Print Posted on 07/24/2017 in From the Earth

Hemp’s Higher Power: Healing the Mind and Body

Hemp’s Higher Power: Healing the Mind and Body

* by Jessica Rick  

An absentee father, a chemically unbalanced mother with a mean streak, and a house filled with sex, drugs, and alcohol abuse officially means my childhood was less than ideal. As I grew, I set my sights on a life that would be the opposite of everything that surrounded me. So, it might surprise you that I got my medical marijuana card over a year ago and love both using and talking about the hemp products I use. 

I didn’t just dive into using products derived from the cannabis plant. I investigated and learned the history of the cannabis plant is a long one stretching from as early as prehistoric Asia to the 15th Century B.C. in China before migrating to India and Persia and then heading over to the Mediterranean. After nomadic invaders in the 5th century brought it to Europe, it eventually spread to the Americas.  

There was even a time in early America when citizens were required to grow hemp because it is easy to farm, grows quickly, and requires no toxic chemical fertilizers or pesticides.  It’s an eco-friendly crop with a plethora of uses (i.e. paper, rope, food, skin care products, clothing, housewares, buildings, etc.). 

It wasn’t until the early 20th century that legal and moral concerns about the cannabis plant surfaced – especially during the 1930s – until it became classified as a Schedule 1 drug in 1970.   

So where does that leave us today? Well, if you’re me and you live in California, or one of the other 28 states or D.C. that permits either medical and/or recreational marijuana, you can have access to products from the cannabis plant that contain THC.  

However, you may not live in one of these states. Or maybe you don’t want to deal with the stigma of marijuana or the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it contains. If that’s the case, you can still experience some benefits of the cannabis plant by using products made with hemp (i.e. hemp seed and hemp oil) or hemp extract (i.e. cannabidiol).    

Hemp is obtained from cannabis plants that are grown for industrial use, not drug use. As such it is often called “industrial hemp.” It contains a tiny percentage of psychoactive compounds, but they are reduced to zero (or very nearly zero) after the seeds are processed so there is no chance of getting high.  

Here is what I can tell you about my own experience with topical hemp and hemp extract products: they work. This is why Kaiya Natural’s makes a few of these products (fair warning: I am part owner of this company so blatant self-promotion is coming). For example, the Higher Power After Shower Oil contains hemp seed oil which provides the body with omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Many scientific studies have been done (like this one) that show the PUFAs help treat atopic dermatitis, which is more commonly known as eczema.  

Plus, and I feel this bears repeating, the absorption of the hemp seed oil won’t give you a high. Hemp seed oil absorbs quickly which is important in a body oil…unless you want to walk around in oil friendly clothing (i.e. old clothes but this makes more laundry) or naked until the oil seeps in (but this takes extra time).  

Hemp seed oil also has vitamin A and D in it, which are great antioxidants that help prevent and slow cell damage. Truth be told, I prefer a more flowery scent than the musky and earthy one this product provides. However, I often reach for it because the ingredients are so good for my skin, and keep it soft all day.  

Kaiya Naturals’ Sore Muscle Body Balm contains hemp seed oil and 20% hemp extract which means the cannabinoid receptors naturally found in the cells throughout your skin soak up the hemp extract’s ability to help relieve pain and inflammation. I have had back issues since I was nineteen years old; bulging discs and spinal stenosis are long suffering ailments of mine that respond positively to the body balm.  

It seems fairy-tale-folklore-like that a plant can help with pain, but scientific studies like this one indicate that using hemp extract to deter chronic pain “seems to be effective and safe…” It also goes on to state “more data and subsequent trials are needed” as do most studies on this topic. 

Part of what I really enjoy about using this product, and others that contain hemp extract, is that it also does not give me a buzz or high; in fact, that is impossible. The level of THC in marijuana that produces a buzz ranges between 5 – 20 percent. The level of THC in hemp extract is .3 percent or less.  

I’ll let you in on a secret about the Sore Muscle Body Balm: you don’t have to wait until you are achy to use it! My Aunt Sue, the founder of Kaiya Naturals and our in-house herbalist, applies it before she does her yoga in the morning because it helps her stretches go deeper and gives her movements a more seamless flow.    

While Kaiya Naturals doesn’t make a product with THC in it, I have also responded well to creams and sprays that contain both THC and hemp extract. Remember, I live in California so I have legal access to this stuff which allows me to receive the healing benefits of the whole plant, not just one component from it.  

However, I want to be very clear that hemp extract products, and even ones with THC, can’t cure me. What they do is help manage my symptoms. I also see a chiropractor and do yoga stretches and poses as well as strengthening exercises every day to manage my ailments. In the past I’ve also had acupuncture, physical therapy, deep tissue massage, and steroid shots into my spine. My goal is to keep myself mobile and as pain free as possible so I use every tool I can to accomplish this.   

Trust me when I say the benefits of using hemp seed oil and hemp extract are plentiful. The research done thus far on the cannabis plant indicate that it is a neuroprotective, antipsychotic, anti-inflammatory that can help with issues like addiction, epilepsy, dermatitis, aging, pain, inflammation, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, obesity, stress, fear, and anxiety. Imagine what could be learned if more extensive research, which is needed, was completed.  

I like knowing I can help my body by using hemp products; this was not something I could have done five years ago. Heck, I couldn’t have done it three years ago; the smell of cannabis used to unsettle me so much that I would physically shake.  

But some time ago, I realized anything can seem “bad” if it is used in excess or out of context. Based on my research, the cannabis plant is inherently good and so are its derivatives (i.e. hemp, hemp seed oil, hemp extract, THC). It’s just a plant. The fact that some people use it in a negative context, doesn’t make the plant bad.  

Of course, knowing this didn’t make the day I obtained my medical marijuana card easy for me. First, I drove to the wrong address. That made me late and being late added to my anxiety. After I left with my new medical marijuana card, I drove to a dispensary. There was no parking. Actually, there was a valet…but I opted to keep driving. My supply of bravery was running on empty. I decided to go to a nursery to spend time with plants that did normal things like look good and smell delightful.  

I passed at least six more dispensaries on the way to the nursery, but could not bring myself to stop. I played the music very loud and sang just as loud to calm my nerves. All I accomplished was making my voice hoarse. While at the nursery, I bought two bougainvillea even though I already had one at home and I have a small patio. I bought some dirt. I bought some other plants. I considered getting a chai tea latte from Starbucks. Then I acted on that thought and got one. Slowly, I drove back to the original dispensary giving the stink-eye to all the others I passed again on the way. 

As I approached the dispensary, I could see there were three open parking spots. I took that as a good sign because the parking lot only has seven spots total.  

I parked terribly and decided not to care about it. I took many deep breaths in the car and then I went inside.  

It has taken years to file my childhood memories so they don’t have the power to hurt me anymore or control who I am today. That first day I went to the dispensary, I had a simple back up plan: call the whole thing off.  

Seriously, I gave myself permission to walk away. I told myself that I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone. I told myself that I could try another day and no matter what—and this is very important—I had not failed. Whatever the outcome, I would at least know where I was on the healing spectrum and know more about myself.  

Healing past hurts look different for everyone and can arrive in many different and surprising forms. I never dreamed one of mine would come in the form of the cannabis plant. Each time I use a hemp product –whether it’s to alleviate pain or just soften my skin—I am doing more than just a mindless task. I’m consciously soothing and encouraging the places that were not tended to when I was a child. Each time I reach for a hemp product is a chance to add another layer of scar tissue to the hurts from my childhood. Sure, there are still skeletons in my closet; most of them just don’t shake anymore.   


*** Jessica Rick is a life-long animal lover, avid reader, and wannabe gardener who thinks rocking chairs are way cool, but doesn’t own one…yet. She helped launch Kaiya Naturals in 2016 with her aunt Sue and cousin Kedric to bring safe skin care products made from natural ingredients to the public. She resides in Los Angeles, CA.

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