To better understand how medical cannabis education is getting to health care professionals, we sat down with Pepper Hernandez. Dr. Pepper is a naturopath, holistic health practitioner, and cannabis therapy educator and spends most of her time researching how the brain works.

Provide us with a brief introduction of yourself and the work you do. What services do you provide in health and wellness?

I am the CEO of the Cannabis Holistic Institute. I work individually with clients in my office located in Humboldt County Arcata, CA  and worldwide, virtually and phone consults. I teach courses such as the Cannabis Therapy Program and Holistic Health Practitioner Program live and also virtually. I am the host of a Podcast, The Quantum Alignment Podcast, where we connect with local healers and share their knowledge with listeners. So basically I love health, wellness, healing and abundance for all humans.

As a holistic health practitioner, what is your opinion on athlete care and medicating with cannabis?

I have several athletes in my practice and fully believe that cannabis is essential to health and wellness. Cannabis, as we know, creates homeostasis in the body which helps our body develop a highly honed ability to achieve an internal state of equilibrium. This system of checks and balances help to keep you functioning on an even keel and is influenced by the endocannabinoid system. Both internal (endogenous) and external cannabinoids (those found in cannabis) affect the cannabinoid system, which means they have a role in this balancing act. This is very important for an athlete or any other human being working towards optimal health. “

How would you recommend cannabis medication for athletes? What areas of their health and wellness do you think cannabis can make the most positive impact?

I would highly suggest an athletic to check with their primary care physician before beginning any program and work with a cannabis consultant to ensure the proper program. With that being said I have found using CBD internally, which is non-psychoactive and legal to help create and maintain our bodies natural homeostasis. This can help the body heal faster and allow someone to recover much quicker.

Other suggestions usually include topicals high in THC, CBD and CBN. These compounds are known to help with muscle spasms, reducing inflammation and also promotes bone growth. Along with this suggestion, the food regiment and plenty of rest for the body to rebalance and repair. If the salve is needed for pain I would suggest using cannabis strains that contain THC, CBD, CBN and CBC.”

What positive effects can CBD and THC in cannabis deliver to the human body? What are the risks or adverse effects if misused?

Both CBD and THC have the exact same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. Both are chemically similar to your body’s own endocannabinoids. This allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors. The interaction impacts the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals responsible for relaying messages between cells.

As far as risks are concerned, I have noticed in my research that CBD is well tolerated, even in large doses. Research suggests any side effects that do occur, CBD use is likely the result of drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and other medications you may be taking.

THC, on the other hand, may have temporary side effects, such as increased heart rate, coordination problems, dry mouth, red eyes, slower reaction times, memory loss and are all part of the compound’s psychoactive properties.

What is your opinion on recreational cannabis use of athletes? What can you advise since there are doping regulations and cannabis use is still far from legal for athletes?

I honestly think that athletes could benefit from using cannabis for its recovery properties and you can find versions that are legal. If you are in a legal state consider yourself lucky and research how this could be helpful in your self-care program. An increasing number of athletes are using specific cannabis cultivars to enhance their performance due to its ability to enhance focus, reduce anxiety and eliminate feelings of fatigue.

Smoking cannabis can affect athletes with the most physically demanding sports like football, basketball, combat sports like boxing and MMA, track and field sports for examples. What other methods ideal methods of consumption would you recommend if ever they wish to enjoy recreational cannabis?

It is rare that I suggest inhaling cannabis to anyone, there are so many other forms or ways to use cannabis. I would typically suggest tropicals, tinctures, edibles and concentrates coming from high-quality local farms.

There are have been claims of adverse effects of cannabis. What are your opinions on the reported negative effects?

At this time I do not think there is enough research done to support that and I believe that every person’s body is so different, every cultivar of cannabis is so different and combinations of those two things are equally different. There needs to be more research on this particular topic. Of course, there can be negative effects if a person has not used the specific cultivar, dosage, and application into the system that is perfect for them and their body composition. This needs to be handled in a more delicate way in my opinion.

Lastly, what do you see in the use of cannabis for medical treatments in the future? As a holistic health practitioner what future projects for cannabis would you like to accomplish?

I personally see cannabis finding its way into everything from skin care, to immune support, to regenerative. There is no cap on cannabis and its healing abilities. The more research that is done the more we will find uses for it. I would like to see more people with proper knowledge of application, dosage and helping others on the finite details of making this work for each and every human wanting it. There is a desperate need for more educators in the communities that are newly legalizing this plant. Teaching the medicinal differences between hemp and cannabis. That is why I created my Cannabis Therapy Program and The Cannabis Holistic Institute because there is so much to learn, know and do to help others. People need to be able to speak with someone who has that knowledge. I plan to educate more physicians, nurses and health care providers through this program so ultimately they can give the best, up to date, accurate, information on a person’s discomfort.