man and woman hiking
Are you giving your body the care it needs?

Cannabis is a hot topic. From the mainstream media to the most niched alternative health circles, everyone is talking about cannabis. This is for good reason – cannabis heals or soothes many of our modern health maladies.

But cannabis isn’t always the entire story when it comes to health and healing. This is especially true with the more serious and chronic illnesses.

As someone who has successfully healed serious digestive illness – through over a decade of study, trial and error, lifestyle changes and, more recently, cannabis – I want to show you a larger picture and suggest a whole-life approach to healing that cannabis can be an integral part of.

In this article you’ll learn supporting ideas and practices that can influence health and healing in conjunction with medical cannabis.

A Whole-Life Approach

woman in bath
True healing involves taking the best care of your mind, body and spirit.

Very rarely will healing be due to any “one thing.” Not even cannabis. Not in the 21st Century.

It’s your whole life that has to heal if you’re struggling with a chronic illness or a long-term health challenge.

Cannabis is a beautiful and powerful medicine. For many of us, it’s a perfect addition to our daily healing practices. We need to support its magic in every way we can.

We have to approach our health and healing from every level – mind, body and spirit. Combining these aspects of healing with a powerful medicine like cannabis is how true, lasting and deep healing happens.

Everything counts. Absolutely everything in our lives – our food, our work, our sleep, our relationships, the thoughts we think, the books we read, where we live, when and how we exercise and how we spend our leisure time. Everything. Nothing is neutral.

Create a daily healing practice that uniquely suits you, persevere, keep detailed notes and watch the true power and beauty of medical cannabis unfold.

What follows are major areas to consider when creating a personal healing practice for your life.

Food, Food and Food

juicing cannabis and produce
Food is thy medicine -- or thy poison.

In the Western world, diet is approached from extremes. It’s either got nothing to do with our health problems and isn’t even mentioned by many health professionals, or it’s got everything to do with our issues to the exclusion of all else.

The truth is somewhere in between.

How Did Our Ancestors Eat?

Although the popular Paleo movement is not much more than a decade old, the idea of eating how our ancestors ate – and therefore in line with our evolved physiology – is not new at all. Various authors and theorists were looking at these ideas as early as the 1800s.

The basic idea here is that the human body has evolved over several million years eating, digesting and being fueled by certain foods.

As hunting and gathering cave people, we were limited to wild animal meat and fish, what organic vegetables we gathered and fruit when it was in season.

The idea is to “go back in time” and focus our diet on the foods available today that most closely approximate the foods we ate throughout our evolution.

A significant number of our modern health problems are caused by an industrialized, chemical-laden food supply.

Our bodies – which are nearly identical to those of our ancestors from tens of thousands of years ago – experience many modern foods as completely alien and react accordingly.

Most modern food is everything but food to our ancient bodies.

If you’d like to see some subjective proof of this, simply look at the major foods and food components that generally cause problems for people: wheat, gluten, dairy, peanuts, sugar, aspartame, sorbitol.

None of these were consumed by our ancient ancestors and all became commonplace in our diets only in the last 10,000 years or, in some cases, much more recently.

Our bodies contain an ancient and vast wisdom that has evolved over millions of years. This wisdom doesn’t recognize most modern “foods” as food.

The Agricultural “Revolution”

Though things like bread and milk seem like “staples” to us that have been around “forever,” on the evolutionary timeline these foods are very new.

It’s only been about 10,000 years that humans have widely consumed these foods.

While our ancestors were able to survive and thrive for over a million years on meat, vegetables and fruit, as soon as agricultural products like wheat and dairy entered our lives problems began to emerge.

If You Have an Autoimmune Illness

There are additional considerations to be aware of if you have an autoimmune illness.

A standard “Paleo” approach still contains some foods that can be overly stimulating to the immune system. These are things like nuts, eggs and nightshades.

If you have an illness with an autoimmune component like Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, look into the Autoimmune Protocol diet or AIP.

This is essentially a stricter version of Paleo for those with autoimmune issues. Just dropping a few more foods can make a big difference in your symptoms and your healing.

A Note About Cannabis Edibles

Very often I’ll meet someone at the dispensary who has a chronic inflammatory illness. Many have ulcerative colitis (that’s what I had) or Crohn’s disease.

It’s wonderful that most medical-only states consider these digestive illnesses to be qualifying conditions for a medical cannabis card.

The problem is that many of these patients are consuming edibles that are basically junk food – cookies, brownies, candies, etc.

For treating virtually any illness with an autoimmune component, getting cannabis medicine through an edible containing gluten, flour, sugar or dairy is not going to be at all optimal.

The inflammatory nature of these ingredients is perpetuating the very response the patient is taking the cannabis to alleviate.

Stress and Stress Reduction

woman practicing yoga
Are you stretching every day?

Life stress can be the most health-damaging force in a person’s life. Our modern lives are incredibly stressful and much of this stress is just considered normal.

It’s not. Or, it shouldn’t be.

I approach stress from two different directions simultaneously.

The first is with stress reduction techniques like vigorous exercise when appropriate, yoga, meditation and limiting computer, email and smartphone time.

The second is with changes in the bigger-picture lifestyle and life trajectory issues.

If your life is full of stress on a consistent basis, it’s time to make some possibly uncomfortable changes and decisions.

Stress reduction techniques like yoga and meditation are great, but if the stress keeps coming in unchecked from your overall lifestyle, you’re only treading water.

Focus on stress reduction techniques, but know that “managing” stress is just a starting point.

Stress and the ECS

The stress topic comes up routinely in relation to cannabis because cannabis acts positively on the human endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

If you’d like to learn more about your endocannabinoid system and how to strengthen it, check out the Green Flower online course Strengthen Your Endocannabinoid System with or without Cannabis.

Types of Exercise

The general attitude of most health practitioners is that exercise is good. This is essentially true, but it’s not the whole story.

Not all exercise is created equally.

Some exercise styles can be not only highly inflammatory but also extremely draining and taxing on the body’s vitality and resources.

Certain exercises are a mismatch for our health challenges, our personalities, our lifestyles or our body’s needs.

How do you know what kind of exercise is right for you?

An in-depth discussion of exercise is obviously beyond our scope for this article. And an easy way to evaluate your exercise program is to simply look at both your feelings about your program and your general progress.

If you feel excited to do your workouts most days and you’re making consistent progress toward your goals as far as strength gains and the other metrics you care about like weight loss, body composition, etc., you’re probably on the right track.

If you’re consistently dreading or even fearing your workouts due to their difficulty or your relative energy levels, this is a sure sign that there’s a problem.

Consistent aches and pains and chronic or acute injuries are another sure sign of problems with exercise frequency and intensity and/or workout volume.

Yoga and Meditation

One of the single most life-changing practices I’ve ever incorporated into my healing regimen is daily yoga. I’ve done yoga followed by meditation virtually daily for more than a decade.

I always include meditation with the discussion of yoga for the simple reason that meditation is much, much easier to do after yoga.

Yoga is a moving meditation that reduces the physical manifestations of stress within the body. Once you’ve reduced muscle tension and the mind has quieted, meditation goes much easier.

Advising someone who is totally stressed and running a million miles an hour all day long to simply stop, sit down and meditate is very idealized advice – especially for a novice. Yoga followed by meditation can revolutionize both practices.

Want to learn more about combining yoga and cannabis? Read Cannabis & Yoga: Blending the Benefits of Mindfulness, Plant Medicine, and Stretching by Rachelle Gordon.

Spiritual Modes of Healing

My approach to spirituality with regard to healing is highly practical. This is a very wide-ranging area, but here are the basics that regularly go overlooked and can prevent full healing from being achieved.

Presence Work

Most of our daily thoughts are not only repetitive, automatic and unconscious, but they’re also commonly quite negative.

If you’re chronically sick, it’s almost a given that repetitive negative or disempowering thinking is playing a part.

Presence work like yoga and meditation can be incredibly liberating as they help bring attention to thoughts that are running below the surface of consciousness.

The book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle can change your life by shining a spotlight on the mind and it’s incessant, sometimes-dysfunctional activity.

Trauma Work

Unhealed trauma of all kinds can be another contributor to illness.

Cannabis has a successful track record in treating post-traumatic stress disorder, but many other illnesses have a trauma component that can go untreated.

Besides the great PTSD resources here at Green Flower, general work on recent or distant past trauma can be very helpful. Teal Swan’s YouTube channel is an excellent resource for learning how to self-heal trauma of all kinds.

Finding Your True Purpose

The idea of “finding your life’s purpose” can seem quite heavy and overwhelming. I mean, what if we get it “wrong?” The truth is, you already know what your purpose is, even if you aren’t consciously aware of it.

Because doing work or other activities you hate or that take you away from your deepest inner being can be more than enough to create or compound illness, getting in touch with your deepest values and desires can be incredibly healing.

The book Finding Your North Star by Martha Beck makes this complex and esoteric topic highly practical and can really help you find a path to health and happiness when it comes to livelihood and purpose.

Want to learn more about how cannabis actually works? Be sure to check out Green Flower's free broadcasts every week with top cannabis minds from around the world.

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