Marijuana has been given many names – devil’s leaf, dagga and grass – but what weed hasn’t gotten rid of is the stench that comes with all of the negative connotations.
Medicinal marijuana is derived from the cannabis group of plants and is used to treat various medical conditions.
It's basically the same product as recreational marijuana, but it's taken for medical purposes. The marijuana plant contains over 100 different chemicals known as cannabinoids. Each has a distinct effect on the body.
The primary chemicals used in medicine are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is also responsible for the "high" sensation that people experience when they smoke marijuana or consume marijuana-containing foods.
Heidene Lawrence, a former corporate powerhouse who is now the CEO of Tubby's Kitchen, was a member of the team that created South Africa's POPI Act, while also consulting locally and internationally on change management and transformation, suffered from terrible epilepsy.
After what felt like a decade in and out of hospital trying to stabilise her condition, she finally found a solution: medical cannabis, which she took as micro-doses as part of her diet.
Today, as CEO of Tubby’s Kitchen, Lawrence is a tireless campaigner for the power of medicinal cannabis to improve the health and change the lives of ordinary South Africans.
She told IOL that the goal is to de-stigmatise marijuana use so that people will see it as a safe and effective treatment for medical conditions. With regular usage, it is fantastic for treating localised skin issues and reduces pain and inflammation almost immediately.
How different is Medicinal marijuana from traditional treatments, and is it effective?
“Waking up to 20 seizures a day, a body racked with pain and a distraught family was not the picture I had in mind for my 40s. Medicinal marijuana gave me a second chance at life. It helped create a new me and provided a purpose for my life I never imagined.
“Tubby’s was started with tea, and that’s my standard go-to treatment. From time to time the seizures rear their heads when life gets busy, and I go a bit overboard on coffee! But tea is my centre point, and it always brings me back.
“The absence of a prescription and the possibility of acquiring an addiction or new conditions as a result of the treatment are the primary differences,” she says.
There are numerous ways to consume medical marijuana, including tea, honey, oil, food, and sweeteners. The alternatives expand along with research.
With cannabis use, the endocannabinoid system (which plays important roles in our central nervous system development) in our bodies is stimulated to work more effectively, ensuring we maintain a healthy balance with less reliance on pharmacological therapies, says Lawrence.
What are the misconceptions around medicinal marijuana?
“The first question is always: ’Is it going to make me high?’ The short answer is no. Medicinal marijuana is known to be non-intoxicating and causes mild effects to keep you calm and clear-headed.
“It also effectively alleviates the pain and nausea cancer patients experience from radiation treatment, and has been approved for treatment of epileptic seizures.
“Let go of old perceptions. It’s time to stop stigmatising marijuana, and start having constructive conversations that will allow more people to enjoy the healing properties of mind, body, and soul.
“Until there is a clear understanding and letting go of biases, medicinal marijuana will not be appreciated as a natural alternative solution to health and wholeness.
“Learn to adjust your dose to your levels of pain and condition, and the results will follow. I suggest using it in small continuous doses to integrate it into your immune system.
“This is best achieved with food intake, as food is a part of our daily lives. And finally, don’t replace your prescribed medication with CBD unless advised by a physician,” she says.
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