Balancing Life: The Plant That Helps Keep Us Sane

In an age when everyday living can seem chaotic and overwhelming, many people are looking for easy, realistic ways to mellow out and de-stress—monthly spa vacations and a team of personal assistants tend to be out of reach, and even if you do have the bank to make it happen, you could still feel unsettled spiritually and emotionally.

That’s why boosters like adaptogens, superfoods, and crystals are gaining in popularity. These approaches can support and balance the body from the inside out, strengthening your immune system, gut health, emotional resilience, and spiritual resonance.

But did you know there’s one plant that may give you all those benefits? You guessed it – cannabis.

 

Adaptogens

For thousands of years, and across every culture, herbal medicine has provided relief from a stunning breadth of physical ills and mental wrangles. Within this realm, adaptogens are a unique class of healing plants that are geared toward increasing balance and normalizing physiological functions.

Adaptogens include ginseng, licorice root, holy basil, astragalus, ashwaganda, rhodiola, eleuthero, and maca. They work by improving your body’s ability to handle stress, usually by decreasing cortisol, the hormone most responsible for your “fight or flight” response. When cortisol is lowered, it allows happier chemicals like serotonin and dopamine to surge.

Although it’s not often included on adaptogen lists—most likely because it’s not legally available everywhere—is cannabis, which meets the definition of adaptogens as nontoxic herbs that protect the body from physical and emotional stress while improving its functions.

Cannabis has all the properties of more “traditional” adaptogen choices, since it can both calm and energize at the same time, as well as reduce stress and lower fatigue.

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Superfoods

Much like adaptogen lists, the range of superfoods usually doesn’t include cannabis either, but their properties are vast.

Superfoods are defined as any food that’s rich in compounds—such as antioxidants, polyphenols, fiber, or fatty acids—considered beneficial to a person’s health. These foods boast a breadth of benefits, such as increasing energy, regulating cholesterol and blood pressure, and lowering inflammation. Common superfoods include choices like salmon, blueberries, and broccoli.

Another big superfood? Hemp. The plant has been touted for its health-boosting properties, thanks to being rich in essential fatty acids, protein, and vitamin E. The combination of these confers numerous health advantages that can lead to better physical and emotional balance.

Although hemp gets the spotlight for its superfood action, consider that cannabis and hemp have similar genetics, so it makes sense that they would share the same nutrient profile.

Amythyst

Crystals

Much like herbs and superfoods, crystals have been used for centuries as a tool for achieving better emotional balance, particularly choices like malachite, lepidolite, moonstone, rose quartz, amethyst, and sodalite.

Cannabis may have the same effect. In a recent study, researchers noted that molecules present in cannabis could help relieve depression associated with chronic stress. They pointed out that endocannabinoids are naturally produced chemical compounds in the brain that affect motor control and cognition, but also have a profound effect on emotional health.

These compounds are similar to the active ingredients found in cannabis, leading the researchers to suggest that the plant could be used to restore endocannabinoids levels in the brain. That would be a significant boost toward restoring emotional balance.

Bottom line is that if you’re seeking to get all your systems—physical, emotional, and spiritual—into reset mode, adding cannabis to your mix can be a powerful strategy.

We often think of balance, self-care, and tranquility as lofty goals that are impractical to achieve, and that pursuing them would, ironically, lead to more stress and anxiety. This is simply not true. Balance can be accomplished and maintained through small measures like the ones mentioned above, particularly with the addition of cannabis products throughout your daily self-care routines. Like the sprinkles on a bowl of your favorite flavored ice cream, cannabis products like ours can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining equilibrium and happiness. Cannabis drops, oils, and honey contain all of the necessary properties to gently push you toward a full-bodied state of peace every day that you use them.

 

Why Wellness is the New Black

Diving into Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re talking about the thing that goes hand-in-hand with healthcare and mental healthwellness.

You probably hear about it more and more these days, the concept of “wellness.” What is wellness? Depending on where you search you will find a number of answers including programs, centers, and coaches who can get you on the right path. But how did we get to this point? Why did “wellness as the new black” start becoming a thing?

We sat down with our founder and fearless leader, Amy Duncan to hear about her experiences with healthcare, her predictions for modern-day healing and why wellness has been a powerful force in the mental health and healthcare communities:

 

I’ve been in the field of healthcare for the past 9 years and a caregiver for the past 7 years. This life experience has provided me with visibility into the industry of healthcare from a number of perspectives. I’ve watched the movement of social media influencers start to educate and inform their communities on mental health, wellness, and now even sexual wellness. Both emerging and tenured talent in the holistic health space now have a powerful platform unlike any other in the history of healthcare. This has started a shift, an awakening, a proactive approach to our well being. After all, we are the awakened generation. This is exactly why I shifted from traditional healthcare into wellness.

So I decided I’d take a moment to provide some background and context to my understanding of the current state of the healthcare system and the transition to a focus on wellness. Studying our healthcare system is one of my hobbies; I enjoy extracting applicable knowledge of the system and overlapping it with trends I see in order to forecast where we will be in years to come. I see our generation approaching their health far different from our parents, the Baby Boomers. We actually have influence over the Baby Boomers….at least those with an open mind….who haven’t fallen into the Western Medicine traditional healthcare mindset. But this angst for taking control of your health has become a strong movement. And here are the reasons, I believe, why.

A combination of the three items below is what is driving a dynamic movement in wellness. Too many people, mostly millennials like me, are fed up and ready for a change. Fed up with paying for insurance we don’t use and costs too much. Our inherent nature is to uncover and uproot the status quo. We grew up in an era of technological change, creating transparency in every aspect of life. And we know the same changes can occur in our healthcare system and break down the lack of focus around mental health.

Most importantly, we have decided we can’t wait 50 years for it to happen. So, we will create a movement ourselves. Enter wellness and holistic healing.

As I look at our current “stagnant” healthcare system the following are true:

1. We are talking about outcomes but still not focused on them. Your doctor has been compensated for many years based on the amount of care he/she provides to you. Every shot, pill, surgery, stitch, blood pressure check, consultation visit, and therapy session is a billable code. Whether these checks, remedies, visits or tests actually make you better isn’t so much your doctor’s concern and definitely not his/her financial incentive. He/she is being paid for treating you. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Imagine if you were being paid for the quantity of services and patients you see rather than making them better. Would you care if you improved their overall health and wellbeing once they left your office? You may “do your best” but it wouldn’t make sense to sit there for hours trying to identify the root cause. When Obamacare came into effect (this is not a political discussion) we started a shift toward value-based care. This means, for some diagnosis’ and procedures, your doctor is now compensated based on the outcome – your good health – or his/her quality of care provided. Yet even with the change, still only 3% of health systems provide more than one-half of all care under value-based contracts (2017), and while health systems may have value-based contracts, many still compensate their physicians primarily based on volume.

Bottom Line: Your doctor is paid for volume. Seeing more patients and doing more medical procedures, tests and consults all add up to more money in their pocket. When you walk into the doctor’s office after finding tumor regrowth on an MRI, your first thought shouldn’t be how much it’ll cost to heal yourself. It’s deeply unfair how often the sick must pit their health problems against their financial problems.

 

2. Insurance companies rule everything. Your insurance plan dictates your care. You pay more and more money on premiums for less and less coverage. Now while you are questioning your doctor due to #1, your insurance company is questioning your doctor as well. Implementing prior authorizations increases costs for your doctor and slows your access to treatment. Insurance companies steer doctors to a “fail first” method – fail the treatment or medication and then try the second therapy (which may be the better option to start). They’ll tell you to get an x-ray first and then an MRI. Why? Sometimes they discontinue coverage of medication because they deem it too pricey or unnecessary. They know your body and health better than you do after all, right? Your insurance company has care plans for you to follow depending on your diagnosis. These are standard. They are not tailored to you.

Bottom Line: As insurance premiums rise we aren’t getting anything more. The cutting-edge treatments still aren’t covered (easily at least if at all). Your choices are to navigate your own care or put faith in your insurance company and doctor, with the latter two in cahoots. For me personally, I have a problem when I need to write a clinical appeal to get my husband’s seizure medications covered after he’s been on them for 5 years? What changed? Oh…..that’s right, you just found them unnecessary. What do I pay insurance for again?

3. Surface level care will not make you feel better. Due to the two reasons above, the care we receive from our doctors barely scratches the surface of determining the root cause of any illness. We have generic blood work taken on a panel of 10 tests comparing it to a baseline of the general population – a generally unhealthy population. Why wouldn’t you be compared to your baseline over time? Doesn’t that make a little more sense? In order to get more tests performed to look at a holistic view of your Health you have to beg, go to a functional medicine doctor, order online lab tests on a guess, get a holistic health coach, and pay cash. Rarely, if ever, are you asked about the foods you eat, the supplements you take, the stresses of life you take on, how much you get outdoors, or how often you drink or smoke. Your genetics, which has about 10% impact on your health, is a second thought as they aren’t “completely understood” and aren’t typically covered by insurance.

Bottom Line: We are a sick-care system. It’s more common to perform standardized symptom-based treatments to mask the problem. We treat based on symptoms and do not work on the root cause because the root cause is not covered by insurance. I want to know more and I believe you do too.

 

I stand in confidence that self-care is the greatest form of healthcare. Learning to heal and deeply care for your body and your entire self shouldn’t depend on doctors, bills, insurance, paperwork, and other healthcare boundaries. This is how we come to find the healing and restorative nature of holistic health. Fueling the body and mind with simple, plant-based, natural ingredients creates organic restoration and returns us back to early self.

 

Coming up…..I’ll provide my insight into the movers and shakers of the wellness industry and how to navigate staying well.

 

Until then…

Be well. xx Amy

 

That Good Good – A checklist for clean products.

Navigating the 2018 cannabis wellness market can be a bit tricky with new brands popping up and innovative products coming to market. A well-designed brand is more than a logo and a trendy box. All cannabis, hemp, and CBD products need to be lab tested. Whether you are new to using CBD products or have incorporated it into your routine, to tame your stress with relaxation or infuse your day with a plant-based boost you want to be sure you mark these 5 things off before you buy.

 

1. Pesticides – PASS

We are dealing with plants here… plants have pests. Well, we all have pests really… but some growers use pesticides to rid the plants of spider mites, thrips, aphids, moths, fungus, harmful nematodes and a host of others. The label should show that your flower, concentrate, or product has been tested and passed the pesticide test. People have been consuming it for hundreds of years…why should I be concerned? Your body is your vessel and cannabis works to recreate balance in your life. As the market continues to evolve many people are moving into the industry without much experience with agriculture or pesticides. With money involved and regulations evolving, some pesticide testing is more of an ethical decision. You know your health is worth the cost of testing. But do they?

 

2. Residual Solvents – PASS

The process of extraction entails utilizing a solvent to extract active ingredients from the plant material to produce cannabis oils, a resinous, sticky, glassy product. Extraction can be accomplished with many mediums including but not limited to carbon dioxide, acetone, ethanol, and butane. Even with carbon dioxide or solvent-less extractions, solvents are often used in cleaning the equipment and can end up in your final product. When the process does not fully remove the solvent, residual solvents remain in your products. Scary stuff! Can you imagine ingesting or inhaling these sometimes toxic chemicals? It is close to impossible to remove all residual solvents, however, testing will ensure your product falls below the parts per million (ppm) threshold for the solvent used. Ideally, you want the effects of the potent cannabinoids and not the residual solvents.

3. Microbiological

The level of water activity in any cannabis is critical to its microbial content. Samples should be tested for total yeast and mold, E. coli, Pseudomonas, Coliforms, Salmonella, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Mucor, Thermophilic Actinomycetes, to name a few. Both bacteria and fungi (i.e. mold) require certain conditions in order to replicate and present a health hazard. Inhaling or ingesting moldy cannabis can make you sick. Many plant-based foods have a high moisture content and are able to support robust microbial replication. Temperature, water activity, and route of administration impact the potential for plant-born hazards. Testing for microbial content is a recommended “better safe than sorry”. 

According to Steep Hill Labs, 20-30% of the cannabis they see is contaminated by fungus or mold. There are at least 88 different species of fungi which cannabis can fall under attack.¹

4. Cannabinoid Profile – Potency

If you are new to cannabis or not interested in the “high”, potency testing will save you. Knowing how much THC, CBD, CBC, CBG, CBN (and more) are in your products will determine how you dose yourself. Potency can be shown as mg/g, mg/ml, or %. Before you buy you should be clear on the cannabinoid profile and potency of your product. Different profiles will result in varied results, therefore, it is important to document each experience and use your labels to recreate pleasurable outcomes.

5. Terpene Profile

Terpenes are the cousin who knows three languages and has a full passport. They are equally important too, but harder to find in, CBD products. When you think of terpenes, think of aromatherapy the holistic healing modality. These cannabis’ terpenes determine the compelling aroma and flavor in each strain.

Around 200 terpenes and 100 cannabinoids have been found in cannabis, but only a few of these substances appear in amounts substantial enough to be noteworthy. The synergy of these compounds is what makes the plant special. An “entourage effect” magnifies the therapeutic benefits of the plant’s individual components – so the impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts. Family values, indeed.

Knowing your body and knowing your products is your responsibility. • Become an advocate for your health by learning about what is going in and on your body.

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Five Benefits of Sweet Almond Oil for Skin Care

 

Cleopatra liked to bathe in a luxurious mix of sweet almond oil, honey and the milk of a young donkey. The Romans believed almond oil could help reduce wrinkles. The Persian-Greek medicos recommended it for softening dry skin. Originally grown in the Mediterranean region of the Levant, almond trees were cultivated in Greece and Italy. They became an important source of commerce in Central Europe during the Middle Ages, and herbalists soon realized the benefits of using almond oil on the skin. John Gerard, the English botanist, wrote that: “The oil of almonds makes smooth the hands and face of delicate persons…” The ancients had excellent reasons for applying rich and fatty almond oil to their skin. Almond oil contains several antioxidants, including vitamins D and E, as well as essential minerals and fatty acids that help the skin in several ways. Why not follow the lead of the wise Romans and Persians by trying this plant-based oil? Learn more about how it can benefit you, and why it is a key ingredient in our topical oil, One For All.

1. Cleanse Your Skin with Almond Oil

Cleanse your face with almond oil before going to bed each night. Joanna Vargas, a celebrity makeup artist, explains, “Oil cleansers break up makeup on the face in a gentle way instead of stripping the skin so skin won’t feel irritated after.” Oil-based cleaners work because the molecules in the oil react with your body’s natural oil, which shares a similar composition.

2. Almond Oil Makes a Wonderful Moisturizer

Almond oil contains a large amount of Olein Glyceride Linoleic Acid, a rich fatty acid, so it softens and rejuvenates the skin and helps prevent wrinkles. This soothing and calming oil will soon make your complexion look brighter if you use it every day. Dermatologist Soma Sarkar recommends using several plant-based oils on your skin, and she especially recommends almond oil as a moisturizer for dry skin. Spending long periods in the sun causes skin damage as we grow older. Almond oil helps prevent the harmful effects of UV radiation, and it slows down the aging process, according to a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. Avoid tough and leathery skin by moisturizing with this natural oil and using UV creams in the sun.

3. Almond Oil Helps Skin Problems

Suffering from red, itchy and flaky skin can be a nightmare. The topical application of almond oil may provide some relief, partly because it contains Vitamin D, which has a “healing effect on the skin.” Almond oil has been used to treat eczema and psoriasis for centuries. Zeeshan Ahmed states in his study published in Complementary Theories of Clinical Practice that the ancient Chinese, Ayurvedic and Greco-Persian schools of medicine used it to treat these skin conditions, and that the mineral-rich oil has inflammatory properties that result in a calming effect on the skin.

 

4. Almond Oil May Minimize Stretch Marks

Applying certain natural products to the skin during pregnancy may reduce unsightly stretch marks. Dr. Alyssa R. Golas at NYU Langone Health recommends almond oil, according to an article in the Australian version of PopSugar. The smooth, lightly scented oil is well-absorbed by the skin, and it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals.

 

5. Almond Oil Helps Reduce Under-Eye Circles

Who wants to see ugly dark under-eye circles when they wake up? These circles have several different causes, including allergies, heredity and asthma. Natural aging and lack of sleep are some other reasons for shadows under the eyes. Massaging the delicate skin around the eyes with a few drops of moisturizing and anti-inflammatory almond oil every night will soon chase those circles away!

 

The Woods Heal: Why Forest Bathing?

“You’re surrounded by steam rising off the mineral water in a claw foot bath, rose petals floating on the surface. Scents of pine from the surrounding forest, the dense trees providing your privacy. You’re naked. You don’t hear a sound, other than birds chirping, a squirrel scuffling on the trees above you. All your senses are awake and alive. You’re experiencing the ultimate recharge.”

“I’m in,” my friend says. “Where do we do this… forest bathing.”

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Need a dose of wellness?

Get issue one of Grown for Good Wellness Magazine here.