“I identified as a stoner from the 70s for decades, until I presented with cancer in my 50s; now I’m an Educated Stoner.” – Sharon Letts
The first time I smoked weed was in 1975. I was 16 years old and on my way to high school, stopping in at a gas station bathroom, when one of the girls lit a joint and passed it around.
I was considered a good girl and had been a Girl Scout since Brownies. With Florence Nightingale as my first Shero, I became a Candy Striper in high school. I volunteered at the local hospital and delivered flowers, candy, newspapers and books to patients after school, while earning badges for community service.
But I was never considered a good student. Failing high school, struggling with an undiagnosed processing problem, the general misconception was that I just wasn’t very bright.
After a few hits off the joint that morning, that was the first time I was able to focus in school. An assignment of writing one Haiku poem turned into writing ten in rapid concession, and I was first published as a poet at 19.
Even then, I didn’t understand why it felt right; I was only told it was wrong. For decades I thought I was just a stoner who had to hide my cannabis use; even though it helped me focus and feel better, emotionally and physically.
From Stash to Apothecary
After working as a producer in television in Los Angeles, I was brought up to Humboldt County to produce a news show. While working in media in the cannabis capital of the world, I presented with breast cancer (Lobular carcinoma), and was given cannabis oil by Pearl Moon of the Bud Sisters of Southern Humboldt.
The first night I took the strong oil (alcohol reduction, aka: RSO, FECO) I didn’t need the sleeping pill I’d taken for years. The next day I didn’t need the painkiller needed for a partially disabled knee. In two and a half weeks upwards of ten prescription medications, and numerous supplements needed for treating combined hormonal symptoms from both thyroid disease and menopause, were no longer needed. In two and a half months the cancer was gone, without surgery or the traditional therapies of chemotherapy or radiation.
I’m now part of a 30-year study on prevention with the American Cancer Society. Its director sent me a personal email thanking me for my participation, promising more cannabis questions in future questionnaires.
Since then (October, 2012) my stash has turned into my apothecary cupboard, and my work has focused on cannabis as remedy, helping people to get back into the kitchen and make their own remedies from the garden. My stories are mostly all patient profiles, written for many publications around the world; translated into several languages.
Cannabis: My Gateway Drug to Other Healing Plants
Cannabis has become my main remedy. It was my gateway drug to other beneficial superfoods, or what I like to call, super plants. Superfoods have a wide range of beneficial compounds, with help for a wide range of ailments and symptom relief. This is why most people feel that the many stories of healing are too good to be true. After all, when taking pharmaceuticals, you need one pill per symptom.
I was diagnosed with thyroid disease at 40. It’s a disorder of the thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck, distributing hormones throughout the body; keeping all of our systems in check.
According to Thyroid.org, more than 12 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with a thyroid condition; with 20 million diagnosed with thyroid disease; and upwards of 60 percent of the population not realizing they have the condition at all.
The main red flags of thyroid disease, and subsequent hormonal imbalances, are digestive issues, slow metabolism and weight gain; constipation and bloating. Hormone disruptions are also sleep disruptors, leading to chronic fatigue and depression; with body temperature issues, including night sweats and hot flashes.
Women going into menopause already presenting with thyroid disease are in for a double-whammy of hormonal symptoms, including mood swings and increased empathy that can bring tears at the slightest provocation.
The good news is that cannabis may help. To keep myself from sliding back into a sea of sadness, pain and cancer, I need to keep the beneficial compounds of cannabis and other super plants in my system on a daily basis, and treat it as though I had a prescription – as if they were farmaceuticals.
Little Stashes Everywhere
My medicating begins in the evening, as I’ve replaced sleeping pills with a cannabis oil capsule I make myself (recipe on my website). This dose covers a lot of territory, as cannabis strengthens the immune system while fighting off infections. It also gives much needed REMs, warding off fatigue and subsequent depression.
I also take a chamomile oil capsule nightly (same recipe), after finding a study on chamomile treating depression. Chamomile capsules also replaced Valium for me; and I’ll take one, as needed, during the daytime for anxiety and stress (info on chamomile on my website).
If I’m not feeling 100 percent in the morning, I’ll take a capsule with combinations of moringa and guanabana – both superfoods. The moringa is uplifting for daytime use, combatting fatigue. Moringa is getting to be more commonly known; while guanabana is a popular superfood from South America, commonly used in Baja California, Mexico, where I live.
Throughout the day I’ll take one or two hits of flower with one of my favorite bongs, a retro 70s piece from My Bud Vase; or my cobalt blue bong by Jane West, Inc.
Smoking lifts endorphins quickly, easing depression. Taking just a hit or two of cannabis also helps me focus on my work – dealing with my ADD, on the spectrum. I’ve been known to grind chamomile flower up with cannabis for a calming smoking mix.
Because of my anxiety issues I tend to choose hybrid cultivars that lean Indica to calm, and don’t pay too much mind to the names of flower. I do pay attention to THC counts – preferring them lower, as I’m not in this for the high, I’m medicating for real ailments. I’m honestly just trying to feel alright each day, using plants instead of pharma for diagnosed disorders, illness and cancer prevention.
I’ll also use a homemade tincture, as needed, depending on the symptom. Chamomile to calm or for tummy upset; Stinging Nettles for allergies; and a THCA (non-psychoactive) tincture for infection or pain. My go-to is a cold-gin-infusion, as alcohol infuses in a cold process and doesn’t activate THC.
My body and face lotion is also infused with any number of the superfoods named, as I no longer use retail sunscreen; but do aftercare with plants that have antioxidant compounds, namely cannabis, chamomile, moringa, and guanabana, or combinations thereof; adding rosemary or citrus peel as natural bug repellents.
Growing up on the beach in Southern California, then spending many years as a professional gardener, I’ve had my share of skin cancers, with a few removed – but, they typically come back worse. Most skin cancers I’ve been able to treat topically with a stronger cannabis oil salve (whole plant extract).
I also add fresh herbs to my cooking throughout the day, keeping vases of herbs on the kitchen counter for easy access. Most produce loses efficacy if stored in the refrigerator where perfectly good food goes to die. Keeping produce in bowls and vases on the countertop encourages daily and immediate use.
You might say my own personal stashes come from the garden into just about every room in the house. Whether it’s made in the kitchen, smoked from my tray, or found in my apothecary cupboard – it’s all remedy, all day long.
Quoting Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” My medicine happens to be in my stash, and my stash happens to be my medicine.
For more information on Sharon Letts and recipes from her Apothecary page, visit www.sharonletts.com