By Silvia Orizaba, CEO of Sacred.
Sometimes, the easiest solution to a problem sits right in front of your nose or at the touch of a finger.
Plants provided our first medicines; history books suggest that plants have been used medicinally for thousands upon thousands of years. As time—and science—evolved, the use of plants was minimized in favor of chemical compounds that arose out of Petri dishes and chemistry beakers. These days, when the medical or pharmaceutical community speaks of plants as part of the medical process, the conversation steers toward herbal medicine. Ginger helping gastrointestinal pain? That’s a “Far Eastern” remedy. St. John’s Wort helps increase serotonin levels so we can sleep better; it’s natural. Why don’t more people use it?
Quite simply, there are myths associated with their use; they are wise tales. Plant-based medicines don’t deliver the returns as much as “the real thing.”
So it comes as a surprise where and how cannabis plays a role as the plant-based medicine movement takes a new shape—and perhaps the question should be why it isn’t part of the plant-based medicine movement more than it has been to date.
After all, cannabis IS a plant, Scientific research has contributed to the rise of pharmaceutical drugs; it has also enlightened many on the benefits of medicinal herbs that could complement these drugs. Cannabis and medical marijuana sit at the ideal epicenter of discussion of the plant-based medicine movement. In fact, cannabis—with CBD leading the charge—can go a long way in shaping the pharmaceutical movement for years to come.
Plant-based medicine offers real and bona fide alternatives to traditional medicine and pharmaceutical solutions. The sheer amount of science and research that has been put into the cannabis industry is a mere sliver of what Big Pharma has put into research and clinical trials of those medicines in the pipeline.
A Different Kind Of Awesome
Having been in the cannabis industry since 2012, I have worked with legislators and policymakers to advocate the benefits of medical marijuana. In my early days, I remember being ridiculed with traditional stereotypes, for example, the grandmother who smokes a joint to make her glaucoma go away. “Grandma doing weed—that’s so awesome!”
Try telling Charlotte Fiji about being awesome. I often recall the story about how her parents sought doctors who would approve giving cannabis oil to reduce the degree and amount of epileptic seizures. Her success should be a reminder about the “power of the plant.”
Cannabis can be the catalyst that the plant-based medicine industry needs to truly evolve how science, nature—and finance—come together. These days, cannabis and plant-based medicine growth are hitting Main Street far and wide—walk down your favorite main street to see CBD massage treatments, drinks with CBD oils. And it’s not just CBD and cannabis where this is happening. We’re seeing such spices as turmeric, cardamom and cinnamon that are more likely seen on the Food Network end up on the pages of WebMD and Dr. Oz.
Cannabis unleashes so much more power than any of these herbs, spices and plants. More than 400 chemicals and 100 cannabinoids have been identified by cannabis researchers, but CBD and THC are the ones that most people have heard of, simply because they are found in the highest concentrations.
To be sure, many CBD-derived treatments have been used by holistic medicine or naturopathic doctors, but the first signs of plant-based medicine becoming more legitimate are taking shape. In June 2018, the Food & Drug Administration approved Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution for the treatment of seizures. In his press statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. noted that controlled clinical trials testing safety, combined with careful review through the FDA’s drug approval process, is the most ideal way to bring marijuana derived treatments to market.
To that end, a growing number of physicians in Illinois and across the country are shifting focus to plant-based lifestyles. We envision their role and input will lend more inputs and education with such mainstay medical groups as the American Medical Association and the American Pharmacy Association.
One of the drawbacks that these groups—and some of their patients—share with us is that if the products are not registered by the Food & Drug Administration, the acceptance rate won’t be there. Every industry needs to start somewhere down a path of registration and acceptance, and cannabis is no different. Sacred started down that path by registering our hemp seed oil pain relief products with the FDA. We WANT that approval and that validation, but we also want to be the ones who step to the forefront to get the industry talking, sharing and evolving so that more companies like ours can gain registration and approval.
Our company is watching this trend closely because (when married with the ideals that medical marijuana can offer) we envision a time where more patients will enter a doctor’s office, retail pharmacy or hospital and seek plant-based treatments.
Imagine a time when patients can shop their local drug store and it looks more like a Whole Foods than a Walgreens, where cannabis is sold in different strains to address specific ailments. This is where cannabis’ potential in the plant-based medical movement is headed. We’re ready for the change—and so are patients.
Silvia Orizaba is CEO of Chicago-based Sacred.
The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.
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