10 | Michele Ross, Ph.D., Neuroscientist, author of Vitamin Weed

A little cannabis every day as a preventative supplement, almost like a vitamin or other dietary supplement — does that idea make sense? Yes, says Michele Ross, Ph.D., and she bases her answer on brain science and her deep knowledge of the endocannabinoid system. The author of Vitamin Weed takes cannabis herself to cope with fibromyaglia pain. Listen in to hear her advice on:

  • Why cannabis is a personalized medicine, and how it takes some experimenting and trial and error to get the right strain, dose and delivery method for you
  • Why taking CBD is like wearing a helmet against the stressors of life
  • How to evaluate brands and choose the right CBD for you

And much more!

Transcript

Kannaboomers:       00:00 It's Tom, welcome back to episode 10 of the Kannaboomers podcast. We've been covering a lot of things so far. We have talked with a couple of medical doctors about the use of CBD. We've talked to the founder of the Veterans Cannabis coalition about how CBD and cannabis can help veterans with their various health issues. We've talked to a couple of producers of CBD products, so to find out how they do what they do. So there's many topics to cover obviously, so let us know. You can email me at Tom at Kannaboomers dot com if there is a specific aspect you want us to cover and we can go and find an expert and get them on and share their knowledge. So today we have a neuroscientist, Dr Michele Ross, and we have a great conversation about the endocannabinoid system and how it was discovered in the implications for that system, the biggest neurotransmitter superhighway in our bodies and why it's so critical to have cannabinoids that supplement what we make endogenously, phyto-cannabinoids that can help us maintain homeostasis. So it's a good episode. We talk about dosing and strains and many other aspects, so I hope you enjoy it and spread the word about the Kannaboomers podcast. Tell your friends about it, share this episode and we'll see you again next week. Thank you. This is. Let's talk about weed, the Kannaboomers podcast, CBD, microdosing and all things related to medical cannabis for baby boomers from San Diego. Here's your host, Thomas Jay. Welcome to the 10th episode of the podcast. We're just getting started scratching the surface of what there is to know about cannabis, this plant that humans have been interacting with for tens of thousands of years, and yet it's been prohibited for most of our lifetimes and it still is in many states that is changing day by day. So our job is to find the people who are leading us out of the wilderness and who can tell us the secrets of this plant, how it interacts with our bodies and brains to create the effects that it does, especially for baby boomers, who let's face it, and he'd help protecting our bodies from things like inflammation, cancer, nerve disorders, in other diseases. And that leads us to today's guest, Michelle Ross, the cofounder and CEO of Infused Health. She has a doctorate in neuroscience from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr, Ross is also a professor at the Cannabis Holistic Academy and Green Flower Media and author of Vitamin Weed, a Four Step Plan to Prevent and Reverse Endocannabinoid Deficiency. Dr. Ross, welcome to the Kannaboomers podcast.

Michele Ross:       02:22 Well, thank you so much for having me. I can't wait to share a lot of my knowledge that I've built up for goodness almost the past decade.

Kannaboomers:       02:29 And where are you today?

Michele Ross:       02:31 I am in beautiful Los Angeles, California. I actually just moved two months ago back home to Los Angeles from Denver since California legalized recreational marijuana. So it's safe for me to come back home.

Kannaboomers:       02:44 Well, and you were up in Colorado when they were kind of blazing the trail.

Michele Ross:       02:48 Yeah, it's, it's amazing to see how different states, how the industry shifts and how patient access changes and everything, but it just beautiful to see more freedom in this country.

Kannaboomers:       03:01 Yeah. And as we noted, I mean it, there's another fall, a round of elections coming and a bunch more states who may join the, I think about 30 states now where it's either legal medicinally and slash or recreationally. So it's definitely a wave of change happening.

Michele Ross:       03:15 Yeah. And I want to say, you know, just because you have an amazing listener demographic, that recreational marijuana doesn't just mean getting high. What it actually means is you don't need a medical marijuana card to access a dispensary. And so it's really important. So like for example, if you're using cannabis for Alzheimer's, but your state didn't recognize Alzheimer's as a qualifying condition for marijuana, you wouldn't be able to get a medical card. But if your state has legalized recreational marijuana, no matter what you're using cannabis for, even if it's for a medical purpose, you can just go to the dispensary and buy it without a card. So it's really important. And so, you know, all, all use has a medical component. So if you're in a state where they have a recreational marijuana and bill on the ballot vote for it.

Kannaboomers:       04:02 Well that's a really good point. I mean, a lot of us are interested in the medicinal benefits of the plant, but don't really want to get high the way we might have, you know, in college or high school or whatever. But um, you know, there are benefits that can be had by just taking small doses, right?

Michele Ross:       04:17 Oh my goodness, this plant is amazing. Um, you know, not only the numerous chemicals and contaminants in it, but the, the, all the different ways you can take it. And so, you know, it's just funny because there's half the people that use cannabis are sort of that, that um, that group, I don't really want to get high. A lot of them either only use CBD products are scared of THC, but, um, you know, for that, if there's also that idea of microdosing THC, which is the active component in cannabis or marijuana and THC, just like any drug know, for example, like just like to make it easy for people. If you take alcohol, right? Like one drink makes you feel a certain way to drinks, thinks she knows her way through journeys for most people you're going to be pretty tipsy or drunk. Right? And so there's always an amount or a threshold with any drug or you know, whether it's recreational or prescription where you feel effects or you don't feel effects.

Michele Ross:       05:16 And with cannabis it's the same way. So if you're taking like say one point five or two point five or even five milligrams of THC during the day, at one sitting. You might not feel high what you might feel as relaxed, you know, like similar to taking a small dose of Xanax, right? Or you might have a reduction in pain, but you're not necessarily going to be sitting on your couch, you know, um, having the munchies out of it and like watching cartoons and it's like, that's not gonna happen. So it's all about dosage. So I want people to know that if you're scared of getting high, there's always a way to use cannabis in a way that fits with your lifestyle and your needs and your philosophy on life. Like some people don't want to get high because they're sober, you know? And that's okay,

Kannaboomers:       06:03 Right? You don't really have to have a mind altering experience. You can take a little and relieve pain or, or whatever you're trying to do. Your story I think is one of initial skepticism, right? You weren't, you weren't really sold on the benefits of cannabis, but, uh, eventually you came around. Can you tell us about that journey?

Michele Ross:       06:20 Yeah. You know, I'm, I'm pretty much the last person on earth I think would have been known as a, basically the, the vice sciences, um, you know, I telling him everyone about the benefits of cannabis and mushrooms and other psychedelic drugs. Um, I actually grew up across from a crack house in New Jersey and I saw a lot of my friends and neighbors actually really suffer from the effects of drugs and also the war on drugs. I mean I saw people go to jail, saw people get shot. I saw people get raped. Um, I saw a house gets set on fire, like it was really bad. I grew up in New Jersey and um, I literally from you know, from five years old, I was like, I'm going to be a doctor and I'm going to cure all the drug addiction everywhere. Like weird five-year-old goals. Like normally people want to play with like barbies. I wanted to go cure the world of addiction. It was a little bit old for my age I guess. So, you know, speed up until later in life. And, you know, I had done a lot drinking in college, I wouldn't smoke any weed or anything like that. It was like no drugs. Um, and I ended up going into graduate school working on my Ph.D. in Molecular Psychiatry Department and uh, my very first paper assignment was actually on could, uh, what do cannabinoids due to new brain cell growth. And for those of you who don't know, there's a process called neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is the birth of new brain cells. So like when you're a baby or fetus, your brain's like rapidly developing and it's forming all those awesome brain areas like, you know, like your hippocampus, which you're learning memory set or you know, you know, the center that processes emotions or get you to eat or move or whatever. But when you're an adult, you actually still make new brain cells. And these brain cells are important for mood. There are important for learning and memory. Um, there's actually my work actually suggested that there are important for drug addiction wrote on bald a two. Um, and so my very first paper was like, okay, so basically it does marijuana kill brain cells. And, you know, I'm going to drug addiction department, so I'm assuming the answer is yes. Um, and it turns out that certain cannabinoids actually do grow brain cells and um, you know, and that sort of started to change things for me, it's like you start hearing these like little rumors, like Santa Claus might not be real guys like what you've been taught in school might not actually be the truth. I'm like, what else about this cannabis stuff and sort of unraveling, um, so the knowledge about this and it was just sort of shocking because I wasn't really taught about the system in school. Like most doctors aren't even scientists. Here I am, I'm a drug scientists. Like my job is to study how drugs affect the brain and the neurotransmitter system, that's the largest neurotransmitter system in your brain is actually the endocannabinoid system. So this whole thing is very weird. I'm like, why aren't we touching on probably the most important thing on the brain? Okay. So I just like, I got a full on detective mode, you know.

Kannaboomers:       09:18 That's a fairly recent discovery right? I think it was in the nineties and I've been looking for the correct metaphor for the endocannabinoid system and as you say, it's the biggest neurotransmitter system we have. Every animal has it, right. Can it be akin to like the Internet of your body or how do we talk about it?

Michele Ross:       09:38 Goodness. Um, you know, and I do want to correct you on that because it's funny when people would think that the endocannabinoid system was discovered in the nineties because we're not really even talking about the medical benefits of cannabis until now, but it was actually, and I'm so bad with dates, but I believe it was, it was either the fifties or the sixties, when Dr. Raphael Mechoulam who is considered the godfather of cannabis. Um, he was a scientist in Israel that actually I'm isolated, identified CBD in his lab, also identified the cannabinoid receptor. So it happened years ago, but just, you know, because it was made illegal in the sixties. I'm all drugs were made illegal in the sixties. Basically I'm under, um, the drug schedule, um, and the UN treaties that we just didn't do any more research on it and the United States and we didn't really know about it. But, uh, yeah, the endocannabinoid system, it's sort of funny. It really it because it regulates everything else is sort of like your iOS. So you know, like when we're talking about, you know, your operating system, it's your Windows or it's your, you know, your Apple Sierra or whatever because when it's off, I mean everything else is a little funky and you really need to have proper levels of your endocannabinoids to function. And when we think about it is, it's actually a nutritional deficiency. So there's a lot of vitamins we take regularly, like we have no problem like popping vitamin D, vitamin D pills or calcium or you know, oh goodness knows what else is in, you know, your kitchen or your medicine a cabinet. Right. But we never talk about taking a vitamin that supports your endocannabinoid system and that's because most people don't even know that they have one or what it's important for it. But when you have a vitamin D deficiency, your body does not feel good because vitamin D is important for like a hundred and 50 different processes in your body and you won't know that you have low vitamin D levels until you go to the doctor and you're like, man, I'm depressed, or man, I can't lose that. That 10 pounds, like I don't know what's going on. Like I just run down and they're like, okay, but what we ran some tests, turns out you don't have any vitamin D and You need to take this prescription for vitamins. Or you can buy it over the counter, but you just have to take a lot of pills the same way you can be feeling rundown, Achy, moody, you know, like there's a thousand symptoms of endocannabinoid deficiency because again, that system regulates everything. Instead of being told, hey, you're depressed, take some Prozac or you have pain, take Oxycontin.

Michele Ross:       12:06 You know what, if we started with, hey, let's figure out if your endocannabinoid system is out of balance and let's get you on some CBD or low dose THC and see how you feel. Okay? You're responding to that great, we don't need to put you on Prozac or Oxycodone or whatever it is that they're thinking about prescribing you. Um, but because doctors really don't have a way, um, because it's not our medical system, you know, oh, they don't have a way to prescribe you, you know, a, a joint at the dispensary. They don't do it. So we're still in this like really weird time where it's legal but not completely legal in our country and doctors aren't really trained on it. And uh, it's, it's an interesting time for, for experts like me. So I do health coaching, which is, I don't actually provide medical marijuana recommendation. So for me it's like, you know, I think about this as teaching people how to heal themselves with cannabis.

Kannaboomers:       12:59 Well, and there's a lot to unpack there too. I mean, when you first you have to understand that there is this endocannabinoid system. We, we endogenously created our own cannabinoids and we can be deficient, but there's this plant that you can supplement your system. But then, as you said earlier, there's, there's so many different ways to do it. You could vape, you could take a tincture, you can smoke it, you could take an edible that you can put a topical on. There are different strains, there are different terpenes are different compounds. So when you coach your clients, how do you tell them to proceed in a way that really is most beneficial to them?

Michele Ross:       13:35 Yeah, and I mean it's a hard one too because, you know, it's, the rules are different, um, concerning a cannabis and CBD products in each and every country, state and city. And so, you know, and there's also different dispensary's um, you know, and they carry different products. So you might have a product that might be really helpful for a client, especially considering their specific condition or their medical history, what other medications they're on and it's just not accessible in our state. Um, you know, like for example, I live in California and so there's products that are in San Francisco that aren't available in Los Angeles because it's not quite legal to be like shipping products through the mail or like normally like how normal other companies are able to just, you know, ship products all over the world. You can't even cross state lines and sometimes it's really difficult to get things, you know, between one side of the state and the other. So for me it's really all about knowing where they are, knowing what types of needs I have. Right? Do you want to get high, do you not want to get high? Um, do you work, do you not work? Um, you know, uh, what kind of medical condition you are, like, what's the severity of your pain? Um, you know, there's a lot of things that come into recommending a patient or a client. Um, the, the right treatment protocol. And I want to say is that there's no, there's no app out there, there's no coach. That's probably what he can get it right on their first time. It takes time to adjust to a dose of medicine and it takes time to figure out what others right for you and the best kind of coaches are gonna work with you and not just say, have a first phone call or first meeting and say this is what you need. Okay, it's perfect by, you know, cannabis is a journey and it's personalized medicine and it's going to take a little bit of a trial and error and just working to correct the dosage just like it is for any other disease. If you go and see a psychiatrist and you're like, I'm depressed, they might have you on like 15 different drugs before they figure out what's the right one to put you on. So hopefully we do a little better with cannabis. But um, you know, there's still no magic bullet. I cannot tell somebody, hey, I could have five people with exactly the same disease and they may end up on five completely different treatments.

Kannaboomers:       15:44 It might depend on their genetics or their environment or all sorts of factors. Your book is called Vitamin Weed and it's got a lot of great information on different medicines, different molecules, and how they affect us. If you break that down in, I think you do in the book of, into your four step process, are you recommending that possibly we went to do your homework. You find a way to take a little bit of cannabis every day, whether it's CBD or THC, as you say, as sort of a preventative measure against some of the things we talked about, cancer, dementia, inflammation, which kind of is the basis of a lot of diseases. Is it a practical thing to think of cannabis as a daily preventative vitamin?

Michele Ross:       16:23 Yeah, that's absolutely the message I was trying to get across. Um, especially when we're talking about the stigma associated with cannabis and when you're living in a legal state like Colorado or California, it's sometimes easy to take for granted that like cannabis is everywhere. If you go to a state like Kansas for example, selling people that cannabis is a vitamin you should take every day, like we'll provide for some common goal and shocking basis. You know, um, but, uh, you know, I think we're also at a time where, um, where we also need to be wary of thinking about cannabis or CBD as a pharmaceutical because we know that pharmaceuticals, even though they're approved by the FDA or not necessarily safe because there's been lots of recalls on drugs after people have died or something's gone wrong or what you've had. People not being able to afford drugs because the price is too high and they don't have health insurance. And one of my real real passions, um, and in my work and my advocacy work for patients is making sure that cannabis is safe, that it's effective and um, and that it's accessible and affordable to all patients. And one of my fears is that when we start thinking about CBD, for example, as a pharmaceutical, um, which again is going to happen more and more, um, because Epidiolex, which is a drug for epilepsy, it's just CBD. I mean, it's a CBD drug, a creative by. And while it got FDA approval I think that they're more and more people are going to see it like a pharmaceutical, like a doctor should be prescribing. And then for epilepsy I think it should be, it should be, you know, actually prescribed by a doctor because the amount of CBD you need to treat epilepsy and other really serious conditions like schizophrenia is very high.

Michele Ross:       18:09 Like we're talking like 200, 300 milligram range. Whereas most people are taking CBD at like five to 20 milligrams a day if that. Um, the, the dose for wellness is a vitamin dose and the clearest way to differentiate between a vitamin dose of something. And I'm not a pharmaceutical or a dozer or something. I mean you look at vitamin D dot vitamin D is sold over the counter. I, you know, you can just go by by um, you know, a big bottle and it has thousands of pills that are like 1000 IEU write a prescription dose of vitamin D is like $15,000 per pill. Like technically you could get the same dose over OTC, you would just have to take a lot more of it. So I think that it's really important that we make sure that in this country when he and we still have over the counter hemp and CBD products available, but we also have the prescription, um, quality, um, you know, medications are available for very, very sick patients that can't afford to have adult trends or need to have quality ingredients that are covered by insurance. Um, but there definitely has to be the same. So for me, I think that cannabis and CBD is a vitamin. I think it really helps us protect us against, um, both the physical stressors in life that we don't know about, like inflammation and cancer. We're all growing cancer within us. It just takes like 10 years for it to be detected, you know. Um, we're also, we're, we're always having inflammation. The air we breathe is polluted, so we're getting inflammation from there. Um, you know, we turn on lights while we're sleeping, you know, that's causes inflammation while we're sleeping. Like we do all sorts of things, like the natural way that we're living right now is completely unnatural. Um, so for us really I think that it's a, it's cannabis or CBD is like a helmet that would put on right, you put on a helmet before you play football because you now you're going to get whacked in the hat.

Michele Ross:       20:01 So, you know, for us to go along our daily lives and knowing we're not sleeping right, we're not eating right or we have road rage. Like everything is just like everything is out of whack for us as humans. And to not put on that helmet like before we go out the door. Like that's just crazy. So I really would hope that people, um, you know, if you have to choose, okay, like what's the one thing that's going to go in my medicine cabinet? Like what should I choose? Pick the most powerful antioxidant and neuro protectant, which is CBD.

Kannaboomers:       20:32 That's a great metaphor. I like to helmet idea. Now, you, how much do you take a day and you have health challenges, right?

Michele Ross:       20:40 Yeah. Um, so what I use actually varies. Um, and it's because I actually take a lot of different to test them out again because I have clients and coach other coaches. I'm not only here in this state, um, but across the world, uh, I have to try a lot of products because not all products can you get into cross state lines so you have to see does this work, does this work? Because if I take it and it doesn't work and it doesn't work in like 20 of, you know, my, my close circle, then we know these products don't work and I have to be very clear, not all products in the market work, which is, it's really you have to really know what you're buying, trust what you're buying. Um, and just don't believe everything you see on the Internet. There are products out there that have zero CBD and then like literally will say this, how CBD has not the unit and there's even a lead.

Michele Ross:       21:28 So like the FDA or a has a list of like products that have been known to have zero CBD in them so that those are the ones that got in trouble. Like not because they have CBD in them, but because they didn't have CBD. Um, there was like bum products. Yeah. So it's probably important to look for lab results I would think. Well, it's hard because, um, it's easy to I guess, um, one thing I've heard from some manufacturers that they don't pass to or lab results because it's easy to just have another company take that lab result and doctor it up or like Photoshop it would like their name on it and like put out the same lab resolve that's apparently happened. So, um, what, what's important I guess is if you have a brand and you ask them for lab results, internal, like you email them, but they would be able to provide that but not necessarily having them posted on the website.

Michele Ross:       22:16 Like that's not important. And because they had, there's like Dr stuff out there. It's, it's a really weird thing. And again, it's like you want regulations on, on, on this industry, right? Because if you look at, you know, pharmaceuticals, you know, are meeting a certain quality, right? Um, but if you look at OTC, south elements like a fish oil supplement, right, like most supplements in the market don't provide any actual testing information about what's in there. And I know this because I've worked as a chief scientist at a nutrition, like a marketing company that sold nutraceuticals around the world. So I used to formulate nutraceuticals before I came into cannabis and we would actually, um, find brands that had, we put them through third party testing and they're like, yeah, there's none of the active ingredients here. This is actually colored flower. You're selling $80 a pop of colored flower, like it's supposed to have 30 ingredients and it's actually got nothing. And like if anyone thinks they're losing weight or they're doing this or that, it's all placebo effect. Um, so, you know, there's nothing on the market that, like the only time a company gets in trouble is when they're found out to either have an ingredient that's not on the label, that shouldn't be there. Like they're putting in a pharmaceutical when it's a nutrition total and it's not supposed to be in there. Right? Or they're there. They actually have no ingredients that are listed on the label. So it's really hard. Like we want regulations, we want to see CBD and cannabis companies have all this information and yet the regular OTC dietary supplement market is even held up to those standards. You can literally get fish oil right now that has mercury and other toxins and a, and they won't be, it didn't go through testing or they could say it went through testing, but they didn't. They, oh, it failed the testing, but we still put it on the market. So, um, you know, that's sort of the gamble you take when you work with dietary supplements. It's really important to maybe pay the extra money to work with a brand that you trust, but also the most expensive supplements in the market are not necessarily the safest either. So because I know some of the companies that we're charging a lot, but they were the ones that actually were selling the bug products. So it just all about does it work, is it effective? Um, and you know, and, and again, have they been in business for a long time with the CBD world is hard because a lot of these companies haven't been around long because of the field is really new. Um, but there, there are just, there are some companies that I work with, um, because I know, um, that they do work and actually one of my things that I'm going to be doing. So the biggest question I always get people ask me like, what do you take, um, you know, what do you use? And I've been sort of hesitant to tell people about that because I don't want to really like really like seeing, like promoting anything, especially when I was working with a nonprofit. But um, you know, now that I'm coaching clients, it's a little bit different. I can share about what I use. And so my website, Dr Michele Ross dot com is, um, I just put out some things there that I use right now. I'm going to be listing a lot more of this stuff that I use. It just takes the time to load the website with, with all this stuff. Um, you know, I am actually a really sick patient and so you, what works for me might not work for you. I got to say that, um, you know, that caveat.

Michele Ross:       25:18 We're all very different. We have different genetics, different, you know, medical histories, different medications we brought are we have been on, but I do want to share some of the creative and CBD brands, um, that I do use and juvenile work, um, that are available in all 50 states. Um, so there's no issue with shipping them across the country. Um, and you know, some of the other supplements I take because I want to share this like people think that cannabis or CBD is like, okay, like you could just take that and everything's good. Like you still have some other issues. Um, for example, I just want to point this out because I think like, no one actually knows this and sort of funny, if you smoke cannabis, uh, you actually get a nutritional deficiency in your lungs because you're burning. Um, you know, plant matter. And that produces ammonia and other toxins, which is again why I always tell people to vape or, you know, use a water filter or something, don't just smoke joints. It's not the healthiest, but your lungs actually become deficient, include a thiamine, which is an antioxidant that's really important. Um, and so, you know, you don't want to cause lung issues, um, or other body issues by having a nutritional deficiency. So if you do smoke a joint or you know, use pipes or things like that, if you smoke cannabis, um, you want to take a supplement that increases glutathione. Um, so whether that's NAC, that's actually what I take. Um, even though I don't, it just really good for, it's another antioxidant, but most cannabis smokers are deficient.

Kannaboomers:       26:50 So we're delving into the chemistry, which is your specialty. And that's where it's all happening. There's one in particular compound like our listeners to understand that that's it. Anandamide. Am I saying that correctly?

Michele Ross:       27:03 Yes, you are, the bliss molecule,

Kannaboomers:       27:06 The bliss molecule. That's why it's so important. So what, what's going on with anandamide?

Michele Ross:       27:11 Okay, so anandamide is the natural marijuana-like compound that your body and brain produces. And so, um, the easiest way to describe it in your body, so it's an endocannabinoid which endo means inside. So it's cannabinoid made inside your body, by the way, THC and CBD are phytocannabinoids. They're made in the plant, aka phyto. So anandamide is an endocannabinoid. So what does an endoccanabinoid do? Well, it's a neurotransmitter. And so it would, it actually is. It's like a key that fits into a lock and your cannabinoid receptors, droves, locks. Um, and there's multiple cannabinoid receptors, right? There's a CB, one receptors, CB two receptor, or there's a whole bunch of other random new receptors that are being discovered every day. Some of them fit and antibide some of the other substances that are produced in her brain. But an antibody is really important. So it's always been produced by your brain.

Michele Ross:       28:04 Um, so it's a little bit different than some of the other neurotransmitters. Like for example, like serotonin only be like spit out under a certain time, like when you or like the other ones will be like pumped out and they'll signal between the two brain cells like, okay, you need to move or you need to go eat or you need to go do this and that and then have minds like always on. So it's always just like, like sort of like sprinkled around and it's just always there. And so that's why when there's a deficiency, like you actually have an imbalance and some of those other neurotransmitters being released. Um, so it's really important to have a randomized onboard at a certain present level. Um, and to not actually have too much or too little. I want to state that too because some people think they're like, okay, more, more is always better, you know, and there are some issues we actually see with people taking say like too much cannabis or something because people is, for example, that dab like 10 to 15 times a day. They actually don't make enough anandamide, they start making yet. Um, and I just want to point that out as sort of people don't know that like, and it's really important because it's similar to somebody taking morphine or Oxycontin or like other pain pills, they stopped making endorphins which are natural opioids. So in the same way, if you take too much cannabis, you can actually stop making your own natural endocannabinoids like an antibiotic. So it's really important to have that perfect level of an antibiotic and what that an antibody does. So what after it hits those cannabinoid receptors, it does a lot of different things. I mean it can really reduce pain. It can reduce inflammation, it can make you hungry depending on where those receptors are all over your brain, like some of them are in areas that control appetite, summer and learning areas. Some are movement. The one area that you won't find any cannabinoid receptors in. Um, and this is really, really important is in your brain stem which controls your breathing. And this is why you can't die from cannabis. You can't die, you know, from obviously your own natural production of anandamide. That would be really bad. But you know, you don't have, you don't have those cannabinoid receptors there, so you can't actually, um, stopped breathing. So, which is how you die with opioid overdose. It's an is amazing. Um, you know, we're, we're so blessed to have this molecule that makes us feel good and you know, you don't anything that makes you feel good and it's not addictive, you want more of in your life. And the beautiful thing is CBD. That's the major way CBD works is not actually by binding jerk and cannabinoid receptors. It's actually by increasing levels of an antibiotic which then go bind to receptors.

Kannaboomers:       30:40 Okay, well then that's good to know. So it's, it's almost like, you mentioned endorphins in there, so like the runner's high, you, you run and you've feel this euphoria, so might, might it be akin to that?

Michele Ross:       30:53 Yeah. You know, the runner's high's actually endorphins and an antibiotic and anything over a little teeny bit of dopamine. But uh, you know, they never used to think that in the end nobody was even part of it. And so, you know, oh, it's actually really interesting because I have a lot of friends that are in the fitness field and I, I actually did my very first book was actually on weight loss and fitness and the neuroscience behind it. And so for runner's high, it's actually interesting if you consume cannabis or you consume CBD before running, you have elevated levels of either an antibiotic or stimulations of the cannabinoid receptors and you'll feel less pain, you know, um, you'll be able to lift more weights if you do weightlifting, you'll be able to run longer, you'll have more endurance. Um, it's something actually that professional athletes love to use and also people that are just trying to lose weight. I've actually had amazing stories from patients that are like, yeah, I lost, you know, 5 — 100 pounds. Like by using cannabis before I go work out. Or I use a topical lotion that contains cannabis and I rub it on my legs and my arms, you know, when I have either or lifted too much weights or I'm sore because I'm running for the first time in a long time. Um, for me, you know, I have fibromyalgia, it's pretty painful and you know, it's, it's a disease that's harder to work out with and you know, if I consume, you know, say a recreational amount of cannabis, I'm actually able to go work out and not worry about like, oh, I feel horrible. I can't, I can't do this walk. It's too long. Like I can actually go do it, enjoy it and then take a topical, you know, afterwards and recover and still be motivated, go out the next day and go exercise some more because I'm not in so much pain that I have to stop for a week or, you know.

Michele Ross:       32:38 And I think that's really important. Definitely. Um, to, you know, the baby boomer population because, you know, as you age, it's really important for you to stay active. And a lot of people don't, you know, you know, aches and pains like arthritis. I'm like, I can barely walk, you know, like I'm not gonna go do it. And I'm seeing more and more people will become active now. Um, because they're incorporating cannabis and whatever ways is right for them, but they're incorporating it and they're actually getting outside and moving, um, or maybe doing a little buddy in yoga inside their whoa, me know, uh, it's, it's pretty cool how you can incorporate cannabis and again, it's all because cannabis is helping increasing those blood levels and you know, making you feel blissed out instead of stressed out or aching.

Kannaboomers:       33:21 That's a really good point. And I'm so glad you brought that up because our audience, I think I maybe mentioned earlier, you know, arthritis wanting to keep things like Alzheimer's had bay. Those all enter into it when you're 45, 50 and older. And here's a substance that so many times in this conversation you've mentioned things that 10 or 15 years ago you really couldn't have said that it was, it's a good thing for athletes to take even professional athletes or like you mentioned people in Kansas. So as our science unfolds and we, we understand more and more about this plant that's we've been using for tens of thousands of years, it just gets more and more incredible. And more kind of fundamental that you try to work it into your regimen.

Michele Ross:       34:05 Yeah, I mean it's amazing. Um, you know, having been part of this industry, like obviously I wasn't there like the sixties. It was way before I was even born. But you know, I, I am one of the leaders in this industry and into, you know, when I started writing articles about cannabis online, there were literally like no articles. Like for example, I wrote the first articles on the Internet about cannabis and endometriosis, cannabis and lymes disease like Alzheimer's. And it's just funny, like now you see if you google search, there's so many articles on things. But you know, even five to six years ago there was nothing like you literally would post like, is it okay to smoke weed if I have Alzheimer's and your real life, you would. Somebody would post that on a forum and you'd have like no answers. That's how limited the knowledge was about cannabis and it's appropriate applications and the science behind it.

Michele Ross:       34:54 But in the last five to seven years, the field has exploded. There's research going on in Australia and Canada, not so much in the United States because it's still very illegal and almost impossible to do. Really the only real clinical study with smoked cannabis in this country is with veterans with PTSD, with Suzanne Sisley who, God bless her for trying to get that study off for seven whole years. That's a lot of tenacity. Um, but think about it. Seven years like it take, it takes a long time to get this information going. So I've been so proud to be at the forefront of this and to be able to say like, comfortable and like, Hey, you should do these things. Like a lot of things I used to say used to be super controversial. You'd be like, you want grandma to use cannabis in her nursing home? 

Michele Ross:       35:40 I used to be just a crazy thing to suggest things that people are working on right now I'm doing like say infused meals. Um, uh, things like nursing homes. Because again, it just like if you're, you can eat one and you're hungry. A lot of medications, patients not hungry and also makes them relax and chill and so I'm being agitated, especially like if you're a patient that doesn't have memory issues, it can be really hard. And I know this because I used to volunteer at a nursing home and it was really hard working with patients that would suddenly forget where they are, who, who they were talking to and get like, you know, violent. And that's one of the things that cannabis is great for. Not only does it help people become like relaxed, even improved some of their memory, like you see some families where they're like, oh my son actually, or sorry, my dad actually remembers me now when I come, like, that's amazing. Or some of them started dancing. Like you see these amazing changes happen to people. Um, and I think that cannabis can actually be the gateway to a better life. Especially in your older years.

Kannaboomers:       36:40 Yeah. As a leader in this movement and having seen what you've seen, what do you think that needs to happen? I mean, there, there's things happening at the state levels, the current administration with Jeff Sessions, who thinks only bad people use cannabis, making it legal nationally might not work unless the president does that just to mess with Jeff Sessions. But where do you see us in say five to 10 years in terms of, um, acceptance, you know, I think I heard that only about 50 percent of medical schools even refer to the endocannabinoid system and they don't spend a lot of time on it. When those changes begin to happen, when do you think they will? And in what sort of landscape will we see for cannabis in, in our daily lives?

 

Michele Ross:       37:22 You know? Um, that's an interesting question because it can go so many ways. Um, you know, there, and you can see this even by the bills that people are trying to push. So some people think that only CBD should be illegal. Marijuana should stay on the schedule and no matter what, then there's other people that think that it should be off the schedule completely and available freely. Just like alcohol and cigarettes are right. And if you want to use it medically, like that's your deal, right? I'm just like, you know, you can use dietary supplements as medicine if you'd like. It's usually discouraged by MDs. Um, they'd rather, you know, you come for your surgeries and your chemo and your prescriptions, right? Um, but then there's other groups of people that think it should be rescheduled. And this is a tricky one, right? Because we talk about the problems with it being schedule one.

Kannaboomers:       38:11 So a schedule one drug, cannabis is on the same schedule with heroin, right?

Michele Ross:       38:15 There's no medical use, a Dr Pam prescribe it without being accused of malpractice. Like it's a big problem. Um, and if it was moved to schedule to where cocaine and other drugs are, some of the other drugs are no one, your doctor is not going to prescribe you campaign, right? Like they're also not really going to want to prescribe you cannabis. And it's also gonna it, it makes it more of a metal, like a very pharmaceutical fashion, which is not how the dispensary system is set up or anything. But we're seeing some, like I'm, I'm confused about how, which way the United States is going to give out federally because I'd been to some states where it is straight up like a pharmaceutical, so I was just in Minnesota and instead of bud tenders they have like pretty much they have pharmacists. So, and when you get your medical card you have to go visit a pharmacist who then tells you exactly how your, you have to take the medicine, like you're like prescribed, like here you can only take, you know, half a gram this main time so you know, a week and you know, and you have to come back and you're cut off after this amount, like you can't buy anymore. Um, so to that, to me sounds much more like a, like a medical model, like a schedule three model for cannabis. Um, so I don't know whether our country is going to just take it off completely or where they're going to make it like country completely controlled by doctors. There were some movements and I would say because I mean we look at pharmaceutical companies lobbying. I mean, I don't think it's crazy to think that some of the major pharmaceutical companies might just acquire some of the biggest cannabis companies in the United States and just make it a pharmaceutical. I mean, that might happen. And because that's our country loves pharmaceuticals. I mean, we consume 90 percent of the world's opioids, like we're all about pharmaceuticals. Um, we're not so much about natural medicines were not about freedom either. Like we're definitely not about freedom even though that's what our country is supposed to be about. Um, and so, you know, would the ideal I would want to, I would love to see it like Canada, which by the way is going to be the one of the best markets because not only can they study the cannabis, you can research it. Um, it's federally legal for both medical and for recreational use, Aka everyone can get access to it. Um, and they're also exporting it to other countries. So the other countries that need cannabis that are cultivating it in their country, they can export to all these other countries and make lots of money. Like literally, Canada has surpassed us in every way, um, and all of our good like scientists and supper moving to Canada by the way, I'm not because I'm crazy, but apparently I should be in Canada.

Kannaboomers:       40:45 Well, yeah, California's a lot warmer than Toronto, but yeah, that is crazy. I mean it's going to be a multibillion dollar industry, right? In other, other countries are going to Canada. They're going to develop the expertise and you know, all the tariffs and all that stuff don't, don't help us much when there's this budding industry that makes so much sense and we're just letting them take it.

Michele Ross:       41:06 Yeah. Run with it. I do have research partners in Canada and Australia and Israel and it's just funny, like one of them was like, Hey, what are you going to start these studies? And it's just funny. Like Thomas Jefferson University, I'm on the east coast, started a CBD research program with some funding from like a, again, like the Lambert's, which are these huge philanthropists. Um, uh, because their child had a epilepsy and was treated with CBD over in Australia. And this study started research centers in different places on one being that university and the research you're doing is CBD and because our country makes it so hard to do actual teach, see research, you know, we can't do teach, see cancer research in the United States. You're like, literally it's legal. And I know this because I sat on the board is trying to move past cannabis research lives.

Michele Ross:       41:54 Like literally you can, I could go buy cannabis. Like I can literally do whatever I want with it. I could like injected into a breast cancer tumor of myself, like that would be illegal. But like for me to study it in any manner with patients would be completely illegal. Um, so it's so frustrating because you're like, this patient took RSO and their tumor's gone, this patient at this. But you can't actually do it as a clinical study because it's illegal because it's schedule on drug. So it's so frustrating in this state, this country. So, um, you know, I'm, hopefully, I'm, some of the questions that I still have. Um, I'm hopefully working with partners in other countries. Like, I'm flying out to Israel, uh, in October I'm going to start working with some partners out there to make a women's health products that were completely illegal to even study here by the way, in Colorado. And this one, the main reasons why I moved from Colorado. I was so upset like they banned vaginal suppositories and rectal suppositories. Um, all, all of a sudden out of the blue, like one day they woke up and they're like, they're not safe in their life. There's been no clinical trials showing that people should be putting weed up there, you know, other courses besides her math and then they're like, but no one. Has anyone reported any like deaths or overdoses are like adverse effects with this? Like, no, it's been legal for like three years in this state. Like no one's had any problems with. And people have been using suppositories with other herbs for years and they just were like, not safe. We're going to ban in. So there's a clinical study out in three years later we'll find out the results and you're like, while we we're waiting, all the patients that we're using that for cancer and for women's health disorders are now not going to be able to have that product. You're like. And again, it's not like any other medical medicine on the market, like literally you have to wait until like people would die of heart attacks for like in a pharmaceutical drug to be taken off the shelves here. We had no zero, we had zero issues and they're like, we're going to take it off because we just don't want it, you know? So I mean that's the field I work in. You're like literally like I was setting up a research study and they're like, no, sorry, we're just going to ban it off the market. No one's going to use this anymore. You're like, but it didn't do anything to anyone. Like it was actually amazing. I use those products. I think that's how I do with my disease. I'm like, why would you do something like take something off that it's been helping people. Like I don't, I don't understand how these things are working at all.

Kannaboomers:       44:11 There's still the undertow of decades of prohibition and you know, really government-sponsored propaganda about a devil's weed and all that to, you know, we think we're past it, but it's still going to affect us for a long time. I think. So the stigma.

Michele Ross:       44:25 Yeah. The stigma for I think the medical experts. I mean I have. Actually I want to state this because you know, people just think there's stigma against users as a cannabis using an expert. Right. And again, I'm not smoking weed during the day or anything like that. Like literally I use it and like micro doses in order to control disabling pain and spasms, not to get high during the day. Like that's not my purpose, but I have other scientists and doctors were like, she's not a real scientists, don't listen to her. She does drugs. Like those are the kinds of things. And I'm not the only one. You get other scientists that don't believe in cannabis on the same panels as you. And they're like, don't listen to like the fucking stoner scientists. And sorry for that for there, but like, it's been cheated and bad and you're like, I'm not a stoner. Like if you see me, I'm, there's nothing about me that's stoner. Michelle. I am a very hard word in your very educated sciences. I also have an MBA too. Like I'm overeducated.

Kannaboomers:       45:20 You're a neuroscientist who has credentials and some politician somewhere is going to decide he doesn't like suppositories because he's got hair up his ass and you know, that's just unfortunate. I mean, as a scientist you also have to get into the politics of it and as you are being an activist and helping promote the, just the common sense that we now know that's a huge challenge. Um, as, as you well know. Um, I guess I want to ask from your perspective, what is the most important thing for a baby boomer or really anybody who's interested in this to, to do, if they want to check out if cannabis is right for them, for their medical needs.

 

Michele Ross:       46:00 Okay. Um, so that's a great question. Um, so, you know, the one thing you need to do really is to just try it. Um, and you know, you know what your laws are in your state, right? So if, if marijuana is not legal in your state, I strongly suggest you don't use it because jail time is never healthy, especially when you're older or if you're a sick patient. Um, so definitely make sure you're an illegal state. Um, and secondly, um, you know, um, don't necessarily try it for the first time by like say using again like a joint that your friend has passed around or something like that. Um, you really want to look for a product that works for you. So you want to look for something. Um, again, if you're not trying to get high, you want to probably start with a CBD product or a low dose THC product.

Michele Ross:       46:50 I actually prefer, um, people start off with a low dose like CBD and THC product. And what that is, is like you actually hear like a one to one ratio product. And what that means is that there's an equal amount of CBD and THC in it. So he wanted to go for something that say maybe has like two point five milligrams CBD in it, two point five milligrams THC in it. Um, what that does, the CBD actually sort of counteracts the THC. It makes any high in there, like, like minimal. Um, but again, you're using so much, so little teaching in there anyways. It really wouldn't be a psychoactive dose. But that way it's most effective at reducing pain. Inflammation. I'm helping to sleep later on in the day. Um, so something like that. Something that's like that microdose stage and you know, whether it's a candy, whether it's um, there's things called like some legal tabs where you just like put it underneath your tongue, sort of like a, B 12, a supplement and let it dissolve. Something like that is really easy to work with. Um, when you're a first timer, because again, you're not going to get high so you don't have to worry, but you want to make sure that if it's your first time using anyhow, cannabis products probably don't take it. And then like go to work or go to, you know, go out. Like make sure it's like at home, so you just know in case you're one of those people that super sensitive to it because you know, I hate to say this because there's always that one person or like, like this is the lowest dose. There's no possible way you could get high and there's always that one person in 100 that will somehow either actually be higher or think feds are high. So you know, anytime you're taking something new you want to just make sure that you know, you're, you want to understand how you feel. And so journaling too, like when you're starting to use products is really important. Especially if we're going to start smoking. Things are taking different doses or trying out things. Like I'm going to try all this candy bar and it's great to have a journal and there are some journals that they sell online, like strange trackers and things like that where you didn't say like, hi, what did I take? How did I use it? Okay. I was like, did I take two candies and I take half a handy and it's okay. By the way, to break candies or other things and to have, it's like it's completely safe and especially if you need a lower dose of something, like if something comes as a 10 milligram dose, it's okay to break it into quarters, you know, um, sometimes people don't know that I'm like, it's completely okay, but like, you know, write down what you're doing and how it's making you feel, um, and where you bought it from to because the strain or the product that you're buying, the brand name is really important.

Michele Ross:       49:17 Is an incredible. Is it Kiva is a, you know, like whatever it is that you're buying. What is it? Because the same, um, you know, same type of product, a chocolate bar with THC each. It is different, you know, from brand to brand. And then, you know, a strain, you know, um, see a blue dream strain. The strains have all these crazy names, right? There are different from each dispensary or each grower. They're not all the same, you know, they're not completely genetic. You know, I'm 100 percent the same. Um, even though they might have the same name because it's sort of a week cause classification system, like people grow these plants differently and all over the world. So you really want to say like, you know, what you're getting and how it's making you feel so that if you find something you're like, I love this. Like, you know how to replicate that feeling.

Kannaboomers:       50:03 There's no Merck Manual of cannabis. So you're saying take it slow. You small doses in pay attention and you know, that's all good advice I think for anybody who wants to pay attention to their health, you know, if you're a patient you're going to be a little more involved in a little more responsible for your own state just by paying attention to yourself.

Michele Ross:       50:23 Yeah. And I think it's really good to, to know like timing of things and also like what your status was before you were taking it. So there's some apps even like I worked with a company, um, called Stratton print up in Canada. They were great for the Canadian strains is a harder work with, with the US market. But um, you were able to actually say, okay, like find your symptoms and you were like, okay, I have really bad back pain. Okay. So like, what's my number of back pain? Am I like at a, like a zero to 10? Like how bad is my bad pay? Okay, cool. Then in the end you would put in like, or write down in your journal, okay, what am I going to take now? Okay. So my back things at a 10, I'm going to take this product and then an hour later how do I feel? And so you can know like how does this product work in different scenarios because sometimes a product that might not get you high at all, especially if you're like level 10 pain, what it's going to do is reduce your pain and you're not going to feel high, you're going to have just feel less pain. But on a day where you have no pain, you might actually feel high from that product. So like the context of it is always very important. Or did you. How did you feel taking this product inside by yourself watching a movie versus going out like in public at a concert or going like meeting like at a business meeting you've never met people like there's all different contexts and cannabis is very context dependent so it's not like alcohol where like you sort of have the same experience with alcohol no matter what you forget to drink this beer, it's going to do the same exact thing to you no matter where you are or what you're doing at the time. Like you're not like I was really depressed and then I drink this beer and I got weird. Like it's like it's not really like that. Cannabis is very interesting because it can amplify both your emotional state, your spiritual state, sometimes your physical state to like there's some people that will actually have pain and they pick the wrong strain and it's got like the wrong chemical mixed or something for them and they were like, oh my God, my back pain got worse. I like, I was more aware of my back pain. How did that happen? And you're like, there you go. It may, sometimes there's certain strains that are actually help you be more aware and in tune and it's like in tune with your partner in tune with the concert you're like watching are in tune with the artwork you're doing and that's really important. But like if you're a pain patient, you don't want to use the product that is making you super aware of your body and how much it hurts, like so, you know, there's always the right product for you. Um, and I would say like, you know, if you're a newbie and you're just trying out some things and um, you know, and you're still having trouble finding products and this is hard because cannabis isn't covered by health. Insurance can be expensive and you can't really make returns. You can't really. Like, I didn't really like this marijuana, I would like another one, please exchange like that's not legal. So it's unfortunate. It's like cracking open a bottle of alcohol. If you don't like that line, you're sort of stuck with it. Um, and while some company, like some states are allowing sort of tasting type things or samples like many states aren't, so you know, what you want to do is, um, you know, if you don't want to spend a lot of money on products and you need help understanding what kind of products are right for you or what to take because it's confusing as heck. I mean, like, you, you really shouldn't be playing doctor by yourself, especially if you have a severe medical condition. If you need help. Um, there are, um, you know, obviously coaches and other professionals like myself, I can help you along and hopefully help you spend a lot less money on products doing, like trial by error because it's not easy. I mean, as somebody with like I have like, like seriously, like 10 different chronic illnesses. I've escaped death like literally, like four times. I'm really, really lucky to be alive. And you know, for me it took me a while to find that magic, you know, little, um, I would say like protocol for me. And I think that there's a protocol for each and every one of you, um, especially if you have multiple illnesses, um, you know, and it's not going to be the same as your best friend or anyone, you know, it's gonna be unique to you and it's, it may take some time to find that perfect protocol.

Kannaboomers:       54:15 It's a complicated landscape and it's going to take some due diligence. So for my last question, I want to read a little bit from your mission statement and, uh, and ask how we can support you. So this is from the Infused Health mission statement. “Infused Health is organized as a public benefit corporation and part of our mission is to provide services and products to those who need them but cannot afford them. We work with cannabis and CBD product makers to provide free or highly discounted medicine. We aimed to provide free cannabis health coaching to those in need such as veterans, late stage cancer patients and patients with severe opioid addiction in partnership with nonprofits.” How can this audience help support you in that work?

Michele Ross:       54:52 Sure. Actually I'm not set up like a nonprofit like my last company. Um, so, oh, the way that we work, we're actually a public benefit corporation. So what that means it's a corporation, um, that has a mission to give back. Um, and our mission obviously is to provide services to those who who need it most. And so our model, I'm right now, so we're launching self guided courses and coach assisted courses and so what we're doing with that model is for a high percentage of the profits of those courses actually go and find free courses for veterans and other people that are in need. So again, we're, we've been working on these courses, um, and some of our programs for a long time. So that's the best way of, you know, if you need help, um, in our first course is actually launching ads on fibromyalgia. We have another one on cannabis, motherhood, um, another one on pelvic pain and then we'll be rolling out other ones including cannabis for Alzheimer's, cannabis for Parkinson's. Um, that will be later next year. So, um, you know, the best way to do that is to either join a chorus yourself and be educated and work through our self guided program to actually optimize your treatment and you know, just sort of like the Tom's model where you know, you buy one and you can give this one back to somebody who needs it.

Kannaboomers:       56:14 That's cool. That's really great. I think we've covered most of my questions. Is there, is there anything you want to leave us with?

Michele Ross:       56:21 I'm an hour. If you want to sort learn the Merck Manual of cannabis. Unfortunately I couldn't put everything into that vitamin we'd book, but it does cover a lot and hopefully a breakdown, sort of all the mess about cannabis and I love that book just because it's something you could give to your doctor, especially if your doctor doesn't understand what an endocannabinoid system is or why you're even thinking about cannabis. Please be honest with your healthcare professionals, you're thinking about using cannabis because it is important, especially if you're on other medications, you might have a drug interaction. So always be honest with your doctor. Um, and read as much as you can and if you have questions I'll reach out to professionals like myself to get some help. So just thank you so much for, uh, for letting me talk a little bit on your podcast.

Kannaboomers:       57:06 Well, thank you. We appreciate your expertise and people can find Vitamin Weed at Amazon.

Michele Ross:       57:12 Yes. Um, or there's links to it on my website which is DrMicheleRoss.com.

Kannaboomers:       57:20 Thank you so much. Dr. Ross. Thank you. You've been listening to. Let's talk about weed, Kannaboomers podcast with Thomas J. For for more on medicinal cannabis for baby boomers. Visit us at kannaboomers dot com.

Kannaboomers:       57:32 And that's a wrap.

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