The GRAM team was inspired after seeing Montel Williams’ powerful keynote presentation at the Cannabis Science Conference last year. The Emmy Award winning television star, decorated veteran, and fitness enthusiast was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) in 1999. Montel explains, “I had been trying opioids for about a year and a half, and they weren’t really giving me sufficient relief.” His doctor then gave him a recommendation for cannabis. “I think when the doctor first recommended it, I really didn’t understand the full research and medical implications of cannabis. I literally dug in and tried to see if I could find some printed materials. Back then the internet wasn’t as robust as it is today, so, it took a long time searching and finding information. But even back in 2000 and 2001, I was starting to get information that was coincident with the information that’s in our government’s own patent for cannabinoids which identifies cannabinoids as having anti-inflammatory properties. Recognizing the fact that inflammation is one of the biggest nemeses of MS, I decided to see if I could gain any anti-inflammatory relief from using cannabis and did so really first kind of trying it to see if I got anything out of it. I’d also been down a pretty heavy pathway of opioid prescriptions. I had doctors who were willing to write me prescription after prescription after prescription of opioids, and I wanted to see if I could break that cycle. It really helped me break that cycle.”
I use a higher THC in the mornings to start my day, and I shift over to a higher CBD in the evening.
Montel tells us how he went ahead with his recommendation and sought out cannabis to try and find a couple strains. However, this wasn’t Montel’s first experience with cannabis. “I used cannabis when I was in high school. I’m a child of the 70’s, so cannabis was around, and I probably used it, I would say back then recreationally, but not on a regular basis. I had gone away from cannabis for almost 20 years because of my time in the military. So, when I started using it again on a regular basis, I’d already started my career in Hollywood and been to a couple of parties where cannabis was available.” He says, even then, he was only an every other month type of consumer. He explains how after reading the literature and learning it works better when you use it consistently and on a regular basis, he started a more consistent routine. “I started doing so and after about only two months, I started getting more relief.”
“Early on, I found that using the higher CBD, the more relief I started getting. But then, I started noticing that after, I’d say about two years, I started noticing that I needed to include some THC and that and the fuller spectrum, the better the relief. So for me, I now use varied forms throughout the day. I use a higher THC in the mornings to start my day, and I shift over to a higher CBD in the evening.” He explains although he’s used cannabis and been an activist for over two decades, he has been a non-flower consumer for a couple decades. “I have been a non-flower user for almost 20 years, and I shifted over to using kief in about 2001, long before it was vogue. I found that, for me, I get better relief out of kief than I do out of flower. So, I’ve kind of shifted away from flower, but on some rare occasions I now use flower. I like to mix kief with flower to give a broader spectrum.”
Montel explains how he’s not only found cannabis benefits his MS, but he’s found benefits in the gym, in addition to restful recovery after training sessions. “I definitely, for close to 20 years, I have used cannabis before workouts. Number one, I think some of the relief I’ve gotten out of it is there’s less joint pain and less amount of post-workout tension. So, it’s an easier way to relax and calm down. I also use it for sleep.”
Although he consumes cannabis for many beneficial reasons, he explains how it can be considered a powerful tool in the toolbox for health. “I think that no one should look at cannabis as if it is the end to all. It’s just like when we go to war, a war uses multiple branches of the service, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps. We fill our quiver of weaponry with every weapon we can utilize to the best advantage for whatever it is that we’re trying to overcome. Cannabis is just another arrow in that quiver. It’s another weapon in the arsenal that should be looked at being used and respected, when it actually has an effect that is giving people relief.” After Montel’s diagnosis, he has researched extensively other ways to help fight against MS and found that cannabis isn’t the only plant medicine that could help. “I tried my best to seek out a diet that was more filled with anti-inflammatory foods. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and try to reduce my intake of processed foods.” Food is medicine and many fruits and vegetables provide other health benefits in addition to their anti-inflammatory properties.
In the last three years, everything has changed. But before that, people really looked at it like a joke, Oh, yeah right. You use it for medicine.
Montel Williams was one of the first people to step out back in 2001 and openly discuss his cannabis use as it related MS. “People thought I was crazy for having even acknowledged the fact that I was doing so [using cannabis], and I didn’t get the support that we have right now. In the last three years, everything has changed. But before that, people really looked at it like a joke. Oh, yeah right. You use it for ‘medicine.’ The truth of the matter is, yes, I was, I was doing exactly what the U.S. government was doing back then. Nobody was willing to discuss it. I’m glad that now the industry and attitudes in the country are starting to change, but people have to remember, 18 years ago, it was entirely different.”
One discovery that has been hypocritical to the scheduling of cannabis in the United States is the patent 6630507 that the government has held since 2003 on cannabinoids. Montel says, “When I read that the U.S. government literally gave itself a patent for research that it did that proves the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis, that changed my mind immediately. I really would suggest people take the time to pull up the U.S. patent 6630507. All you have to do is read what our government says. We believe them when it comes to so many other things, we should be believing them when it comes to the money that we’ve spent taxpayer dollars to research and come up with discoveries. Why not believe it when the government itself has a patent? If the United States government has written out specific properties that it believes cannabinoids have, and it has done so. It states unequivocally, ‘Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This newfound property makes cannabinoids useful for the treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular applications as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting 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 HIV dementia. Non-psychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses.’ There are so many elected officials who will stand on television and lie right through their teeth, not acknowledging the fact that it was Congress and the Senate that paid for the research that came up with this.” Montel suffered a rare stroke in 2018 and is lucky to have survived. He has since undergone physical therapy recovery. There are only 13 ambulances in the U.S. equipped with certain technology to access stroke patients and one of them was only 2 blocks from where he suffered his rare form of stroke. Knowing about the neuroprotectant properties and other benefits of cannabis, he believes there may be a connection between his survival and recovery and his cannabis use.
Montel is well known for his accomplishments in the military and feels that veterans should absolutely have access to cannabis as an option. “The VA will not deny veterans their rights at the VA hospital if they actually are found to have used cannabis, but the hospitals still will not allow doctors to recommend or discuss. I think it’s absolutely absurd that we have something that is here, that we know not only works for anti-inflammation, but we have now seen studies that have come out talking about its effect over PTSD and other things. So there’s no reason why we shouldn’t allow those who do so much for us to get the minimal benefits from a medication that does no harm.”
When I read that the U.S. government literally gave itself a patent for research that it did that proves the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis, that changed my mind immediately
After seeing the potential of cannabis as medicine firsthand and understanding the uses of industrial hemp, Montel knows the plant has the power to improve so many lives around the world. He continues his journey to educate the world about the plant and to share the knowledge he’s gained along his path to help others. “I have a brand of cannabis that I’ve had in the marketplace, that I intend to reintroduce in the market in the next couple of months and have been working diligently and trying my best to produce the safest and most efficacious medicine that I can.” He’s also continuing his mission to share education with those about cannabis through his podcast, Let’s Be Blunt with Montel. He interviews a wide variety of people to discuss their knowledge about cannabis, to share his message, and educate others about a plant that was so deeply ingrained in our history for centuries, until the 1930’s. “I really think that the cat is way out of the bag. I mean, we’re down the road now where the only thing that really should be being done is more research to validate the efficaciousness of this plant rather than people trying to do research to see if they can knock down the plant. They should be trying to do research to see what benefits we can get out of it and pursue ensuring that people have access to the most beneficial properties of cannabis. I think the only reason why we don’t do that is because of its impact. We’ve seen data come out recently about the fact that now, millennials and xennials seem to be gravitating more towards cannabis than they are alcohol. It’s really pissing off an entire industry that really is going to fight the fight, hook and nail. They’re going to fight as hard as they can to ensure that they can vilify this so that their industry is not hurt financially, and it’s really ridiculous. I think now people should step up to the plate and honestly support something that if you take a look back in history, the number of deaths, suicides, injuries and look at the adverse effects of alcohol on societies worldwide for thousands of years, and you take a look at the adverse effects of cannabis, you find none. No one has died from an overdose of cannabis. Recently, there has been a reported death by a person who was using cannabis that may have been fungus related, but they didn’t die because of the cannabis or cannabinoids. So why are we not trying to push more people to use a product that is less detrimental to mankind?”
I really would suggest people take the time to pull up the U.S. patent 6630507. All you have to do is read what our government says.
US Patent No. 6630507
The government of the United States is the owner of this patent for: Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectant
Abstract Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting 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 HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH.sub.3, and COCH.sub.3. ##STR1##
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Turmeric is a root vegetable commonly used as a spice in various Indian and other cultures’ dishes. Turmeric is in the zingiberaceae family, as is ginger. The turmeric plant is native to the southeastern region of Asia and commonly harvested in places like India, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, and Taiwan. It is responsible for curry’s signature orange color, and its vibrant pigment will give essentially any meal an orange hue.
Turmeric contains a substance called curcumin, and curcumin has been shown through research to offer anti-inflammatory and other therapeutic benefits. The scientific name for the turmeric plant is Curcuma Longa, and likely where the name curcumin comes from. When people are talking about the health benefits of turmeric, they are referencing curcumin so you may hear the two names used interchangeably. Curcumin is part of a group called curcuminoids, with curcumin being the most active and the most beneficial for health. Flavonoids are another substance found in various plants and give these plants their color. Curcumin is a flavonoid and is responsible for providing that bright orange color to turmeric. In addition to providing aesthetic value, flavonoids are also strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
The Journal of Biological Chemistry published a study done by Sanjaya Singh and Bharat B. Aggarwal of the Cytokine Research Laboratory at the world-renowned cancer hospital, M.D. Anderson. The study found that curcumin suppressed NF-κB, a protein complex responsible for controlling inflammatory responses. In other words, turmeric shuts off the body’s inflammatory response. Anti-inflammatories can be beneficial for many different ailments, including chronic pain and digestive disorders. A lot of CBD companies even put curcumin in their products because of its benefits. It is believed to be a synergistic pair with complementary therapeutic properties. The thought is that the two plant medicines are powerful on their own; as a combination, they can deliver even more anti-inflammatory and medicinal benefits.
Many people simply add turmeric to their dishes as a way to easily incorporate it into their daily routine. It is pretty mild in flavor and can be added to many dishes without changing the overall taste too drastically. Some say that turmeric isn’t strong enough on its own to receive the anti-inflammatory properties that curcumin provides, and therefore recommend a curcumin supplement. Research varies on that, so in the end it is just up to personal preference and your doctor’s approval. Curcumin supplements come most available in capsules. Pregnant women can safely use turmeric as an addition to their food, but should avoid taking high-dosage supplements. Those who are interested in supplementing with curcumin products should talk with their doctor first.
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center did another study in 2007 exploring curcumin for cancer treatment. The study found that curcumin inhibits ovarian cancer growth and angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels). It does this by targeting and manipulating the NF-κB pathway, the same protein complex responsible for controlling inflammatory response. According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The nuclear factor NF-κB pathway has long been considered a prototypical proinflammatory signaling pathway, largely based on the role of NF-κB in the expression of proinflammatory genes including cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules.”
The trend with curcumin seems to be it’s ability to control inflammatory responses in the body. It does this by multiple pathways, but a commonly researched one is the NF-κB protein complex. Because this pathway is able to be manipulated by curcumin to encourage anti-inflammatory expressions, its potential for successfully treating various ailments is there.
Psilocybin + Magic Mushrooms
When many think of plant medicine, specifically those plants with psychoactive effects, they think of “magic mushrooms,” or fungi containing psilocybin and psilocin that can cause hallucinations depending on the dosage consumed. In many states, there are active efforts to decriminalize these otherwise scheduled substances, lowering penalties for their use and possession. But what value do psilocybin-containing mushrooms offer? New research suggests a range of therapeutic and psychological value ranging from the treatment of substance abuse to anxiety and depression management.
What are Magic Mushrooms?
Magic Mushroom use dates back to 10,000 BCE and references continue throughout the era. Their modern popularity began when the term “magic mushroom” was coined by two etnomycologists who learned of a Harvard study on local doctors in Mexico using these substances, noting the substance’s ability to affect the nervous system. These findings were eventually published in Life magazine in 1957, and the term became the universal reference for psychoactive fungi and truffles, specifically those containing high concentrations of psilocybin and psilocin.
Psilocybin & Psilocin: The “Magic” in Magic Mushrooms
Psilocybin and psilocin are part of a family of psychedelic compounds found in magic mushrooms. Psilocin is pharmacologically active, and psilocybin is converted into psilocin when consumed or activated. Similar in structure to serotonin, there are more than 50 species of mushrooms and a variety of truffles that produce both the precursor, psilocybin, and the psychoactive compound, psilocin. Unlike LSD, magic mushrooms do not affect dopamine receptors, solely targeting serotonin sites.
How are Magic Mushrooms used?
Magic mushrooms are often used for recreational, therapeutic and medicinal reasons. “Effects range from mild feelings of relaxation, giddiness, euphoria, visual enhancement (seeing colors brighter), visual disturbances (moving surfaces, waves), to delusions, altered perception of real events, images and faces, or real hallucinations.” Recreationally, this is often known as “tripping.” As an alternative health option, these fungi are being used for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and trauma, as well as psychological disorders such as substance abuse disorders, and science is beginning to back the potential for these applications.
Research on Mushrooms
Evaluations of currently available scientific studies suggest a growing number of therapeutic benefits and treatment options. “In the past few years, a growing number of studies using human volunteers have begun to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of drugs such as psilocybin…looking at psilocybin and other hallucinogens to treat a number of otherwise intractable psychiatric disorders, including chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug or alcohol dependency.”
Magic mushrooms have been respected as a “safe & natural healing sacrament for millennia throughout Mexico, Central America and the world,” and are known to be beneficial for depression, recidivism (the tendency to repeat past transgressions), and encourages openness, creativity, as well as personal and spiritual growth. UCLA and NYC have done studies on the applications of magic mushrooms in the treatment of end-of-life anxiety and other studies have backed up the use of psilocybin and psilocin in the treatment of substance use disorders, depression (especially in cases of terminal conditions like cancer as well as treatment-resistant depression), and reducing depression and anxiety overall.
Best way for people to consume?
When it comes to the consumption of mushrooms, advice on dosage is about as specific as it was with cannabis under prohibition. Consumers must purchase on the black market and are subject to whatever may be available.
“Recreational doses range from 1–5 grams of dry mushrooms depending on the species and individual strength of the specimens… After ingestion, the psilocybin is enzymatically converted to psilocin. Absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract, hallucinogenic effects usually occur within 30 minutes of ingestion with a duration of effect of 4–6 hours.”
My recommendation as someone who has used magic mushrooms both for recreational and therapeutic purposes, is to grind the mushrooms into a fine powder and either encapsulate them in small increments and/or combine with lemon juice. Capsules will allow you to titrate your dosage as needed with a recognizable increment, while lemon juice will expedite onset time.
The Legality of Magic Mushrooms
In the United States, psilocybin is a Schedule I controlled substance, with no accepted medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. In contrast, the Drug Policy Alliance states that “Physically, psilocybin mushrooms are considered to be one of the least toxic drugs known.” With that being said, local efforts such as Decriminalize Nature – Oakland and Decriminalize Denver have pushed for and successfully passed initiatives and legislation to reduce penalties and make enforcement a low priority, as was done in the early days of cannabis activism. This has spurred multiple local and international efforts to “Decriminalize Nature,” efforts that we learn more about in this month’s feature.