"STEEMIT VOICES" - #1: An Interview with Cannabis Coach @rebeccaryan (New Interview Series to Encourage Healthy Living)
Welcome to the first in a brand new series of interviews, where I chat to fellow Steemians and pick their brains for knowledge and expertise that can benefit us all.
The first guest on Steemit Voices this week is @rebeccaryan - Cannabis Coach, Paleo & raw food enthusiast and a Massage Therapist, from Ontario, Cananda. Rebecca has been blogging on Steemit since Aug 2016, and is a well-loved & highly esteemed member of the community!
1. How long have you been a cannabis coach, and what lead you to this line of work?
I decided to become a cannabis coach once I was successfully granted a medical license to use cannabis plant medicine by my country’s current elected government (Canada). That was almost 3 years ago. Evolving into the role of a cannabis coach was part of coming out of the cannabis closet (totally) for me.
I had been using cannabis to treat an autoimmune disease (Multiple Sclerosis, a disease that destroys the covering on the brain, spinal cord and usually larger nerve roots) for about 8 years prior to this. All that time, I had been using it illegally, because it was really hard to get a medical license. The process took 2 years (on average) and that was if you could find a doctor willing to sign the paperwork and jump through all the government hoops with you. As you can imagine, not many people were going through this very bureaucratic and often humiliating process.
During this time, I studied every single research article and publicized byte of electronic information about the herb that I could get my hands on. This gave me a solid knowledge base and because I had 8 years of personal use which translates to experience logged, I thought that the least that I could do was give back to the cannabis culture. That’s when I really started helping others to successfully enhance the quality of their lives with this plant too.
By primary profession, I am a healthcare provider (Swedish massage, Manual Lymphatic Drainage and Aroma Therapist). I’ve spent almost 30 years specializing in helping people to manage pain and inflammation everyday - exactly what cannabis plant medicine does. Now, I build this into my recommended homecare planning for my clients who also use cannabis and have questions about how they might best use the herb for their particular bodies. Often, I answer questions about specific strains and how to trouble shoot using a vapourizer or determine correct dosing.
2. What kinds of people do you work with as a cannabis coach?
Almost every age range is represented. The youngest person I have helped to date is 15 and the oldest is 80. The largest cohort (by age) is the Boomer group, currently 55+ years old.
3. What first made you aware of the medical/healing qualities of the plant? Do you use it yourself, and how do you take it (ingest, vape, smoke, topical, etc)?
In 2007, after reading that some people were having great success using cannabis to heal their gastrointestinal tracts from a syndrome called “Leaky Gut” and put their autoimmune diseases into remission, I decided to try it and see what would happen with my own body. I started by eating RSO (Rick Simpson Oil) or Fully Extracted Cannabis Oil in small micro doses (about ½ the size of a grain of rice at a time) sometimes more than once a day.
At the same time; I paired the concentrated extract with a high plant based, high fat, low glucose, eating lifestyle. To this date, I’ve never suffered another attack of MS (that I know of).
Up until I started this lifestyle, I was having one large attack a year. My first attack affected the left side of my body from my chest down. I remember that I couldn’t really feel my left torso, leg or foot (that well) and the muscles controlling my ribcage eventually started to spasm, which made it difficult to breathe.
My next 2 attacks affected my eyes. These attacks were almost exactly a year apart. I have been deemed legally blind in both eyes, thankfully, (very thankfully) not at the same time and thankfully, (very thankfully, yet again) my vision has completely restored to 20/20.
Now, I eat cannabis, vape it, smoke it (on occasion), use it topically and as a suppository (on occasion). You simply learn what strains, what dose and what ingestion method works best for which ever effect you need or want to address in your body, at the time.
4. What types of conditions is it most effective for, and what is it least effective for?
Cannabis regulates physiological function in the body by restoring balance. It works wonderfully for:
- Regulating chronic pain
- Reducing inflammation
- Vasodilating blood vessels
- Balancing blood sugar
- Controling and/or stimulating appetite
- Reducing nausea
- Raising Anandamide (the Bliss hormone) which stops anxiety/terrors/and panic attacks
- Balancing hormones
- Restoring sleep patterns
- and Reducing neuropathic pain
There isn’t really anything I can say that it’s not effective for because its sole job (once inside the body) is to restore balance and order.
If someone says that they tried it and they had a bad experience, it is often because of the same common reasons. Either they were nervous to try it and got themselves mentally anxious and ended up giving themselves an anxiety attack because they couldn’t control the monkies in their head. Or, because they physically ingested too much cannabis and over-indulged unknowingly (due to inexperience) making themselves sick to their stomach in the process. Or, they used a strain that is known to cause paranoia and anxiety (which a lot of the current Sativias with high THC percentages can do) and also commonly happens when someone doesn’t have much experience buying strains for themselves.
4. In Ireland they're currently considering legalising cannabis for medical uses. What's the situation in where you are in Canada?
In Canada, we are poised to legalize this year. Our government (the same government that came into power 3 years ago and finally streamlined the ability for doctors to grant medical cannabis licenses which allowed me to get mine in 10 days instead of 2 years) promised to make the herb legal for all to use as of July 1st 2018. Our Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau) has re-nagged on the July 1st promised date but the Bill, (that will make the use of the herb legal) went to our Senate in late March (2018). They have requested some revisions and it looks like we will enter into legalization in October of this year.
Once this happens, I expect other Commonwealth countries to follow Canada’s lead. Our current government is looking at the global cannabis industry as an export market. It plans to treat Canadian cannabis just like our other natural resources. As such, corporate infrastructures have been built and the plan is to export cannabis to other countries as soon as international laws permit. Perhaps Ireland will receive some of its cannabis from Canada one day, very soon.
5. You regularly post cannabis-infused recipes... What kinds of foods are best for adding the herb to (for taste, absorbtion, etc)?
Cooking with cannabis has a few facets to it. First of all, the buds and the leaves around the buds are where the majority of the plant’s medicine resides. These buds and the sugar leaves need to be decarboxylated before they can be infused or suspended into any food items (- successfully - this activates them.) Then, whatever medium this (activated) cannabis is going to be infused into, must contain fat. This is so that the medicinal compounds can be absorbed into the body.
Beyond that from a culinary perspective, you can either conceal the taste of the pungent herb (by using other herbs and spices) and try to bury it as deeply as you can. Or you can use the flavours that the strain contains and try to really bring that depth out and develop the complexity of the dish from a flavour perspective. A lot of strains, offer citrus flavours like lemon or grapefruit and many offer cheesy flavours...those are definitely easier (to work with, in the kitchen) than using a strain that tastes like strong SKUNK-ASS. LOL! Well that’s the truth, and there is no point sugar-coating it.
6. I have a friend who makes their own cannabis-infused skin lotion, and swears it's the best thing ever for rapid healing, relief from insect bites, burns, etc. Do you make your own 'lotions and potions'at all?
Yes. Cannabis pairs wonderfully with other plants and when it comes to healing the skin. I pair it in a topical body budder (pun-intended). I regularly pair cannabis with Calendula, St. John’s Wort, Comfrey, Chamomille, Rosemary, and Eucalyptus.
7. Is there a difference between sativa and indica in terms of effects on mental health?
Sativa, Indica and Ruderalis are all strains of cannabis that can contain the cannabinoid THCa. Once heat is added to THCa containing cannabis, it becomes activated and transforms into delta-9 THC. Delta-9 THC, can have an effect on mental health in 3 ways:
First, if it’s smoked, it will raise anandamide levels in the brain which helps people to even be able to feel the emotion of happiness. Sometimes these levels get so low that people can’t even feel the emotion of happiness anymore. In other words, they will be able to choose to be happy instead of being stuck in dark, negative emotions. This is great for combating depression which often goes hand in hand for anyone who deals with chronic pain on a regular basis.
Secondly, if cannabis is smoked during an anxiety, terror or panic attack, a quick raise in the person’s anandamide levels will restore balance and stop the sensation of a racing heart and inability to catch ones' breath.
The third thing that routinely happens is that THC disrupts short term memory. Lots of people who use cannabis regularly, would list this among cannabis’ few negative side effects, if they were pushed to give one. This is not always a bad thing or an inconvenience because it is an excellent tool for people who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorders and PTSD. Cannabis (because it disrupts short term memory) stops negative, repetitive thoughts from continually looping over and over in a person’s mind. Once a person gets triggered and uses cannabis as a result, they forget that they were triggered and their mind can let go of the negative memory or compulsion. They will not likely remember the fear they felt so acutely when having an anxiety attack either. It’s like it lessens the burden of emotional scars by not letting the person hang onto the memory of them.
8. There are a lot of scare tactics used by pharmaceutical companies and governments to deter people from using this plant. How would you respond to someone whose opinion of cannabis is that it's harmful to health?
I would simply do my best to provide them with education. This fear is coming from 80+ years of negative propaganda and we only have to look back in history to understand that 100 years ago, medical doctors all over the world were successfully using this plant to treat over 100 different aliments. Then, we have an American politician (Harry Anslinger) tasked with the job of creating the pharmaceutical industrial complex in the 1930s as the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in the USA. Doctors of that day were threatened with the loss of their licenses to practice if they didn’t stop prescribing the herb and start prescribing BAYER aspirin instead. That’s how the pharmaceutical industrial complex came into being...
So if anyone wants to know what the true gateway drug is...it’s Aspirin (ASA) and it’s been damaging our gut microbiomes ever since. (In my humble opinon.)
9. Many people have heard of (or use) the 'Rick Simpson' cannabis oil for ingesting or topical uses. Is this really as effective as he claims? Can it really cure diseases that mainstream medicine can't?
In my opinion, yes it can.
I must be clear though, it is A tool. Often other actions also need to be taken in conjunction with cannabis in order to be 100% effective.
In addition, some degree of consistency in strain, over-all potency of concentrate, and size of dose must be achieved. For example, I have read lots of scientific evidence that supports that cannabis kills cancer cells, but not every type (yet). This says to me that we haven’t quite discovered the correct mix of terpenes, flavinoids and cannabinoids at the correct concentrations to consistently work in every human body.
Moving onto MS, I ate RSO exclusively every day for 8 years and my own doctors consider me to be in remission because I have not had an attack since I started ingesting cannabis. During that time, I have learned what strains work best for my body’s chemistry and at what strength. It’s taken a lot of trial and error and logging of outcomes but that’s what helped me to learn so that I can share this information to help others.
10. For anyone wanting to find out whether cannabis might be able to help them, what would you recommend as a starting point?
If it’s possible, the first step that I often recommend is to simply try it. Preferably with a person present that you trust will care for you if you feel uncomfortable for any reason. You need to determine if you even like it. There’s no point going any further with cannabis if you don’t enjoy how the herb can make you feel.
I wouldn’t worry too much about whether it took your pain away entirely or not because often that kind of effect can be finely tuned with the correct strain but what we really want to discover is if you were comfortable with the herb in your body. If the answer to that question is yes, then I’d recommend getting whatever documentation you need (if any) to buy 2 ounces or 60 grams made up of several different strains so that you can try a few different ingestion methods. The goal is to find the best strains that match your body’s chemistry, achieve the desired effects and find the ingestion methods that best align into the lifestyle that you want to live.
If you enjoyed Rebecca's interview and want to learn more about cannabis and its many uses; growing and preparation tips; recipes, and more... Check out Rebecca's blog!
* All photos in this post belong to @rebeccaryan *
Below are some of her posts you might enjoy... the top few are still votable so please make sure to stop by and do some upping!
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