin abrasions which will not respond to other forms of synthetic pharmaceutical topicals. More importantly, honey can act as an antioxidant, helping to neutralize free radicals within the body, which can lead to the development of various forms of cancer.
Various types of wildflower honey have also proven to be an effective antibacterial, which is an incredible boon. Most antibiotics take an almost nuclear approach, destroying not only harmful bacteria but also destroying beneficial microbes that support a healthy microbiome. Honey is, however, able to target and destroy these harmful forms of bacteria without disturbing the gentle balance of a microbiome, demonstrating it as an oftentimes effective alternative to broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Turmeric is a spice that also boasts an incredible range of health benefits, with a long and historied use among many of the oldest of human civilizations. The active ingredient found within Turmeric, curcumin, is responsible for the wonderful health benefits of this medicine. Curcumin has been shown to be effective at treating respiratory issues, microbial imbalances, and issues of the skin, liver, and kidneys. Similar to honey, curcumin is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and contains antioxidants.
Curcumin is also especially well-suited for treating issues of digestion. Turmeric can alleviate joint pain associated with arthritis or osteoporosis, and can even improve cellular and neurological function, helping to impede the effects of Alzheimer's and dementia. With such a wide range of seriously incredible benefits, it is no surprise that this ancient medicinal spice has remained prominent in use across the globe.
When combined, the effectiveness of both medicines are enabled to promote greater health for those seeking safe alternatives to conventional pharmaceutical options. This article is not intended to replace the advice of one's doctor, however, and any medical issues should be addressed by a trained and licensed physician. Although one should always seek guidance from a medical professional before starting an alternative treatment option, both honey and turmeric are considered safe for regular consumption and will offer surprising benefits to those who choose to partake these ancient medicines. It doesn't hurt that they both happen to be wonderfully delicious.
by Mark Pedersen
A Cannabis “joint”. It’s how most of us were first exposed to Cannabis. It would be difficult to imagine ANYONE not being familiar with a “marijuana cigarette”.
I recall my first experience. Study Hall, 1972. A dubious young classmate sitting across from me was rolling a poorly crafted joint rather daringly from hand to hand across the surface of the table… all the while, brandishing a sheepish smile and squinty red eyes. I asked him what it was, though I had my suspicions. When he told me, I was amazed at his boldness, but then, he WAS one of the “bad boys”. I asked him if I could have it. He looked at me for a moment…then rolled it across to me. Perhaps he felt sorry for me – being ignorant of the ways of Cannabis. Whatever the case, there was little doubt in my mind what I was going to do next… The game was on!
I took that “joint” of mostly twisted paper home with me and smoked it – quite privately but somewhat ceremoniously, in the back yard. Suddenly, amid plumes of smoke and coughing uncontrollably, I realized. I, too, had become a “bad boy”. …only no one knew it. And I was OK with that. My parents and virtually everyone I went to school with still thought I was a clean-cut American boy. Of course, years later, that changed dramatically when my mother spied a pack of cigarette papers on my dresser.
I didn’t get anything but a sore throat from that first joint of “ditch weed”, but my curiosity was peaked. It was another year, more joints, and eventually a couple of dime bags before I finally experienced the “high”. Still - No pink elephants, but something far better - a calming, pleasant feeling of wellbeing. I consumed Cannabis throughout the rest of high school and the art school that followed.
After I got married and left college, I did what I thought was the responsible thing and quit. It wasn’t hard to leave it behind, but I certainly did miss it. The difficult years that followed would have been so much easier. Eighteen years later, I came back as a patient with very serious health issues. It was only then, after experiencing its profound benefit that I decided to take a serious look into what I was actually smoking.
If you’re a long-time Cannabis patient, chances are you have heard (many times) someone, most likely a physician, say “…medicine has NEVER been smoked!” …Quite often amid threats of COPD, emphysema or lung cancer. Well, as I would find out, that wasn’t quite true. Prohibition largely obscured the history of Cannabis as competing industries pushed hard to recapture the void left by the Federal Cannabis ban.
Much of the ancient and colonial history of Cannabis, or Indian Hemp as it was often called, was deleted or obscured in a puritanical attempt to erase, or cleanse our past evil ways and clear the way for the prescription drug industry. Thanks to Freedom Fighters like Jack Herer (“Emperor Wears no Clothes”), present and future generations can appreciate the profound impact Cannabis has had on mankind.
Cannabis has a rich history as burned or “smoked” medicine. It was among many throughout the course of human history. The use of incensing (or “vaporizing) as a method of shamanic healing and enlightenment dates back as far as 5000 BC here in America. Likewise, the therapeutic use of Cannabis was practiced throughout Europe and Asia during that same time.
The Scythians, a nomadic people who inhabited Eurasia from the 9th century BC to around the 4th century AD, used to mix Cannabis and coriander seeds, vaporizing them to create a cloud of thick fragrant smoke. This “sweat lodge” practice was considered a method of “ritual bathing” or “drinking smoke”.
Cannabis was often mixed with other hallucinogenic derivatives. Burning them was practiced by the Babylonians, Indians, Chinese and Israelites. The ancient Assyrians thought inhaling the fumes could heal Arthritis (or “poison of the limbs” as they called it).
Much later, the practice was incorporated by the Catholic and Orthodox Christians. If you have practiced these faiths, this should give you a whole new perspective regarding their use of incense.
Pipes have even been found in Southeastern Africa - latent with THC - dating back to the 10th to 12th centuries. In the Americas, pottery record has depicted smoking as early as the 9th century, though it is not clear what exactly they were smoking. For the Aztecs nobles, “smoking tubes” would always accompany their feasts.
Pipes with traces of THC have even been found in Ethiopia, reportedly dating back as far as 640 to 500 BP, predating the introduction of tobacco to Europe and the discovery of the Americas by the Spanish. Chinese waterpipes made their way into Persia in the early 16th century, giving birth to the “hookah” and bolstering the popularity of Cannabis flower and hashish.
This early form of communal smoking would seem familiar to modern-day cannabis users as hookah nozzles were usually shared. Later, tobacco was added to the mix as smoking grew to be an important part of Muslim culture. Interestingly, Cannabis was not rolled into cigarettes until after the practice of smoking tobacco became the rage.
Stretching into the late 1800s and early 1900s, cigarettes containing clove, Cannabis, belladonna and other substances were produced to treat coughs and offset the symptoms of asthma and other breathing ailments.
Ten years ago, I traveled to Virginia to meet with the founders of Patients Out of Time and other Cannabis activists to brainstorm and collect patient interviews. Patients Out of Time is a national Cannabis advocacy organization that conducts informational conferences for physicians and laypeople.
During this trip, I observed the photographing of a number of products, bottles and books from the early days of Cannabis medicine. I had the unique opportunity to view actual packaged cigarettes containing Cannabis and belladonna. Though belladonna is a known poison, it had been used for centuries to treat respiratory ailments. Apparently, it’s association with Cannabis, a known bronchial dilator, was a winning combination as products like this were quite popular for the treatment of asthma.
Over the last few centuries, the act of inhaling Cannabis smoke has been considered hugely therapeutic, pleasurable and even spiritually uplifting. It is one of the oldest recorded medicines. 21st-century Cannabis and its varied means of consumption may be experiencing a boom in popularity as forms of legalization sweep the nation and the world, but its history is closely bound to humankind stretching back to the beginning of record time, enveloping Kings, Presidents and virtually every known religion.
The Efficacy of Terpenes for Medical Applications
The legalization of marijuana has proven to be an incredibly powerful contribution to the American systems of medicine, economics, and policy. Although becoming more prevalent as a major influencer of American economic and political policy, the complete understanding of cannabis as a medicinal plant is still quite lacking. The effects of decades of prohibition remain, as myths or simple misunderstandings regarding many aspects of cannabis are pervasive within the nascent industry.
For most, from the average consumer to seasoned cultivators, information regarding the medicinal applications of cannabis are incredibly dated at best and misleading at worst. Due to a lack of clinical research trials into the efficacy of each of the compounds present within cannabis as a treatment for various ailments, there are few authorities able to truly speak on both the entire range of physiological effects and uses of the plant, beyond an anecdotal recount.
However, as legalization efforts continue to take hold in various states across the country, research laws and practices regarding cannabis are also beginning to delve into many more detailed investigations concerning the aspects of cannabis which are truly medicinal, and how. Although many consumers are beginning to become aware of which aspects of cannabis may hold more appropriate medicinal applications, such as cannabidiol content, many remain unaware of some of the more subtle actions of cannabis compounds, such as terpenes.
Understanding the effects these compounds have will aid medical patients to choose a cultivar that more appropriately suits their needs. For most, the distinction between Sativa and Indicia strains are as far as the division between types of marijuana goes. For decades, the general understanding of the effects of marijuana has been based on this simple categorization. According to well-known marijuana lore, Sativa strains tend to produce an energetic, cerebral, and uplifting effect, while Indica strains produce a more subdued, relaxed and introspective effect.
However, even consumers who use marijuana recreationally can attest (even if only anecdotally), that this may not always be the case. Each plant tends to be fairly unique and can produce varying potencies and effects from plant to plant. Further, recent developments in researching various cannabis strains and genetic lines show that most commercially produced cannabis cannot truly be classified as wholly Sativa or Indica, as continued outbreeding and genetic crosses have produced mostly hybrid strains.
With so few "true" Sativa or Indicia cultivars remaining available in the wholesale or general market, this distinction falls short of being an appropriate guide for choosing medicinal effects. As far as the most recent research is concerned, the distinction between the two seems to inform more about the growth structure of the plant itself, rather than it's constituent compounds or medicinal use.
One of the latest medical developments related to medical marijuana consumption was early tests and droves of anecdotal reports demonstrating the effectiveness of cannabidiol as a highly therapeutic and versatile medicinal aspect of cannabis. The industry has responded by producing many forms of cannabis products containing a higher ratio of cannabidiol to THC, giving consumers a much more individuated choice in choosing medicinal strains.
Cannabidiol was the first major compound found within cannabis to have been studied similarly to THC. The industry welcomed these new medicinal applications and responded by using selective breeding to produce cannabis with higher ratios and content of cannabidiol, as well as cannabidiol extraction and isolation, to use independently of the psychoactive effects of THC entirely.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, has become nearly a household name in an incredibly short amount of time, with very little (if any) negative reports. CBD has proven to be effective in treating a myriad of ailments, from pain and anxiety management to soothing withdrawal symptoms. CBD is also non-psychoactive, meaning the types of products that are exclusively or mostly CBD based will not produce a "high," for the user, thus making it more appropriate for a wider range of applications.
Understanding how CBD can affect various medical needs is important for medical patients choosing various cannabis strains, as many cultivators and dispensaries have now chosen to include CBD testing results along with those for THC.
As the medical marijuana market develops further, new studies show that even more compounds present within cannabis may have positive medicinal use. One area of interest that is quickly gaining traction within the industry is terpenes.
Terpenes are naturally occurring, organic compounds that are found in many plants, foods, and flowers. Terpenes develop within the trichomes (or glands) found on the cannabis flower, which are produced and stimulated by light exposure. Terpenes are the compounds found within cannabis which contain various aromatics and are generally regarded as controlling the smell and taste of cannabis products. In nature, terpenes are responsible for helping a plant repel pests. Terpenes are considered to be wholly natural, and safe for use and consumption. There does not seem to be any evidence for medical contradictions regarding the use of terpenes.
Terpenes are responsible for the smell of various cannabis strains, and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the role of terpenes regarding these types of preferences. However, as research is beginning to demonstrate, terpenes may contribute many varied medicinal benefits as well. There are several common terpenes present within the majority of cannabis strains, which consumers choosing cultivars for medical purposes should be aware of.
The most prevalent terpene found in many strains is myrcene (Casano 2011). Myrcene is considered to have aromatics similar to cloves – strains with heavy “green” or earthy smells will generally contain higher levels of this terpene. Myrcene boasts a great deal of positive medicinal effects, such as being an anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and an anti-carcinogen. High levels of myrcene have been linked to the relaxing effects of Indica strains, making this terpene incredibly effective for dealing with pain management or insomnia (Russo 2011).
While these benefits are quite impressive, consumers should also be aware that myrcene increases the maximum threshold of the CB1 receptor (the area of the brain responsible for processing cannabinoids), and as such will increase the general psychoactivity of THC present (Fishedick 2010). This effect can be useful, depending on the preferences and desired effect of each individual consumer.
Another common terpene present within cannabis is limonene. Limonene contains aromatics which are extremely recognizable as heavily citrus-based, and is generally associated with more uplifting Sativa heavy strains. Limonene is a terpene found commonly in many strains of cannabis, as well as other foods and fragrances. Limonene has an incredibly low toxicity level and is quickly and easily absorbed into the bloodstream, most effectively through inhalation. Limonene is also considered to contain anti-carcinogenic properties and is generally shown to reduce anxiety (Russo 2011). As a fairly distinct smell, this terpene is easy to distinguish.
There are several secondary terpenes that tend to be present within most cannabis strains, however, the terpene caryophyllene is both fairly common, and also seems to demonstrate a great deal of medicinal value. The aromatics of this terpene are generally regarded as more “spicy” than others and is typically associated with black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon (Russo 2011). Caryophyllene shows great promise as a pain reliever, with very few reports of adverse effects for consumers, making this terpene effective for managing chronic pain in a more effective and safe manner than other traditional treatments (Fine 2013). Providing both powerful pain relief combined with the potential to help patients overcome addiction is a vital aid in overcoming opioid withdrawal symptoms as well. This terpene may show promise in a wide variety of applications, ranging from anti-malarial to an ulcer preventative.
Most terpenes present within most medicinally produced cannabis strains have been shown to be incredibly valuable and relatively safe when used as a remedy for any number of varying medical conditions, including pain and addiction management. As more cultivators and consumers alike become more fully aware of the varied scope of benefits of terpenes, the market will hopefully bring more attention to the efficacy of terpene profile testing and reporting, as well as continued selective breeding to increase the amount of safe and appropriate terpene-specific medicinal cannabis available.
Until this type of breeding and testing becomes more mainstream, consumers will have to rely more on the power of their noses to distinguish one terpene from another, however the above discussed terpenes are generally fairly easy to detect and are common within most cannabis strains.
Although research is beginning to understand the function and potential actions of many of the major terpenes common within cannabis, there is still a sizeable amount of research which is left to be done concerning the less common compounds found within cannabis. Each terpene discussed here contains more medicinal uses and effects, and beyond that, there are many more terpenes and secondary compounds which have been isolated from most cannabis cultivars.
If the synergistic effects of many of the primary compounds within cannabis are common, it's possible to imagine some of the lesser-studied terpenes and compounds provide similar or complimenting effects and medicinal uses as well. As consumers and cultivators alike, it is vital to both understand and utilize the full range of the medicinal applications of terpenes in order to drive the market and medical industry forward.