Updated: May 5
There was a time when people viewed plants as healers in their own right. Mankind had a different relationship with nature, one built upon the idea that everything is connected, alive and conscious. We gained wisdom from observing plants and animals; they were our teachers and partners in experiencing life. Still to this day, many of us return to nature for answers and comfort in times of need. As uncertainty looms during the pandemic, one thing remains clear—plant medicine is essential AF.
Interest in plant-based alternatives to chemical pharmaceuticals has surged over the last few years. There are many factors driving the momentum, but new research exposing the serious dangers of common pain-relievers like Tylenol has been a significant contributor. Analysis of national databases show that acetaminophen-associated overdoses account for about 50,000 emergency room visits and 25,000 hospitalizations yearly. Furthermore, Acetaminophen is the nation's leading cause of acute liver failure, according to data from an ongoing study funded by the National Institutes for Health. Such findings beg the question—how has the public been so mislead over the years? There are no easy answers when it comes to unraveling the dark, profit-driven agenda of modern medicine. Yet, the alternative is simple—plants.
Due to its ability to influence over the Endocannabinoid system (ECS), cannabis has been and always will be at the heart of plant medicine. Before cannabis prohibition, hemp and marijuana had been used for thousands of years to treat a number of ailments, including epilepsy, headaches, arthritis, pain, depression, and nausea. Traditional healers may not have known why the plant was effective but their experience demonstrated its effectiveness and provided the basis for later scientific research. The discovery of the ECS in the 1990s revealed a biological basis for the therapeutic effects of plant cannabinoids and catapulted interest in cannabis as a medicine once again.
Smoking hemp flower buds, applying CBD topicals and administering sublingual (under the tongue) tinctures are all extremely effective ways to tap into mother nature's healing gifts. It really just depends on your expectations and preference.
It's important to note that the way in which you apply topical CBD makes a difference, especially if your goal is relaxation. That's where pulse points come into play. Pulse points are places on the body where arteries are closest to the surface of the skin (think the temples, wrists, neck, inner elbows and the bottoms of your feet). This means that transdermal absorption is much more effective in these areas. As Jodi Chapin, director of nursing at the GreenNurse Group, a non-profit that provides education on medical cannabis, told The Bump, “I have seen doulas use CBD-infused products as they massage the woman’s … pulse points. It assists with pain relief as well as relaxation.”
Of course, for herbalists and aromatherapists, the use of essential oils on pulse points is nothing new. Many people utilize lavender essential oil on their temples or wrists in order to soothe the senses. Why do these plants have such a calming effect? The answer lies in terpenes, which until recently have flown under the radar. Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds that give plants their distinct aromas, flavors, and colors. Many of the terpenes traditionally used to calm the mind and body are also present in cannabis plants. Pinene, for example, is found both in pine trees and cannabis plants, and has shown potential as an effective anxiety reducer.
In terms of treating localized pain, thick balms with generous servings of full-spectrum CBD can make a drastic difference. When choosing a product, make sure to look for formulations with botanicals like arnica or wintergreen, which complement the therapeutic properties of cannabis.
As always, experiencing mother nature's healing powers is one of life's greatest adventures and gifts. Until next time! All hail the healing power of hemp!