Medical Marijuana update

Recently reapplied for my Oregon Medical Marijuana card for this year.  I purchased a new book, The Medical Marijuana Handbook: A Patient’s Guide to Holistic Healing with Cannabis. By Norma Eckroate, published by  This realm is very complex and confusing without a guide, so her handbook is welcome.

At least 1,000 strains of cannabis are named so far, each one a different medicine.  Products are coming on the market daily.  Each plant has at least 400 chemicals, THC and CBD being the ones in greatest quantity, the ones that tend to be listed by percentage on products.  New medical strains tend to be low in THC, which is what gets you high, and very high is CBD, which is the medicinal chemical most people look for.

She speaks clearly about the synergy of the whole plant, vs allopathic chemical drugs.  It’s got a name: the entourage effect. The medicine is softer, less harsh than most prescription medicines. Cannabis promotes homeostasis (or internal balance) by working with the body’s own endocannabinoid system to harmonize and balance all of the functions of the body.  In her world, it can help just about anything.  For cancer, it controls natural programmed cell death, called apoptosis.  It assists angiogenesis, which causes tumors to starve.  It attacks cancer cells like chemo with no harm to healthy cells in the body.  And it also can increase appetite, essential for survival for many cancer patients.  Some people lose weight and some gain, it varies.  And all of this with relatively few side effects, no danger of overdosing.  Thousands of people die every year from allopathic drugs and complications from drug interactions.   No one has ever died from a cannabis overdose.  I have heard this several times now.

The author repeats what I have already learned: the story on the street, the anecdotal evidence, is that a drop or two of RSO (Rick Simpson Oil) concentrated oil a day can reduce or remove even end stage cancer.  The idea is to treat the whole body, not to suppress the symptoms, so a rebalance or cure becomes possible.

She says that the US government (in the 1970s) reported cannabis was good for limiting neurological damage after strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, HIV dementia.  Cancer, pain, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, insomnia, anxiety, seizures, psoriasis, bone growth, even MS.  Long list.  The reason this works is because of the internal endocannabinoid system we all have in our bodies, and how cannabis links up with that in a variety of ways.  I feel such sorrow that cannabis has been outlawed for so many decades, thanks to the pharmaceutical companies who want to make money.  Unnecessary suffering by many, many people.  Only now will the necessary research be done.  It will take decades before we even begin to understand how this plant works.

My grandmother was a nurse during the second world war, and told me that they used cannabis routinely, especially for the DTs when an alcoholic would come in to her ward.  No one thought anything about it, just a good medicine that worked for lots of things.

The politics of how this herb got to be a “dangerous substance” is just plain sad.

I’m about 1/2 way through the book, will report again if there’s useful things to share.  Overall, the information is organized, not reported in great depth but with heart, and feels honest, presented with good intention.  Not light or heavy, just easy to read.

But really, Purple Cush?  Where do people get these names!



Smoke Signals from Medical Marijuana Land

I promised smoke signals along the way with medical marijuana, so here goes.

What “the word on the street” recommends for cancer is what is called Rick Simpson Oil (or RSO) oil, the resin that I described awhile ago.  I’ve found, after some trial and error, an organic cannabis RSO oil, extracted using certified organic cane alcohol, from the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon.  No pesticide residue and no mold or mildew of note.

It has 185 mg of THC (which is the stuff that makes you high) and 451 mg of CBD which is the stuff that helps get rid of tumors.  It comes in a syringe type thingy of 1 ml, that lasts quite a long time for me.  I only take a tiny drop every night before I go to bed.

Here’s what I have noticed.  This oil no longer gets me high like the first time I tried it.  I take a tiny drop about an hour before I go to bed, and once I lay down to sleep, I only notice that my mind is traveling down some old roads, or strange new roads, somewhat.  I can easily separate from these thoughts by calling on the witness, calling in mindfulness.  Couch lock is not an issue, since I’m in bed, sleeping.  Dr. Allderdice called that one correctly.

I sleep 10 hours a night now, pretty deeply, and do not wake in the middle of the night agitated as I did before I started this.  Waking in the morning, I don’t seem to have any muddled thinking, or foggy brain like with melatonin. Sometimes I am tired, but I’m always tired and it’s hard to sort out one kind of tired from another type.

Overall, I seem to be happier in this strange new land I inhabit.

Just for fun, I also bought some cannabis infused chocolate the other day…  because I can!

Once cannabis is legal around the country and clinics can start doing good research, we’ll begin to know what is true and what is street myth.  People in Europe, who have been doing research for decades, are also indicating the medicinal qualities of marijuana, and the folks in Tibet, for example, have been using it for eons, safely and with good results.

Stay tuned.





N of 1

What really works for people with cancer who cannot use Western medicine for whatever reasons?  And how can we know?

The Gold Standard for medical research, and the basis of what we hear from doctors, comes from controlled clinical trials with hundreds of patients, randomly sorted into groups, using placebos or other controls, to see whether there is a statistically significant aggregate answer about a proposed treatment.  It’s about averages. It serves the scientists, who are mostly funded by large pharmaceutical companies.   But averages don’t tell us what will happen to an individual, the 1 in a N of 1.  The data given to me, for example, is just that: an average result, and it is not really about me, and it’s not the final word.  In some cases, it’s not only not about me, it might be harmful.  Chemo, for example, would kill me.

One way to deal with this is to use a N of 1 trial, where the number of participants in the trial is one.  You, for example, or me.  By controlled clinical trials, it has been shown that N of 1 is a patient-specified, individual answer which leads to improved patient outcomes.  In other words, me and my doctor try various treatments, and see what works.  When patients and doctors do this, they get better results than if they refer only to the averaged data.  This type of research serves patients needs directly.

This can be costly, bureaucrats don’t like it, and people don’t always understand it.  Doctors often don’t have the time or support staff to make this really work.  But guess what?  It’s gaining traction because it works.  Better than the other way.  The catch is that we need to start by documenting a baseline, and track symptoms before we try a new treatment, and then track afterwards, and test treatments separately.  That last part lets me out, I think.

This process leads to experiments that can answer questions and change treatment plans for the better.  Doctors can tailor care, and its cheaper to do, instead of relying on expensive tests and such.  It’s lower tech, and achieves personalized medicine.  It’s about improving patient care.  Instead of trying to wrangle the patient (you or me) into a averaged body of statistical data, it personalizing the treatment and the outcome as well.

You can read a professional journal for this new movement, The Patient: Patient Centered Outcomes Research.   In 2010, the Affordable Care Act established the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.  I read about this in the November 2014 Discover magazine, starting on page 28.

My thoughts are as usual a little off the wall, but my guess is that people are moving away from Western medicine, which is expensive, impersonal, kind of like a machine conveyor belt, towards Alternative Medicine such as naturopathic care or Chinese medicine or Tibetan medicine, because it is personal, cheaper, and in many cases, more effective for chronic issues.

When Western medicine does apply for cancer treatment, by all means, go for it.  Sometimes it doesn’t, and so this provides an alternative way to proceed.

If Western docs have learned anything from Integrative Medicine, it’s that people are not averages, they are a N of 1.  And if they are to compete, they need to deal with this.

In my case, I get my next scan towards the end of this month.  If the tumors are receding, I won’t know if it’s the turmeric, Eric’s food as medicine, medical marijuana, Tibetan herbs, my own internal meditation and visualizations, or what else in my two page treatment plan.  I’m okay with this, because I have a hunch that what I am doing is a whole plan, and it’s probably better not to try to pull it apart into separate strands.

Time will tell.  Meanwhile, I am encouraged to hear about N of 1 moving into mainstream medicine.  Yippee!





Tibetan Healer

A few weeks ago I had a private consultation with Dr. Tenzin Yangdon, a slight Tibetan woman in traditional dress, who spoke with a thick accent and a radiant smile.  She took all 12 of my pulses, in a manner very like Chinese medicine: 6 on each wrist, three superficial and three deep, each one giving her a reading of my 12 channels of chi. She named weak kidney chi, as well as some damage to my lungs, acknowledging the deep fatigue.

From her perspective, I’ve had weak kidney chi since I was quite small, something that I had figured out as well. Her assessment came without any conversation with me about my life, rather what she could read from my pulses.  Aside from taking cannabis oil, she prescribed some herbs and maybe some Tibetan pills.

Dr. Tenzin does sound healing, so she settled large and small tibetan bowls on my body and kept moving them around, adding and taking away, in a vibrant and deeply intuitive dance.  Left leg, right leg, arms and belly, everywhere. She would touch a part of my body, test the chi, then adjust the bowls, and again.  And again.   After about 15 to 20 minutes, I felt as though I was “ringing clear” throughout my whole body, including my kidneys.  Delicious experience. I’ve had sound healing before, but not like this.  She is a magician.  A physician.  A healer.

Hopefully she will return to Portland and I will receive a second healing session.  I remain profoundly grateful for this connection and my time with her.

Meanwhile the young woman here in Portland, who is a Tibetan healer in her own right, checks in with me.  Part of my team.






Quick marijuana follow up

I met with a Tibetan healer a few weeks ago who said “Cannabis, take cannabis, every day, do not miss a day!” (Among other things.  That’s another story!)

So, after consulting with my oncology naturopath Dr. Dave Allderdice, I have been taking a smidge of the cannabis resin every night before I go to bed.  About the size of the head of a pin.  Maybe a hat pin if I’m feeling adventurous.

I sleep quickly and easily, and sleep all through the night.  And awake happy and peaceful.

It works!  I am thrilled.  And who knows, maybe it is also slowly eroding the tumors, which is why we’re doing this.

My next CT scan, or PET scan, is due in late January.  Perhaps we’ll see then if the tumors are shrinking.


Meanwhile, Medical Marijuana…

One of the first things I did, after getting my diagnosis and prognosis, was to get a medical marijuana card here in Oregon.  The process isn’t simple.  I got written approval from my oncologist, who I suspect feels bad because there isn’t anything else she can do for me.  Then I filed a bunch of papers with the State of Oregon, including a check for $250, and they mailed me a card after a month.  This card gets me into any medical marijuana dispensary in the State of Oregon for one year.  All weed is legal now in Oregon, so we’ll see how the process itself changes in 2016.

I’m a child of the 60s, so it freaks me out a little to have this stuff around, but God, it’s actually legal.  Never thought I’d see the day.

Let me tell you, this is not at all what we had in the “old days”.  Not at all. No pipe, no papers, no smoke.   I got what I needed for my cancer, a concentrated oil with a very high percentage of CBD that is an element of the herb which helps heal tumors, or at least that’s what I was told.  I could see the recommended amount, the size of a head of a pin of this thick resiny stuff that comes out of the end of a syringe type holder, and thought, hey, I’m cool, I’m good, I know my way around dope, I’ll just take a little more.

Wrong.  Very wrong.

I was stoned out of my mind for over 8 hours, and for 3 of those hours, I could not walk or even move.  That’s called couch lock.  Even has a name.  Scared the shit out of me.  Good news:  You cannot die from an overdose of marijuana.  You don’t stop breathing.

Walking into the realm of medical marijuana takes some trial and error, I’ve found.  What works, what doesn’t.  What I’ve heard is this:  if I take some of this every day, all the way to couch lock, for 3 months, my tumors will be gone.  Yup, that’s the story on the street these days.  Lots of stories floating around attesting to this.  But I wouldn’t be able to drive, to speak to people, to do anything at all for my family life.  Plus it’s exhausting for me.  I try one day, and have to sleep for days afterwards.  That’s the kidney cancer effect.

My oncology naturopath suggested taking it at night before bed, because couch lock?  Who cares.  The fatigue factor is still there, however.

Guess what my Tibetan healer’s first words were to me?  Try cannabis daily, to the maximum level you can tolerate, and don’t miss a single day, for months.  Well, that surprised me, opened that door back up.

So, now I’m back to this option again, in a more serious way.  I tried a drop 1/2 the size of a head of a pin, and that worked just fine, so maybe that’s the ticket out of here.  We’ll see.  I’ll let you know.  If I seem a little strange, you’ll know why.

I’ll send smoke signals, too, along the way.  Because hey, it’s legal!