Educated Stoner began as an essay titled, Cannabis Deliver us from Illness: A Day in the Life of an Educated Stoner, with a daily account of Sharon Letts' usage of cannabis as medicine and recipes. Eventually, other essays were published on various subjects, then combined, making a series of essays, Educated Stoner, Sharon has self-syndicated around the world.
A series of nine essays.
My Journey: A Life Gone to Pot
Sharon Letts in 1975 at 16 years old, by plants she grew from seed in her mother's rose garden. Her mom fertilized them with Miracle Grow until her father made her pull them.
The first time I smoked a joint was in the wee hours of the morning in a gas station bathroom with my sister and a friend on our way to high school. It was 1975, I was 16 and when that bathroom door opened it was as if I was seeing the world with different eyes - with my third eye fully opened for the first time.
Up until then school had been difficult for me. An undiagnosed processing problem went unchecked as I appeared to be a good student, but could barely pull a C in most classes. After smoking Cannabis I did better in school, as my concentration improved drastically. It was as if I was ADD and weed was my Ritalin. I began reading like an alphabet hungry animal, wrote Haiku and poetry, and was first published at 19.
When I became pregnant with my daughter in the late 80s I stopped smoking the herb altogether, thinking it was the responsible thing to do. This decision was not based on the benefits of the herb at all, but on the stigma of the day.
When my daughter was adolescent I lied to her about my past use, thinking it would give her permission to use drugs – a common belief held by fellow moms at the time.
When California State Proposition 215 was on the ballot in 1996 I voted for it and was happy it passed, but didn’t rush out to get a card.
Throughout my daughter’s life I’d partake if it were offered at a party or friend’s house, but I never kept any in the house.
It wasn’t until my daughter was 16 that the herb came back into my life in a positive way. She had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 13 and had suffered terribly, when a friend acquired a small amount on the black market for her to try. I rolled a joint and we sat in the garden, passing it back and forth.
My daughter was a straight A student, an All-Star softball player, and a D.A.R.E. kid. She wasn’t interested in drugs at all and did not enjoy the euphoric feeling from the THC. That afternoon we spent a full three hours thrift shopping until the effects wore off.
That night I made her a cup of tea before bed, hoping she could just go to sleep and get the benefits of the plant as she slept, but again, she did not like the psychoactive effects of the THC, which is activated with heat.
Today my daughter has overcome her ailments and is a nurse, helping others. Her first degree was in Plant Sciences and she has a good understanding of homeopathic medicine, making her own tinctures and tonics out of medicinal plants.
Would I encourage parents to help their children with Cannabis? Yes I would, and do often. It’s a harmless herb, albeit for the strength of the THC, but that fades with time as the patient gets used to its effect.
And just as we as a species have upped the THC count through hybridization, we are now bringing it back down again, with CBD rich strains more readily available, and good medicine to ingest being made all over the world.
I’m sorry I could not help my daughter at the time, but grateful her ailment brought the herb back into my life. Since then this old stoner has learned a few new tricks about the ancient herb that turned my life around at 50.
From recreation to medicine, that’s the story of Cannabis in my life. Who knew a stoner from the 70s would be helped so much? Stay tuned for more sharing, caring, and loving the herb. For this Cannabis Evangelist is ready to puff, puff and pass some pretty dank knowledge.
High Art: Cannabis & Muse
When I became pregnant with my daughter at 29 I left the herb behind, thinking it was the responsible and upstanding single mom thing to do.
At 13, my daughter was diagnosis with Fibromyalgia, an auto-immune system malady causing chronic pain and other debilitating complications. She couldn’t attend school, couldn’t play softball, surf, or do any of the physical activities she loved.
When she was 16, a friend acquired a small bag of weed off the black market for her to try, stating it would help ease the pain. I knew nothing, but was desperate to help my daughter.
I rolled a joint for the first time in years and we sat in the garden, puffing and passing. She didn’t like the euphoric feeling from the THC and that afternoon we spent a full three hours thrift shopping until the effects wore off.
So, there I was with this little bag of green. What to do? I was sorry I couldn’t help my daughter, but after all those years of abstinence it made me feel just as good as it did years prior. I decided to forget about the stigma, created a workshop in the garage and let the muse in.
An earlier diagnosis of Thyroid Disease had me 50 pounds overweight, and smoking soon found me walking my neighborhood with a camera, bringing home broken bits of things, becoming an assemblage artists in the process.
Cannabis speeds up metabolism and in a matter of weeks I was dropping pounds. You’d think I would have gained more weight by smoking, but contrary to popular marijuana myth, the plant actually got me up off the couch and out into the world again.
Yes, my muse was fully activated. I loved smoking again! What fun, what pleasure! I could check out into my little workshop in the garage, take a few hits, play some music, and create to my heart’s content.
My day job of writing for television prospered, as well, as I excelled creatively and professionally. Yes, everything I’ve ever written has been done fully medicated – be it for television, dailies, weeklies, or magazines. It’s how I focus connect with that place within me that is present and productive. I don’t know how it works and I don’t care, I’m just grateful.
My newfound health had me yearning for a different life, and soon my daughter and I made the move to Northern California and Humboldt County, where she enrolled in college and I began working in media and writing for newspapers.
Humboldt's rural industries of hunting, fishing, and lumber were a shadow of what they once were. Minimum wage jobs beg subsidizing, and savvy residents grow, trim, and make product to get by. And though I’ve never grown, I’ve learned the ins and outs and this region and its estimated multi-million dollar industry.
As a features writer covering human interest stories in the county, when the daily newspaper I was writing for began to lay off staff I was the first to be let go.
But the muse persisted, and soon I began writing a series for a local weekly titled, “Behind the Curtain,” with a play on words of the “Redwood Curtain,” the protective shroud that keeps Humboldt so very rural and cozily covert; and the curtain that often hangs in the hallway of a grow house, separating the garden rooms from the bedrooms.
Published prior to California’s failed attempt at legalization via Proposition 19, it put a human face on the Nor Cal grow scene, detailing the ins and outs of living and working in a grow house and all that implies, as the neighborhoods of the area are changed forever supporting an indoor scene.
The series also began my newfound career in writing about Cannabis as medicine, and today I write internationally on the subject, penning many stories each month for magazines profiling everything to do with good medicine.
At 50 I could not have found my medicine at a better time, for that’s when the body begins to change and weaken and Cannabis acts almost as a “Fountain of Youth,” if you will. It’s a rejuvenator of the body and rights the wrongs that cause us to have myriad modern day ailments that seem to lead everyone to pain, depression, and deadly disease.
For finding one’s muse, cannabis is a must. With the moral of this story being, if you have found your medicine smoke-up, eat your weed, be happy and healthy and your weed will never let you down.
Cannabis & Cancer: Chemical Culprits (Part 1)
The spider web-like mass found in my right breast the summer of 2012 had me thinking about my mom, the farm she was raised on, DDT, Rachel Carson, and Cannabis - in that order.
I saw the configuration while proactively peeking over the shoulder of both the mammogram and ultra-sound technician.
While waiting for the biopsy I decided to do some research and easily found an image of a nearly identical mass on the Mayo Clinic’s Web site, naming it, “Lobular Carcinoma.”
This type of cancer begins in the milk-producing glands of the breasts or lobules, affecting 10 to 15 percent of all women in the U.S. It's a mass, not a lump, as with Ductal Carcinoma, affecting up to 85 percent of women in this country, annually.
Pass the Mayo
This information can be found in the Mayo Clinic's tedious, page-by-page listing of incredibly limited information, with the only cause listed as Hormone replacement.
This stumps me as my sister – who is 18 months older – had this same type of cancer just two years prior, undergoing surgery, chemo and radiation - with no Hormone replacement ever used prior.
Surgeries are invasive, chemotherapy does more harm than good, and radiation is now known to cause secondary cancers, such as lymphomas; with the FDA now considering taking it off the market for this reason.
Once Upon a Time
My mom grew up on a farm in Illinois just outside the State Capitol of Springfield. Yes, Springfield. Kind of like The Simpson’s - the difference being, my mom told childhood stories of dancing with my aunt and uncle beneath the rain of DDT falling down from crop dusting airplanes on the waving fields of grain. None of them grew a third eye, all died of Cancers.
Before my Aunt passed she phoned me up, urging me to look into the pesticides used on the farm. At the time I was dealing with my own daughter’s auto-immune disorders, having been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 13. I was also just diagnosed with Thyroid Disease – another disorder under the auto-immune spectrum – but I never connected the dots to the family’s ailments.
Recent studies indicate that DDT alone stays in the genetic blood lines of lab rats up to five generations that they know of, with cancers in our stem cells, with chemo and radiation only scratching the surface.
American Biologist Rachel Carson spoke out on the dangers of DDT when the compound was first found to have insecticidal properties in 1939, then marketed to the masses. While the chemical successfully eliminated the mosquitos causing the Malaria – gracing it with the tag, “savior of mankind,” Carson ousted its dark side.
Published in 1962 “Silent Spring” was Carson’s warning, hitting the newsstands long after the non-water-soluble poison saturated our soil, water and ultimately our food supply for decades.
In the book that should be considered mandatory reading today, Carson warns of cancers and worse, describing how DDT attacks the Central Nervous System of its prey – paralyzing and rendering them defenseless until their immune system fails and each organ stops functioning as they suffocate and die.
For that matter, most of our modern day ailments stem from some kind of toxic poisoning from the chemicals or heavy metals surrounding us, daily.
Cancers are a given, but heart disease and the myth of high cholesterol has recently been discussed publically by many cardiologists who insist that every heart they’ve ever opened up was inflamed and infected, leading them to the conclusion it’s not for lack of blood flow, it’s diseased, plain and simple.
Carson’s book caused the removal of DDT from U.S. markets, spawning the environmental movement, and forcing the U.S. to implement the Clean Air & Water Acts of 1973 and 1974, respectively. But the damage was done and today we are suffering the dire consequences with our ill-fated health.
The good news is, as listed in U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507 B1, “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties … useful in the treatment of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases … (with) particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limited neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and IIIV dementia.”
The information on the patent is crucial, as it provides us with the knowledge we need to move forward with our own self-care with Cannabis. My doctor was unaware of its advantages before I presented my findings to her. How could she? We learned together as I did away with cancer, pain, and eight prescription medications.
Cannabis & Cancer: The Blame Game (Part 2)
The rhetoric seems to be, if you have Lobular Carcinoma it’s because you took Hormone Replacement; you have Ductal Carcinoma because you drank more than three glasses of alcohol a day, you had children after 30 or you didn’t have them at all; Lung Cancer is due to your use of cigarettes, or you stood too close to someone who was smoking them; skin Cancer is for lack of sun screen; heart disease, you ate too many fatty foods.
The limited lists of illusive causes for serious illness and disorders, combined with the redirecting of blame for our modern-day ailments is enough to make anyone sick.
The summer of 2012 a routine mammogram found a spider-web-like mass in my breast. A quick look at the Mayo Clinic’s site found an exact replica of the mass, with one just one possible cause listed, “hormone replacement.”
The mammogram was done as a preventive measure, as I had been on the hormone replacement for just two weeks and immediately stopped taking them. That said, my sister had been diagnosed with the same cancer two years prior, going through surgery, chemo, and radiation – and she had never taken a single hormone replacement.
Once Upon a Time
What we do know is our mother was raised on a farm in Illinois, and she told us stories of dancing under the rain of DDT as crop dusters flew above. It was a game. The pesticide companies told them it was good for them. Everyone in her family died of cancers.
In 1962 Rachel Carson’s tell-all, “Silent Spring,” was the catalyst for environmental change, prompting the Clean Air and Water Acts of 1973 and 1974, respectively. Carson warned of cell damage leading to cancers and predicted our onslaught of neurological, autoimmune, and central nervous system disorders in our future.
One theory is that we are doomed by our own hand, or, more specifically, by toxins created by humans. Heavy metals leached from cookware; synthetic medications made from petroleum byproducts with deadly side effects; cleaning solvents and other industrial compounds, such as lead or aluminum, used in our everyday lives that have poisonous properties.
I’m second generation DDT, but I also came up in the age of lead paint, and even if I were to blame these two substances solely for my autoimmune disorders, or my processing problems under the autistic spectrum, the world today contains more than seven million recognized chemicals, with more than 80,000 of them in common use.
Eat Your Medicine!
So there I was, looking at the mass, when I remembered an earlier conversation with Dr. William Courtney the year prior on juicing. The California physician had helped his wife do away with more than 20 prescription meds previously needed to treat Lupus.
I also remembered hearing of the strong oil, otherwise known as RSO or Rick Simpson Oil and began networking with medicine makers for a batch.
In the five weeks that passed prior to the biopsy I had eaten raw leaves in salads, and made a drink in the blender. I had already been ingesting a light oil for sleep from a company in the Bay area called “Internal,” but I was not diligent in my ingesting as it was new to me, and I was not hopeful the minimal ingesting would do anything.
Nternal Elixir is what I happened to be taking at the time. It's a low-heat, low psychoactive, light oil. Any other light oil or tincture would work the same for me as Valium, for pre-procedure anxiety.
Photo: Sharon Letts
After looking at past and current views, the surgeon said, “We might not do this today.”
To which I informed, “I’ve been ingesting raw Cannabis - that may be the reason,” to which he asks if he can do that therapy too.
Typical Stoner vs. Enlightened Patient
Why is it that stoner jokes always seem to come into play whether medicine is being discussed or not? As if getting high is the end-all, as I lay there with my boob exposed and jelled, facing the big “C.”
But this is my moment to enlighten, and I advise, no, ingesting of raw Cannabis will not get you high, and teased that it may not be the treatment for him, to which he was comically disappointed.
He then informed that he was part of a Cannabis experiment in medical school during the 1960s that found medicinal value to the plant, such as in treating nausea.
This admission was met with howls of laughter from the attending staff, but I pressed on.
“That must have been a strong batch,” I say, to more chuckles. I then advise him of the practice of eating raw leaves versus heating Cannabis for psychoactive effects of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).
Stumped at the lack of mass, the good doctor wanted to go ahead with the procedure, “… as long as we are all here,” he declared. I took this as my chance to do a little trial myself and asked if we could postpone the procedure another month while I continue with my own therapy. Thankfully, he agreed.
Prior to taking the strong oil I had only smoked to medicate, and used the light oil, “Nternal” for sleep. Eating the raw leaf combined with the oil turned my body around for the better.
And the cancer was disappearing.
Cannabis & Cancer: Take Five Leaves and Pray
The summer of 2012 a mammogram found a spider-web-like mass in my right breast. Research showed it to be “Lobular Carcinoma,” a spider-web-like mass, not a tumor.
In the weeks leading up to the first mammogram and subsequent ultra-sound, I began ingesting raw leaves. By the time the first biopsy was done the spider web was gone with just a “target point” remaining. After bartering with my oncologist for another month, he agreed to let me continue my treatment.
A medicine maker who made several batches for her husband’s prostate cancer said she first used just bud and the batch tested high in THC. Simpson encourages upwards of 95 percent THC in the mix; the second batch leaf was added and the test showed CBD; the third batch she added stems and found CBN was added – proving whole plant theory gets you the most medicine.
60 Grams in 90 Days
The protocol for RSO, or cannabis oil, that Rick Simpson has now shared, globally, is to ingest 60 grams in 90 days, with a step-up dosing regiment, allowing the patient to get used to the strong THC gradually. Suppositories bypass the digestion system and liver, getting the medicine right to the blood stream for healing, with no head high.
Cannabis oil made with an alcohol reduction (recipes on the Apothecary page), in one gram syringes for measured dosing (not injectable). Though the original protocol for this strong oil was 60 grams in 90 days, with a step-up dosing to get used to the THC, we really don't know just how much you actually need to take to put various cancers and other ailments into remission. While protocols and formulations are currently being developed, this protocol stands as successful in the space.
Photo: Sharon Letts
Other oils have come on the market as medicine makers step up. But the rule of thumb is to make sure it’s tested, as the numbers need to test high on THC and the base is made with solvent and it must be cooked down.
A common mistake is to soak the plant material for days rather than a quick wash, as the medicine is in the fragile terpenes of the plant and soaking only draws in more chlorophyll to the mix and actually retains solvent, while lowering the percentage for medicinal compounds.
I can’t emphasize enough how strong the oil is, but the THC is necessary. The first tests on destroying tumors came from Israel in 1974, and the THC component of the plant was isolated for this reason. It will knock you down, but that’s a good thing, as the body needs rest to heal. The modern day “take a pill” and continue life as usual just doesn’t work for this treatment – but it is a life saver.
Look at me, I’m Cancer Free!
Happily the second scheduled biopsy found nothing, with the mass completely gone from both the mammogram and ultra-sound. The attending technician called it a “technical error,” stating the initial technician probably got it wrong. But I was there looking over her shoulder and saw the same distinct spider-web mass in both the mammogram and ultra-sound.
An oncologist assistant was called in for lack of an attending oncologist to have a chat with me, stating sometimes there is “dense tissue” that can be confused with cancers. But his lecture on the subject was long, convoluted, and did not make sense to me at all.
I was polite and reiterated that I treated myself by ingesting Cannabis oil, but he didn’t know anything about the treatment, of course, and refused to engage in a conversation.
We now know that using suppositories allows the patient to receive more of the medicine in a timely manner, with no head-high, as it bypasses the digestive system and liver; getting directly to the bloodstream for faster healing.
Photo: Sharon Letts
This could be perceived as an insult to my intelligence and the treatment used, but until the doctors themselves are educated on this plant we can’t expect this process to be easy. At the very least, everyone involved heard my words.
My cancer experience happened in 2012 and to this day I ingest with various deliveries I make myself, as follows:
•Blending raw leaf in a smoothie (when available) daily (no psychoactive effects).
• Maintenance dose of cannabis oil at night for sleep and prevention of illness and cancers. I also take a concentrated chamomile cap to treat my hormonal depression (study/information on Apothecary page).
• Cooking meals using micro-infused oils, butter, honey, etc.
•Cocktails with infused alcohol and other beneficial herbs, such as gin or rum.
•Cold and flu prevention: If I feel a cold or flu coming on I up my ingesting and the infection lasts just a day or so.
• Use of infused topical salves, lotions, deodorant: Daily skin regiment for cancers, rashes, bug bites, burns, acne, and numerous disorders of the skin.
• Smoking as needed for depression associated with hormonal disorders (Thyroid Disease, Menopause). Smoking lifts endorphins immediately, raises efficacy of what you ingested.
Evangelizing Cannabis: Praise the Lord and Pass the Pipe!
The past six years I’ve covered six states, three countries, and thousands of miles in a state of Divine Intervention, with people suffering from real illness put in front of me like little animals to St. Francis of Assisi. I often feel like Theresa Caputo, “The Long Island Medium” (less the hair and nails). Spirits come to her like patients are put in front of me, daily. Either I meet people with real illness, or they know someone suffering under traditional care – there are no coincidences – or, maybe everyone is just getting sicker?
When I tell people Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, put my breast cancer into remission, most don’t believe it. But, when sitting on this kind of knowledge it becomes a responsibility to share. It’s actually the only way to get the word out, for no Department of Health Services will be passing out pamphlets any time soon. Those who know must “be the pamphlet.”
Physician Heal Thyself
While traveling in Eastern Washington State my lower back went out, leaving me helpless with severe spasms in my sciatica. Anyone who has suffered from the pain of sciatic spasms knows what I’m talking about. The second the swollen muscle or tendon presses a nerve against a bone, the pain is excruciating and can level a grown man in a second.
Cannabis makes them go away, I informed, but she wouldn’t engage. I finally asked if the clinic was federally funded, to this she gave a knowing and firm, “yes.” She couldn’t have talked about this good medicine if she wanted to.
The nurse listened attentively, however, and confided in me when the doctor was out of ear shot that she was suffering from spasms in her legs, and how could she get some of this medicine? She shared this with me as she stood (all day) at a computer taking down patient information. My heart sank to hear her situation, and I shared what I could. She not only “liked” my Fan Page on Facebook, she read an essay I penned on pain management and sent me a note of thanks.
All Aboard the Wellness Train!
On a train recently, the conductor announced if anyone on board had nausea medicine. Now, the ramifications of me helping someone with Cannabis are great. Firstly, I’m not a doctor; I’m merely an enlightened Cannabis patient. Secondly - well, there are enough reasons why I shouldn't help, but my mom is looking down on me from Heaven, this is God's medicine, and she didn't raise someone who sits on their hands.
There sat one very sickly passenger and all eyes were on me as I announced, “I have medicine that works great for nausea, but it’s made from Cannabis.” To this, I get the usual blank stares, and I must use the dreaded word, “Are you familiar with Marijuana?”(You know, I really wanted to say “The Marijuana.”) To this, her eyes light up, knowingly, and I ask if she has a teaspoon.
The looks on the faces surrounding this woman are priceless as she takes the dose. She thanks me and I wish her well, making my way back to my seat. Checking on her two hours later, she is found chatting it up with the woman next to her, a drink in one hand and food in the other. “How are you feeling?” I inquire, already knowing the answer. To which she replies with eyebrows raised, “I’m feeling better,” as if surprised at the outcome.
Sitting in the waiting room at a local lab in Humboldt County, California where I live, a woman next to me explains how her 45 year old daughter is getting an MRI done for a brain tumor.
The woman was confined to a wheel chair with multiple health issues, including chronic pain, depression, and PTSD for a past trauma. Her daily prescription cocktail consisted of more than 20 pharmaceuticals and for the most part she was bedridden on a daily basis.
One thing led to another and I informed of my work and my own healing with the plant. Both the woman and her mother were Cannabis patients, only smoking to relieve symptoms and complications from numerous prescription meds, as is the norm, but bud is expensive and they couldn’t always medicate as needed.
To make a long story short, within weeks I was able to introduce them to a local dispensary for its “Compassionate Care Program,” and today (some months later) she is out of the wheelchair, had progressed to a walker, and is now walking of her own volition. She’s also done away with more than 10 prescription meds to date.
Can I get a witness?
The minute someone is educated on this plant, lives are changed. And I don’t say that lightly. While the psychoactive properties of the plant can be challenging, lower percentage strains are being hybridized and grown everyday now, with real medicine being made with lessor or non-psychoactive effects.
Safe access is crucial in getting the medicine to the masses in legal and medicinally legal states, but even the best dispensaries need to know about ingesting and provide many options for many ailments.
Once someone knows the benefits of this plant, they are compelled to share. All we have are our words. These are mine:
Cannabis: Calming the Crazy Bitch (part 1)
Only Women Bleed
Menopause snuck up on me. I was still reveling in the fact my periods were a thing of the past, dreaming of wanton sex on the kitchen counter with no thought of pausing for birth control, when the crying jags began. We never made it to the kitchen counter. My partner was at a complete loss and then the mood swings came.
As if the emotional roller coaster wasn’t enough, the physiological aspects of the up to 85 possible symptoms (some lasting up to 15 years) were enough to ensure the many endless crying jags continued.
Raging Hormones: The Ride of Your Life
Hormones are fragile things and women are ruled by them. At sixteen smoking pot put an end to the pain of menstrual cramps and gave me clarity, but I never gave the plant kudos deserved for keeping young, hormonal depression at bay until I needed it for Hypothyroid Disease combined with Menopause.
Women release toxins with tears, a much needed process preceded by generations of misunderstanding, shame, and, subsequently, a fear of tears for many men.
Yes, a raging hormonal woman can be just as abusive and unreasonable as a testosterone driven man, but our letting go in hormonal rage often comes from a place shushed for decades, after suffering in silence for physiological and emotional issues we barely understand ourselves.
Burned for Less
Hallucinations caused by food poisoning via moldy loaves of rye led to the infamous Salem Witch Hunts and subsequent trials lasting more than a year, from the top of 1692 to mid-1693 in the Massachusetts colony. Literal gossip spread the infectious bullying to Europe, where women were accused and abused regularly for the slightest variation from the norms of society.
One favored theory of those hunted is the women targeted for heathens were, for the most part, hormonal. Adolescent girls, young women in their 20s, and menopausal Crones were all said to exhibit signs of Satan’s influence (ask my ex).
As a once strong and independent woman I found myself sobbing at the side of the road, overcome with empathy for strangers in need; my once confident demeanor slipping into worthlessness at the slightest critique; and my temper flared hotly in defense of the smallest cause – right or wrong. It’s as if everything I learned in Kindergarten to get along in this world was thrown out the emotional window, with no net, and my playmates were left standing there, stunned.
Menopause nearing 50 only irritated a 1999 diagnosis of Hypothyroid Disease at 40, but I had no idea what I was facing until it was upon me.
A bow-tie-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, the thyroid influences every cell and organ in the body, while controlling metabolism, growth and maturation. It’s an on-demand gland, releasing hormones into the blood stream, as needed.
At the time I was diagnosed just eight percent of all women in the U.S. were diagnosed with the disease. Today the stats reflect upwards of fifty percent of American women suffering from a list of up to 35 symptoms. With nearly 60 percent of all suffers not realizing they are sick, with the end result an inundation of prescription meds given for myriad, random symptoms that seem to come and go as they please.
Hypothyroidism slows metabolism causing fatigue, a slowed metabolism leading to weight gain, a black cloud of depression, and multiple symptoms similar to Menopause. Combined with Menopause, it creates a double threat that increases the severity of the combined symptoms.
The cause of Thyroid Disease is sketchy but theories lead to environmental issues, such as Fluoride in water depleting natural iodine needed to function; and heavy metals and toxins released to our air and added to our food supply since the 1940s, via “good living through science.”
Prior to diagnosis I had gained upwards of 50 pounds and began suffering from lower back pain brought on by an auto accident, irritated by the extra pounds. Pain killers were added to a cocktail of prescription meds treating each symptom until nothing worked. My life became my illness and at the age of 40 I became another middle-aged, overweight, unwell client of big pharma.
Double Duty Disorders
The dual diagnosis has been called an epidemic in the Boomer Generation (those born between 1946 and 1964), with emotional issues often misdiagnosed as bi-polar, clinical depression, mania, and worse.
Knee deep in Menopause, my prescribed Thyroid medication, Synthroid, had become ineffective and yet another pill, Cytomel, was added. I had taken it before but it wasn’t always covered by insurance and was a bank breaker at $150 for a 30-day supply.
Then mania set in, complete with panic attacks never experienced prior, and I re-read the warning label... “Not to be used as a weight loss aid.” This told me big pharma was reducing me to a speed junkie, accelerating the rate of hormones sent into my body synthetically in an effort to increase my metabolism, wreaking havoc with my body in the process. And I was not getting better, I was getting worse.
Mother’s Little Helper
Personal problems escalated, blatant infidelity was thrown in my face and my bullshit meter hit the roof. Things were thrown, doors were slammed and I crashed into a sea of prescription pills, despair, and suicide – or at least an attempt with my little bottle of Valium - ironically added to my pharmacopeia in an effort to help me reduce anxiety.
Kids are different today, I hear every mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day
And if you take more of those
you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
They just helped you on your way
through your busy dying day
Used in rehab centers around the world, Valium mimics alcohol. What this means is, if you have a prescription it’s perfectly acceptable to take your chill pill any time of day - no need to hide Kaluha in the morning coffee.
By 1982 the world was hip to the hype, with actress Jill Clayburgh popping up to nine a day as documentary filmmaker Barbara Gordon in docudrama, “I’m Dancing as Fast as I can,” the Valium version of Hubert Selby’s “Requiem for a Dream.”
I ended up in a lock-down facility in the middle of the night, sobbing, wishing I were dead; a shoe box full of prescription meds I dutifully took daily at my proverbial side, with an inaccurate diagnosis of “Bi-Polar” on my psychological record.
There was no mention of the many menopause symptoms I was suffering through, no mention of the condition of my thyroid or the combination thereof; and no discussion of the subsequent laundry list of medications taken, let alone the possible emotional melt-down ramifications thereof. I was nothing more than another crazy bitch who wanted to kill herself in a sea of highs and lows.
Cannabis: Calming the Crazy Bitch (part 2)
Three years ago this stoner turned a corner and became a full-fledged Cannabis patient. But it wasn’t an easy transition. My world and body seemingly fell apart in the middle of a failed relationship wrought with infidelity and deceit; with a shoe box full of prescription meds intended to help failing me, as one pill confused the other and mania set in. At my lowest point I downed the bottle of Valium intended to calm my nerves. Luckily, I had intervention.
Prior to my suicide attempt I only smoked the herb. When the little bottle of Valium was gone I had only pot to appease me. Lucky for me, cannabis smoked immediately elevates endorphins. It helped keep tears at bay, but wasn’t enough. I still suffered from life issues with little emotional strength left. And on top of everything else, I just didn’t feel good, physically – suffering from a combination of Thyroid Disease and Menopause, causing my emotional issues to escalate.
Around this same time, a spider-web-like mass was found in my right breast appearing to be Lobular Carcinoma; a mass, not tumor, affecting up to 15 percent of women in the U.S.
I immediately began eating, and then blending raw leaves in a smoothie to combat the cancer. I also began taking Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, an extremely strong, concentrated oil used in the treatment of cancers and other serious illness.
And then an amazing thing happened - my tummy began feeling better.
You are What You Eat
In the book, “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert shared while having trouble meditating in an Ashram in India, the first question her Guru asked was how her digestion was.
It’s why the painfully shy and chronically depressed cartoonist Charles Schultz gave his alter-ego Charlie Brown tummy pains – when our tummy hurts, we hurt.
When my tummy felt better, everything else followed. My metabolism sped up; I lost weight; the constant bloating was gone; I was able to go to the bathroom daily – something I hadn’t been able to do in years; the fatigue and the big, black cloud hovering overhead lifted.
While the cancer was disappearing, my body was healing from the inside-out, as my Endocannabinoid System (eCS) accepted the cannabinoids of the plant, working together to right the wrong of decades and lineage of toxins making me sick. It also cleansed my organs after 13 years worth of ineffective and ultimately damaging synthetic prescription meds.
With my physician’s blessing I did away with more than eight pharmaceuticals - including hormone replacements and numerous supplements - and all the negative side effects disappeared, along with the myriad symptoms from both the Thyroid Disease and Menopause.
Most of my delivery options I make myself at home. There are many and widely varied. In the morning I make a smoothie with fruit and leaf. This is a full body treatment, warding off illness and preventing serious disease, such as my cancer reoccurring.
During the day I smoke for depression, and is my immediate go-to when I’m feeling low. It raises endorphins immediately, gets into the blood stream quickly, lifts me up and stops the crying jags. If the carbon causes bronchial issues I use a vaporizer for maintenance – it also replaces steroid inhalers for asthma patients, and helps during a cold - but that’s another story.
In the evening I might enjoy a tonic in a cocktail - an infused alcohol, such as rum or gin. This is brilliant, as the anti-inflammatory and anti-infection properties of the plant keep headaches and hangovers at bay. And alcohol breaks down the medicine in the plant without heat, so there are no psychoactive properties, as THC is activated with heat.
At bedtime I ingest RSO, a strong tincture, medible, and/or have medicated honey in my tea, as Menopause is a sleep disruptor. This also works as another dose of preventative against cancers, infection, inflammation and pain, and a bevy of both common and serious ailments.
Some patients have real issues with the psychoactive properties of the THC, but I’ll say this, it is the only thing that helps with my mental challenges, and the effects lessen with time. One’s tolerance builds in the same way Valium or any opiate does, but with no damaging side effects, only healing within.
My thyroid is kaput for life, the cancer may rear its ugly head again, and they say I may have another ten years of Menopause ahead of me. But I am blessed with the knowledge of this plant, I feel good today, and the only potion simmering in this witch’s cauldron is cannabis.
Cannabis & Pain: Soothing a Soft Society
Knee surgery last fall had me thinking about pain, true tolerance, and why so many Americans are bent on being anesthetized.
The Institute of Medicine states 100 million Americans suffer from some kind of pain at a cost of $635 billion a year.
As ABC News reported January of 2012, 80 percent of the world’s pain meds are consumed in the good old U.S. of A., with synthetic Opioids just recently bumped by the FDA from Schedule 3 to the number two list. Cannabis, of course, is still listed with Heroin on Schedule 1.
Noted is an increased life expectancy with a soft, sedentary lifestyle and cancers as the cause of our need to be numbed. But why are Americans suffering so; or are we really in this much pain?
Early on in the history of plant based medicines, sometime between 300 and 400 B.C. Hippocrates discovered a powder from the bark and leaves of the Willow tree held healing properties for headaches, pains and fevers. By 1829 scientists named the active compound, “salicin.”
Many more chemists would experiment with the compound, but it wasn’t until German chemist Felix Hoffmann, while working for a company called Bayer, rediscovered Gerhardt's formula for his father suffering from Arthritis, declaring our common little aspirin the “wonder drug.”
The story of Aspirin is simple, but important, as it shows the lineage of plants to medicine to market.
Dulling the Pain
Today, the average arthritis suffer pops from a list of meds originally designed for end of life care, often associated with accidental death, organ failure, and other side effects too lengthy to list – numbing much more than the area affected, and increasing the level of pain in the long run when attempting to detox.
Aspirin sufficed until 1953 when Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, was marketed, soon followed by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, opening the door into the 1960s for more brands in pain management than I can list here.
Our bodies are biologically the same, why the increase in pain medication?
Americans as Marketing Lab Rats
In the film “Love and Other Drugs” big pharma reps are taught to suggest drugs for other than originally developed uses, such as, anti-depressants for pain or sleep. In my mind, this demonstrates how marketing and profits have surpassed true need or even moral ground when it comes to medicating the masses.
The synthetic concoctions the pharmaceutical industry whips up come with side-effects equaling an entire additional ailment, with lists as long as a novel. For all the talk of lack of trials on Cannabis, the trials for most pharmaceuticals are short, often just six months to a year on small groups with a limited focus.
For example, the highly addictive drug Soma prescribed to treat chronic pain is also often prescribed for other symptoms, such as insomnia. Trials lasted just six months more than 20 years ago with a warning it shouldn’t be taken more than a year, as the severe negative side effects start piling up.
Advertising has been reduced to a nagging negative influence, with billions spent convincing us to buy empty, sub-standard products we don’t really need, while polluting our environment and poisoning every living thing
Would you like a seizure with that?
After deciding to continue the trials begun with my breast cancer scare, the first synthetic elimination from my medicine cabinet was the Valium typically needed for pre-medical procedure phobias. Two doses of light oil, “Nternal,” made in the Bay area of California prior to surgery were all that was needed to calm me.
Completely relaxed without being wasted (valium is given to rehab patients in recovery and mimics alcohol); I was in charge of my own dose and kept the bottle with me up until I was put under. Nurses and attending staff were fascinated by my choice, and I was happy to lead by example.
After surgery I was offered Vicodin, the number one hit on the top ten pain numbing chart.
Already under the influence of the anesthesia, I'd be adding this other pain killer to the mix, further lowering my heart rate, causing me to feel light-headed, be further constipated, possible seizure, problems with urination, stomach pain, itching, jaundice... the list goes on.
(Note on Dosing: If it’s your first time using a concentrated Cannabis medicine, you will want to start with a small amount, wait an hour, then take more, as needed. You may need to lie down and go to sleep. You cannot overdose and your heart will not stop, as with prescription pain pills.)
After surgery I continued taking the oil - one to two droppers full every one to two hours was all that was needed for breakthrough pain. And being a natural non-inflammatory and anti-infection medication, there was no swelling to speak of from day two post-surgery and no fear of infection.
At night I continued using Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), giving me a good night's sleep, allowing me to wake up without swelling, stiffness or pain.
I also continued my daily regimen of ingesting raw leaves daily in a green drink during the day – a treatment began with my cancer scare a few months prior to surgery - easing constipation caused from the anesthesia.
For after wound care I used a Cannabis salve made with additional healing herbs. Most dispensaries or collectives carry salve, typically used for minor aches and pains, cuts, bug bites, rashes, skin tags, etc. (For skin cancer RSO is the treatment.)
If it’s your first time ingesting a concentrated Cannabis medicine, you will want to start with a small amount, wait an hour, then take more, as needed. The strong medicine allows you to sleep so your body will heal. And you cannot overdose, for Cannabis does not stop your heart, as do most prescription pain meds.
Big Pharma: Drug Dealers to the Masses
Had I opted for the Vicodin post-surgery, the outcome would have been much different. I would have been swollen longer, constipated for sure, completely wasted the first several days, with no appetite to speak of, and my immune system would have been challenged at a time when my body needs it the most.
After taking the highly addictive pharmaceuticals for the required amount of time - one to two tablets suggested up to four times a day, up to two months post-surgery, chances are I might have wanted more. This seems to be a given, as you can't search for Vicodin online without finding withdrawal information at its side.
A docudrama on television tells the story of a young woman who went from being an injured college athlete on full scholarship, to turning tricks in a Motel for Heroin when her health insurance and subsequent OxyContin prescriptions dried up. Did she begin her pain management with the Oxy? No, she started with Vicodin – gateway drug to Heroin.
In CNN’s ground-breaking documentary, “Weeds,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta shares prescription pain meds take someone’s life every 19 minutes in this country, yet he said he could not find one documented death by Cannabis.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports prescription drug overdose is the leading cause of injury death, tallying more traffic deaths with more drivers under the influence of big pharma behind the wheel.
Among children under the age of six, the CDC reports a whopping 40 percent presenting to the ER poisoned by prescription meds.
As a species, humans aren't the sharpest tool in the shed. We put things in our mouths before fully realizing dangers. We put things in our mouths when we know something is dangerous - and if it tastes good or feels good, we keep on doing it.
With legalization spreading like wildfire across the country in my lifetime, it seems that public perception may be turning around sooner than later on Cannabis as good medicine. Hopefully, it will at least open the doors for real research, and more real medicine being made with proper dosing figured out.
While the rest of America quells the daily pain of living through the colored glasses of modern medicine, I’ll continue to use the green, and encourage others to do the same.
Educated Stoner Presentation
Educated stoner is also a 30 or 60 minute presentation. Shown here, Sharon Letts delivers her presentation to medical professionals and legislators in Costa Rica for its medical cannabis conference in 2016. To request a presentation, send Sharon a message via the contact page.
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Short list of accessible essays:
Las Vegas Cannabis Magazine (pg. 26) Honey Tincture Recipe