My Thoughts

Just a few healing words....


Cannabis Understood

Cannabis, aka Marijuana, MaryJane, weed, pot, whatever you call it, is a plant. A beautifully strong, adaptable, flowering plant which has long been utilized, respected and revered.  Some researchers and historians hypothesize that it is the plant referred to in the Bible as the “tree of life”, the nectar of immortality.

I remember the first time I read about legalizing marijuana for medical reasons in California, (to set the record straight, this disparaging term was coined by the U.S. government as a slang term to criminalize people of latin descent and color. The correct term is Cannabis.),  I was stumped. As a closet (and sometimes not so closet) user of this herb, I understood that it helped me feel better from the constant nausea and intestinal cramping due to my chronic digestive issues, but I didn’t understand how smoking a joint could help heal or cure me of my Crohn’s disease, relieve my arthritis, or possibly kill a future cancer, among other medical claims. It seemed to me a way for people to justify their free right to smoke weed. Sure, that’s fine, but let’s not exaggerate what this baggie full of dry herb can do. Boy, did I have some learning to do.

Cannabis flower is one of the most misunderstood plants on the planet. If you were born after 1920 (and I am assuming if you are reading this, that you were), you most likely came of age in a time when cannabis was either vilified as a perverse intoxicant, or it was warned against as an illegal drug. Mainstream government lead propaganda characterized its use by anti-war hippies, jazz musicians, and people of color. Its truly remarkable qualities for healing, which have been known and respected for thousands of years, was removed from our collective knowledge thanks to a handful of folks hell-bent on ensuring that a natural plant did not compete with their profitable companies producing pharmaceuticals, plastics, fossil fuels, paper, timber or even food. 

Yes, the cannabis plant, both the medicinal and the industrial versions of the plant, can replace all of the above mentioned goods without poisoning or depleting our earth’s resources, while simultaneously cleaning up the soil. Think about that.  The injustice that has enveloped our world due to greed, propaganda, and paranoia over this sacred and profound plant is tragic.

As for cannabis as medicine, which is currently one of the most important “new” discoveries of our time, it all comes down to science. Cannabis contains biologically active compounds called phtyocannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. These chemicals react with our body chemistry to give certain effects, which can vary by individual. The very general term cannabinoid refers to a group of chemical compounds known as THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, THC-A, THCV, CBD-A, and CBDV, among many others still being discovered. These cannabinoids, along with the varying terpenes and flavonoids present, create therapeutic effects on the body.

The human body has an Endocannabinoid system which regulates the flow of signals between cells to govern homeostasis, or balance, in the body. Endocannabinoids are made and released by the cells in the body as needed, as a response to a signal, or trigger. This signal can present as inflammation due to an injury or illness, or other biological imbalances in the body. The newly discovered Endocannabinoid system is the most prolific receptor system in the human body, as it regulates many of the physiological pathways inherent in our body including the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and endocrine systems. Immune functionality, inflammatory responses and metabolism, among many other functions, are affected by the endocannabinoid system. 

Much of the medical cannabis research today is consistently showing that when our endocannabinoid system is not properly functioning, we may experience enough of an imbalance as to create a serious medical condition. Cannabis is a natural remedy to balance and regulate this important biological system. A dysfunctional endocannabinoid system can present itself in a myriad of ways, including autoimmune diseases and disorders (Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, etc) cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s), Epilepsy, Fibromyalgia, Migraine headaches, IBS, anxiety, depression, arthritis, insomnia, nausea, menstrual dysfunctions, cancer and more.1

The two most studied and understood of the phtyocannabinoids are THC and CBD. These cannabinoids both have incredible medicinal value, especially when taken as a whole plant extract or oil. People living in states that have legalized cannabis have greater access to the full spectrum of the plant, which gives a more balanced and well-rounded healing effect. Ideally, due to the complexities of the human and plant endocannabinoid system, the plant in its full expression offers the most therapeutic benefit due to the synergistic effects the separate cannabinoids have with one another. The use of the full plant and all of its biologically active compounds is referred to as the entourage effect, and often is the best choice for healing and balancing the body.

However, due to the varying and often absurd laws in each state, and the federal labeling of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, too many people cannot get access to the whole plant. Luckily, online access is available for CBD dominant oils (when the THC level is below .3%, which is the federal standard), tinctures and salves (the most common form of intake when being used as a medical supplement), which definitely have their place in the herbal apothecary for its superb pharmacological effects. CBD is known to be anti-cancer, anti-proliferative, anti-emetic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-psoratic, anti-diarrheal, analgesic, anti-spasmadic, vasorelaxant, neuroprotective, anti-epileptic, antipsychotic, , a bone stimulant, and an excellent sleep aid. There have been over six thousand papers on phytocannabinoids and endocannabinoids in PubMed peer-reviewed articles. The research is exploding, and its just the beginning.2

Understanding why cannabis aids in the healing process of humans, and animals, is the first step to finding true self-healing using the plant world. Finding high quality products is another important step, especially in an industry full of greed and competition. In my holistic wellness practice, I ensure to the best of my knowledge that any recommendations I make are based on personal discovery and use. It is imperative that any plant-based medicine be made using high quality, organic materials (although the FDA does not allow the word organic to be listed on cannabis products) that undergo detailed lab testing to ensure there are no harmful solvents, pesticides or heavy metals present in the final medicine.

The Lighthearted Farmer is a company whom I personally know and use their products. I highly recommend them -  receive a 10% discount on CBD products by entering CannaVeda10 at checkout. They have a passion for healing and create high quality, pure CBD salves, oils, tinctures and pet products. I always recommend starting in a mid-range for potency (20 mg per mL, for instance). I follow the “low and slow” guidelines of dosing: ¼ of a dropper, (or 5 mg) at most every 4 hours or twice a day, depending on purpose of use. Pay attention to how you feel, and recognize that the more out of balance your endocannabinoid system, the more strongly you may feel the effects. Although CBD is not considered psycho-active (giving the “high”), many people do report a feeling of euphoria or sleepiness when they begin dosing with CBD. Ideally, you would find a level of the tincture that works for you, stay with it for about 5 days, and then increase the dose by ¼ dropper. You can even go slower, or stay lower, for longer. Use the CBD as you would use a sleep aid, a pain reliever, an anti-inflammatory (NSAD), an anti-seizure or anti-nausea pill. When you find yourself reaching for your over-the-counter (or prescription medicine, with the collaboration of your doctor), consider experimenting with this non-toxic, non-addictive, plant medicine.

Interested in learning more? Contact me and let's see how I can help you or your community through counseling, classes, retreats and workshops. 

1 Birnnaum, J., and Leinow, L. “Cannabidiol among the first of the Phtycannabionids discovered…” Healing without the High, 21-26.

2 Goldstein, Dr.,  Bonni, “Medical conditions that have been to shown to result from ECS dysfunction…” Cannabis Revealed, 38 - 40

Be the Change

 What does that phrase mean to you? What in your current life seems to need the most change right now? What would you change about humanity, about the environment, about food choices, about current communication methods, about healthcare… the list goes on and on.

If you had magic powers and could change one aspect of society, what would it be? What do you find that voice in your head complaining about the most, or what do you find yourself wanting to change when having meaningful discussions with your friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, or anyone that will listen? What have you done on a personal level to make the microscopic change necessary to begin the process of change within yourself?

Are you afraid of speaking or acting your truth? Does this fear create real consequences that make it impossible to truly live your truth? Do you fear what others will say about you? Do you fear that changing habits will be too hard? Do you fear you will fail? What would happen if you released the fear, and moved from this day forward with faith and gratitude for the ability to make the necessary changes to take back your life?

How often do you sit quietly and listen? Did you set a New Year’s resolution again this year? Have you created the steps necessary to make the changes that you need to find balance, contentment and peace in your life? Start with small steps, start by changing the word resolution to INTENTION.

What are you waiting for? How much power do you give others to affect change, or to stay static, in your own life? Can you be the change you wish to see? What does that look like, what does it feel like?
How badly do you want to change your life, your attitude, your health, or your situation from its current state? I have found that if we want real positive change, and we truly believe it is in our best interest, and if we can visualize our life the way we truly want it to be, then we have the innate inner knowledge to create our reality according to our terms. If we do this with an open heart towards all of humanity, and with respect to our earth, and a humbleness towards the creative process, then positive changes flow with abundance and grace.

Yes, there will likely be a few painful bumps along the way. You will likely question your decisions, you will possibly care too much about what others will say in regards to your choices. Nobody ever said living passionately and in alignment with our heart is easy; however, the many sages and saints throughout the ages have endlessly professed the beauty and integrity that comes with living and speaking our truth.
So I say it again… Be the change.
Peace in 2018,
Jo Matson cannabis

Turning the Titanic with Flippers

 Cancer has hit our family, and it has hit hard and fast.  One month ago my sweet soul of a brother-in-law was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, spread to his liver.  As we were still reeling from the news, my father was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma which has spread to his lungs, stomach, lymph and adrenals.  Needless to say, life happened while we were making summer plans.  If ever there was a test for practicing mindfulness, patience, and perseverance, that time is now.

Having now spent close to two weeks with my parents and brother in the deep South (in June), my new reality has started to settle in, or at least sink in to how life changes when cancer comes to dinner.  As both a participant and an observer to the family drama that unravels when a loved one is handed a shortened life sentence, I witnessed how words, expectations and fears can turn a healing opportunity into discouraging agony.  State of mind, choice of words, and strength of spirit have a huge impact in the ability to think clearly and tap into the inherent healing capability of the body and mind.

As my father dutifully drinks down the various concoctions that I prepare, and laments over the unhealthy foods he shall eat no more, I can’t help but smile inside as his taste buds reawaken from their lengthy processed food coma, his blood pressure begins to lower, and his energy level “inexplicably” increases. Yes dad, there is kale with those beets and you will eat them, and eventually you will learn to love them.  No dad, scotch is not on the approved list of drinks, but I promise you that the aloe, lime and coconut water cocktail I will prepare for you will fill the void nicely. It’s pronounced ‘keen wha”, not “quinoa”…. and yes, you have to eat it with you spinach and sprouts.  Now open your mouth and take your oils under the tongue, chase it with the lemon and turmeric water, and LET’S DO THIS!!!

Restocking a semi-professional kitchen that my mom has ruled for 45 years is no easy feat.  Re-educating and empowering her is one of the biggest challenges of our lives together, and time is of the essence.  Visualizing and sharing this next chapter in my parent’s lives together, one in which they are healthy, happy and cancer-free, fuels my intention.  As we navigate the research facilities, doctors, and newest immunology breakthroughs, we also stay focused on creating the healthiest environment, internally and externally, for my dad to not only survive, but thrive. His body literally will transform and strengthen for the fight of his life. 

The wisdom of Ayurveda, along with the knowledge and experience of our incredible network of doctors, teachers, practitioners, herbalists and healers, gives me incredible hope for my dad’s healing potential.

As I was sharing my sadness and grief over the phone with my then husband, across thousands of miles, separated yet again due to forces beyond our control, he told me to stay the course and remember:  my job of educating, encouraging and initiating change from my parent’s long history of set beliefs and habits is like turning the Titanic with flippers.  But apparently I was blessed with some seriously strong flippers, because I do believe this ship is turning towards safer waters.