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the Healing Powers of Cannabis: Insights from a Naturopathic Doctor

Hello Lansing! I’m Dr. Jason McCammon, board-certified naturopathic doctor, also functional medicine practitioner, and we run Elite Health. Today I want to talk to you about cannabis.  It’s a big topic- there’s going to be a lot of great information I can teach you on what I’ve learned over many, many years in practice and what I’ve seen in clinical practice with patients. Cannabis has an incredible upside. 

The Historical Context and Modern Misconceptions of Cannabis

First thing you want to understand is that it’s been around for probably thousands of years, at least, right? Cultures around the world and ancient cultures have used cannabis  in ceremonies and to heal things forever. It’s just been amazing. And somewhere along the line, I believe it was in the ’50s, politically, it just started to get a bad rap. I think a political figure wanted to  get elected, so they really started vilifying cannabis for some reason. Let’s just leave it at that. And then it became a schedule one drug eventually. Schedule one drug with the federal government means it’s right up there with heroin, methamphetamine, crack, and cocaine. Grouped together with some really nasty street drugs.

Now, can cannabis or marijuana be a big issue? Can it cause health problems? Absolutely. We just don’t see the numbers, though, of absolute acute death from the substance like you would with alcohol, another drug that’s not even really scheduled, but yet, we know it harms just so many people every year. Hundreds of thousands are harmed due to alcohol, yet it’s so accepted culturally, right? Yet we still have this kind of stigma with cannabis, and I think we need to change that. Again, am I saying we should be smoking that stuff every minute we’re awake? No, I’m not saying that. 

Schedule one drugs say”Hey, there’s no real medical use here, you know, or it can’t be safely used in supervision of a medical doctor.” We know that’s completely false about cannabis. 

Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

You have an endocannabinoid system. I first should point out if you are a really healthy, well-balanced individual with a lot of your foundations really on point, low toxicity, just really doing well in all those basics, you make endocannabinoids in your body. That’s right, you make the same chemicals, some of the same chemicals that come in the marijuana plant or the hemp plant. However, when we’re imbalanced, when we have chronic illness, when we don’t feel well, we have a dysregulated immune system, that’s when things can get haywired, and our body doesn’t make those, and then that’s why the exogenous use or adding it to your life may be helpful. So just know that. So we’re basically designed to have some of these substances in our body in the right amount.

THC vs. CBD: The Two Sides of Cannabis

Let’s talk about THC versus CBD. So there’s really only one genetic strain of cannabis. There’s just one. And what’s happened is they’ve strained, they’ve hybred this original plant into something more.  You can get high with a lot of THC, and it has almost no CBD in it. But remember, the natural, innate, original version had lots of CBD, had CBD and THC blended inside the plant, which we’ll get to in a second.

So when we just take THC, it has properties, but you have to be careful, it can be overdone. Of course, it does make most people high, right? It has some of those psychedelic issues to it. I have some patients that will try to use that, they’re like, “Hey, that’s the only way I can sleep.” But then I have nightmares, and I wake up groggy, and I’m like, “Well, that’s because it’s knocking you out like a drug to pass out, like physically tired, but yet it does not help your brain actually sleep.” And  you can see a lot of literature on that. You have to be careful with sleep with just THC alone.

CBD, on the other hand, has really no affinity at all for the receptors that cause the high, and it’s going to be more hybrid into the hemp plant. So again, we have hemp and marijuana, two different plants, but really remember the same genetics from the same original cannabis plant. They have just been hybrid into two different directions.

If we can understand the benefit of CBD and THC and then we combine them, which we talk about later, I think it’s powerful. It’s a powerful medicine, and when we do it right, we don’t get the high the THC causes. We get all the benefit without some of  the recreational drug type effect.  I’m trying to make sure people understand it can be used as a medicine without worrying about getting high from it.

The Therapeutic Benefits of THC and CBD

So some things here that THC can help us with is anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, appetite stimulating, anti-anxiety for some people. Remember, everybody metabolizes things differently, and then analgesic for pain. 

CBD is a very very potent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial. It actually can kill a lot of different substances in our body. It may be able to kill molds and some species of parasites and some other bacterium. It’s immunomodulatory. CBD can help our immune system turn on from the inside out and start helping us get healthier. It’s anti-hypertensive, so basically can help relax the smooth muscle tissue. It can be anti-hypertensive and another analgesic for pain.

We can combine THC and CBD in a one-to-one tincture. My favorite is when they take both substances, THC and CBD, and we want to get full spectrum, by the way, of both, and combine them into a tincture. Typically, this has  an MCT, which is basically a coconut oil carrier. We can get an incredible benefit to the body. It is my number one go-to for relaxing the body throughout the day. Just take a smaller amount to make sure you just take the edge off. At night, some patients use a little bit more just to really help them get into a nice rhythm of sleep. It can be very powerful. If you use too much, you’re probably not going to have a huge like bad experience, but it can lower blood pressure substantially. As I mentioned, it is anti-hypertensive. I’ve actually had an issue with that myself. So definitely be careful with that. Again, I do recommend working with a provider who can help guide you on this because your individual needs are going to vary, but again, if we use an appropriate dose, it can really relax the mind-body so you can actually sleep. That’s just one, but there’s many many uses for this.

I’ve had people that have tremendous PTSD, anxiety flare-ups. They’re just barely able to get through the day, have done wonderful on this, and again, in conjunction with their providers and myself, we’re able to get them off of a lot of the SSRI drugs and other drugs that they’ve been dependent on for years. Again, we have to be careful with that, but that is a goal that I like to use with patients here.

The Power of Full-Spectrum Cannabis Extracts

That’s the idea behind medical cannabis. It can be used safely. You just have to get the right tincture. Now, you can use, of course, high-dose CBD by itself. High-dose CBD by itself, it can be quite expensive. You have to look for full spectrum. It has to be full spectrum. We want all those plant chemicals, which by the way, science still has not even identified all of them. You know, nature is amazing. We think we found some , “Wow, we got these compounds identified,” and then, you know, 20 years later, “Oh, there’s another 25, 30 we didn’t know about,” and then there’s 100, right? So let’s not fool ourselves. Nature is so amazing. What does that mean, full spectrum? That means they’re going to extract that CBD into the oil from the hemp plant, and it’s going to have all those still left intact versus isolating one or two compounds. So that’s what I highly encourage.

CBD used in full spectrum, like the hemp oil, we can use that without any THC at all, and again, there could be an upper limit based on your response to it, but again, very safe to use. I would encourage you to look for that locally somewhere. Again, I don’t know your laws and where you’re located, so check into that, but it can be used very safely for things again like pain and helping you relax.

 Cannabis as Adjunct Therapy: A Path to Healing

Now is it going to really solve root cause? Let’s be clear here. If you’re dealing with a mold toxicity issue, with a Lyme infection, a severe PTSD, major major gut problems, it’s not going to cure those. Okay, I want to be clear. I’m just speaking to the fact that as we get healthy, we may be able to use cannabis as some type of adjunct therapy to help us take the edge off certain things like pain, inflammation, and to aid sleep.

Final Thoughts: Navigating the Path to Wellness with Cannabis

You can check out my YouTube channel to learn more and you can schedule a consult with me to learn more. Let’s  see if we might be able to help you with finding the root cause of your issues because that’s what I’m all about ultimately. You have to find the root cause and get a solution if you really want to take care of those health problems and put them in remission permanently.

Take care!

Dr. Jason

Board certified Naturopathic Doctor in Lansing, Michigan

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