Alternative health and cannabis

Not unlike many other places in the world, communities in America have supported grassroots health care practitioners and practices. Sometimes it’s tolerated by mainstream health care; other times, it’s attacked. Medical cannabis is the disruptor to this dichotomy, and once the dust settles, we’ll be all the healthier for it.

Brian // September 3, 2019

natural remedies and herbalism

Not unlike many other places in the world, communities in America have supported grassroots health care practitioners and practices. Sometimes it’s tolerated by mainstream health care; other times, it’s attacked. Medical cannabis is the disruptor to this dichotomy, and once the dust settles, we’ll be all the healthier for it.

Whoever is reading this blog can remember someone in their past who trafficked in homespun remedies and herbalism. That person for me was, and is, my mother. She tended an extensive herb garden back at our home in New Hampshire, and kept sugar and even salt from the family diets. When I or my sister would get sunburned, she would treat it with the secretions from her aloe vera plant. This introduced me to what are now Medicine Box’s guiding precepts – that plants and nature at large possesses vast curative properties, and just like Mom could grow her own food, she could grow her own medicine as well.

Of course, eventually I lost my way, and I’ve discussed my story on previous blog posts. Returning back to nature and growing my own medicine was simply put the best decision I’ve ever made. It shouldn’t have to be an alternative or adjunct to mainstream health, and I know I’m not alone in thinking this. However, it’s a huge paradigm shift for those in health care who are convinced their expertise should always prevail. Medical cannabis shows that when they get it wrong – and they certainly did get it wrong about cannabis, as a professional community, for generations – the results can be devastating.

the health care industries big mistake

It wasn’t always like this. Even when cannabis was effectively made illegal in 1937, it still stayed in the US pharmacopoeia until 1941. But people forget quickly, generations pass, and forgetfulness calcifies into institutional ignorance. It is a deep indictment of a system that has continually researched compounds from the plant, yet stayed silent as those who utilized it for their own health lived for decades under fear of prosecution. 

It’s all an object lesson in how attitudes and prejudice can affect even those who are supposed to embrace fact over fiction. And as anyone who has observed the War on Drugs already knows, the marginalized are often the ones targeted and scapegoated by such attitudes.  No matter how strong those attitudes, however, people on those margins will experiment upon themselves and learn the truth for themselves, which is at the basis of what I call alternative health. 

With the advent of medical cannabis programs, those who wish to recommend it usually end up taking courses on the body’s natural endocannabinoid system, mainly because most health care practitioners never encounter it in their formal training in any meaningful way. Better late than never, of course, but I hope that as they study this system, they will develop a greater appreciation for the ties our body has to nature, and that the health of their patients relies on the health of their environment as well My own sister is now a nurse practitioner that now integrates mindfulness into therapy sessions with her clients. Developing that full-spectrum model of care is at the heart of cannabis, and why alternative health should not be considered alternative anymore.

how medical cannabis mainstreams alternative health

As my perspective on well-being develops, I have come to see wellness more and more as living a balanced, holistic lifestyle while questioning conventional western medical practices. Alternative health is a subset of the larger wellness movement, as many elements of wellness – such as yoga and mindfulness – have crossed over into mainstream health. Of course, the danger is in falling into a dualistic mindset – considering one form of health maintenance more appropriate over another.  Much of it is quite simple, such as time in nature or a good night’s sleep. Ultimately, it means pulling away from the machine of overmedicalization and relying on a lab and synthetics to keep you from falling apart. The Society of Cannabis Clinicians has been fighting the good fight for years, and I’ve encountered plenty of doctors who see cannabis as potentially useful in therapeutic settings – although most of them are speaking off-the-record to me when they do. Of course, they worry about snake oil and potentially damaging products being used by patients whose health are already compromised. For that reason, they want to see more research before they can fully cosign. 

While they sit on the sidelines, we are already beginning to see the beginnings of a great shift. Just last month, Cresco announced a nationwide rebrand of their dispensaries under the name Sunnyside*, announcing their desire to be seen as the Whole Foods of cannabis. Clearly, cannabis isn’t waiting for the old guard to catch up. These stores, and others like it, will spread a new message of health, lifestyle design and spiritual fulfillment alongside of their products. Medicine Box is working hard in providing the information people need to get the most out of their moment, so get prepared to get more active information on how cannabis and our product line can fit into your life. Of course, it’s not just about cannabis: it’s about a lot of other things we’ll also be talking about this month, such as music, fashion and fitness. But it starts with getting out of bed. Are you ready to run a mile, or do you need to take several pills before you can even function? There’s ALWAYS an alternative, and sometimes, taking it can make all the difference for your health.




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