It’s time again for New Year’s resolutions and coming up with a new way to think about the challenges ahead. Every holiday season, millions of people vow to change the way they do things in order to live a happier and healthier life. However, in the case of many, it is easier said than done. Long-term medical issues, dietary restrictions, time commitment issues, financial problems and mental health issues can cause a block when it comes to improving life and moving forward. Luckily, cannabis is becoming medically and recreationally legal in more and more states, and many have found cannabis to be helpful with some of the issues that can impede wellness. Here are just a few ways to consider cannabis as a helper and healer this year.
Preventing Long-Term Harm
When most people think about dieting or eating better, they often picture low-carb foods that will lead to weight loss and lots of fruits and veggies. While cutting back on unhealthy foods and replacing them with nutritious ones is always a good idea, there is a lot more to eating well and using supplements to achieve total health. “When you learn about the wonders of our endocannabinoid system, you can start correlating its use with the multitude of health conditions, major or minor, which we all want to prevent that develop with age,” explained Katherine Golden, a medical cannabis nurse educator. “As we age, neuro-degeneration, i.e. Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, etc. are on the forefront of our minds as concerns, and continually educating the public that cannabis is a neuro-protectant, a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory will hopefully help people release any hesitation with this wonderful plant and give daily dosing a try.”
“When you learn about the wonders of our endocannabinoid system, you can start correlating its use with the multitude of health conditions, major or minor . . .”
Education Makes for Better Decisions
When many think of cannabis and health, they imagine a miracle drug that cures all, or think that cannabis only makes people feel better by helping with nausea and pain. The truth is that researchers are starting to understand more and more about how cannabis actually impacts the body. Because of the plant’s Schedule I status, this knowledge is only very recent made public.
“People must understand that there is this system called the endocannabinoid system, only discovered in the early 1990s, that interacts with the compounds in cannabis, and whose role is to maintain balance in many of our physiologic systems,” explained Bonni Goldstein, M.D. for Canna-Centers. “The understanding of this system has grown exponentially over the past 25 years, as researchers all over the world including Italy, Israel, Japan, England, Canada and even Iran are looking at this system as the target of treatment for difficult-to-treat illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, migraines, fibromyalgia, colitis and cancer, just to name a few.”
By understanding how cannabis can impact health, it is easier to make a plan for the year that encourages wellness. For example, medical users can find out which types of cannabis target illnesses they have or problem areas. By understanding this, patients can better treat themselves with cannabis.
“It’s funny; people sometimes say to me, ‘I believe in cannabis,’ Goldstein said. “It’s not a religion; it’s solid science. It’s like someone saying they ‘believe’ that we breathe oxygen! Proven facts are not beliefs!”
Targeted Strains for Targeted Goals
Just as someone dieting would select healthy foods, and a person with headaches would buy the appropriate medications, cannabis strains can be worked into health plans for maximum benefits.
“While marijuana is already proven to have several health benefits, consumers can use cannabis to stay healthy by being selective with their strains,” explained Amy Tancig-Andrle, Operations and Outreach coordinator with L’Eagle dispensary in Denver, Colorado. “What many don’t realize is that there are strains out there that support healthy activities. Look for sativas, which are high in energy and focus, before engaging in physical activity. By being selective with your strain, you may find it actually increases your focus and stamina.
As Tancig points out, strains like Durban Poison and Green Crack help to increase stamina, so that those who want to run or exercise don’t end up with indica-induced couch lock. Similarly, Strawberry Cough has been known to help with migraines. It is even possible to look for strains that specifically do not increase appetite, for those worried about overeating due to the munchies. Look specifically for strains or products containing THCV, a cannabinoid that is actually an appetite-suppressant.
“It’s funny; people sometimes say to me, ‘I believe in cannabis.’ It’s not a religion; it’s solid science. It’s like someone saying they ‘believe’ that we breathe oxygen! Proven facts are not beliefs!”
Overall Health and Nutrition
Hemp, the non-psychoactive variety of cannabis sativa, is considered by many nutrition professionals to produce the most nutritious seed in the world. Hemp seeds are the safest, most digestible, balanced and complete source of protein, amino acids and essential fatty acids found in the plant kingdom.
“Hemp seeds are one-third protein, packing more of a punch than so-called energy bars,” Lanny Swerdlow, RN tells us. “Providing all 20 known amino acids, including the nine essential amino acids which our bodies cannot produce, hemp seeds are ideal to help your body construct the building blocks of life.” Hemp seeds not only contain bountiful quantities of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids, but just as importantly it is the only seed where the ideal 3:1 balance of Omega 6 over Omega 3 is found.
Hemp seeds also have soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which contribute to good health by maintaining healthy bowel movements, preventing constipation, lowering bad cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar and helping to maintain proper and proportional weight. That’s right—the fiber in hemp seeds can be part of a healthy diet that can help you lose weight and keep it off.
Whether you are seriously ill and looking to heal and recover during 2017, or healthy except for a few manageable weight loss or exercise goals, cannabis really does have something for everyone, not because it is a catch-all miracle drug, but because an understanding of our complex endocannabinoid system allows us to code every strain and find out what works. Feel free to experiment with strains and treatments for your health plan this year, and as always, consult medical professionals and do good research before starting a diet or workout routine.