Supplement Perspectives
cannabis

Let's Look Into Going Green

<p>Veteran natural products writer Lisa Schofield on why the industry needs to consider cannabis. </p> <br /> <br />

My governor, Chris Christie (R-NJ), is adamantly opposed to Cannabis sativa as a medical use. He has said he staunchly believes it is a "gateway drug" and doesn't care to hear any opposition. Of course, Governor Christie is not alone in that thought.

I think it's archaic. I think it's looking through the wrong lens. There seems to be quite a few cases of folks in extreme pain or disability who attain relief when they are able to use it. I do not advocate using Cannabis sativa to "get high," but I am a big believer that nature's plants have something beneficial to offer human and animal health.

There are numerous botanicals shown via science to contain unique phytochemicals shown in vitro, and in vivo (animals and humans) to have specific health benefits. We would never have aspirin if it weren't for white willow bark -- from an abundant tree.

Interestingly, I have a weed problem. I have a lot of wood sorrel growing around my home and on my property. And it's quite tasty. It conveys a citrus note with a slight tang, and in salads and just to munch on—mmmm…delicious. I also found out that my "weed" is rich in vitamin C. And that historically, it was actually used to treat scurvy, fevers, urinary infections, mouth sores, nausea, and sore throats (wildedible.com).

When it comes to the Cannabis sativa plant, most people point to its tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) as the "bad guy." Well, this is the psychotropic. But as with any plant part, there is more than just one phytochemical. And growers who are eyeing the natural market are keeping this in mind. 

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, on his educational website, www.mercola.com: " Some cannabinoids are psychoactive, whereas others are not. THC is the most psychoactive, the one that produces the ‘high’—which is why marijuana plants have been bred over time to produce ever-increasing amounts of this compound.

"However, selectively breeding pot for high THC has diminished its medicinal value and increased its likelihood of producing adverse effects. Although research is still in its infancy, the cannabinoids appear to work in tandem with each other, balancing one another out. According to the University of Washington:

"CBD [cannabidiol] may actually have anti-anxiety effects and lessen the psychoactive effects of THC. This means that a plant with a greater percentage of CBD may reduce the intensity of the effects of the THC, which in effect lowers the potency of the plant.

'Use of a cannabis plant with less CBD has been shown to have an increased psychological impact and result in unwanted effects such as anxiety.'

"So, by breeding out the CBD, pot growers have created more intense psychoactive effects that lack any modulation, which is why some people experience adverse reactions such as anxiety and even psychosis. Mother Nature created a delicately balanced chemical system in this plant, which humans have upset with their tampering and manipulation."

The esteemed Dr. Mercola has an excellent point (Governor Christie, are you listening?): No matter the plant, individuals can and will have adverse reactions to specific phytochemicals contained within; just like some people have adverse reactions to Percocet and are good with Vicodin for pain relief. The other way around. I know some people who cannot handle valerian to relax.

Yes, I am an advocate of further delving into the powers of the phytochemicals contained in Cannabis sativa for human well-being. I believe they exist and I believe that given the "nod," those constituents can be, as Dr. Mercola wrote, bred for higher concentrations, extracted, studied and presented to the public as a safe and efficacious product for comfort and relaxation, notably in high-stress conditions. 

This brings to mind another plant: tobacco. Once a thriving industry that employed many, anti-smoking has dramatically reduced cultivation of this plant. Tobacco leaves, of course, are the basis for cigarettes. But, what else does this plant contain? Has any research group delved into it? Perhaps it offers a strong fiber that could substitute or blend well with paper goods. It is a natural resource that, I believe, goes way beyond cigarette use.

Both cannabis and tobacco grow very healthy and abundantly in U.S soils. We are now a nation of "adaptive reuse," "recycle," "upcycle." I say, let's dive right into what these plants can offer for human health, put people to work, and ultimately, provide consumers with yet another choice for natural well-being. 

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