For those interested in exploring cannabis medicine, Dr. Junella Chin and Aliza Sherman’s new book “Cannabis & CBD for Health and Wellness: An Essential Guide” provides a thorough-yet-accessible introduction to this increasingly popular, yet little-understood, alternative mode of treatment. Covering everything from scientific topics like the endocannabinoid system and the properties of cannabis terpenes to practical issues like microdosing and choosing the right edibles, it’s an engaging and highly informative read for cannabis novices and experts alike.
Released earlier this month from Penguin Random House, “Cannabis & CBD for Health and Wellness” is a collaboration between Sherman, an entrepreneur and women’s rights activist who’s also the founder of an international cannabis wellness network, and Dr. Chin, founder of the bicoastal medical practice MedLeafRx and one of the foremost practitioners of cannabis medicine in the country (in addition to being — full disclosure — a contributing writer and member of the cannabisMD medical advisory board).
We recently caught up with the authors to talk about CBD, cannabis, the swiftly-changing culture around the plant — and, of course, the book itself.
Aliza Sherman: A positive experience with cannabis led me to starting Ellementa, a global women’s health company focused on educating women about the health and wellness aspects of cannabis. Over the last several years, I’ve focused on producing content and learning opportunities around cannabis specifically geared toward women including Ellementa Gatherings where women meet in their local communities to learn from experts and discover quality cannabis and CBD products.
The book was a natural next step for me as I’m an author of 11 other books. When the opportunity presented to write a book about cannabis and CBD for health and wellness, it made a lot of sense for me to do it. I immediately approached Dr. Junella Chin to write the book with me because I needed someone with a medical background to provide sound, research-driven and science-based information.
Dr. Junella Chin: Cannabis helped me get my health back, when no other conventional medical treatment could. I decided to dedicate my career on learning more about cannabis, how it can help manage pain and improve people’s overall health and wellness. Having suffered in pain for so long, I know what it feels like to say to your doctor, “I’ve tried everything and nothing has helped.”
Sherman: I think we needed a guide to cannabis and CBD a while ago — it almost feels like we are racing to keep up with the explosion in popularity of CBD in particular and nobody understands what it is, how to use it or even what they are actually getting. As states legalize and as the federal government is trying to figure out what a “legal CBD market” looks like, the general public is caught in the middle with very little quality information about cannabis.
For example, most people don’t realize that CBD comes from the cannabis plant, it is a chemical compound extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant. In the U.S., the CBD we can “legally” purchase is defined as coming from “industrial hemp,” however, the hemp plant is Cannabis sativa, it is just a cultivated variation of the plant that is being farmed and used in legal medical and recreational states to produce the cannabis containing THC, another chemical compound in the cannabis plant. The main difference is that the hemp plant is a low resin plant containing very low amounts of THC.
Dr. Chin: Patients are looking for reliable information but there are few, trusted healthcare-provided resources. Health care practitioners receive little or no education regarding medical cannabis.
As doctors, we need to be capable of engaging in meaningful discussions with patients regarding the potential harms and the benefits of cannabis and safely help them manage their diseases and improve their quality of life.
Sherman: Of course there is, and will continue to be, stigma around cannabis. First, it is still federally illegal and most people don’t realize that it isn’t illegal because it is dangerous but it was made illegal for economic reasons and it was decades of deliberate propaganda that resulted in movies like “Reefer Madness” in the 1930s and the “Just Say No” campaign in the 1980s.
Fear, bigotry, and greed led to the vilification of the medicinal cannabis plant and the versatile hemp plant. It is hard to abolish decades of misinformation, not to mention the decades of criminalization of cannabis and the imprisonment of mostly people of color for possessing cannabis. As long as the plant is federally illegal and people believe the misinformation, there will still be stigma.
Dr. Chin: Talk to your health care provider and see how much education they have had regarding medical cannabis. If they clearly do not know, doctor’s have to distinguish the difference between their opinion versus scientific fact. Luckily, there are great resources (references and citations in the book that can lead you to a knowledgeable practitioners)
Dr. Chin: Counter indications and cross reactions with other prescription medications and certain health conditions.
Sherman: It is not a cure-all, and it works differently for each person so just because it helped their friend or neighbor with a particular ailment or condition doesn’t mean it will work the same way for them.
Sherman: I always say I’d like to see “cannabis in every medicine chest” — that it is accessible to all people who need it. But we still have a long way to go. But I’m not holding much hope that this will happen. Even if cannabis and CBD become completely legal federally and regulated, it won’t be accessible to everyone. I guess I have very little faith in those governing our states and our country genuinely wanting to do something for the good of people. The cannabis industry is already showing signs of being taken over by major corporations to provide profits to a very few. There are so many good people doing good work right now. I hate to be pessimistic, but where there is money, there is greed.
Dr. Chin: Rescheduling of cannabis to Schedule II, III, IV, or V presupposes that there is an FDA-approved pharmaceutical that can be prescribed. That is not the case. Even with Epidiolex (CBD extract) receiving approval for severe epilepsy in 2018, it does not carry over to other forms of CBD or cannabis in any way.