Patient Profile: Amy Mellen

Transitioning from Opioids to Cannabis Oil

Note: This story originally ran in PROHBTD.com

 Amy mellen, before and after replacing oxycontin and other pharmaceuticals with cannabis oil. Photo: submitted

Amy mellen, before and after replacing oxycontin and other pharmaceuticals with cannabis oil. Photo: submitted

In 1997, 28-year-old Oregon resident and stay-at-home mom, Amy Mellen, was pregnant with her second child when her physician prescribed Percocet for severe migraines that began when she was in college.

My migraines were debilitating. It was impossible to care for my oldest daughter, while pregnant with my second daughter.
— Amy Mellen

“My migraines were debilitating,” Mellen shared. “It was impossible to care for my oldest daughter, while pregnant with my youngest daughter. I get vision tracers that take over my entire field of vision – my face, lips, and fingers go numb; and I have a horrible time forming words to speak. These symptoms begin before the actual headache happens.”

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines are the third most prevalent and sixth most disabling disease in the world, with “an extremely incapacitating collection of neurological symptoms.”

The Mayo Clinic lists Triptan medications as commonly prescribed to treat migraines. Triptans are serotonin receptor agonists that narrow, or constrict, blood vessels in the brain to relieve swelling or inflammation. Side effects from Triptan may include “reactions at the injection site, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and muscle weakness.”

Of the many brands of Triptan, Sumatriptan, or Imitrex, were initially taken by Mellen. Dosing for the drug recommends it be taken right away, then stopped for lengths of time, due to patients becoming tolerant. In a few months’ time Amy said she needed a stronger dose.

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Regina Nelson, PhD, is director and founder of The eCS Therapy Center in Denver, Colorado. Her doctoral studies had a concentration on medical cannabis, the Endocannabinoid System (eCS), and daily dosing; on which she’s penned four books, to date.

“Many women find that migraines increase with their menstrual cycle or during menopause,” Nelson explained. “Hundreds of women have reached out to the eCS Therapy Center for help with this issue, and most find that a daily regimen of cannabis oil helps alleviate the inflammation that is believed to cause migraine pain, while decreasing the frequency of migraines over time.”

Pregnancy & Pain Killers

After giving birth, Mellen’s Obstetrician prescribed the antidepressant, Effexor, also used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. It’s listed on Drugs.com as a “selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor,” or SSNRI, and is commonly cross-marketed by pharmaceutical companies as a pain killer.

I wasn’t depressed, and still don’t feel I am, or ever was - but, I’ve been on anti-depressants of some kind for 19 years because of the pain issues.
— Amy Mellen

Mellen noted her migraine pain worsened during her menstrual cycle, so Lupron, often used for endometriosis, was added. Long time use of the drug is considered dangerous, but Mellen said the three months she was taking the medication the migraines subsided dramatically.

“My doctor at the time thought a hysterectomy might ease my symptoms, as every time I had a period my migraines were worse; but my insurance company didn’t agree, so I was kept on the pills,” she explained. “By 2001 I was in such pain and bleeding so badly, I was screaming to go to the hospital.”

With this latest visit to the ER doctors found fibroids and for reasons that aren’t clear, a partial hysterectomy was approved by her insurance company; with Mellen stating it lessened her migraines, overall.

Accidental Addict

The following year in 2006, after a near-fatal auto accident worsened her pain, Amy said her dependency to the pain medication increased.

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Amy Mellen's car after the accident.

I rolled my car three times. My head and left arm hit the asphalt on the highway each time I rolled. After surgery, I woke up in a hospital bed with a morphine pump that didn’t even touch the pain - so, I was then given Dilaudin - and that’s what began my nightmare into addiction.
— Amy Mellen

According to Drugs.com, Dilaudid (hydromorphone) is an opioid pain medicine, created for “moderate to severe pain.” A narcotic, its many side effects include that it can slow or stop breathing; with misuse said to cause addiction, overdose and death.

“I had never used pain meds before, except for the migraines,” Mellen explained. “And I knew nothing about what they do to our bodies and brains. I went home from the hospital after two weeks with bottles of Oxycontin, Percocet, muscle relaxers, and more.”

By 2008, after 18 months on the Oxycontin, 30-year-old Mellen said she began seeing news reports of people becoming gravely addicted.

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The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that opioids (including heroin, which mimics the pharmaceutical) “killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record.”

“I thought to myself, no, that will never happen to me!” Mellen said, emphatically. “I had never done drugs, let alone been addicted to them. My doctor suggested I switch from Oxy to Methadone, and that’s when I became a legal junkie. I asked her, ‘isn’t that for heroin addicts?’ But she really had no other help for me, her hands were tied. All she could offer was the lessor drug.”

Mellen said she was also offered Suboxone, a drug commonly used in addiction treatment centers to replace Oxycontin with some success.

“I chose not to use Suboxone because I thought, what’s the point of taking another pill that would do the same thing – and I would still be addicted?” she added. “I’ve seen tons of testimonials on the web of people just as addicted to Suboxone, and then needing higher and higher doses.”

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The stay-at-home-mom and doting wife, who had never done drugs recreationally prior (she didn't have her first alcohol beverage until the age of 40), was now in the same category as a heroin addict, rapidly gaining weight in the process, as she ate for comfort.

I’ve had weight issues all my life, because I use food to cope with my feelings.
— Amy Mellen

“I also suffer from OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder], and it felt like my obsession with food turned into an addiction with the pain killers added. By 2010, my weight ballooned to 410 pounds," she said.

Benzo Brain Madness

Aside from the weight gain, Amy said she dealt with Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS. According to Addictions and Recovery.com symptoms that opioid addicts suffer from include “mood swings, anxiety, irritability, tiredness, variable energy, low enthusiasm, variable concentration, and disturbed sleep.”

“Benzo brain, or PAWS is real,” Mellen shared. “My brain has no idea how to regulate emotion, common sense is out the window, and I have an awful time making decisions.”

A recent “live” Facebook posting showed Mellen in tears in her car, having driven to an entirely different town than a scheduled meeting was located.

“I was never like this before the meds,” she said in anger. “I had so much patience before – for my kids, my husband. Now, nothing moves fast enough in my brain. I forget things and have to retrace my steps all day long – and that’s really no joking matter.”

Replacing Pharma with a Plant

Mellen said had never tried cannabis when a friend of her husband, Todd, reported he had cut his Oxy intake in half just by smoking.

I first smoked [cannabis] to see if it really worked. When it gave me relief, I asked, what’s next?
— Amy Mellen

Mellen was still in pain while on the pharmaceuticals, but fearful of upping her intake. Studies done by Dr. Donald Abrams, Chief of Hematology-Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, completed in 2011 at the University of California at San Francisco, demonstrated that adding cannabinoids with prescribed pain killers can reduce the amount of pain meds needed by 25 percent overall, with a 30 percent reduction in morphine, and about 20 percent reduction of oxycodone, specifically, just by smoking cannabis.

And though Dr. Abrams said he has many patients using cannabis products who are able to stop pain medications, anti-nausea therapies, and sleeping pills, he’s still skeptical of its effects without proper trials.

“We have no clue as to how they [cannabis products] are absorbed, how long they last, or anything as no studies have ever been done with a product of known composition [to the cannabis oil],” he clarified.

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On May 9, 2015, Amy said she took a half a grain of rice-sized piece of cannabis oil with a spoonful of peanut butter.

Photo: submitted

Every two weeks I increased the dose, but I was still on the pills. As the oil started working, my doctor told me my blood sugars had dropped.
— Amy Mellen

The Metformin, previously needed for Type 2 Diabetes, was the first prescription med to leave Mellen’s pharmacopeia, which had ballooned to 41 prescription pills and supplements a day needed, not only the original diagnosis, but to quell many symptoms thereof.

 “Every couple of weeks another medication or supplement dropped off as I increased my cannabis oil intake,” she said. “On July 31, 2015 – less than three months after starting the oil, I took my last five milligram Percocet.”

Regina Nelson, PHd, has had many experiences with patients at The eCS Therapy Center in Denver, with a stated one hundred percent of all cases reducing pharmaceutical use.

“Reports show that prescriptions for opiates and narcotics may be reduced up to 25 percent in legal states such as Colorado, but most don’t appropriately credit cannabis as being a contributing factor,” Nelson said. “Prescription pain medications are the greatest killers in our society. Cannabis is non-toxic and most find it to be an incredible replacement for most pharmaceuticals over time.”

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Dr. Regina Nelson's book on the endocannabinoid system helps patient ingest the right amount for a specific need.

Patients find that by titrating slowly to a comfortable dose of between one and five milligrams per kilo of weight, over time they can gain control of their pain issues with a focused use of cannabis therapies.
— Regina Nelson

Greener Pastures

Mellen said it took three months to replace the pills, with one hundred pounds shed within the first year; and 205 pounds shed, all told.

Dr. Abrams disagrees with Mellen’s insistence that going off the pills helped her lose the weight.

“Sounds like this woman lost a lot of weight, which can also go a great distance in decreasing her symptoms and getting her off drugs – more so than using cannabis, for sure,” he added, though Mellen’s weight loss timeline begs to differ.

According to a paper published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Institute of Health’s website (PMC 4204468), while cannabis is said to stimulate appetites in HIV/AIDS and cancer patients, in studying the general population of short and long-term cannabis users, a “lower body mass index” was found. In other words, cannabis is said to stimulate appetites where needed, while regulating metabolism in the average weight bearing person.

Another paper in The American Journal of Medicine found that regular cannabis consumers have what’s called “fasting insulin,” (insulin levels in the body before eating), 16 percent lower than non-cannabis users. The study also showed 17 percent lower insulin resistance levels in cannabis users, with smaller waistlines overall.

Mellen just celebrated her two-year anniversary of replacing pain killers with cannabis. Her doctor is currently weaning her off a low dose of anti-depressant, Wellbutrin – her last prescription medication.

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Amy's daily cannabis regiment includes the trifecta of cannabis deliveries: topical, ingesting, and smoking or vaporizing flower.

Photo: Sharon Letts

Products: Albany's Canna Kitchen, Oregon

Her daily cannabis regiment includes the use of topicals via lotions and salves; ingesting infused foods; taking low doses of oil, and smoking or vaporizing cannabis flower, which she said gives her immediate relief of pain and anxiety, in combination with the other applications.

I’ve self-detoxed 27 times over the years, and it’s not a pretty sight to transition off opioids - ask my family.
— Amy Mellen

 “In retrospect, I know it wasn’t a good thing to do without having something better to replace it with," she shared. "Now, I feel confident to share my story with others, so that they can be helped. The situation with opioids in the U.S. is serious, and you can’t just tell someone to stop taking them. I would have never been able to do this without transitioning to cannabis.”

While Mellen is frustrated with the health industry today, she doesn’t blame her doctor.

“My doctor’s hands were tied,” Mellen said. “I believe our government’s denial of cannabis as medicine keeps doctors from knowing the truth. When I told my doctor I took my last Percocet, and finally explained my cannabis use, she actually started tearing up and said she wanted to run to the top of the building and shout it out to the world, but she couldn’t.”

While Amy’s physician witnessed Mellen’s transformation and went on record to say she is “fully supportive of Amy,” she hesitates to make her name public, fearing patients will reach out to her for advice, when she isn’t trained in cannabis as medicine.

Amy is really the one who did one hundred percent of the work.
— Amy's Doctor chooses to remain anonymous.

“It’s super amazing that she is now speaking out and can be a role model and mentor others who are going through similar struggles," her doctor surmised.

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Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, MD, PhD, FAAPMR, is a physician based out of Seattle, with a focus on cannabis as medicine, science, and medical geography.

Aggarwal said he’s not surprised about Mellen’s story in the least.

Significan dose reductions in chronic opioid use, improvement in blood sugar control, improvement in mood, migraine prevention - all of these effects have been documented in the clinical trials and epidemiologic literature for cannabis.
— Aggarwal

“Early 20th century medical literature, wherein Sir Dr. William Osler, the father of Internal Medicine, and founder of Johns Hopkins [Hospital], was known to be of the opinion that cannabis was the most superior treatment for migraines," Aggarwal informed.

Aggarwal said if cannabis had been used in the beginning of Mellen’s treatment, many problems could have been avoided, stating, “This too, is a common refrain from patients who have discovered this treatment.”

In 2016, 47-year-old Mellen moved from Oregon to Maryland after her husband, Todd, was promoted at work. She immediately began speaking out in a very public way, becoming one of Maryland’s first registered cannabis patients in its new medical program.

#onebeautifulhotmess

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Amy today, as cannabis advocate. She was the first medical patient to register for her home State of Maryland's medical cannabis program.

The most heartbreaking part of my story is, if I had known about the cannabis oil I’m on now years ago, I might not have had to go through so much, and put my family through so much. It could have saved me a world of pain, literally and figuratively.
— Amy Mellen

Reference list:

Migraine Research Foundation: www.migraineresearchfoundation.org

Effexor, Drugs.com:  https://www.drugs.com/effexor.html

Center for Disease Control, pain medication statistics: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/

Mayo Clinic, Migraine, Triptan: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/diagnosis-treatment/dxc-20202471

Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, MD, PhD, FAAPMR: http://www.cannabinologist.org/

Donald Abrams, M.D. : https://www.ucsfhealth.org/donald.abrams

Regina Nelson, PhD: www.MyECSTherapy.ORG

Marijuana and Body Weight, NIH: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4204468/

The Impact of Marijuana Use on Glucose, Insulin, and Insulin Resistance among U.S. Adults:

http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343%2813%2900200-3/abstract


Patient/Medicine Maker Profile: Original Nectar, Riley Maedler

Bone regeneration with cannabis oil

Note: This story originally ran in Hydrolife Magazine (Canada)

 Riley maedler, a happy, healthy cannabis patient for life.

Riley maedler, a happy, healthy cannabis patient for life.

Barry Herzberg, founder and co-owner of Original Nectar, a cannabis extraction and product manufacturer in San Diego, California, is an excellent example of the ever-evolving cannabis industry in America, where dealers have become healers; growers become farmers; and the negative stigma of cannabis is simultaneously done away with.

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in New Jersey, in 1972 Herzberg began smoking cannabis when he was just 15 years old. By college he was admittedly selling poundage, meeting supply and demand of the world’s most beloved and illicit herb.

After college, he moved to California and became a salesman, barking everything from Porsches, to vacuums, to telephones.

Diagnosed with severe sciatica in 2007, Herzberg became unable to work due to the debilitating pain that ensued. He was prescribed opiates and surgery was inevitable. Thankfully, physical therapy helped him dodge the surgical knife, with cannabis realized as medicine for life.

Former dispensary owner and friend, Felix Hall, who hails from a family of cannabis farmers in Northern California, taught Herzberg to farm cannabis. Hall’s dispensary was closed by the City of San Diego due to zoning issues, and the two partnered; opening Pacific Green Pharms, originally in North Park, San Diego in 2011.

Herzberg had been Introduced to dabbing in 2009, and Pacific Green Pharms (now located in Pacific Beach, San Diego) became known for its homemade “nug-run” nectar, which ultimately led to the current business, Original Nectar. Nug-run was the given name to the oil produced at the time, as they never used anything but full flower the first three years of production.

Today their Original Nectar brand includes smoking oils, oils for ingesting, oils with and without CBD, and combinations thereof. Packaging for the oil is unique, with a syringe built inside a capped container, and an attachment to fill pens and/or dab, making it easy to work with the often messy and sticky oil.

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THCA, THC and CBD tinctures by Original Nectar of San Diego, California.

Currently, Hall and Herzberg are working on product development within their Original Nectar line.

We have been extremely fortunate to be associated with some world-class physicians and scientist who now work with different cannabis formulations, treating a wide spectrum of diseases. We expect to release some amazingly excellent products before the end of the year.
— Barry Hertzberg

Herzberg said legalization with regulation is vital in allowing companies such as Original Nectar to work in tandem with research science professionals, to discover the underlying power of the endocannabinoid system – the very system in the body that accepts plant-based compounds for prevention and healing.

“We have already documented results in healing, but legalization will help to stop the roadblocks currently in place, while helping us to provide effective remedies from cannabis,” he added.

Of numerous success stories, Herzberg said the most amazing case he and Hall have helped, via consultation and shared formulations to Delaware extractors, was eight-year-old Rylie Maedler.

Rylie was diagnosed three years ago with a tumor in her face that began in her eye-socket, wrapped around her adult teeth, and continued through her upper palate. Nearly one third of her facial bones had to be surgically removed to get the tumor out, and she was unable to undergo reconstructive surgery due to the metal being unacceptable for her follow-up MRI’s for years to come.

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Riley Maedler holding her medical cannabis card in her home state of Delaware. After Riley was helped, her mother lobbied to change the laws in the state, with great success.

At best she would have been deformed, at worst, she would not live. Her mother, Janie Maedler did exhaustive research, and finally, after a lot of debate, they decided to take the heroic, and at the time, illegal risk of starting Rylie on cannabis therapy.
— Barry Hertzberg, Original Nectar

Herzberg said that doctors all over the east coast were both “amazed and confused,” as they had never seen such bone regrowth prior, with no need for metal or reconstructive surgery. Today, Rylie is 11 years old, and enjoys singing and playing the piano.

According to an article published in BioTrackTHC.com, a combined study from researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University, “Cannabidiol (CBD) was found to enhance fracture healing and stimulate Lysyl Hydroxylase (a highly abundant enzyme involved in bone healing) activity in osteoblasts (bone building cells).”

Rylie’s dosing consisted of non-psychoactive cannabidiol (CBD), THCA (non-psychoactive), and limited amounts of THC (psychoactive), now allowed due to Janie’s due diligence.

As with many witnessing the power of the plant, Rylie’s mom, Janie, has become an outspoken advocate. She pushed Delaware legislatures until, not one, but two laws were passed, allowing children to use cannabis therapy –  with the first law aptly titled, “Rylie’s Law.”

The second law successfully allows child medical cannabis cardholders to be administered their medicine in school.

It’s important to note, with Janie’s advocacy and testifying to the powers that be, all the laws proposed thus far have been unanimously voted on by Delaware’s health committees, the State Senate, and the House – which was said to be unprecedented.

Janie is currently working on a third law to add Autism on the list of qualifying conditions in Delaware and beyond, as her son, Gavin (Rylie’s twin), was diagnosed under the Autistic Spectrum, under the sub-category of Asperger’s Syndrome.

Help for her son was found accidentally, as he mistakenly took one of Rylie’s THCA caps one morning along with his other medications.

“That day he performed well in school with no mishaps,” Janie explained. “We had to backtrack to see what it was he took to cause this transformation. Once we realized he took a THCA cap, I knew I had to lobby again for Autism. My husband, Sean, is a special needs teacher and he’s also on board to help as many children as we can.”

Janie has since partnered with Herzberg, helping to develop formulas for myriad ailments within the Original Nectar line.

 Riley Maedler's logo for her own line of cannabis therapies, created in conjunction with Original Nectar.

Riley Maedler's logo for her own line of cannabis therapies, created in conjunction with Original Nectar.

Janie is also the Autism Spectrum Disorder consultant and East Coast representative for CannaKids; and Delaware’s market leader for Women Grow (a national organization for women in the cannabis industry).

Herzberg has no illusions of his part in the healing via his product line, and gives full credit where credit is due.

“We are merely a factory,” he surmised. “We use excellent starting material, and I feel we have the best practices, with truth on our side. But we are not healers, per se. That’s cannabis. The plant does all the work, we just access the compounds and let it do its magic. Our real heroes are the doctors, nurses, and researchers who have worked tirelessly to help others and prove its effects. Where the kids are concerned, the real heroes are the moms and dads – like Janie and Sean, who advocate for their children, and, in turn, help many.”

 

For more information about Original Nectar, visit www.orginalnectar.wixsite.com or www.originalnectarblog.wordpress.com

For more information about Rylie, visit www.ryliesmilefoundation.org

For information on how cannabis affects bones and regeneration, visit https://www.biotrack.com/cbd-and-bone-fracture-healing-the-best-data-published-for-medical-marijuana-in-fifty-years/

CannaKids featured in Hydrolife Magazine: https://www.myhydrolife.com/sophies-story-an-example-of-how-medical-marijuana-is-helping-children-heal/2/1181

Study on bone healing and cannabis: https://www.biotrack.com/cbd-and-bone-fracture-healing-the-best-data-published-for-medical-marijuana-in-fifty-years/


Farmer/Medicine Maker Profile: Collier Family Farms, Oregon

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Patient Profile: Sara Collier

I consider myself fortunate to grow up within a family of farmers, learning about cannabis as medicine at such a young age. I became an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program patient when I was 16.
— Brandon Collier

At 13 years of age Brandon was walking, when hit by a car traveling at 40 miles per hour, damaging several disks, now fused together.

The pain persists today, with Brandon eschewing prescription medication in lieu of cannabis. He medicates with multi-deliveries of ingesting concentrates, taking a strong oil at night, topical application of salve, and smoking flower.

With the knowledge of the plant passed down through his family Brandon has also served as a caregiver. When 29-year-old Sara Olson arrived in Bend in 2007 from Sun Valley, Idaho, she immediately fell in love with the farming life and the farmer. The couple are now engaged, after a nine-year courtship.

Two years ago, in 2015, their relationship was tested when Sara was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Burkitt Lymphoma; a fast-growing tumor in her inner abdominal lymph node. In five days, the two inch tumor grew to ten inches, with Sara stating she appeared as though she was nine month pregnant.

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Sara Collier during treatment.

Sara said she had used cannabis only a few times prior, but Brandon was keen on her doing the treatment with the strong cannabis oil, referred to as Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) made from a specific recipe, which measures in upwards of 80 percent THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

The oil’s namesake, Canadian, Rick Simpson, was given months to live more than 15 years ago after exhausting traditional methods for his own terminal skin cancer and a severe case of veritgo.

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Strong cannabis oil made with an alcohol reduction.

After finding an old cannabis oil recipe online, Simpson made the oil himself. His cancer and other ailments went into remission and the recipe and protocol have been passed around the world via word of mouth, ever since.

Despite warnings and disregard from both her physician and oncologist on using cannabis, Sara decided to do the cannabis oil treatment, in conjunction with chemotherapy.

The RSO treatment began simultaneously with an initial seven-day treatment of chemotherapy.

“I began the oil at one rice gran size dose – which is the recommended beginning dose, allowing you to get use to the THC, as it’s very strong. From there I increased my dose to one thousand milligrams over the course of two weeks.”

Though there are no studies done on the RSO protocol, preliminary results reported in April, 2015, in a current study from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa show that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) delays the development of cancer cells.

Dr. Christina Sanchez, a molecular biologist at Compultense University in Madrid, has been studying cannabis and cancer for the past 15 years, with a focus its anti-tumor potential. Her research using many combinations of extracts has found that cannabis kills cancer cells while leaving healthy cells undisturbed.

“Chemotherapy attacks ever single cell in our body,” Sanchez said during an interview with Mathew Kind for Cannabis Insider. “It kills cancer cells, of course, those are the ones you want to kill but also the cells of your immune system, the cells of your stomach and a lot of healthy tissues. The difference with cannabinoids is that these compounds only attack cancer cells. We don’t’ understand why yet in molecular terms. We don’t know what makes a cancer cell different in terms of the sensitivity to cannabinoids, but we know that this is a fact. Cannabis kills cancer cells and they do not affect the viability of non-cancer cells.”

When pressed further as to how long the process takes, Dr. Sanchez said when treating animals with cannabinoids, oil is administered every two days for 15 days, with positive effects from the first week. When cannabinoids are added to cancer cells as a culture in a dish, the cells were said to die in one day after one application.

“I maintained a one gram dose of cannabis oil while my western treatments alternated between one week of hospitalization and one week at home, undergoing a total of four chemo treatments in eight weeks. I credit the oil to the efficacy of the chemo, as most patients take six months to a year to complete the treatment or go into remission, if that’s the case. My cancer was gone within this eight week period.”

I maintained a one gram dose of cannabis oil while my western treatments alternated between one week of hospitalization and one week at home, undergoing a total of four chemo treatments in eight weeks. I credit the oil to the efficacy of the chemo, as most patients take six months to a year to complete the treatment or go into remission, if that’s the case. My cancer was gone with this eight week period.
— Sara Collier

The plant material was decarboxylated, meaning it was heated at a low temperature before processing to increase THC potency, then quick-washed with lab grade ethanol (said to be the cleanest solvent available), as part of the RSO protocol.

Sara surpassed Simpson’s suggested protocol of 60 grams of oil in 90 days, with Brandon confirming her intake has been more than 250 grams of oil ingested to date, in the two years since beginning the treatment.

Sara continues to take a rather large dose of 250 milligrams each night. The suggested maintenance dose is the size of a grain of rice, daily – usually taken at night. Sara’s current hefty dose, for lack of real studies or trials, is done with a “better safe than sorry” approach, to combat the negative symptoms experienced post chemotherapy. She plans to start the smaller maintenance dose this fall.

We’ve really only made the oil for family, so far, as the bulk of our work has been to build up the farm. We have plans to launch a vegan nutrient product under the Collier Family Farms brand, with proceeds helping to establish a foundation to help the sick people of our community.
— Brandon Collier

Brandon said the medical cannabis laws in Oregon have been steadily declining as the state prepares for its recreational market, with small farm caregivers being phased out.

“We have no choice but to go into the recreational market,” Brandon shared. “But we will always maintain the medical quality standards we believe in.”

The golden question is, would Sara do the traditional treatment of chemotherapy again if the cancer came back, or if a secondary cancer presented?

“One hundred percent, no,” Sara said, emphatically. “I believe that daily ingestion of the oil, along with major dietary changes, will prevent the cancer from coming back. I can see and feel the changes it’s already made in the past two years, and it’s all positive.”

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Sara Collier today, as a healthy, happy (skinny) cannabis patient.

Cannabis patients often go forward in faith with the plant. Faith in anecdotal stories from friends, family and the cannabis community. While real trials and studies are ongoing and sorely needed, some have found help with a plant that’s been demonized for decades around the world.

For more information on Collier Family Farm’s products visit, www.colliersnutrients.com


Patient Profile: Charlie

Humboldt dog gets cannabis cancer treatment

Note: This story originally ran in Dope Magazine as a "Patient of the Month" feature.

 Charlie at home in humboldt. photo: sharon letts

Charlie at home in humboldt. photo: sharon letts

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That’s the essence of inhumanity.
- George Bernard Shaw (Irish Playwright, 1856-1950)

As detailed in an article from Natural News processed pet foods contain “meat meal,” cooked down at temperatures between 220 and 270 degrees, allegedly sterilizing the contaminated meat used from a stated plethora of “road kill,” euthanized animals from zoos and animal shelters, and meat classified as “4-D,” or “dead, diseased, disabled and dying.”

Author Ann Martin in her book “Food Pets Die For” reveals some 200 tons of animals present to pet food manufacturers per month in Los Angeles alone, with the sodium pentobarbital residue used from euthanasia still in the mix. Residue from this concoction containing fecal material is dried and pulverized into a brown powder then used as an additive to pet foods and livestock feed – with farmers referring to it as “protein concentrates.” Martin states that more than five million tons of processed slaughterhouse leftovers were are used for animal feed in the United States each year.

Dogs especially get cancers at roughly the same rate as humans (one in three humans diagnosed), with one in four dogs dying of cancer; and more than 50 percent of dogs over the age of ten succumbing to the dreaded disease.

Dogs especially get cancers at roughly the same rate as humans (one in three humans diagnosed), with one in four dogs dying of cancer, and more than 50 percent of dogs over the age of ten succumbing to the dreaded disease.

The good news is cannabis kills canine and feline cancers and tumors in the same way as in humans; the challenge (just as in humans) is dosing them with our high THC laden strains.

Dr. Amanda Reiman is the California Policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance based in San Francisco. She’s also a devoted cat owner and when her 11 year-old, “Monkey,” was diagnosed with a non-operable tumor she added a little Cannabis oil to her food.

“The cancer caused her to lose a lot of weight, and she was having trouble sleeping,” Reiman noted in an essay for Peta.org. “I decided to mix a little cannabis oil in with her wet food and was astounded at the difference. She started acting like a kitten again.”

Though Reiman said she ended up losing little Monkey to cancer several months later, she shared that the experience was improved with cannabis, allowing the kitty a comfortable, pain-free passing.

Cannabis Oil for All

For the past ten years or more the recipe for Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, has been handed down and passed around healing humans from some of the most invasive cancers, and putting serious illness at bay.

Some say the treatment is not for everyone, but studies indicate this just isn’t true. If you are a biological being with an Endocrine System, then you are also equipped with a sophisticated Endocannabinoid System receiving the cannabinoids, or CBDs, from the plant, as well as the THC, CBNs and many more benefits we’ve yet to fully understand.

Having the same hormonal delivery system enables our pets to reap the same benefits from the plant for myriad illnesses and disorders. Any upset they may have related to infection and/or inflammation can be helped with ingesting cannabis.

Charlie’s Cancer

Charlie is a good natured, 10 year-old, 62 pound Stafford Terrier mix. The first signs of illness were lack of appetite, when tests found bone cancer in his shoulder.

 Charlie playing with a stick, fully medicated, fighting cancer. photo: sharon letts

Charlie playing with a stick, fully medicated, fighting cancer. photo: sharon letts

Charlie’s owner is a savvy, California cannabis patient but had serious reservations about treating the family dog with cannabis, specifically nervous about its psychoactive properties. The owner just did not want to get Charlie “stoned” or make him feel uncomfortable in any way, which is understandable.

 Too much RSO and a pet could be put into a coma or have other adverse reactions. Pet owners are often timid about getting their pets “high” in the traditional sense, but we do know that the THC is necessary for inducing rest and healing. How much THC is still in debate but creator of the oil, Simpson, insists it’s vital and encourages patients to get used to the effects – which in actuality does not take long to adjust to (see sidebar on dosing with oil from Rick Simpson).

A local medicine maker helped create capsules for Charlie with part oil, part coconut solid to help digestion and ease delivery. Charlie’s first dose was 1/100th of a gram with coconut oil caps taken in the morning and again at night until he appeared to be used to the effects, slowly increasing the amount.

 Charlie's dose of cannabis oil was a gradual step-up protocol, with coconut oil added to the mix.

Charlie's dose of cannabis oil was a gradual step-up protocol, with coconut oil added to the mix.

The lack of knowledge on dosing makes this process a slow one and Charlie is still very ill, but his owner is painfully aware of not getting him wasted, easing him into each dose. While the owner is hopeful the cancer will disappear, at the very least his pain will be quelled and rest will come easily.

“I believe in this medicine,” the owner stated. “But there is so much we don’t know about how it heals. I’m just grateful we have this alternative treatment, because without it he may not have had such a comfortable time of it going through traditional therapies, such as chemotherapy or radiation.”

Keeping Charlie comfortable is a priority. The owner said whether his fragile system will allow complete healing or not, he will leave this world with dignity.

Aside from his bum leg that won’t come back, he’s happy and playful with a good appetite. One can hardly tell he’s fighting for his life as he bobs around playing with a stick twice his size.

“From everything I’ve read, most dogs lose the fight to cancer – it’s just too much for them,” the owner said. “One thing this experience has taught me is we need to feed our pets better food. I don’t give him tap water any longer and he eats real food now. Charlie is part of our family and is greatly loved. We honor him with this painless treatment. He’ll heal and survive, or he’ll pass without pain and suffering.”

UPDATE: After this story went to press, Charlie's owner made the decision to put him down. The cancer had been cleared up, but his leg would have to be removed. Charlie had lived a long life and was loved. He demonstrated the healing power of cannabis.

For more information on Rick Simpson Oil, visit Phoenix Tears Foundation