Superstar Marilyn Monroe had two arms, two legs, and a heart that seemed to beat just like everyone else. Yet, she was a 20th century iconic movie star. There was something about her that shined and we are still drawn to her beautiful smiles and radiating demeanor today.
Superstar cannabis is the same. The plant has vast roots, a firm stock, and fan leaves like many other plants. Yet, it’s a superstar in the plant kingdom with amazing healing properties that leave many humans in awe of her power. I first heard this analogy from one of my favorite herbalist, Susun Weed, who compared cannabis to Marilyn Monroe in this fashion. She said cannabis was a power plant and that it was hard for humans to understand. History has shown over and over again that when we don’t understand something, we demonize it. Which is exactly what we’ve done to cannabis in the United States and what some have tried to do to Marilyn Monroe over the last 50 years. Both have been tied to various smear campaigns aimed at knocking these superstars down.
Yet, here in Southern Oregon, a region perfect for cultivating sungrown cannabis, we’ve grown this power plant for generations and the sky hasn’t fallen. Except of course for some farmers and connoisseurs who have been criminalized over the years for a seed and a smoke. The sky has fallen on many people’s lives, but not because of the herb directly. Lives have been lost and families broken due to a prohibition many would argue is based on racism and greed. A law some would say was passed to protect powerful monopolies like cotton, timber, and pharmaceuticals at the expense of cannabis’s reputation.
As prohibition begins to lift around the country we have a chance to embrace this superstar plant again for it’s healing properties. We need comprehensive research and testing to learn more about the healing plants that folklore has guided us towards for generations. Having a modern day understanding for the plants that surround us while remembering popular myths brings balance in the modern era of “swallow this pharmaceutical pill and experience this and that side effect…and then we’ll give you another pill for that side effect too.” A common situation many patients have shared with me who have abandoned modern medicine for holistic healing through the Oregon Medical Cannabis Program and now through adult access to the plant.
Cannabis is not the only plant with folklore backed by modern research. Take garlic for example. Although there is truth in our ancestors understanding about garlic only later did we learn that it has antibacterial and antibiotic properties. This old Welsh saying may indeed have merit as a health remedy: “Eat leeks in March and garlic in May, then the rest of the year, your doctor can play.” In 2009 researchers found that the organic compound, allicin —which gives garlic its aroma and flavor— acts as a powerful antioxidant.
Cannabis can contain any of some 85 classes of cannabinoids. The two most studied and well known of these are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) – the only two the State of Oregon requires a retailer to test. Yet it’s important to find the batches that contain the cannabinoids that modern studies are pinpointing as effective without stuffing the plant in a lab or developing synthetic versions of this power plant.
For example, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid cannabigerol (CBG) has not been the focus of conversations surrounding cannabis laws, but the results of recent studies prove the cannabinoid can help relieve symptoms. CBG has been shown to reduce ocular pressure and increase the fluid drainage from the eye, making it ideal for helping those who suffer from glaucoma. CBG also inhibits the uptake of a chemical in our brain called GABA, causing relaxation of the muscles and a reduction in anxiety according to Dr. Bonni Goldstein, Medical Director of Canna-Centers. No longer bound by the myth of healing, modern science is working to explain why cannabis is the power plant society has placed on the pedestal of stardom in the plant kingdom.
Understanding what we’ve been told for generations while weaving in modern science and actual testing helps us all to understand this superstar plant. I suppose we’ll never know exactly why Marilyn Monroe was a human superstar, however some things just are the way they are and are best left in the eye of the beholder. She had popular appeal. We were drawn to her. Not all superstars can be explained. I think I’ll stick to working with power plants in my quest to help others as science is quickly catching up to the lore that has made cannabis the star we’ve come to know in the plant kingdom.
This article contains information about herbs, including cannabis, and is for general health information only. This article is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. Readers of this article should not rely on information provided here for their own health problems. Any questions regarding your own health should be addressed by your own physician or other healthcare provider.