An Herbalist’s Perspective on Cannabis

During the middle of March of 2011, something amazing happened. I achieved clinical remission from severe rheumatoid arthritis, something that had eluded me (and my doctors) for over thirteen years. However, it was for thirteen years that my RA was out of control, and the drugs prescribed by the five rheumatologists I had over those years did nothing to alleviate the inflammation and excruciating pain I experienced 24/7. I stopped seeing the sixth rheumatologist after she continued to insist that I should be injecting Humira to treat the RA that was no longer rearing its ugly head.

My last injection was on 13 September 2015 and to date, I’ve had no return of symptoms. It was the last prescribed drug that I remained on after discontinuing everything else during the first six months of 2011. I stayed on it because I had been so ill, but after playing around with the dosage, moving from every two weeks to a month or more between injections, it was clear that no symptoms were going to return. However, the doctor I was then seeing apparently couldn’t handle that, began insisting, and I left, never to return.

A year earlier, in March of 2010, I was so ill that I thought I wouldn’t survive. The drugs I was taking had turned my body into a toxic soup and it was clear that it was taking its toll on me. I decided to apply for my cannabis card. I thought that at least it might ease my transition, but I had no idea it would heal me to the point of achieving clinical remission. But that’s exactly what happened. Roughly two and one-half months after beginning a treatment regimen focusing on cannabis concentrates, I was in clinical remission. For the first time in a long time, I had hope. Maybe, I wouldn’t die after all.

As I continued to heal, I experimented with various kinds of cannabis preparations, finding those that seemed to keep me in remission. I used tincture, cannabis-infused coconut oil, along with including raw leaf and bud in my smoothies and smoking and vaping for additional pain control. Around a year later, I added RSO, the thick, sludgy cannabis oil extract which many patients have discovered heals all sorts of chronic and severe conditions, cancer included.

From there, I began adding in herbal infusions and tinctures, eventually creating my own tincture to use daily to keep my RA in remission. My focus was on anti-rheumatic herbs such as cat’s claw bark along with those that kept my liver and urinary systems balanced and flowing unimpeded. Auto-immune diseases are interesting to experience and since RA is an autoimmune condition, it was clear, at least to me, that toxicity was a component. If the body can’t assimilate nutrients and then expel waste properly, all sorts of problems can result.

So, my tinctures and infusions (really strong teas) took a cleansing and balancing focus with an emphasis on clearing fluid retention, something that every single doctor acknowledged and agreed was happening and then quickly changed the subject to, are you walking? are you exercising? They all acknowledged my weight gain was due to fluid retention, yet no one would do anything about it. When my primary care doctor finally did so, adding a second blood pressure pill containing a diuretic, I lost so much fluid that a flare happened that stayed active for over a year. And no, flares don’t last that long, but that’s what happened and what ultimately prompted my decision to become a cannabis patient.

I focused on dandelion as a basis for my infusions because of its liver and diuretic properties. The nice part about dandelion is that it also is a great source of potassium, something that prescribed diuretics tends to strip from the body. Dandelion doesn’t do that and it’s why I used it as a base for the teas. From there I added plantain, cleavers, chickweed, raspberry leaf, red clover blossoms, comfrey leaf, and horsetail for a basic cleansing tea. Lemon balm, marshmallow leaf, and various mints were also available to add if I wanted and over time, balance returned and I was doing really well.

One of the issues we face in the US is the fact that hemp and cannabis have been illegal, both in states and federally. That’s changing now. Hemp is now legal in all fifty states to grow and that’s a wonderful thing. Cannabis is becoming legal both medically and recreationally which is also a tremendous step forward in our collective healing even though it’s still listed in the federal registry as a Schedule 1 substance on par with heroin. That’s ridiculous and based on a lie that others have profited from since the early 1900s. People’s lives have been ruined by needless incarceration, and for what? Smoking or possessing a plant that has a long history of healing?

I’ve been a self-trained herbalist for my entire life. I completed a certificate program with Sage Mountain to reinforce what I’ve discovered on my own, but the knowledge of herbs has been with me since childhood. Humans have become so detached from their own healing process that we’ve forgotten that what we often need to heal can be found by taking a walk outside. It’s not that allopathic medicine doesn’t have its place, because it surely does, but that herbalism also has its place as well and it doesn’t make sense to not include cannabis in our own pharmacopeia. After all, it was in the nation’s pharmacopeia until greed overtook integrity and all the lies began.

Cannabinoid receptors are present in our bodies that reportedly keep us in balance and healthy. Without their interaction with cannabinoids (easily found in cannabis), the thinking is that our health can be both threatened and compromised. Cannabinoids are found in other plants such as black pepper, but with cannabis, all I have to do is cut some leaf off of a plant and add it to a fruit smoothie or use some bud that I’ve dried to quickly create a medicine that will keep me in remission. And I don’t need anyone’s permission to do what I know is right and which will keep me healthy. Because I’ve proven that it can.

I use less cannabis now, as more of a prophylactic or tonic to keep me balanced, focusing primarily on herbal infusions and tinctures to help keep my body cleansed and everything flowing. But cannabis still provides the foundation for the other herbs that I use and together, they keep me well. And now in my Crone phase of life, cannabis helps keep menopause symptoms at bay and my nerves calm.

Cannabis belongs in our medicine cabinets and in the produce departments of the grocery store. As a dietary staple, ingesting leaf and bud in raw form enables healing plant acids still present to bring the body back to balance or stasis. In other words, it helps to break through toxicity and move our bodies into a better balance where health can return.

My story is simply one of many. Those of us who took the chance on cannabis discovered something that gave us our lives back. Some have been saved from cancer, others from Crohn’s. Parents have moved to cannabis-friendly states to save their children suffering from severe epilepsy, finding that their children achieve a level of health they never thought was possible. Even though it might not be a complete recovery, it doesn’t matter, because when a child with epilepsy or autism suddenly begins interacting with her parents, when it never happened before, well, that’s a life-changing experience for everyone concerned.

I memorialized my healing process in Confessions of a Back Porch Herbalist. It’s available on Kindle and in paperback if you want to see how I made the medicine. It also includes a section on herbs. I use a different method for my glycerine tinctures now, combining cannabis tincture made from grain alcohol with glycerine to make a glycerite. It’s similar to creating a syrup, where you add equal parts of glycerine and alcohol tincture to a pan, simmer over low until it reduces by half. The cannabis tincture infuses into the glycerine while the alcohol itself dissipates. Cannabis actually infuses more completely in grain alcohol than it does into glycerine which I why I changed my process. It also creates a thinner tincture which I prefer.

For those of us who have healed, we know what cannabis can do. For myself, that also includes other herbs as well. But even if cannabis is all that one uses, use it. Your body will thank you and you might just end up with a life that you didn’t think possible.


Originally published at on January 23, 2019.




Blogger at Empath✵Witch✵Reiki Master✵Kenpo✵Herbalist — Author of Shifting Perception and more…

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Who cares about Rare Disease Day?

Disability Perspectives

A Popular Pandemic

Important Steps to Take if Your Legs Hurt

Mental/Nervous Coverage in your Disability Insurance: Depressing but Important

Powerful Zika Vaccine Protects Mice and Monkeys from the Virus

Food Allergies and Anxiety


Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jan Erickson

Jan Erickson

Blogger at Empath✵Witch✵Reiki Master✵Kenpo✵Herbalist — Author of Shifting Perception and more…

More from Medium

When Good Friends Ghost You: How You Can Move On From A Life-time Friendship That’s Dried Up And…

Color photo of three giraffes up close with blue sky, scattered clouds background.

What Is Emotional Intimacy, Really?

Waking Women-Identify Patterns.