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February 10, 2020

Cannabis and CBD for health and wellness with Aliza Sherman and Dr. Junella Chin

I thought for episode 420 it would be kind of cool to bring up the pot issue. Cannabis and CBD are becoming legalized across the United States. They're being legalized in other countries and for the first time, in a long time, using them as medicine and therapies is being widely looked at and studied, more so than it ever was before. I want to bring on some experts and I could not have done better. Today we'll meet Aliza Sherman and Dr. Junella Chin. They are advocates for cannabis and CBD use. We'll be discussing their book: Cannabis and CBD for Health and Wellness.

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Allan (03:13):
Aliza, Dr. Chin, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

Aliza (03:17):
Hi, thanks for having us.

Dr. Chin (03:19):
Thank you for having us. So excited to be here.

Allan (03:22):
Now, this is episode 420. And I thought it was apropos that I have a conversation about cannabis and CBD. So I was glad to see you had a book out there. It's called Cannabis and CBD for Health and Wellness. It's just perfect. So really excited to have the two of you on here. Enjoyed the book. I always like learning new things and obviously with cannabis and CBD just starting to kind of make a run at being somewhat legalized in some places and obviously illegal in others. You know, there's some things we've got to work through before we could actually even start this conversation, but where it is becoming legal in California, Washington, it's Colorado particular, I think is where they're opening the most. Florida I think is doing now some medical marijuana. So obviously some recognition that this, this does have a place in health and wellness and that cannabis is in fact a medicine.

Aliza (04:16):
Yeah, absolutely. The whole landscape has changed since just three years ago when I got into the industry. And this is Aliza, by the way. You know, I have a cannabis education company to educate women in particular about the health and wellness benefits. And when I first started out, there were fewer States that were legal and the stigma was intense. I was even afraid to tell anybody what I was doing. I was transitioning from the tech industry into cannabis, but I was experiencing a lot of health and wellness issues myself. Aging issues, 40 plus 50 plus. And cannabis seemed like a good natural alternative to some of the medications that they were trying to give me. So I really feel like we've come a long way in three short years, but we have a long way to go.

Dr. Chin (05:15):
Well, especially with the different States having medical programs now, I mean there's you know, 30 over 33 States when I started this integrating medical cannabis. I, I've been practicing this for over 10 years because I had the medical advantage of going or the educational advantage of going to medical school in California shortly after they legalized it. And that's over 20 years ago. So for me, I was in this middle of the Switchbox and I had the best of both worlds, learning, you know, conventional MD school, but also learning how to integrate cannabis with my patients. And now we have dispensaries, I'm in New York now. We have to spend stories that have a pharmacist in it and every dispensary and dispensing it like regular. So it has come a long way.

Allan (05:59):
Yeah. You know, I was coming from a corporate world a few years ago and I remember when they started legalizing in different States and making it recreational cause I was wondering, okay, if it's medical, they probably can't fire you for it. But if it's not medical, if it's just recreational then how does that play out? And I was talking to our general counsel and I said, so if someone goes to Colorado where it's completely legal to use this substance, they use it and then they come back here and obviously, you know, they're completely back down to normal and they're walking around doing their job. And we do a random drug test, can we really fire them? And he says, “Yes, absolutely.”

Allan (06:43):
You know, so can we talk a little bit about, you know, the legalalities of, and some of the stigmas here because you know, the whole point of it, and it's weird cause I'm down here in Panama now and the culture is very different from Arkansas as you might imagine. A lot of my friends use cannibis on a daily basis. And not just for medical, I mean they are clearly recreational. But can we kind of talk a little bit about that? Because it's interesting because it's, again, you know, against the law federally and it's legal in certain States and you know, it's just bizarre to me. It's really hard for me to wrap my mind around where people, where this is and why it's shifting so fast.

Aliza (07:27):
Well, so this is Aliza. I can tell you I'm living in Alaska and people don't know, but Alaska pretty much legalized cannabis in 1975. They absolutely decriminalized it and you were allowed to grow it in your home, carry up to an ounce on your person. It's a very different scene up here in Alaska, but pretty far removed from everything else. If you think about it, it's incredibly complex. So you mentioned federally illegal. Yes. That adds a huge layer of complexity over the fact that each state has their own set of laws, rules and regulations. Each state manages their cannabis retail growing retail, manufacturing, all in different ways. So no matter where you end up going, there's a whole set of rules. So one of the things I do is market cannabis and CBD companies and trying to navigate what's allowed and what's not allowed even from an advertising and marketing standpoint is very challenging.

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Aliza (08:35):
But to your last part of the question, why is it happening so quickly? Well, there's a lot of money to be had. And where there's money, there's powering greed. I mean, it really boils down to that. We think about when the internet first became something available to the public, all the big companies came in as soon as they knew that people were there. So if people are consuming and people have access, everyone's going to be looking at this industry for the money. Whereas a lot of us, like June, like myself, I like many of the people we work with are looking at it for the health and wellness benefits. I mean, the money's there. We're not gonna ignore that, but I think that's a driver.

Dr. Chin (09:19):
Yeah. And it's really inconvenient for patients, for even continuity of care. For example, I have a 73-year-old patient who has Parkinson's and she finds cannabis quite helpful for appetite for her muscle spasms. She's able to feed herself at the dinner table, which is a huge, huge feat. And she has, she's a, she has a home in Boca, in Florida. She sees me in New York and then she has another home in Arizona. So she carries three different medical cards and has to see three different physicians you know, in each state. Cause she can't take her medicine that works for the Parkinson's too, when she goes down to Florida for them. You know, when she has New York winters and she goes to Florida. So she has to, it's really, really, really inconvenient for patients.

Allan (10:06):
Yeah. And you know, that's one of the things I was, you know, looking at, cause you did a really good job in the book of kind of going through the different ways that we can use the canvas. So like, you know, not just the smoking or the vaping not just the brownies. But then basically, you know now I guess they got, you said they had capsules and, and, and other means of getting it. But it's still, if you get caught transporting it at the airport, TSA, you're going to get busted.

Aliza (10:35):
Well, yes and no, but don't do it. I think TSA has actually in, in certain States, and especially from legal to legal States, I hate to say it, but they sometimes will turn a blind eye. I would never ever risk it and never, ever recommend that anybody do that or try that. But if you also look at some of the cases, like the grandmother who has the CBD tincture for her arthritis, getting caught, getting arrested, but then everything gets dropped and everything is returned to her because there's this ambiguity. So I think some of what June was talking about with patients, there's a lot of confusion for patients. There's a lot of confusion for anyone who purchases, consumes and may have it on their person. What can I do? What can't I do?

Dr. Chin (11:27):
What I, what I also do, and you made mentioned about employment is you know, if it's medically necessary and patients come to see me to get a medical card sometimes I'll write a letter the patient will ask that I write a letter to their employer, you know, saying, you know, if the drug test comes out positive, it's because you know, they're using the CBD or THC or combination of the cannabis. And I'll just write out my note, you know, patient will use it according to the employer's policies. So, you know, not maybe not during the work hours but after hours or a number, they're not on call, et cetera. And usually I haven't had any issues with any patients actually even with this letter, with a supporting letter.

Allan (12:09):
Okay. Well the other stigma I think is, you know, obviously we're going to have family members that are going to be like, okay, what are you doing? Why are you doing this? Why are you becoming a pothead? And you know, how do we have that conversation with them?

Aliza (12:25):
Well, you know, it's not even just stigma, it's stereotyping. So if you think about all of the media, even entertainment, the image of the stoner dude, I think it's really important for first and foremost for anyone who is comfortable consuming it, either in a recreational, as you say, sort of a relaxation and enjoyment fashion or in a medical fashion that they talk about it, that they're not afraid to do so. The more we talk about it and normalize it and show it is everybody from every different walk of life is potentially a consumer of cannabis, particularly on the health and wellness side. So if we can just get rid of some of those stereotypes, I think that would be extremely helpful. And as a mom, as a busy mom who doesn't want to be ever, ever altered or high around my kids, there are many different ways to consume cannabis. And now with the advent of CBD products, without getting that high, but getting the benefits, the nourishment internally for your systems to regulate hormones to help you with anxiety. I mean those are the kinds of things that are helpful to moms, but you don't have to buy into that stoner dude persona. You can be very successful, very productive, very active, and very engaged and still be a consumer of cannabis or CBD.

Allan (14:02):
Okay. Let's dive in a little bit and talk about how cannabis actually works within our body. What is actually going on when someone consumes or smokes cannabis.

Dr. Chin (14:14):
To understand how cannabis works with your body and your brain. I just want to go over the existing systems that we all know, what we have in our, on our body. And you know, we know about our circulatory system, our digestive system immune system, our central nervous system. You know, what gets us up and going in the morning. But there's another system that was more recently discovered called the endocannabinoid system. And we don't learn about this in medical school or science class, but the endocannabinoid system is our body's own system that makes cannabinoid like molecules. And that's why our body reacts well to plant based cannabinoids have coming from the cannabis plant because our body has a system that's equipped to react to it. And this system is so important, it actually modulates and regulates all the other systems. It interfaces with all those other systems that you've learned about.

Dr. Chin (15:07):
And that's why it seems like, Oh well, you know, I hear that it works for Crohn's disease and anxiety and migraines and PTSD and then Parkinson's. And it seems like, Oh, this is just a snake oil is magic elixir. But it's because this endocannabinoid system regulates all these different systems in our body. That is why the CBD or cannabis or different parts of the cannabis plant works so well for humans.

Aliza (15:33):
And also if you think about the chemical compounds within cannabis, we write a lot about this in our book, cannabinoids and terpenes being two of the most common chemical compounds in the cannabis plant. Well cannabinoids that June just mentioned that we naturally produce cannabinoids, they're called endocannabinoids when they're in our body, but phyto cannabinoids or plant-based cannabinoids are very prevalent in cannabis. So cannabis happens to have over a hundred cannabinoids that have been identified so far. And that is more than pretty much any other plant out there. So in a sense it's, it's like a super food or a super plant because it's just so rich in these chemical compounds and each one of them has sort of a different set of effects. And the one I like to really talk about and that appeals to me is linalool Oh, I'm sorry. That's actually it's terpene. I was just going to move into terpenes next. Terpenes though are other chemical compounds that are in foods, color, smell and taste of foods are the terpenes and lina lu being one of them is also in lavender. Myrcene is another terpene also in mangoes.

Aliza (16:57):
Back to the cannabinoids is a lot of alphabet soup. So it's, we know THC that is what alters your perception. We know CBD now and Cannabidiol. And that is sort of almost the antagonist and partner of THC in a way. They really interact with each other a lot. They're CBN that makes you really sleepy. But if you have too much of it, it makes you paranoid. So if you just think about it, there's all these chemical compounds in the plant that make it an effective medicine. And as June mentioned, it affects all these different systems and all these different facts. And that's why sometimes everyone thinks it's just too good to be true, but it really is just such a richness of chemicals that react well with our bodies and brains.

Allan (17:55):
Yeah, I think, you know, one of the key benefits as I'm not going to say that cannabis is mainstream yet, but it's, it's, it's, it's definitely getting there is that, you know, you're hearing about how they can, they can do different formulations of the cannabinoids and the terpines to get certain effects. So if you want to relax, so you're dealing with maybe doing some, you've got some chronic stress or anxiety there's a formulation that's going to work best with you to help address that specifically. And so you're not just saying, okay, I'm gonna take all the good and the bad. They're getting pretty good at zeroing down on some of these things, aren't they?

Dr. Chin (18:36):
Yes, we know the profile. So we know the different plant compounds. There's testing for that. We know how much there is. So here in New York, when we recommend medical cannabis, we're talking about milligrams down to the milligrams. And I chart how these cannabis medicines react with their prescription medications. So we keep track of that and we can be quite precise. So it's not take a bite of this cookie or a sliver of this gummy, but we're, you know, we're using oils that are measured, we're using capsules and tablets that are fast dissolving or Enteric Coated that might work in your stomach in a timed release. So there's really there, I think they're using pharmaceutical type technology when making cannabis medicine now. When they're doing topicals or using certain penetration enhancers and grabbing technology from the dermatitis dermatological field. So it's, it's come a long way.

Aliza (19:34):
And also the products that are coming out back to the cannabinoids and terpenes products are coming out that are emphasizing certain cannabinoids or certain terpines or combinations. So you might see something that is heavier in CBN as a sleep aid or something with THCV, which is a variant of THC. And that would potentially be for focus or even for appetite suppression, which is kind of weird because yeah, we think of the munchies if you have THC, but THCV can suppress appetite instead of stimulate it. So you're starting to see products that really narrow down the cannabinoid concentrations and terpene concentrations for also those specific effects.

Allan (20:22):
I think, you know, it was funny because let's say funny cause it was actually a comedy, but you know, the Cheech and Chong movies and the guys, you know, they're joking about you know, glaucoma medicine. You know, I think that was the big joke back in the 70s and eighties of, of what what pot was for. But it's, it's much better than that. It does a lot more for us as a medicine. Can you talk about some of the different things that we can use cannabis for as a medicine to include acute issues, chronic issues, and even some mental and emotional issues?

Dr. Chin (20:54):
The number one I think I see in my patients are chronic pain and chronic pain is a very broad diagnosis. It can come from fibromyalgia. It can come from low back pain, migraine deep and pelvic pain for women. Because it's, CBD is such a potent anti-inflammatory. And I talk about CBD and THC the most because it's the, well most well researched, but CBD is a very potent anti-inflammatory and what patients are finding for chronic pain is that it really gets to the root of the problem. So you're not just masking it by taking care of the pain and just taking a pain reliever, but you're getting rid of that underlying inflammation that's causing the pain in the first place. Parkinson's patients I had mentioned before,it's very good for the muscle tremors and also for the sleep and appetite. I see ALS patients, epilepsy patients, both pediatric and adults. I see quite a bit of epilepsy patients. Insomnia, anxiety, Crohn's disease, collitis. So it's a varied practice. Upatients usually come to see me after they've exhausted all options. Of course I see cancer patients cause it helps with nausea, appetite,and pain and the immune system as well.

Allan (22:10):
And one of the other things you mentioned in the book was it was good for gout.

Dr. Chin (22:16):
Yes. So gout is great because what do you think causes gout? Inflammation.

Allan (22:25):
Yeah! And so this, you know, and I think, you know, if you actually look at most chronic diseases, inflammation is kind of a basis for almost every one of them.

Dr. Chin (22:33):
Exactly. Exactly. So when you have chronic inflammation, that's when it becomes a serious disease. I mean, you look at you know, high blood pressure, diabetes, that all comes from inflammation.

Allan (22:43):
Now you know, a lot of people are going to go at this and they're going to do you know, self-medication, if you will experimenting. And then of course now with it, you know, becoming medically legal in most States or a lot of States they can, we start working with their doctors if their doctors are familiar or willing to get into this. Kind of talk about the contrasting of whether people should be doing the self experimentation or whether they should go to a doctor first when doing some of this stuff.

Aliza (23:11):
Well, I can talk about my personal experience and also because I mentioned elementa before. My company that educates women about using cannabis and CBD for health and wellness. The thing that we recommend most of all is see your doctor. But that's very, very hard if they're not in a legal state. And it's also hard if their doctor is connected to a hospital. This is something I learned from June. If they're connected with the hospital, the hospitals are federally funded so they cannot even talk about it. So you're really looking for either somebody in private practice, but in some of the States you also have natural paths who can talk about it. But from a personal standpoint, I'll totally let June talk about from a doctor standpoint. But from a personal standpoint, what I've learned is what is on the label. If you don't have a doctor available and you're not consulting with the doctor, what's on the label as a recommended dose, you should always start lower.

Aliza (24:07):
And the saying is start low and go slow. You incrementally add a little bit more over time until you get to that feeling that you want that relief that you want, the effect that you want, but that you don't just hit your body right away with the cannabis. I have gone from cannabis to CBD just because I find that a lot of what I experience is either anxiety or inflammation. And so I know that with CBD you can actually take a lot more of CBD than THC. You kind of need to in order to get an effect on the cannabis side, 2.5 milligrams is totally enough for me where if other people are like 15 to 25 milligrams or even more,uon the CBD side, 25 to 30 milligrams is more my sort of dose. So it's a lot of numbers is a lot of calculation. You really have to pay attention, but you can't overdose on either of them. You might get uncomfortable, but you can't actually overdose and die from either cannabis with THC or CBD as an adult, as a healthy adult.

Dr. Chin (25:26):
I think the take home message really here is that cannabis is unique because there's really no precedent. There's no other drug in the world that we're using recreationally and medically. And so patients really have to demand that their health practitioners get educated. You know, really doctors need to tell patients the difference between their opinion versus scientific fact. And with plant-based medicine, there isn't one size fits all thinking. And unfortunately with the medical model and what we're taught in med school, it is one size fits all. It's here's your pill, you know, here's five milligrams of your blood pressure pill. I expect to see you in a month and we'll measure your blood pressure again. But with plant-based medicine, it just doesn't work that way cause everyone will react differently with herbal medicine. And really this whole movement, I, I see it as a plant sort of going back to plant-based medicine, this medical cannabis movement, because it's a wake up call to the healthcare system. Patients are turning away from mainstream medicine and heading to support groups like Elementa or apothecaries that have CBD shops or a cannabis shops because these support systems are giving them what they need. They're listening, they're connecting better with their consumers or their patients and they're providing education and an alternative, a more natural approach to health and healing.

Allan (26:43):
You know, in the kind of the full circle of this. It's interesting because, you know, I guess the, the reason pot's illegal is because it's, it was, it was deemed a gateway drug to do these other things. But with the opiate epidemic, you know, basically, you know, now we're in pain meds and everything that people are taking. This might actually, this is a safer alternative for a lot of those pain issues that people are getting addicted to opiates.

Aliza (27:05):
Well they're calling it an exit ramp drug now. And the reason it's illegal though there's a lot of misnomers about why cannabis was made illegal. And it was not because it's a gateway drug and it was not because people actually proved that it was a gateway drug. It was really based more on historical, you know, greed propaganda control and power. It was not about the medical issues around it because it was being vilified back in the 20s, the 1920s and the 1930s. And so we just forget the history of why it was made illegal. It had nothing to do with danger at all. And so we've just sort of been brought up with these false narratives about it being dangerous and it is not, it is certainly not on the same level as heroin or cocaine even though it's been scheduled that way in the U S and it can help with addiction. And it's a healthier alternative to some of these very terrible drugs. It can really bring you back to balance and health and keep you away from some of these dangerous substances.

Dr. Chin (28:24):
Well also when you look at the history too, it was during the time when they started to create inexpensively manufactured, you know, precisely dosed, easy to swallow pills versus a tincture. You know, it was at 1898 Bayer synthesize aspirin from birchbark. And then we had barbiturates that came, that came in. So we really take pills and capsules for granted. But you know, before that time it was, you know, yes, here's a tincture, here's a drop of this, put this in your tea. So it was really, I think that a perfect storm, you know, in terms of politics, the anti-immigration thoughts, you know, caused by the great depression. And then there was a pharma.

Allan (29:05):
Okay, well Eliza, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well.

Aliza (29:16):
Well, having written this book, Cannabis and CBD for Health and Wellness, but also I, my previous book was the happy healthy nonprofit where we did a lot of research about what does it take to get well. And I know even for myself really important is sleep, getting a good night's sleep and moving your body. We're in such a sedentary world now sitting behind a desk at a computer, hunched over, your body is suffering and so much disease is from not moving around. And then the final thing is just be really mindful what you put into your body, what you put on your body. Because if you think about even when you put things on topically, your skin is your biggest organ is what I've heard said, and it absorbs things. So what do we put on our bodies? What do we take into our bodies? Be really super mindful about those things.

Allan (30:11):
Okay. Dr Chin. Again, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest, and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well.

Dr. Chin (30:22):
I would have to agree with Aliza. Number one thing that I always talk about with my patients more than anything else is nutrition. So not necessarily putting yourself on a restrictive diet, but really taking a look at what you are consuming. You know, how much sugar you're consuming, keeping a food diary. Meditation is a big thing that I also talk to my patients about. And exercise and exercise can be something small, a 10-minute walk to start with and slowly building up, but moving your body that gets the lymphatic tissues moving. So when we think of, you know, like, Oh yeah, of course diet and exercise. But think about how it changes the physiology. My Parkinson's patients, cannabis does not work for my Parkinson's patients unless they do rigorous boxing exercise. So for those that take the cannabis, if they don't do any exercise to cannabis starts to not work. But if for those patients that exercise rigorously, they have to be out of breath, the cannabis works double.

Allan (31:21):
Okay, cool. Thank you for that. So I'm Aliza and Dr. Chin, if someone wanted to learn more about you in the work that you're doing in this book, where would you like for me to send them?

Aliza (31:35):
Well for, for me it's elementa.Com. It's Ella for the French for her, and menta Spanish for mind. Her mind elementa.com.

Dr. Chin (31:50):
Wonderful. And you can find me at drjunechin.Com.

Allan (31:56):
And I'll have those links at 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/420. So Aliza, Dr. Chin, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

Aliza (32:06):
Thank you.

Dr. Chin (32:07):
Thanks for having us.

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