Seven years ago, when I fractured and bruised my skull, three things never occurred to me. First, that I would present like a stroke victim. Second, the recommendation would be brain and bed rest…for anywhere from 1-3 years. Finally, it would be a lifelong condition that would need monitoring and adjustments.
While I do not remember the actual fall, I do remember waking up unable to speak, think clearly or walk. My brain felt like it was constantly short-circuiting and the physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral disruptions confused me. Prior to this event, I was the creative director of an online retailer, with a team of 40 people. I was the mother of 2 small children, then ages 4 and 6, and a wife. I taught yoga and mediation and practiced 3-4 times a week. The idea of brain rest, quietly lying in a dark bedroom with no stimuli, for an extended period of time, was disheartening, to say the least.
Like many who find themselves in this position, my partner in life, also feeling disheartened, decided to take medical matters into his own hands and began to look for alternatives. When he came across research about traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and CBD as an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective mechanism, we made the decision to try it. Then came the hard part.
From friends and family in the community, who have been cultivating, extracting and formulating underground for years, we received a variety of CBD products, from topicals and teas to tinctures and flower to vapes and oils. Everything arrived unlabeled and not knowing where the CBD came from (marijuana or hemp); dosage; or timing added to the confusion. So, I did what came innately— I started low and slow. Once I found the right intake methods and protocols, I started to feel better and was able to regain functionality. It took about 4 months.
Of course, cannabis alone wasn’t the only factor in the healing process and I believe that the combination of cannabis and these four factors brought me tow here I am today: founder of IndigoandHaze.com; founding editor in chief of Women and Weed magazine; author of the book Women and Weed; Chief Growth Officer of medicalcannbismmentor.com; creative consultant; and advocate.
Here are the 4 things that changed when I suffered a TBI and how cannabis helped me heal:
1. My eating habits. When my Parietal Lobe was bruised, I lost my sense of smell and taste so food became unappealing and nutrition went out the door. The right dosage and ratio of THC to CBD stimulated my appetite and boosted my healing through diet and nutrition.
2. Understanding and expressing language was impossible. . My impaired communication skills left me with cognitive and speech difficulties. Basically, I spoke gobbledygook. While many equate cannabis and slurred speech, a dosage of lower THC and higher CBD gave me relief. Honestly, I don’t know how or why. It just did.
3. Mood. It may be obvious but it needs to be stated. With any life-threatening injury, anxiety, stress and depression sets in. Cannabis helps…a lot.
4. Breathing. Science has evolved when it comes to mediation, breath work and healing. With cannabis, I accessed calmness and mindfulness.
While my experiences translate into anecdotal evidence, some of which backed by early research, it is important to tell my story, to humanize the experience in order to push beyond traditional marketing to communicate and educate. As the industry matures, we can (and should) learn from experiences like mine, and by sharing. Storytelling is a powerful tool that enables marketers to understand what is going on and what that means for the patient, consumer and society.
When I started my business, my model was threefold: access, education, and inspiration. I have never wavered because those are the three principles that healed me.
Elana Frankel is the founder of IndigoandHaze.com, a plant-based marketplace for health, wellness and living, that provides access (to quality products), education (to learn the truth and unlearn the disinformation) and inspiration (good design sells). Elana serves as the founding Editor-in-Chief of Women and Weed, a biannual magazine sold on mainstream newsstands that focuses on the power of personal narratives to bring a better understanding to complex cannabis issues. She is the author of the book Women and Weed and a cannabis yoga teacher, 200-hours with Nosara and continuing training with Lit Yoga, as well as a meditation mentor. She is an activist and frequent public speaker on cannabis/wellness and consults regularly with companies who value creative thinking. Elana’s previous work as a creative director, editor and writer has appeared in the Wall Street Journal’s Off Duty, The New York Times and The New York Time’s magazine, New York Magazine, Architectural Digest and Martha Stewart Living, among others.