7 Ways Cannabis Cures my IBS Symptoms

More than 700 million people worldwide are living with the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, known as IBS. Are you one of them? I am. According to a 2016 Global Impact Report, the most frustrating thing for IBS sufferers is finding a health professional who can correctly diagnose the condition.

I discovered this firsthand years ago when I spent two weeks in a hospital bed with chronic abdominal pain. The doctors sedated me till the pain was gone and sent me home none the wiser. I subsequently visited a specialist who told me I was fine, nothing wrong. Many IBS sufferers report similar experiences.

In a survey of more than 500 patients with IBS-D 32% of respondents agreed with the statement: “healthcare professionals do not take IBS seriously,” and in a separate survey, 22% agreed that: “healthcare professionals say you have IBS when they have run out of ideas.”

The medical community does not understand IBS, what causes it or how best to treat it. As a result, there is no reliable diagnostic test for IBS, and no known cure, leaving millions of people struggling daily to find ways to eat without enduring symptoms that include fatigue, pain, bloating, and gas as well as either chronic diarrhoea or constipation. It’s believed that the majority of IBS cases are undiagnosed.

Little surprise then the typical IBS sufferer is locked in a perpetual search for alternative treatments. This was the case for me. Since that stint in hospital fifteen years ago, I’ve been experimenting with diet to find a solution. It never occurred to me to return to a doctor for help – no matter how bad the symptoms – because they’d already made it clear they couldn’t help me.

As far as the doctors were concerned, there was nothing wrong with me, leaving me in a sort of health and wellbeing wilderness. Till I stop seeing my cannabis use as recreational and started to learn about its therapeutic properties.

People who are tired of the lack of support from the medical community, and interested in taking matters into their own hands have two options: make adjustments to their diet or try a natural remedy. When eaten, cannabis can be both. In this post, I’ll explain the 7 reasons I’m cooking with cannabis to cure my IBS symptoms while also exploring the factors that make IBS so debilitating and the importance of gut health.

IBS IMPACT ON QUALITY OF LIFE
  • Limits professional options, productivity and performance at work
  • Affects relationships negatively
  • Limits participation in social activities
  • Social isolation
  • Forces sufferers to make considerable life changes
  • Financial burden
  • 32% of IBS-C report feelings depressed; 76% said they didn’t feel normal

“I never eat out, and have learned the hard way to decline dinner invitations.”

Type of IBS

The symptom-based criteria for IBS were first developed in 1989 by an international working committee based in Rome, and are known as the Rome Criteria. The criteria were most recently updated in 2016 – the latest set of criteria are known as Rome IV – but are regarded as too complex to be applicable to daily medical practice.

According to Rome IV, IBS is characterised by recurrent abdominal pain at least once a week and may also include defecation problems as well as changes in stool frequency and/or consistency.

Sub-types of IBS are recognized by Rome IV, and include:

  • IBS-C: with predominant constipation
  • IBS-D: with predominant diarrhoea
  • IBS-M: with both constipation and diarrhoea

In one study of more than 500 IBS-D patients, the majority reported having symptoms for 8 to 17 days of the month, and in another survey of IBS-C patients, they reported symptoms for 10 – 11 days of the month.

IBS is most prevalent amongst women.

What Makes IBS So Debilitating?

On top of the difficulty of finding a medical professional that can diagnose and treat the symptoms of IBS, the condition comes with a bunch of direct and indirect side effects. Last year, I was in Madrid for a work event where the organisers went to great trouble to put on a spread of cold meats, cheeses and breads. I couldn’t eat a thing on that table, and the organisers were visibly put out.

I didn’t know those people well enough to delve into a conversation on the broken mechanics of my digestive system, and was embarrassed by my inability to offer an explanation. The discomfort of the situation, both mine and theirs reminded me why I avoid straying too far from home, and rarely eat in company.

That’s just one in a truckload of examples of the many ways IBS has dinted my social and working life. It’s one of the reasons I work from home, and have done so for twelve years. I never eat out, and have learned the hard way to decline dinner invitations. If I’m traveling, I prepare food in advance to take with me.

A European survey showed that people with IBS are twice as a likely to take time off work, and that the symptoms could cause, on average, a 30% loss in productivity. In an American study of almost 2,000 IBS patients, it was found that performance was affected on average 9 days of the month, and that 13% of respondents were unemployed due to their poor health. Another study of almost 3,000 Canadian IBS sufferers found that 46% had missed work or school due to IBS symptoms.

In a 2017 study of more than 1,000 people on the effects of IBS on quality of life, 52% of respondents reported cancelling or changing plans at the last minute; 52% avoided eating before or during events; 42% skipped events with poor bathroom facilities; 38% missed work; 34% avoided dinner or social events with friends, and 33% avoided long journeys.

IBS affects intimate relationships, too. In a 2016 American study, two-thirds of respondents avoided having sex because of their symptoms. Much research needs to be done to uncover the ways the partners and families of IBS sufferers are impacted but this kind of research could reveal unique insights into how sufferers cope with the condition.

IBS can be a financial burden. A Canadian study found that 47% of IBS sufferers spent more than $150 per month on medication though 26% could only afford some of the treatments and 16% couldn’t afford any. Respondents in a U.S. report tried, on average, 3.6 over-the-counter (OTC) products before consulting a doctor. IBS costs the U.S. health system more than $30 million a year.

How IBS Affects Mental Health

When you’ve been told there’s nothing wrong with you but you’re living with symptoms that are so debilitating they stop you from working and socialising, it fucks with your head. Is the pain real? Am I imagining it? Am I making a fuss over nothing? These are questions I asked often till I found myself doubled up in agony or forced to sleep in the middle of the day while my body digested whatever bad thing I’d eaten.

IBS makes you feel like everything you’re eating is bad, which means food becomes an enemy. For years, especially in my thirties, I avoided meals as a way to avoid pain. Sometimes, I even thanked my condition for keeping me slim, as I’m a big grazer and would probably eat all day long if you let me. This tells you something about my relationship with food – complicated.

I tell people I have food allergies and that’s why I can’t go out or eat out or accept a dinner invitation. “Allergies” seem like a neater explanation, something tangible with known symptoms, a reason they can comprehend. When I say, “IBS,” their expression tilts towards confusion tinged with a pity that suggests they too think it’s all in my head. “What is it?” they’ll ask, feigning interest. These exchanges are painful.

Worse, they make me anxious, and numerous studies have shown that anxiety and depression both increase the chances of developing symptoms of IBS, and result from IBS, a vicious cycle that plagues sufferers. Where does it all begin? A 2013 study found a direct correlation between the “vicious cycle” of gastrointestinal symptoms and early childhood trauma.

On top, because societal taboos make it difficult to have open conversations about poop, many IBS sufferers learn early on to suffer in silence, a practice they’ve been honing since the original childhood trauma that taught them to swallow their emotions. Problem is when you swallow your emotions, there’s no room for anything else, not even food to keep you alive. Many IBS sufferers report significant weight loss.

Suffering in silence leads to stigma and reinforces the problem, spiking anxiety and depression. Unable to connect with others through honest conversations, it’s normal for the IBS sufferer to feel socially isolated. A 2015 study by the American Gastrointestinal Association (AGA) shows that more than one-third of IBS suffers feel self-conscious, embarrassed, fed up and depressed.

“Mental health conditions are now seen to be full body inflammatory responses to a compromised microbiome.”

The Gut Microbiome and IBS

 The microbiome is a colony of bacteria that lives in the small intestine and colon, with each person harbouring up to 100 trillion microbiota or microbial cells. The microbiome has evolved with us to create an intricate and mutually beneficial relationship, and advances in the study of cell activity has allowed scientists to study communities of microbiota across different environments.

Researchers have been able to identify links between changes in environment – such as dietary changes, ill health and/or antibiotics – and gut health. On top, mounting evidence shows a definite link between the health of the microbiome, digestion and metabolism. Because research is pointing to the microbiome as a solution for IBS, clinical trials currently focus on interventions that target the gut microbiota such as prebiotics, probiotics, fecal transplant and diet.

It’s now known that the range of beneficial services provided by the microbiome includes the strengthening of gut integrity, harvesting energy, promoting homeostasis, and boosting immunity. In fact, the bacteria in the small intestine and colon are essential for good health by not only keeping the GI tract moving but also providing essential amino acids, vitamins and short chain fatty acids.

In the average lifetime, up to 60 tonnes of food passes through the GI tract, along with an abundance of microorganisms, and both have the capacity to adversely affect gut integrity. Recent studies have shown that imbalances in the gut bacterial communities, known as dysbiosis, can contribute to IBS, and determine the range of symptoms – but it’s not clearly understood how or why. It’s suspected that once imbalances occur, a collection of diseases flare up.

New research into the flora found in the gut-brain axis, the bidirectional communication system that regulates the central and enteric nervous systems, and promotes homeostasis, is currently revolutionising both the fields of mental health and microbiome study. The two are so interlinked it has created a new field of study known as “pyschobiotics.” Mental health conditions are now seen to be full body inflammatory responses to a compromised microbiome.

Diet and IBS

Though the biggest obstacle for any IBS sufferer is diet – which a 2014 study confirmed when 90% of respondents listed certain foods as triggers – unbelievably, knowledge about the relationship between food and IBS remains undefined. Research is ongoing, meaning that in the interim sufferers are left in the dark about one of the most influential factors on their microbiome and health: diet.

The diet that’s recommended for clinically treating IBS is known as FODMAP, and is a type of elimination diet. FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols, scientific terms used to classify foods that are known to trigger the symptoms of IBS. They represent a variety of legumes, fruits, vegetables as well as milk, yoghurt and soft cheese. The idea is to cut these out of the diet and slowly reintroduce them to figure out which ones are problematic.

Most IBS sufferers have tried some sort of elimination diet usually out of necessity. This was the case for me. A year after that stint in hospital, I was in so much pain, I stopped eating for a few days, and then ate only green salad for about six months. Besides losing weight, for the first time in years I had energy and wasn’t in constant pain. I slowly began re-introducing foods, and discovered the problem foods, which included milk, pasta, bread, potatoes, or anything with white flour. With time, it became clear that any foods high in acid or starch were triggers for my IBS symptoms. One of my rules: no white food.

One of the worst things about the reaction of doctors to my IBS, or rather their lack of reaction, was that it knocked me out of connection with my health, and made me distrust my body. They didn’t know what was going on, so I assumed that I didn’t either. However, it’s my opinion that the solution to IBS is 90% diet and over 15 years of experimentation, I’ve finally found the combination of foods that work for me.

My healing journey has forced me to evolve a new relationship with food and fitness, and as a result I have a much healthier connection with my body today. I understand the integrative nature of the digestive system, and know that it’s not just food that can aggravate my symptoms. A stressful situation can also be problematic, meaning my life choices are just as important as my food choices.

Most importantly, I now see my IBS as an in-built alarm system telling me what’s good and bad in my environment. I’m very careful about planning my weeks to minimise any stress, and spend a lot of time researching nutrition, and preparing food. Hormonal changes have made me even more sensitive to stress, increasing the importance of continuously adjusting my routine of self-care.

You have no idea how much of 180 this is for me. I’ve gone from assuming I’m “fine,” “nothing wrong” to recognising something is very wrong, and in the absence of support, I have a right to take whatever means necessary to improve my quality of life. Up until four years ago, I was locked in a cycle of sleeping 18 hours a day, or enduring days of pain to today becoming the healthiest and strongest I’ve been in a long time. I have a number of factors to thank, chief amongst them cannabis.

Cannabis and IBS

Further research is needed to understand the relationship between cannabinoids and IBS, and any potential benefits. What is known is that cannabinoids play a crucial role in regulation of the immune system and have the potential to be an effective treatment for a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. As with all things cannabis-related, further research is needed to fully understand the application of cannabis for IBS sufferers.

While a 2009 study showed that gut inflammation is regulated by two important processes that are in constant flux and responding to environmental changes in the GI tract, a 2018 study demonstrated the role of cannabis in those processes. The first process sparks an aggressive immune response in the gut to kill off any unwanted or dangerous pathogens.

However, if not kept in check, these immune cells can get out of control and attack the lining of the stomach, as is the case with Crohn’s Disease, IBD, IBS or stomach ulcers. That’s where cannabinoids come in. They regulate the second part of this process, keeping the immune system balanced, and ensuring the environment returns to homeostasis. Cannabinoids also affect how food is broken down and stored for energy.

The body has its own way of producing cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. The compounds found in cannabis are almost identical to those produced by the body, which means that when cannabis is consumed, the body recognises it and knows how to use it to calm inflammation.

But IBS isn’t just a physical problem, it affects emotional and mental wellbeing, too, and that’s another way cannabis can offer relief. The research is still in its infancy but there’s evidence to suggest that cannabis is a reliable anxiolytic, and can also alleviate the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder (SAD.) Further research showed that cannabis eased depression in patients with co-morbid conditions.

“Before long, the constant gnawing in my stomach ceased and the bloating disappeared.”

7 Reasons I’m Cooking with Cannabis To Cure My IBS

I started cooking with cannabis about six months ago though I’ve been smoking it for years. I’ve been curious about edibles for a long time but whenever I got the chance to sample any, they were sugary sweets or floury cakes or something else I couldn’t eat. As I follow a keto diet I’m used to amending recipes to fit my dietary needs, so researching ways I could integrate cannabis into my diet was a natural leap for me.

At first, like most people, I made cookies, and lots of dark chocolate fat bombs, high in fat to fit the keto diet. Pretty quickly I realised that cannabutter added a rich nutty flavour to all sorts of dishes, and I started spreading it on homemade bread, or melting it on roasted Brussels sprouts. Eating cannabis affects the body differently from smoking, but I wasn’t eating large amounts to get high, just enough to add flavour. Soon, I started to experience a bunch of other benefits.

Full disclosure: what follows is anecdotal but considering the lack of research into the links between IBS and diet, and IBS and cannabis, anecdotes are the best we can do for now. My guess is that as the field of psychobiotics opens up, we’ll hear a lot more about the essential role of cannabinoids in the health of the brain, gut-brain axis and digestive system.

1. Effective Treatment for Bloating

When I’m bloated I have no energy, feel gross, and don’t want to go outside. I don’t even want to get dressed. I hide at home and fantasise about swapping my body with a healthy one that wants to do things, and can eat anything. Then I make crazy promises to myself about the changes I’m going to make to eradicate the problem – though it’s frustrating when the solution is always to cut out more food, a cycle that demands discipline and can be unrewarding.

I’ve endured this cycle for years. But in the last year things have changed, as I get more serious about the keto diet. In that time I’ve only been in ketosis twice, as I have to tailor the diet to my IBS, and am still figuring out what I can eat. There are lots of keto foods like cream and mayonnaise – White food! No! – that I can’t eat so I have to make adjustments. I tried muesli with coconut flakes thinking it could be an ideal substitute as I bake with coconut flour. Nope! Too much white. Bloated for a week.

I didn’t see real improvements till four or five months ago, and the key change to my diet was adding cannabutter. I noticed immediately that I could eat cookies without triggering my symptoms, and began to experiment, adding cannabutter to veg and meat dishes. After a few weeks, my appetite was more regulated, and the bloating eased. Before long, the constant gnawing in my stomach ceased and the bloating disappeared. When it returns, I add a teaspoon of cannabutter to my dinner, and it disappears again. Every time.

2. No More Stomach Pain

IBS sufferers know that most days your stomach feels like a pressure cooker that could explode at any minute. For me, cannabutter is the release valve. When I first started to eat it, it was like an internal massage for my digestive system. Instantly, I felt relief, as it eased any pain. Generally, the pain comes when I’ve eaten something I shouldn’t, but on stressful days, anything I eat can cause problems.

What’s impossible not to notice is the calming effect cannabutter has on my stomach, and how quickly it works. For example, I was traveling last weekend, an event that’s guaranteed to spark my IBS symptoms including constipation and bloating. Last night, after five days of bloating, I added a teaspoon of cannabutter to my broccoli, which enabled me to have a healthy bowel movement this morning, and today the bloating and discomfort is gone.

3. Bowel Movements

This is a difficult topic to talk about, and so many bad puns about constipation are pooping, I mean popping into my head right now – but no conversation on IBS is complete without it. There’s no question the keto diet has changed my metabolism, as has more than four years of working out, but there’s been a noticeable shift in the last four or five months. Instead of alternating between days of constipation and diarrhoea, lately I’m regular as RyanAir, meaning I still have bad days but nothing like before.

In fact, I’m so regular, pooping has almost become something I don’t have to think about; I say “almost” because as any IBSer knows, when you can’t go, or can’t stop going, it’s impossible not to think about it. It’s easy to get obsessed, which ups anxiety, and sparks symptoms: the vicious cycle. Because cannabutter has regulated me, I’ve gotten more relaxed about it, meaning everything has relaxed. My bowel movements have become more compact, and look the way normal poo should look. After years of suffering, this is a miracle.

4. Mental Clarity

When asked what was their most important advice to anyone who wanted to replicate their success, both Bill Gates and Warren Buffett said: Focus. Any IBSer knows focus is challenging if not impossible when the gnawing in your stomach overwhelms you. What did I eat to cause this feeling? What can I eat to get rid of this feeling? How long is it going to last? Will I ever feel normal again? Familiar questions to any IBS sufferer.

I don’t ask myself these questions any more – there’s no need because the pain is gone, and everything is moving along nicely. As a result, I have time to concentrate on the things that are important to me. More than that, I have time to stand back, review what’s important, and tailor my activities to those goals. For the first time in years, I’m planning ahead, and I’m sticking to my plan. It’s also enabling me to take on more stressful tasks, such as this blog. This kind of mental clarity would have been impossible a year ago.

5. Aids Sleep & Regulates Hormones

As a woman in my forties, I’m in perimenopause, which is the hormonal shift that occurs before full-on menopause. The side effects of perimenopause include insomnia and hot flashes. Before I began eating cannabutter, I was smoking a ton of joints before bed in the hope of getting some sleep. Sick of being tired, drained and grumpy all the time, some days, I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up.

Then I started eating my canna cookies at night, and noticed that on those nights, I slept like a baby. The insomnia is now gone, but any night I have trouble sleeping, I eat a cookie, and it guarantees me good sleep. That’s not all. Up until last November I viewed my hash habit as recreational only. In November I stopped smoking for four days, and was immediately hit with an avalanche of hormonal symptoms: night-sweats, hot flashes, and insomnia.

On day 2, I went to the supermarket and had a hot flash so bad my clothes were soaked through by the time I got home. By day 4, I was awake for 22 hours, and wired. Unable to take any more, I relented and smoked a joint. After a few days, my symptoms eased. I still have hot flashes, but cannabis mutes them to the point that I can ignore them.

6. Increased Trust in my Body and Sense of Wellbeing

The effects of consuming cannabis are cumulative, meaning I don’t have to eat it every day to cure my symptoms. Eating it a few times a month is enough to keep the pain at bay, and my metabolism moving. I know this is down to cannabis because I’ve been working out intensely for four years and experimenting with diet for fifteen years, but neither of those factors improved my metabolism to the extent cannabis has – they didn’t give me miracle poos. Because my body finally feels like it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, my sense of wellbeing has skyrocketed.

This is likely due to a combination of factors including better sleep, improved mental clarity, better digestion and a working metabolism. I now feel like food is giving me what it’s supposed to give me: energy. I now have energy all day long and don’t experience slumps during the day. Considering I used to sleep 18 hours a day, this too feels like a miracle. More recently, I noticed that my sense of humour might be returning, and it’s been on hiatus for years. Lately, I smile more.

For me, eating cannabis is not about getting high, and rarely do I feel high after eating it. That’s because I’m micro-dosing, eating small amounts to manage my health, not wolfing down grams to get wasted. Because my intention is different so too is the result. The relationship is symbiotic. I eat cannabis whenever I feel the need, and am confident that it will deal with whatever symptoms I’m experiencing. While there’s evidence to suggest long-term cannabis use can aggravate IBS, that’s not my experience, and it’s certainly not the case with edibles.

7. Cannabis is a Nutritional Powerhouse

Because cannabis gets so much bad press, its unique nutritional profile is overlooked, which is unfortunate because it’s one of the most nutrient-packed plants on the planet.

The seeds, for example, contain protein, carbohydrates, insoluble fibre, beta-carotene, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamins E, C, B1, B3 and B6, and essential fatty acids. Plus, the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is 3:1, which is considered optimal for human nutrition.

Likewise, the leaves and flowers contain a bunch of nutrients. The leaves can be eaten fresh off the plant, mixed into soups, juices, salads or smoothies. They are a rich source of fibre, free radical scavenging polyphenols, flavonoids, 9 essential amino acids, essential oils, the minerals magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, and THCA.

Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants found in fruit and vegetables, and various studies have shown that a diet rich in them can prevent against diabetes, osteoporosis, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s. THCA is the non-psychoactive form of THC, and both forms have medical benefits that include anti-inflammatory, nueroprotective, anti-emetic, and anti-proliferative. Studies show THC is effective treatment for pain relief, treating PTSD, and increasing appetite.

The buds contain the same bunch of nutrients, but are also packed with resin, THC, and terpenes. Terpenes are found in all plants, and are what give lemon, lavender and cannabis their unique scents. There are more than 100 terpenes in cannabis but common ones include limonene, mycrene, linalool, and phytol, and each one has medicinal benefits that include reducing stress and anxiety, kill bacteria, improve cognitive function, relieve gastric reflux and ulcers, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

 

So there you have it, the reasons I’m cooking with cannabis to cure my IBS symptoms and the various benefits I’m seeing. As I’m not a scientist or nutritionist, I can’t explain to you in more detail what’s happening in my body but I can promise you that the change is real, and absolutely not in my head. Honestly, I feel like a new person. Dare I say, I even feel normal or at least, normal-ish.

Personally, I believe that my microbiome has been so badly out of wack for so many years, destroyed by bad food and anxiety that it was always going to take something stronger than diet and exercise to return it to homeostasis. Eating cannabis, with its powerful nutritional profile designed to regulate digestion, protect the brain and relax the nervous system, has restored balance to my microbiome.

Over the coming months, I’m going to monitor my progress, and seek out experts who can help verify my results. Finding the right people to work with will be challenging, as I’m wary of the medical community due to my disappointing experiences in the past. However, I’m also aware that the idea of adding cannabis to the diet is a radical one for most people, and I’m keen to be proof it works. Thanks to cannabis, I have the energy and strength to take on the challenge.

If you’re someone with a similar story to mine – there are millions of us! – please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you, and will be happy to share further tips.

#followtheplant #cookingwithcannabis #cannabishealsIBS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can Cannabis End the Stigma of Addiction?

Terrence McKenna said the right way to use cannabis is to get blitzed off your box on rare occasions, and shoot the breeze with the shamans of your unconscious. No one I know smokes like this. McKenna himself did not smoke like this. To only smoke on rare occasions would demand the ability to abide by the Japanese principle of delayed gratification, but we live in a Culture of Now that compels us to consume at light speed, while giving us the illusion of satisfaction.

Evidence of this is everywhere. Trade on the high street has been transformed by fast fashion, cheap clothes from shops like H&M, The Gap, and Zara, creating an industry worth more than $3 trillion a year though 70 per cent of Americans have less that $1,000 in savings. In Luxembourg, 13 per cent of people have zero savings though it’s the country with the highest savings rate in Europe. In Ireland, the economy is supposedly booming but there’s a homelessness crisis in Dublin, and the nurses are striking for better pay.

During the 2018 Black Friday season, Nov. 1 to Dec. 24, U.S. consumers spent more than $750 billion in retail stores though more than 40 million Americans can’t afford healthcare. While Kylie Jenner, the 20-year-old social media starlet-du-jour and youngest sibling of the Kardashian powerhouse, has 120 million followers on Instagram and has been featured in Forbes as the world’s youngest billionaire, suicide rates are climbing amongst U.S. workers.

 Meet the Hungry Ghosts

Today, many people call their cannabis use therapeutic, but what if it’s okay to call it what it is: addiction. In his book, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts, Dr. Gabor Maté breaks down the neurology of addiction explaining that it can be a substance abuse or behaviour disorder but the underlying psychology that drives it is always the same. He illustrates the features all addicted brains share such as lowered dopamine and opioid receptors, as well as impaired development of the prefrontal cortex.

He demonstrates how the same mechanisms are working in all addicted brains, and that addiction behaviour of any kind, be it drug abuse, gambling, shopping, porn, work, social media, food, plastic surgery, hoarding or exercise, fire the brain’s circuitry in the same way. Based on a 2017 study involving 17,500 Americans by Dr. Vincent Felitti, one of the world’s leading experts on childhood trauma, brain development during infancy determines whether or not a person will be predisposed to addiction in adulthood.

The under-developed brain results in an adult that can’t connect with himself or the world around him without his “drug” of choice. This is what makes addiction so potent: it activates our instincts to connect in order to survive. This is what makes addiction so complex: it is a survival strategy that results in self-destruction. An addiction infiltrates the limbic system or emotional brain, the part of the mind that drives joy, pleasure, pain, anger and fear, thus processing and controlling our primal emotions.

 Addiction AKA Avoiding the Void

 When addicts say: “I don’t know who I’d be without [drug of choice],” this is addiction as identity, an attempt to fill the void. Incapable of focus or feeling joy – due to that faulty brain circuitry – and therefore incapable of feeling satisfied by any activity, the addict is hypersensitive to boredom, and constantly trying to out-run it.

“Boredom, rooted in a fundamental discomfort with the self, is one of the least tolerable mental states,” Maté explains. What’s clear is that the discomfort comes first, and stems from a loss of connection with self at an early age. In this video, Maté quotes Eckhart Tolle: “Addiction begins with pain and end with pain.”

“At the core of every addiction is an emptiness based in abject fear. The addict dreads and abhors the present moment; she bends feverishly only towards the next time, the moment when brain, infused with her drug of choice, will briefly experience itself as liberated from the burden of the past and the fear of the future – the two elements that make the present intolerable,” writes Maté.

“’The precursor to addiction is dislocation,’” according to Bruce Alexander, professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University explaining that by “dislocation he means the loss of psychological, social and economic integration into family and culture; a sense of isolation and powerlessness. ’Only chronically and severely dislocated people are vulnerable to addiction,’ he writes.”

We Are All Hungry Ghosts

Maté notes alcoholism emerged with the free market society after 1800. Today, the average person is exposed to up to 10,000 ad images per day, and we’re continuously told that the health of the economy depends on consumer spending. Maté quotes Lewis Lapham, publisher of Harper’s magazine, who criticised “consumer markets selling promises of instant relief from the pain of thought, loneliness, doubt, experience, envy and old age.”

Addiction is a relatively new phenomenon that’s risen with the real and existential pain of contemporary life and here’s the cruncher: the methods we’ve been using to deal with the pains are not working. In 2017, more than 70,000 people died from opioid overdoses in America, and 6 million people die every year from tobacco-related diseases. A U.S. report revealed that Americans spent $16 billion on plastic surgery in 2016 while up to 40 million people die each year from preventable lifestyle diseases.

The obesity rate is now 38.2 per cent in America and Britain is the sixth fattest nation in the world after the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand, Hungary and Australia. A 2018 study found that teens spending 5 hours per day on a smartphone were twice as likely to exhibit signs of depression, and in South Korea there’s an epidemic with more than 1 million (maybe up to 5 million) kids addicted to the Internet. In the U.S. parents are setting up support groups to help their kids overcome porn addiction.

Our materialistic culture tells us what we have defines who we are, spawning generations of people who have no idea how to value themselves unless they own certain things or look a certain way. Anorexia is now the third most common disease amongst young people after asthma and type 1 diabetes. Meanwhile, the wellness industry has a global value of $4.2 trillion; the healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss sector alone is worth $702.1 billion and personal care is more than $1 trillion.

Addiction AKA Entering the Void

“What we call personality is often a jumble of genuine traits and adopted coping styles that do not reflect our true self at all but the loss of it.”

Of all the lines in Maté’s book, this one hit me hardest. How many of us have been forced to shed our true shelves to accommodate a secret habit that an arbitrary law prevents us from embracing? How many of us have felt the cold shoulder of isolation because we can’t connect with other “users” to share our experiences? How many of us are using cannabis to cope with the loss of our true selves?

It’s not the cannabis that forces us to hide, it’s the law, and the stigma that comes with it, and a superficial society with fucked up values that has no idea how to treat itself or those that are perceived as less than, with compassion. Maté is clear on one thing: a society that punishes addicts is punishing its most vulnerable people, and a society that judges addicts is actually judging itself.

“We despise, ostracise and punish the addict because we don’t wish to see how much we resemble him. In his dark mirror our own features are unmistakable. We shudder at the recognition. This mirror is not for us, we say to the addict. You are different, and you don’t belong with us.”

If addiction reflects the ails of society, and we shun addicts the same way we brush family secrets under the carpet – out of sight, out of mind – it becomes easy to see why the question of cannabis legalisation is so controversial. It’s got nothing to do with politics but everything to do with a form of societal neurosis.

Cannabis the Friendly Ghost

The good news is that embracing cannabis use – getting honest and open about it – is a healing experience; at least, that’s certainly been my experience. Not so long ago, I couldn’t imagine creating a blog in homage to my addiction, but now I celebrate it. Rather than needing therapy for my addiction, my addiction is my therapy, and I’m okay with that, more than okay, because I feel fortunate my drug of choice also happens to be one of the most insanely beneficial plants on the planet.

Without cannabis I would be incapable of the focus it takes to sit at my desk for five, six, or ten hour stretches, writing, and therefore incapable of feeling any joy. I am hypersensitive to boredom but while writing stoned I’m so completely absorbed by the task at hand, I forget to eat. Whenever the void becomes a chasm that threatens to swallow me, I roll a joint, and I write until cannabis carries me to safety.

Cannabis is my way to experience life not escape it, and it makes all the things I love even more enjoyable; it even makes going to the supermarket a joy, ffs. Addiction doesn’t have to be a survival strategy that results in self-destruction, at least not when cannabis is the drug of choice. I don’t know who I’d be without cannabis so much so I have no interest in finding out. Fuck responsible use of cannabis, I’m interested in positive use of cannabis, what does that look like?

Too many people use cannabis to inspire and lead amazing lives to continue believing it’s a destructive force, people like Cheryl Shuman California’s first cannabis marketer, Jim McAlpine creator of the 420 Games, or Emma Chasen, an industry educator – not to mention Snoop, Whoopi, Woody, Willie, and of course, Bob. What’s destructive is the stigma. The more of us who come out of the closet and disclose our status as High Functioning Cannabis Consumers (#HFCC), the sooner we can start having real conversations about addiction, and heal the stories behind it.

#followtheplant #healthyhighs #positivecannabisuse #hfcc

Reference:

“In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts,” Gabor Maté, Vermillion, U.K., 2018.

How to Create a Keto Meal Plan for Weight Loss

A working meal plan is one that reflects your taste, physiology and health goals. No meal plan is fixed but rather it evolves as you learn more about your body and digestion, gain an understanding what foods aggravate underlying conditions, and figure out which boost your wellbeing. Let’s consider three factors to start:

Goals versus Intentions

A person who’s looking to lose weight will be on a very different meal plan from someone who wants to manage an autoimmune condition or simply begin a healthy eating regime. How to create a keto meal plan is a different question from how to lower blood pressure. The resultant diet may be similar but the intention is very different. In this instance, I’m going to make some assumptions, and imagine that the goal is to start eating healthy to improve overall wellbeing.

Many people associate the keto diet, or any diet, with weight loss but that’s not always the right goal, at least not to begin with. Also, goals tie us to a specific result and that can be frustrating at the beginning when results are slow. Much better to start with an intention, and understand that you don’t know what the results are till you see them. That way, if you slip, it’s okay. You can say, tomorrow, I intend to do better, and that way you’re always achieving. That way you’re not in competition with some arbitrary goal but rather in a conversation with yourself on how to improve your eating habits.

How we eat is very much tied to our relationship to food, and some people have constant cravings that hunt them all day long, triggering them to make unhealthy choices. A meal plan intention might be to simply eliminate the bad choices. It’s much better to start at the point that feels right for you, and as you see results, make adjustments to the plan. If the goal is weight loss, the rule of thumb is to go slow. You want to loose a few pounds a month over a long period of time, and mixing it with exercise to give your body the chance to adjust to its new set point. Losing weight slowly, through a gradual change in eating habits is the only way to achieve sustained weight loss.

Time Restricted Eating

If you have problems with bloating, gas, constipation, or fatigue in the morning, chances are you’re not only eating the wrong things, but you’re also eating them at all hours of the day, which doesn’t give your body the chance to metabolize food, meaning it’s constantly at work leaving you with little energy for your life. If I eat late at night, I wake the next morning with a hangover. Yes, a full-on hangover. I’ll be bloated, cranky, have a headache, dulled skin, lifeless hair and no energy. Just to be clear, I can go to bed stoned but will wake up fresh as a daisy as long as I don’t eat late in the evening. Being stoned doesn’t affect my morning energy levels; eating late affects it hugely.

I’ve found the only way to eliminate the problem is timed eating, meaning I don’t eat after a certain point in the evening. Eating within a set schedule every day is called Intermittent Fasting or Time Restricted Eating, and it’s a potent healing tool, as many studies demonstrate. At its simplest form, intermittent fasting means eating within an eight hour window every day, so you find the window that works for you, be it: 9am to 5pm; 10am to 6pm; 11am to 7pm, and so on. In between that time slot, you can eat what you like. This alone will improve your metabolism and result in weight loss. If an eight-hour window is too tight to begin with, try 10; experiment.

Food Preparation

So here it is, the big reveal: The Secret to Sustained Weight Loss. Most people falsely believe it involves complex fitness programs, expensive trainers and fridge full of lettuce, and anything less is a waste of time. The truth is way simpler. The secret to sustained weight loss comes down to this one simple activity: food preparation. Talk to any athlete, trainer or health conscious person and you can be damn sure there are containers of pre-prepared food in their fridge or freezer. The reason for this is not as ambitious as you might think. They do this so that when they go to the fridge to eat, the healthy option is there.

When you’re busy or tired or hungry, the last thing you want to do is cook a meal, especially a healthy one! But if the food is already made, and all you have to do is heat it up, you’ll eat it without thinking, and this is when we start to see changes. First, we have to make it as easy as possible to make the healthy choice, and with time it becomes a habit. Anyone embarking on a new diet or meal plan should first think about their favourite meals, and then think about making the healthiest version of that meal. Understand that this process is an exploration of food, and will take a bit of time.

Think about how you like to eat your food: hot or cold, covered in ketchup, greasy or dry. This is going to help you choose the right substitutes. Trust me, to start you’re going to falter as you crave the toasted batch loaf you can no longer eat, or my favourite, almond croissant. But in time, you find alternatives, and discover they taste better, and make you feel way better because they match your intention of healthy eating.

Everyone’s got their preferences. Make sure that whatever substitute food you choose to create has the same consistency and texture of the foods you’re used to eating and the transition will be much easier. To start, don’t think about eliminating foods; think about expanding your dietary repertoire. Food preparation is about experimenting with food, and recipes, and switching up your relationship to your kitchen and supermarket. It’s a journey that will lead you through a treasure trove of exciting tastes and delicious dishes that eventually become a daily habit of eating healthy.

Intention
  • Explore healthy eating based on a keto diet
Goal
  • Reduce carb intake
  • Get into the habit of food preparation

 

WHAT IS THE KETO DIET?

At its simplest, the keto diet is a high fat, low carb diet. In this video, Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Dr. Dom D’Agonstino, both nutrition experts, explain the science behind keto, and how it leads to improved health. But I’m going to explain it briefly here: The body has two energy sources: glucose and fat. Our bodies are set up to run on glucose, which is why it turns carbs into glucose, in turn providing you with the energy you need to get through your day. But the clever body has a reserve system in place for when times get lean. In those instances, the body can switch to its fat energy source to keep you alive when there’s no food. When the body is in this state, it’s called ketosis.

On the keto diet, we hike up the fat intake to trick the body into switching to its fat fuel source, and in the process, the body goes into ketosis. The effect of ketosis is weight loss, as the appetite is suppressed and the body begins to use its fat stores. I’m explaining the process in layman’s terms but you get the idea. What’s most attractive to many people is the simplicity of the keto diet; I mean, what could be difficult about eating too much cheese. The thing is, it’s not easy to cut carbs from your diet, and in the beginning it will mess with your energy levels and mood. It took me a year to adjust to keto, and over that year I’ve been in ketosis twice. Getting to ketosis is not easy; neither is maintaining it, and it’s absolutely impossible to do without food preparation.

Shopping on a Keto Diet

Just as your relationship to your kitchen changes when you switch up your diet, so too do your shopping habits, in particular where you buy food, and what you buy. It’s imperative to understand that this takes time. I had to change EVERYTHING I’d been buying for years, and I had to start reading labels. In the beginning I was cooking from a cookbook, buying spices I’d never heard of, and eating some suspect combinations. These days, I know exactly what flavours I like, and no longer need to read labels, as I know the macros of most items by now. These days, I still buy food from the supermarket but also from health stores and organic butchers.

What Can You Eat?

More importantly, these days, I know which items are high-carb and which are high fat. How did I learn this? By spending time in the supermarket reading labels and online, researching keto food plans. There’s no fancy science here; it’s a simple matter of research but I’m going to provide you with a hack to save you time. Here’s a list, not exhaustive, of keto foods, and things to look out for in the supermarket.

Nuts

One of my favourite things about the keto diet is nuts. As well as being high in fat, nuts have a host of health benefits, and are an antioxidant powerhouse. Up until a few years ago, I probably ate two walnuts my whole life. Now, I keep a container of mixed nuts on my desk, my go-to when I want a snack. I change up the mix and might have hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, macadamias, almonds, or pecans in there. Sometimes I throw in some raisins and dark chocolate pips in too, but both of these are high-carb. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless your goal is to be in ketosis, in which case it is.

Cheese

Another blessing of the keto diet: cheese! I add it to everything as it’s the substitute that helps me achieve the creamy texture I like my food to have. I used to be a big fan of cheese toasties; all that hot bread, melted butter and crispy cheese – heaven! I haven’t had a cheese toasty in years but I have found great new ways to use cheese and create even better dishes in the process. I eat a bigger variety of cheeses now but cheddar is still hands down my favourite.

Meat

This is a controversial one. Veganism is the biggest trend in the UK for 2019. Everyone is convinced meat-free is the way to improve health and save tortured animals. I don’t like the industrial torture of animals any more than the next person but I don’t believe that cutting out meat is the long-term solution to the problem whereas the eradication of industrial farming is. If everyone demanded grass fat meat from the butcher, farmers and butchers would be thrilled and the supermarkets would have no choice but to get on board.

On this Joe Rogan podcast, nutrition expert Chris Kresser refers to studies that show not everyone has the right physiology to thrive on a meat-free diet. Yes, some people can, but they’re in the minority. I’m not one of them. I tried. I went vegetarian for three months two years ago, and that’s as long as I could last. The keto diet is a meat diet. As much as possible, I buy meat from a local organic butcher, and that is, for now, my solution to the issue. Eventually, I’d like to learn how to hunt. If you’re not comfortable eating meat, fish and eggs, the keto diet is not going to work for you. That said it’s not necessary to include meat in every keto dish.

Greens

On the keto diet it’s recommended to stick with low-carb veg, which tend to be green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, cucumber, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts and green beans. Also good are avocados, tomatoes, red, green and yellow peppers, onions, eggplant and cauliflower. That’s a whole lot of food variety right there, and the basis for lots of tasty keto meals. I particularly like asparagus and onion because they’re easy to fry up in butter and go great with meat. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts are also easy to prepare, just boil them, and go well with meat, nuts, and/or cheese. Cauliflower and broccoli with four cheeses is my mac and cheese substitute and it’s better than the original.

Flour substitutes

Just ‘cause you’re on keto doesn’t mean you don’t get to eat bread but you do have to change how you prepare it, and this means getting comfortable with flour substitutes like almond and coconut flour. There are tons of recipes for almond bread online, and I’ll post my own ASAP, but for now, what’s important to know is that making bread with almond flour is way easier than you think, and much easier than traditional bread. There’s no kneading or need to understand the science of yeast. Mix it in a bowl, bake it, leave it to cool over night, and it’s a delicious breakfast.

Water

I only drink water. That’s it. Nothing else. Very occasionally, I might have a cup of coffee, and I like mint or cinnamon tea. But mostly, I drink water. That’s all you need: water. Get a water filter, or find a source for inexpensive bottled water. You’re going to need anything from 1 to 3 litres a day depending on your level of activity.

Sugar

It’s not realistic to think about cutting out sugar completely and much more productive to think about changing the types of sweet foods you eat, certainly in the early days of transitioning. About four years ago, I made the choice to stop eating milk chocolate, and began experimenting with dark chocolate. I was obsessed, compelled to buy a bar of dark chocolate every time I left the house. Before long, I knew which shops had the best chocolate AKA where exactly I needed to go when I craved a sugar rush. It’s important to note that most bars of chocolate, dark or not, are packed with carbs, but in my opinion, a working diet includes treats or it’s impossible to sustain.

To tackle this problem – I have a major sweet tooth – I buy dark chocolate with a high fat content and I make my own sweets at home. Eating a homemade dessert every day is far healthier than eating a Mars or Snickers a few times a week, and it’s something to look forward to, too. What’s important to keep in mind here is what’s your intention? If you’re intention is to achieve ketosis, cut out all sugar, but if it’s to explore healthy eating, I recommend homemade sweets made with coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup.

Hemp Hearts

No matter what diet you’re on, add hemp hearts to it to drive up its nutritional value. Hemp seeds are packed full of nutrients, are high in fat, and have a host of health benefits. They’re also filling, so by sprinkling them on top of any meal – they go great with everything – it’ll help you feel fuller longer. Buy hemp hearts here.

Butter

If you’re not eating butter on a daily basis, start, as it’s one of the best health hacks around. If you’ve got vegetable oils in your house, throw them all out! You can use olive oil but sparingly, on salads, never to cook. For cooking, stick to butter and lard. Replace all your condiments with full fat butter. If you want to understand the science behind this, check out the Twitter account of science journalist Nina Teicholz, and read her book: The Big Fat Surprise.

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is a keto food, but I never eat it, as it aggravates my gout. Again, remember this is about food exploration: you have to find what’s right for you, and what works for me is not necessarily going to work for you. Go forth, explore.

HOW TO CREATE A KETO MEAL PLAN

It’s all about convenience. The first question is what easy-to-prepare meals can I add to the diet that are filling and tasty. In some cases, repetition is the key, and it’s true that I rely on a few go-to dishes that make life easier for me. For example, I tend to eat scrambled eggs with cheese every morning for breakfast. The butcher next door to me has Free Range eggs the size of my fist and I love them. Though I do add variety at the weekends.

It can also be difficult to cut out all high carb food when starting out on the keto diet, so some of these recipes contain carbs to help ease you into the transition. Remember, our intention is to eat healthy, so there’s no need to be so strict until you’re ready or your intention changes.

In future posts, I’ll be providing recipes for dishes that can be made in bulk and stored. For now, my best tip is find a few cuts of meat that you like, be it beef, pork, duck, turkey or chicken and think about teaming those meats with vegetables and cheese, and your preferred cooking method. One of the easiest options is to roast meat and veg, or fry them in butter. I’m a big fan of fried pork and asparagus or roasted duck and veg, both of which are easy to prepare. I add hemp hearts, Parmesan and basil to these dishes for extra fat and flavour.

Here are a few easy recipes:

Morning Shake

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of frozen berries
  • 1 tbsp of hemp protein
Instructions:

Blend in a blender, and drink. This is a really versatile recipe that’s super filling. You can adjust it to your taste, add cinnamon, or replace the banana with avocado to up the fat content. You can also add peanut butter and/or cocoa. Here are some more keto shake ideas. As a rule, fruit like banana is out on keto because they’re high carb. But I eat some fruits, again because it’s convenient for me. You’ll find what works for you.

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 100 grams of chopped bacon (optional)
  • 200 grams of grated cheddar cheese
  • 100 grams of goat’s cheese
  • 100 grams of cream cheese
  • 50 grams of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. of turmeric
  • 1 tsp. of ginger
  • 1 tsp. of Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions:

Fry the bacon, and put aside. Boil the cauliflower. Once boiled, drained out all the water with a strainer, return to the pot. Stir in the cheeses on a low heat, adding the spices and bacon, too. Mix the whole lot together till the cheese is melted and serve with fresh basil. The great thing about a dish like this is that you can make a large amount in one go, eat one portion, and put the rest in containers in the fridge, then heat one up for when you need a quick meal.

Stuffed Turkey Pudding with Asparagus

Ingredients:
  • 3 slices of turkey breast
  • 100 grams of black pudding cut into 3 pieces
  • 3 tsp. of pesto sauce
  • 1 tbsp. of Parmesan
  • Dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • A bunch of asparagus
Instructions:

Grease an oven bake dish with butter. Season the slices of turkey with salt and pepper, spread a layer of pesto sauce on one side, and roll it up with the black pudding inside (make sure to take the outer wrap from the pudding.) Place the pieces of rolled turkey in the baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan and dried basil. Place the sticks of asparagus in the dish with a few knobs of butter and bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Again, it’s possible to make extra turkey rolls and keep for lunch the next day. Black and white pudding is not keto as it’s high in carbs, but again, we’re making slow changes here, and this is a tasty dish, so let’s give it a try.

Chia Pudding

Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • a few drop of vanilla
Instructions:

Mix all the ingredients in a mixing jug, and then pour into empty jam jars, seal and put in the fridge. Leave overnight. Eat for breakfast or as a snack. There are many different versions of this recipe.

YOUR STARTING POINT

Your starting point will be a trip to the supermarket because chances are you don’t have the necessary food ingredients in your cupboard right now. That’s okay. You are an explorer and you’re about to go hunting. Make a list. Go to the supermarket. Start hunting. While there, get some lunchboxes if you don’t have some, and think about which meals you can cook in advance or cook larger amounts of to then store for easy-to-reach options when you need them.

I’m going to start this plan on a Sunday, giving you Saturday to do some shopping, and get ready for the week ahead. In this plan, I’m not getting into portion size, macros, body fat, daily expenditure or any of things that can affect caloric intake, but will discuss those things in future posts. For now, you just want to figure out which meals are easiest for you to prepare in advance, and store in the fridge or freezer to make healthy eating options easy.

To help get you started, here is a simple plan for one week.

SUNDAY
  • Breakfast: Scrambled egg with cheese
  • Lunch: Lemon and ginger roasted chicken and veg. (chicken used for future meals)
  • Dinner: Meatballs with tomato sauce, Parmesan and veg (save some meatballs)
  • Dessert: Chopped dates, cream cheese and honey
  • Snacks: Dark chocolate, hazelnut and raisins
MONDAY
  • Breakfast: Scrambled egg with cheese
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with feta cheese (using chicken from day before)
  • Dinner: Meatballs – they’re even better the next day!
  • Dessert: Greek yoghurt with cinnamon
  • Snacks: Hazelnuts, almond nuts
TUESDAY
  • Breakfast: Morning shake
  • Lunch: Chicken, Parmesan and avocado salad (use the last of that chicken)
  • Dinner: Salmon with asparagus
  • Dessert: Applesauce with almond flakes and cream
  • Snacks: Hazelnuts, almond nuts
WEDNESDAY
  • Breakfast: Scrambled egg with cheese
  • Lunch: Salmon, goat’s cheese and walnut salad
  • Dinner: Homemade burgers with fried cabbage and onion
  • Dessert: Dark chocolate
  • Snacks: Pecans, walnuts, raisins
THURSDAY
  • Breakfast: Morning shake
  • Lunch: Homemade burger wrapped in iceberg lettuce (prepared the night before)
  • Dinner: Beef stir fry with green beans and asparagus.
  • Dessert: Dark chocolate with ginger
  • Snacks: Almonds and walnuts
FRIDAY
  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with cheese
  • Lunch: Stir-fry (leftover from night before)
  • Dinner: Lamb cutlets with Brussels sprouts, hemp seeds and Parmesan
  • Dessert: Cream cheese, pecans and maple syrup
  • Snacks: Walnuts and an apple
SATURDAY
  • Breakfast: Morning shake
  • Lunch: Cheese platter with dates, walnuts, and cucumber
  • Dinner: Pork chop with spinach and goat’s cheese
  • Dessert: Applesauce with cream
  • Snacks: Hazelnuts and dark chocolate

 

Final Tip

Typically, I eat two meals a day with one snack and some nuts to keep within my eight-hour window. Some days, I’ll eat three meals because I’m hungrier; some days I only eat one due to a busy schedule or some other reason. Whatever your meal plan, allow for flexibility but aim for high fat foods like nuts and cheeses for snacks to replace your usual carb option. Expect to feel differences in your energy levels to start; this is your body adjusting. Also, allow yourself one or two carb treats. If you’re too strict to begin with, you won’t stay the course. But trust me, with time you’ll find yourself opting for the healthy choice because it tastes better and is more satisfying. Guess what? That’s how to create a keto meal plan and the secret to sustained weight loss.

In future posts, I’ll discuss Why Keto and Cannabis Go Hand in Hand, as well as provide recipes for delicious Keto Cannabis Dishes.

I’d love to hear your feedback, so let me know what you think of this plan and these tips in the comments below. And remember, a working meal plan evolves, so give yourself time, let me know how you’re getting on, and feel free to reach out for support. Best of luck, my freaky friend, I’m with you.

 

Ease Into 2019 with Keto Cannabis Pancakes

Start your New Year on a sweet high with keto cannabis pancakes. Yes, you read that right: keto cannabis pancakes, and they slay; also, good fortitude after a heavy night of celebrations. I went to bed at 4am to the sound of bad disco music being pumped out of cheap speakers from a nearby plaza, woke up late, and made this for lunch. Now, there’s a chorus of birdsong outside my house, the perfect soundtrack to sunset on New Year’s Day.

Making batter-type foods like pancakes into workable keto recipes is challenging because flour substitutes like almond and coconut don’t create the same creamy texture when blended as plain flour. I’ve made a bunch of keto pancake recipes in the past that had the consistency of lumpy paint and fell apart in the pan. This recipe gets around that problem by creating a good batter base first using cream cheese and cream, and adding the almond flour last.

I amended the original recipe to include cannabutter, but it works really well with these flavours. As you bite in, first you taste the cream and cheese, vanilla next, followed by nutmeg and the nutty tang of cannabutter. Then the whole lot has a party in your mouth that lasts hours. FYI Do expect your kitchen to smell like a donut factory. These pancakes are American-style but a keto cannabis crepe recipe is coming soon.

Without further ado …

Keto Cannabis Pancakes

Ingredients:
  • 50g cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp of cannabutter
  • 50ml whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 75g almond flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp of maple syrup
Instructions:

Put the cream cheese and cannabutter in a double boiler, and melt. Mix it very well, until creamy, and remove from heat. Add cream, and blend. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup, and blend. Add the dry ingredients, almond flour, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Better to add half the flour first and check the consistency of your batter, then add more as needed. If the batter is too watery, add more flour. If it’s too thick, add more cream.

Heat a non-stick pan, grease it with butter, and pour batter in batter, just enough for one pancake. As it cooks on the bottom, cover it with a lid. Let it cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, and flip it with a spatula. Cook for about a minute on the other side, and repeat. This recipe makes 6 pancakes. Serve hot, with melted butter and the remaining maple syrup. It would be possible to add cannabutter to the finished pancakes if you want to get blitzed, but this recipe is a more than enough to ease you gently into 2019.

Macros:

Per 1 Pancake

  • Kcals 200
  • Fat 16.6g
  • Carbs 7.8g
  • Protein 6g

Wishing you a Happy and High 2019, my freaky friends.

#healthyhighs #ketopancakes #ketocannabis

Canna Cheesecake & the Benefits of Eating Cannabis

Keto and cannabis go together like cheese and wine, sweet and sour or Cheech and Chong because canna-oils and butter work so well with keto cuisine. Plus, keto staples like almonds, pecans and hazelnuts complement the tang of cannabis while cannabutter adds a richness to any recipe like this little number I concocted: Keto Cannabis Pecan Cheesecake.

I’ve been microdosing with edibles for the last six months, but more consistently over the last three, and have noticed specific benefits that have gradually increased in recent weeks. I keep thinking it can’t be the edibles till I find myself feeling drained or unable to sleep, eat some canna-food, and feel good again, energised, in balance. The biggest benefit is the relief from my IBS symptoms.

To get the full nutritional profile of cannabis the best way to eat it is raw, but cannabutter and oil are also effective. When cannabis is ingested it’s metabolised by the liver before entering the bloodstream, which changes its chemical structure, producing THC metabolites called 11–OH–THC. This is a more potent form of THC and the reason why it’s important to be careful with edibles, to start off slow with low doses.

There are no clear guidelines on dosing, as scientific studies have identified 2.5 mg as sufficient for some people while others have to consume 50 mg to feel an effect. It all depends on the physiology and tolerance of the person consuming the cannabis. Obviously, if you’re a daily weed smoker, you’re going to be able to eat a stronger edible than someone who hasn’t had a joint in years. In Colorado, where the edibles market is more advanced, the recommended dose per edible is 10 mg.

The problem with most edibles is that they’re high in sugar, gluten or corn syrup making it impossible for people with digestive issues to eat them. You couldn’t pay me to eat a gummy bear! The reason I eat keto is because it’s the only diet that doesn’t aggravate my IBS – adding cannabis was a natural progression for me. The benefits I list here are subjective but the effects are distinct and consistent enough for me to notice. Here are some of the benefits of eating cannabis according to me:

Feel Full Longer

When I mix cannabis into a meal, like adding some cannabutter to portion of Brussels sprouts at dinner, I enjoy the meal more and feel satiated for the evening. I’m a real grazer so not picking at food after dinner is a big shift for me. It’s recommended to eat cannabis on a full stomach to increase the bioavailability of the nutrients, so eating it with a meal makes sense, and may explain why it’s so satiating.

Helps lose weight

My weight loss had plateaued on keto. You know that 5lbs that refuses to shift, and the more stubborn it is the more compelled you are to eat a second helping of dessert thus continuing the frustrating cycle. Upping my cannabis intake helped me over this hump. Again, it comes down to feeling fuller longer, meaning I have no urge to graze – which is also an effect of being in ketosis. But I’ve been slipping on my keto diet over the last two months and eating sugar. Yet I recently saw more weight loss, and the only difference is to my diet is that I’m getting more creative with how I eat cannabis.

Easier to Control Consumption

The most surprising outcome of eating cannabis is how easy it is to control my consumption. I make really good cookies with organic ingredients, and typically have a handful in my freezer as well as a jar of cannabutter in my fridge. Am I fiendishly wolfing them down every night? The opposite. I’m aware of their potency and rather than over-indulging I keep them for when I need them. In the early days, four or five months ago, I was more likely to eat a canna-cookie as a snack but quickly learned not to be so casual. Now, I eat one as a treat or to treat a specific symptom such as inflammation or insomnia.

Improves Sleep

As a woman in my forties, my hormones are all over the place and one of the biggest downsides of that is insomnia. Earlier in the month I stopped smoking cannabis for three days and by day three I was awake for 22 hours! It was insane. I finally threw in the towel and smoked a joint. Some nights, not even a joint is strong enough to battle the force that is perimenopause-induced insomnia but an edible is! I eat a cookie and sleep like a baby.

Treats IBS Symptoms

Constant bloating or feeling uncomfortably full are just some of the symptoms of IBS, along with fatigue, gas, sugar dips and cramps. Upping my cannabis intake has resulted in reduced bloating and rather than feeling uncomfortable or swollen after eating, I feel nourished, and my food digests easily. All fatigue issues are gone, and I have more energy than ever. I’m sleeping better, and waking up refreshed.

Boosts Energy & Mental Clarity

This probably has a lot to do with being able to sleep better since I started eating cannabis but I also have an added level of focus and motivation. It’s not just that I’m clearer on what’s important I have the mental diligence to follow through. Perhaps that’s down to the fact that I’m fascinated by cannabis and committed to learning as much as possible but I suspect it’s the plant motivating me rather than the other way round.

On to the fun part!

Keto Cannabis Pecan Cheesecake

Ingredients:

Base

  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • ½ cup of grated almonds
  • ½ cup of crushed pecans
  • 2 tbsp of Panela
  • 1/3 cup of cannabutter

Topping

  • 600 grs of cream cheese (Philadelphia)
  • 100 grs of cream
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 3 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp of panela
  • 1 tbsp of cannabutter
Instructions:

Base

IMG_5444

Toast the almond flour, grated almonds and crushed pecans in a skillet; this is really important to bring out the flavour of the nuts – don’t skip this bit. When the nuts are browned, transfer to a bowl, add the sugar and the butter and mix it till you get a crumbly biscuit texture. Pour the mix into a 9” baking tin and spread it into a flat base. You can bake it for ten minutes, or leave in the fridge for 2 hours to set.

Topping

IMG_5446

Mix the cream cheese and cream in a bowl till you get a creamy texture, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend into the mix. Pour the mix on top of the base, and return it to the fridge. For best results, leave it overnight to set. Decorate with pecans or blanched almonds.

Macros per slice (large slice)

  • Kcals: 785
  • Fat: 76g
  • Carbs: 48g
  • Protein 21g
Effect:

The pecans and maple syrup infuse this creamy cheesecake with wonderful woody notes that mask the taste of cannabis. Because the taste is so smooth, this is really easy to eat, so be careful with serving size. I had two big slices because I’m a glutton and couldn’t resist and was awake till three in the morning. Fear not, my freaky friends, I had a lovely time.

#healthyhighs #letsbake #ketocannabis

 

 

 

Tobacco is a Clumsy Cannabis Delivery System

I no longer know if I smoke to support my nicotine or cannabis habit but I do know I wouldn’t consume so much hash if I didn’t also smoke tobacco. The two habits are so closely inter-related that my biggest resistance to quitting nicotine is the question of how then to consume cannabis? It’s a question that plagues many smokers, as well as the reason we try and fail to give up the smokes.

The link between cannabis and tobacco is so prevalent 33 per cent of teenagers who smoke use cannabis daily, as opposed to only 1 per cent who don’t smoke cigarettes. Another study shows that smokers are five times more likely to be daily cannabis users. Find something you love and let it kill you is a cool meme unless you’re talking about tobacco, which kills more than 7 million people a year.

The more I learn about cannabis, the more I want a connection to it that isn’t tainted by tobacco. I started smoking for the most pedestrian of reasons: peer pressure. I still remember how horrible that first cigarette tasted and how my friends laughed at me when I scrunched my face in disgust and coughed. Like any easily influenced teenager, I tried again till I got the hang of it. Then I discovered hash, and fell in love.

I’m not sure which came first, the addiction to nicotine or cannabis as both sort of evolved around the age of 17. Sure, I was a smoker of cigarettes first, but smoked very little until I found cannabis. My boyfriend back then was a regular user, and with him, I learned the simple pleasure of a weekend in front of the TV with a nodge of hash and too much junk food. With him, I also learned how to roll the perfect joint, a skill I grew to cherish.

When the relationship ended, I kept cannabis. Over the next two decades, as well as cigarettes or tobacco and lighters, my purse also contained a hash-box, rolling papers AKA skins, and roach material. I collected purses for storing my stash neatly inside my handbag, making sure it was easy to locate at all times. I collected hash-boxes, too, for the dual purpose of hiding and beautifying my secret habit.

I learned that my favourite time for a joint is while I write. It can take me an hour or two to smoke a joint, as I tend to leave it in the ashtray until I pause to think and have a puff. I’m so used to smoking like this I rarely smoke a joint in one go no matter what I’m doing. Even when I smoke roll-ups (I haven’t smoked cigarettes in years), I take a few drags and put it out. I smoke a lot less when I’m smoking joints and never smoke tobacco on its own when I’m stoned, as the taste still disgusts me all these years later. Yet, I’m still smoking.

Did you know that tobacco companies call cigarettes nicotine delivery systems? All plants develop poisons to protect themselves, and nicotine is basically a plant pesticide that sets off a chemical reaction in the brain, spiking levels of dopamine, and as a result, feelings of contentment. Nicotine has been to shown to have health benefits like increased reaction times and heightened memory skills but mixed with about 600 other chemicals in tobacco, it’s not so wholesome. 7 million deaths every year!

When I stopped drinking alcohol in 2014, I used cannabis as a crutch to help cope with the lifestyle changes that came with sobriety. In 2016, I briefly joined AA, and they condemned my cannabis use, calling it a “gateway drug,” and labelling me an addict. I arrived at AA a healthy cannabis user, and left weeks later, after obliging them with 18 days of cannabis abstinence, once more a tobacco smoker.

In AA, nicotine and caffeine are acceptable drugs but cannabis is frowned upon. This seems an anomaly to me as the one thing those anxious AA people need is a joint! That said smoking tobacco with weed has been shown to raise your heart rate, putting users at increased risk for heart attack. The bottom line is tobacco is a clumsy cannabis delivery system, and vaping seems like the way forward to me; it’s one of the consumption methods I plan to use when I quit smoking in January.

That’s right, I’m quitting tobacco again except this time I’m looking forward to the new consumption options about to open up to me, all of them healthier ways to consume cannabis. It’s said that nicotine is harder to quit than heroin so I’ll be using all the weapons at my disposal to beat it including vaping with CBD and cannabis, and edibles. I’m also going to work with a cannabis health coach to keep my nutrition and fitness on track, as well as share the challenges and successes with you. Wish me luck, my freaky friends, I’m gonna need it.

#quitnicotinewithcannabis #cannabisismedicine #healthyhighs

What Are the Links between Cannabis And Schizophrenia?

It’s crazy how quick people are to class their opinion as fact, particularly in relation to cannabis and its alleged crazy-making properties. Facebook is the worst culprit in this regard, but often politicians, journalists and even doctors are just as bad. Like most anything to do with the plant, the awful truth about cannabis and schizophrenia is mired in conflicting evidence.

The general consensus amongst scientists is that people with schizophrenia are more likely to consume cannabis than people without the condition, which leads to the correlation v. causality debate. It’s a debate that’s tied to the demonisation of cannabis by officials and propagandists, beginning in the early twentieth century.

What Started the Debate?

Until the 1920s, there were up to 30 products available from western pharmacies without a prescription that contained cannabis, and American doctors wrote three million cannabis-related prescriptions a year to treat a variety of conditions. Back then, the general public were familiar with the terms cannabis and hemp, knew and understood their uses. To demonise cannabis, prohibitionists introduced the word marihuana to confuse people, and it worked.

When the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, millions of Mexicans flooded across the border bringing with them an herb they called mariguano, and in America, they and the plant were quickly shamed. “All Mexicans are crazy and this stuff is what makes them crazy,” one Texas legislator said, a sentiment that haunts cannabis to this day.

Beginning with Massachusetts in 1911 and through the 1920s, 27 U.S. states outlawed cannabis. A number of countries, mostly colonies such as South Africa, Canada, Sudan, and Australia also banned cannabis in the 1920s.In America, it was the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act that damned cannabis.

There are a few theories on events led to the Act but no question the campaign was led by Harry J. Anslinger, then chief of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FDN; predecessor of today’s DEA.) With the financial backing of interested parties that may have included the petrochemical and alcohol industry as well as William Randolph Hearst, they launched a tirade of propaganda that terrified nations.

The Threat of Insanity

Headlines like: “Marihuana: Assassin of Youth,” and the film, Reefer Madness (1936), cemented the idea in the minds of people that weed made you crazy. However, it was Anslinger’s testimony at the congressional hearing for the Act that did most damage. “Marihuana is an addictive drug which produces insanity, criminality and death,” he said, though he had no medical or scientific evidence to back up his claim. He did call on a number of “experts,” one of which was a pharmacologist named Dr. James Munch who had injected cannabis oil into the brains of 300 dogs; two died.

When asked if he chose dogs because their brains were similar to those of humans, he replied that he didn’t know, as he wasn’t a “dog psychologist.” When the bill passed, Anslinger made Munch the official marijuana expert of the FDN, a position he held till 1962. The congressional trial lasted less than two minutes and when the bill was passed, then American president, FDR, signed it into law.

After the bill was enacted, a number of 1940s court cases bolstered claims that marijuana use led to insanity when the defendants in five murder trials pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity due to marijuana use, and won. In one case, Munch testified for the defence saying that after two puffs on a joint he turned into a bat. “Killer Drug Turns Doctor to Bat!” the headlines said the next day.

By 1941, doctors had quit prescribing cannabis, and it had disappeared from medicine cabinets in the home. In 1942, cannabis was removed from the American Pharmacopeia. Yet, after 45 years and 1,800 studies, America’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has failed to prove that cannabis has any damaging effects on human health, but continues to release regular reports linking cannabis to everything from memory loss to psychosis.

In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act banned cannabis at a federal level in America, classing it as a Schedule 1 drug with no medicinal value. Yet, in 1998, the American government patented the findings of a study that showed cannabinoids act as neuro-protectants with the ability to limit the damage of stroke and trauma as well as protect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and HIV dementia.

From Insanity to Uncertainty

The first study to support the idea that using cannabis leads to increased risk for schizophrenia took place in 1969 in Sweden on 50,000 18-year-old army recruits. A 15-year follow-up recorded a six-fold increased risk for schizophrenia, which led a 27-year follow up that reported a threefold increase if the recruit had used cannabis more than 50 times in his life. Various other studies such as the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study found similar increased risks.

Further research came up with alternative explanations. One set of later studies identified similar brain pathways in cannabis users and schizophrenics while another found that schizophrenia patients may have endocannabinoid deficiencies independent of cannabis use. More recent studies conclude the genes that predispose a person to schizophrenia also lead to cannabis use, however that’s not the same saying cannabis use leads to schizophrenia.

Here’s the most damning evidence: cannabis use has increased ten-fold amongst teenaged populations since the 1960s but incidences of schizophrenia have remained consistent at 1 per cent over that time. If cannabis use led to schizophrenia in the way some research suggests, thousands of users could lose their minds any day now. Is that what they want us to think? Dr. Lester Grinspoon, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, and author of Cannabis Reconsidered (1971) is featured on the documentary, The Culture High, where he calls the whole debate, “ridiculous.”

Plus, I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to trust any studies when the data is epidemiological and known to be problematic. Studying the varying lifestyles of thousands of people and attempting to draw conclusive results is akin to herding cats, except worse because humans make flawed and unreliable subjects; translation: we lie a lot. Also bear in mind that the subjects of these studies are some of the most vulnerable people in society, the abused, marginalised and mentally ill.

Ultimately, there are so many studies out there on cannabis and mental disorders, it’s possible to select the relevant ones to prove or disprove any argument, leaving the whole question conveniently vague for anyone who might want to use the research to demonise the plant. Put simply, the links between cannabis and schizophrenia are tenuous at best, and a manipulation of facts at worst. While uncertainty prevails, the best course is to question everything, and be vigilant of opinions parading as fact. ‘Cause if the cannabis doesn’t make you crazy, my freaky friends, the conflicting evidence will.

Reference:

“Big Bad Scary Weed,” Ch.1. “Brave New Weed, Adventures Into The Uncharted World of Cannabis,” Joe Dolce, HarperCollins, Oct. 2016.

#followtheplant #cannabisheals #sacredplant

How I Learned to Treat my Depression with Cannabis

My natural state is depressed and anxious even though I’m an optimistic go-getter at heart. These contradictory sides of my personality tug at my peace of mind on a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute basis. Three things keep me sane: writing, cannabis, and exercise, and in that order. If I had to, I could live without cannabis and exercise though I’d be miserable. If I couldn’t write, I’d be dead.

I was diagnosed clinically depressed at the age of twenty-five but have never taken prescription drugs to treat my condition. I took Seroxat – prescribed by a psychiatrist – for five days and binned them against medical advice because they gave me horrendous headaches if I drank alcohol. When I took them, I felt the same way I did on MDMA. From the first pill, it was clear to me it was a drug, and if I were going to take drugs, I’d take the one I trusted: cannabis.

However, opting to self-medicate meant that I had no support system for my condition, making it more challenging to deal with. Over the next few years I made some really bad decisions that effectively murdered my wellbeing, and propelled me to immigrate to a new country. I was on the run with no idea it wasn’t possible to escape ME. It would be another ten years before I’d discover the trauma that underpinned my depression, and another five to learn how to treat it.

Before I learned about how the body holds trauma, I assumed that depression was a head problem, and that if I tried hard enough I could think my way out of it. With the benefit of hindsight, I can now admit that it’s likely cannabis caused me to spend more time in my head than is necessary or healthy. It’s possible that in this regard cannabis slowed my life progress but when you’re dealing with depression in an unsupported manner, there is no “normal” progress.

Essentially, I survived, and cannabis made that possible by easing the pain in my hijacked nervous system, calming me, and enabling me to write. It was when I made the commitment to take my writing seriously that I began to see small changes in my overall health. From the get-go, cannabis was a part of my writing routine, opening the door to my unconscious and allowing me to explore those terrifying parts of life that makes us human. The more I smoked, the more I wrote, and asked difficult questions, and searched for answers. Cannabis made life fascinating, and gave me the curiosity of a child.

I use cannabis to help me get to a place of questioning, and to ask the difficult questions with compassion instead of criticism. It helps me look at my hay-wired mind from a different angle, and makes me open to new ideas, things I might not readily understand, as well as the experiences and expertise of others. Cannabis softens the blow of remembered pain, letting me hold it without pushing it away, helping me to embrace and learn from it, to trace its path back to abstract sources, and follow its patterns through the course of my life. On this podcast, ex-addict Russell Brand talks about addiction as a holding pen that protects a person from life until they’re ready to confront its pain.

To attribute my healing to cannabis alone would be a lie. My approach is holistic, including meditation, nutrition, and exercise as well as a willingness to learn. I’m still working on the forgiveness part. Today, I work out five days a week, and follow a meal plan that nourishes me. I use cannabis to both motivate me to go to the gym, and for muscle recovery. Because sleep is an essential part of muscle building, cannabis also ensures I get the necessary rest. It’s got to the point that I can’t work without cannabis, and in fact, it’s difficult to do anything without cannabis because being stoned has become my natural state.

And I’m not convinced this is a good thing. I have more THC in my system than a Colorado marijuana lab. I’m more conscious than ever that without cannabis, I can’t sit still. Without it, I’m a pinball on Ritalin. In recent months, I’ve been trying to quit tobacco again, and notice it’s more difficult this time round, as my two addictions have become more entrenched in me and with each other. Cannabis has become an extension of my personality. Yet, I’m part of a stoner tribe that’s currently going out of fashion.

Today, everyone is talking about the medical benefits of cannabis, and I couldn’t agree more because it has saved my life. But there’s no question having to maintain a secret addiction did not help my mental health, and I wonder how different the outcome would have been if I’d be able to take this drug supported by the medical community? I’m a recreational user only because that’s how society labels me. Still, if I had to do it all again, I would always choose being a stoner over depressed and suicidal. Who in their right mind wouldn’t?

#stonerfam #medicalcannabis #cannabisheals

Why You Need to Choose CBD Wisely

Cannabidiol AKA CBD may be one of the biggest health breakthroughs in recent history, but unfortunately its industry is mired in chaos allowing some companies to operate with the values of a street corner drug dealer. In fact, ex-drug dealers run many of the companies producing CBD. How could that be? The answer is simple and obvious.

Being involved in the cannabis game for years, weed slingers of old were the first to learn about the health benefits of cannabis, and in a prime position to take advantage of shifts in the marketplace. When it became clear that CBD offered a chance to go legit, lots of them packed up their scales and poured their earnings into new barely-legal cannabis and hemp-based ventures.

Some of them bring their street values to these new ventures. On the street, the dealer has one goal: Make a fast buck. He knows how to do one thing: sell. He sets the terms because he’s the one brave enough to take the risk of operating in a black market. He employs a heady menagerie of chemical references and psychedelic poetics to close a sale because on the street, he can say whatever he likes.

His customers are uninformed, dependent or sick. But that’s not his fault, or his concern. His job is supply them with illicit substances they can’t get anywhere else. He prides himself on infiltrating underground markets, overcoming distribution challenges, and creating a protected front from which he can operate. A mutated version of this dynamic currently shapes much of the CBD industry.

The Dealers Are Not the Problem

Cannabis research is still in its infancy, and while the results of completed studies are compelling, the only thing scientists agree on is that a lot more research is needed before they can begin to give accurate guidance on dosage and efficacy. They’re not saying it doesn’t work, in fact they agree it does, but they’re still learning how exactly it works. The data that exists to date is based on lab animals and tiny groups of people.

There are two factors that complicate the job of scientists. First, the draconian laws banning cannabis prohibit proper research into its properties and benefits. Second the effect of cannabis varies widely, as it’s determined by the physiology of the person taking it. That’s why one person can hit a bong, go to a concert and have a great time, while another might want to crawl into a corner and hide.

Lack of regulation has allowed this industry to emerge as if from nowhere and consumer demand is keeping it alive despite its grey existence. It’s really the reluctance of authorities to recognise their wrong thinking on cannabis, and move more swiftly to meet the tidal wave of consumer demand that’s created the vacuum in which these companies operate.

So far, regulatory efforts are as diverse as they are chaotic. This summer, California banned hemp-derived CBD oil in a move that locked dozens of companies out of the industry even though the DEA has now re-classified Epidiolex, the CBD product made by GW Pharmaceuticals as a Schedule V drug. In Spain, companies had been selling CBD oil as a food supplement but a policy change means that’s no longer possible. Epidiolex was recently entered into the Spanish pharmacopeia.

In October, the UK’s Medical and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued letters to the industry informing them that to sell CBD they must have either “marketing authorisation” or a “traditional herbal license” from the MHRA. Many of the larger CBD companies are ignoring the letter until they receive notice of a change in law. Each country has its own policies in relation to CBD, further complicating the situation.

Regulation is Part of The Solution

In coming years tighter regulation will force CBD companies to comply with evolving standards but until that happens the industry is a street corner full of mad claims and in some cases, devoid of scruples. Many CBD companies have one goal: Make a fast buck. They will say anything to close a sale. Their websites are a heady menagerie of chemical references and psychedelic poetics designed to lure uninformed and/or sick people.

They use words like organic, omegas, bio, gluten-free, and vegan because they appeal to a health-conscious target audience. They bandy about terms like CO2 extraction, whole flower and full spectrum, which are meaningless to most consumers. Some say their products can treat everything from mood swings, MS and menstrual cramps to fibromyalgia, diabetes and insomnia, but they’re crossing a line by stepping into the role of medical professional when neither they nor their products are qualified or tested for that purpose.

This is one of the reasons governments are jumping in with ill thought-out policy changes, as they rush to curb the industry’s ambition, earnings and market penetration. The cannabis pioneers who have been campaigning for the right to produce medical marijuana for decades are a casualty of the chaos, as they get penalised in the same manner as unscrupulous CBD dealers. This is currently happening in Canada.

It’s not that the industry doesn’t care about compliance. For now, it’s self-regulated, meaning lab-test centres have emerged to meet industry demand as opposed to state laws. Current testing methods only measure for quantities of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, and for the absence of pesticides, or other contaminants. However, this information only confirms the material won’t harm consumers.

Unfortunately, until anything can change two shifts must occur. First, the UN has to release cannabis from the grip of its narcotics conventions to allow for regulation and more extensive research worldwide. Secondly, governments have to get on board with the massive education programme needed to educate the medical community and general population on cannabis. Until then, my freaky friends, choose CBD wisely.

 

In future posts, I’ll describe how CBD treated my anxiety, discuss the markers of good quality CBD, explain the importance of Entourage/Ensemble Effect and interview industry experts to answer more questions on testing and standards.

#chooseCBDwisely #regulate #legalizecannabis

 

The Art of Cooking with Cannabis Is Not Hard to Master

The first time I decarbed five grams of bud I burned it black. I’m happy to report it was still okay to smoke but impossible to cook anything with it. I quickly learned that my oven was too hot for the purpose and adjusted it accordingly. The first time I made cannabutter the same thing happened: black butter, though it was edible and had a potent kick.

The thing is it’s not enough to turn the temperature down low to ensure the right results when cooking with cannabis; you have to get it right. If the temperature is too low, you won’t activate the THCA, and your edibles will have no oomph. I can’t tell you what temperature to use because every oven is different. This is a matter of trial and error.

The best guide I can give is: consistent warmth that’s not too hot, somewhere in between 80 and 100 degrees celsius. If your bud is dry, or old, make sure to keep it at a lower temperature as it will easily burn. (I have a jar of black herb that proves this.) Set the timer for 15 minutes. Some books recommend longer decarb times but I find this is enough. You’ll know you’re on the right track if your kitchen fills up with a sweet grassy scent.

Cannabutter is super easy once you know how so don’t be deterred if your first few attempts don’t work. Besides getting the temperature right, your most important piece of equipment is going to be cheesecloth. It’s possible to buy it in strainer form, which makes things incredibly easy when it comes to separating your bud from your butter, leaving you with a creamy grain free spread.

What you’ll need:

  • Large Pot
  • Wooden Ladle
  • 5 grams of Weed
  • 100 – 125 grams of Unsalted Butter
  • Cheesecloth Strainer
  • Large Glass Jar

What to do:

Melt the butter slowly in a glass bowl submerged in a large pot of water. When it’s melted, add the decarbed weed. Keep the pot on a low heat, stirring continuously for an hour and a half. Do not let it overheat. Keep stirring. Yes, I know it’s boring, but it’s worth it.

Why not listen to a podcast while you wait? I can recommend Stoner, RISK!, Ear Hustle, and Under the Skin with Russell Brand, though not all of his podcasts ‘cause he loves the sound of himself too much, and at times needs to shut up so his guests can talk.

When the time is up, strain the butter into the jar. While hot it will be dark but when it cools, it will have a green colour a chocolate scent. Cannabutter can be eaten straight away but better to let it cool down so you don’t burn your wee tongue. If you can’t wait and want to eat it hot, dip some sourdough bread in it! Yum!

Pro Tip: Don’t eat this before you have anything too active to do, unless you want this to happen.