Chronic Relief

A Guide to Cannabis for the Terminally and Chronically Ill

     It was a warm spring day in Austin, Texas three years ago when I was meeting up with Nishi Whitely and Chad Gouge. I sought them out as I began my journey of research on this plant and was thrilled to find her in my own backyard. She’s a lovely, tall, blond farm girl with a slow southern drawl and Chad is the strong, silent type.

  It would be a day that would spark the educator in me. I’m a huge geek when it comes to researching cannabis and hemp. From its history, to therapy to its many industrial uses, it’s fascinating. With so many sources of great information out there, it’s a breath of fresh air to have so much compelling research in one place. That’s exactly what we have with the recent release of “Chronic Relief.”

Nishi Whitely is a business development and marketing consultant turned cannabis educator, speaker and author. She witnessed, first-hand, the therapy cannabis provided her mother during her last days with lung cancer. She was inspired to write this reference book as a way to help others begin their journey of healing their loved ones.

  The story of cannabis begins with its history. There’s a great timeline in the book. Did you know that the earliest recording of cannabis dates back to 2700 BCE? “Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing” (a Chinese book on medicinal plants) notes cannabis as a hallucinogen, appetite stimulant, tonic and an anti-senility agent. If you are new to this plant, this book does a fantastic job of summarizing the critical dates and facts.

  Most important, is the science behind the constituents of the plant. “Cannabis is the single most versatile herbal remedy, and the most useful plant on Earth. No other single plant contains as wide a range of medically active herbal constituents,” said Dr. Ethan Russo. The book dives into a heady dissertation about the makeup of cannabis, and is a great primer for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of its components.

  I’m reading and experimenting these days with terpenes. I believe the manipulation of terpenes is the future of natural medicine. Terpenes are defined as a large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants. They are what provide the flavors of cannabis. The book points out the importance of the cannabinoid and terpene profile of the plant as a launching point for those interested in its medicinal benefits. Nishi stated, “It’s the terpenes that will allow people to truly experience the medicine.” Consider citrus, known as the terpene limonene, in cannabis. It’s known for its uplifting effects and “research on depressed patients shows that the smell of citrus reduces symptoms of depression,” Dr. Russo stated in 2011, adding “Limonene has produced apoptosis (cell death) in breast cancer cells in randomized clinical trials, and research indicated that diets rich in limonene help prevent cancer of the colon, breast, liver, pancreas, and lungs.”

  There are over 1,255 active compounds in cannabis as of October 2016, that includes 144 cannabinoids and counting. For fun, I asked Nishi what her favorite cannabinoid was. Her answer: THC! Why? It’s required to change disease progression. But with that said, she doesn’t want to diminish the benefits of the other 143 cannabinoids. That begged the question for me, what’s the best way to identify the cannabinoid/terpene profile of your medicine? Consider, in the future, the ability to have an app that can scan your plant at the dispensary and give you a reading on the specific profile that you can match up to the condition you are treating! That’s exciting, when you consider the flexibility and accessibility you’ll have to base your purchasing decision on.

  There’s a perception that cannabis users are only interested in getting “stoned to the bone.” This is a social stigma based on fear. Starting with a small dose is what Dustin Sulak, DO recommends. Plant material can be highly concentrated, especially in edibles, and its effect may take several hours to wear off, so begin small and slowly. When available, purchase products that contain your ideal cannabinoid and terpene levels so you can find your ideal medicine and stick to that.

  Don’t be shocked when you don’t feel anything right away. Your endocannabinoid system is getting primed and is already going to work, balancing your body. You don’t need to feel “stoned” to feel the benefits. Keep taking your product as prescribed and stay in touch with your physician on how you’re feeling.

  So much importance is placed on clinical research and rightfully so. We need the scientific and medical community to provide more. There are great strides being made in the world and below are just a few examples: Czech Republic – Pavel Kubu from the International Cannabis and Cannabinoid Institute Uruguay – Members of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), KOPAC and Dioscorides Global Holdings (DGH) and the Minister of Health for the Czech Republic, Svatopluk Němeček established a new research center, the International Cannabis and Cannabinoid Institute (ICCI) Israel – Saul Kaye and the team at iCan United States– Australian philanthropist Barry Lambert and wife Joy donated $4.1 million to Thomas Jefferson University for hemp and cannabinoid research.

  Nishi’s call to action at the conclusion of her book is to take personal action. Talk to your family and friends. Get educated and share your story with your state government officials. It could save a life.

To learn more about Nishi Whiteley’s book Chronic Relief, visit

Emerald contributor since March 2012


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