In medical school, there is a "this is how we've always done it" syndrome. That is the conventional, allopathic medicine model. How did we come to believe that prescription medication is the only or most effective way to treat disease? We are taking a reductive approach. In medical school, we are trained in identifying what's bad in your body and then to get rid of it. This is only part of the puzzle. We often get locked into this one-size-fits-all thinking. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to working with plant medicine like cannabis. Botanical remedies have been mainstays of folk medicine in many cultures throughout history.
Phytocannabinoid medicine is on that list. We also have to remember there are synergistic effects of the complex compounds found in plants. When we try to isolate one of those molecular compounds and take it in a pure form, you not only get all of the benefits, but you increase risk by taking them out of context.
Essential oils contain terpenes which are extracted from flowers, plants, and fruits. Studies done on essential oils of eucalyptus, tea tree, lemongrass, and others have shown these to be selectively effective against various types of bacteria, including famously resistant ones like MRSA. Nutrient rich botanical oils can work synergistically with cannabinoids to enhance their therapeutic effects. Rose flower oils are packed with antioxidant compounds like Vitamin E and C. This works by preventing agents called free radicals from damaging cells in the body and skin. Essential fatty acids (Omega 3 &6) found in sunflower, hemp and grape seed oil have inflammation-fighting, skin healing properties. Plant botanicals are also rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant nutrients that help your body ward off every-day toxins. They are anti-allergic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-viral, and have anti-inflammatory properties . CBD is icing on the cake. CBD helps as an anti-inflammatory, promotes cell growth, and helps to boost the immune system.
Cannabis is not a cure-all or silver bullet for everything that ails you. Still, more and more research shows that it is effective in addressing chronic health conditions by relieving symptoms and also addressing and modulating your body’s internal systems. By getting to the root of many disorders—an out-of-balance, poorly nourished endocannabinoid system—cannabis can offer deeper, long lasting relief.
Cannabinoid medicine disrupts conventional western medicine as we know it. It raises a series of questions about how we think about medicine in the future. What if we reorganized this approach?
The future is regenerative medicine, nutritional medicine, and preventative medicine, all of which entail a model of creating health from the ground up. The medical cannabis movement should be a wake-up call to the health care system. It is teaching us all to rethink medicine and explore new ways we can treat and heal from disease and even prevent disease altogether.
Dr. Junella Chin is an advocate for better understanding of the science of cannabinoid medicine. She is an integrative cannabis physician. Her work has been featured in Forbes, LA Times, CNN, Good Morning America, among others. As a chronic pain survivor, she dedicated her medical career to finding effective, alternative approaches to patient care.
She earned her BS from Cornell, Medical Degree from Touro University, Medical Acupuncture at Harvard, and was a researcher at Columbia University’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Aging and Women's Health. The book she co-authored, Cannabis and CBD for Health and Wellness, was published in June 2019.