July 5, 2014

The Need for Weed. ~ Dan Barnes

“To know your foods is to know your moods.”

~ Siddha Somanomah

I would like to give some insight into what I have found through empirical use of the marijuana plant through my studies of Ayurveda and Shamanism, which may possibly shine a light on the ongoing damaging effects of marijuana and on the lifestyle of its users.

Just recently marijuana has been legalized in two US states, which is great and will possibly give some well needed relief for people who actually require it for health reasons.

Like most plants, when used under professional care and guidance, marijuana can be used for health benefits, such as, the therapeutic treatment of chronic pain and some neurological disorders. These are just some of its medicinal values; though outside of therapeutic usage marijuana may be very destructive for a person’s state of mind and well-being in general.

Within the past few years I have experienced and learned about the ongoing effects of the marijuana plant and I have some doubt as to whether the new decision to legalize it is such a grand idea. My personal experience with the daily usage of marijuana plant started when I was 16 years of age and it’s not until last year that it has totally left my physical, subtle and energetic body even though I have not used it for roughly eight years.

In regards to this I would like to give my own perspective alongside the Ayurvedic view on the use of this plant; that may help you make an educated decision when considering whether to use marijuana.

In Ayurveda, these three types of energy are the governing energies or Prakṛti (universal nature), which influence all that is in the cosmos and determine our will, physical health and spiritual development:

1. Sattvic—Balance, order, wholeness or purity.
2. Rajas—Change, movement or dynamism.
3. Tamas—“Too inactive” or “inertia,” negative, lethargic, dull, or slow, delusion, or ignorance.

In my experience and with my knowledge of Ayurvedic herbs, I believe that there are much higher “resonance” and less detrimental “legal” herbs/plants out there, that have a more holistic affect on your health short term and long term.

The use of specific herbs also enables a more Sattvic state of mind to unfold, which helps develop virtuous states of being such as patience, acceptance, creativity, kindness and wisdom, to name a few. This would be better, not just for the individual, but society as a whole, compared to a Tamasic state of being, which is related to depression, laziness, greed, possessive personality traits and lack of empathy towards others.

When I use the term holistic I am referring to the herbs that can balance the mind, body, spirit and create a more Sattvic inclined individual, and, also, creates the substance also known as “Ojas” or, “Elixir of Life.” These Ojas govern our ability to learn, adapt and fend off disease and also help our mind become clear, stable and open our heart centred emotions.

When Tamas (Darkness) is present, Ojas becomes imbalanced or obstructed, the result being susceptibility to disease, incoherent thought patterns, loss of higher cognitive ability, speech and action, an inclination to laziness, and increased sleep.

The functionality of our Sukra, or Reproductive Tissue, is also reliant on these Ojas and recent research has shown the immunosuppressive effects of Cannabinoids—causing the susceptibility of cannabis users to certain cancers and infections which may directly related to the absence of Ojas.

Marijuana is used worldwide for a variety of reasons, many of which are seen to be negative and positive, so I would like to briefly examine why people may feel inclined to smoke marijuana. There are a lot of claims that marijuana does this and that, whether it be that it is helpful for creativity or to simply relax (though underlying all this maybe a desire to have freedom to do what we want).

Some of the possible reasons I have observed for use or abuse are as follows.

1. Marijuana as medicine.

Yes marijuana oil has some very unique compounds and when used properly can help people with specific afflictions have respite. I am not indicating that it does not have healing qualities when used correctly.

2. To get high.

So, what is getting high? Is it just another term for escapism for which will only give short term relief? I think that it is pretty obvious that this is a down side in the long term.

Hiding something away or trying to mask any issue will reveal itself again in a myriad of ways. This may be the reason it is called a  gateway drug, as people may require something else in the long term to give them relief.

Go for a run, learn to kite-surf or meditate, instead. If you cannot think of anything else, or don’t feel motivated, this is ‘Tamas’ (inertia) in action. To alleviate this energy one must incorporate some Rajas (movement/fire) energies into one’s diet or lifestyle (alongside sattvic foods).

Some Rajastic foods are coffee, sweet foods (not candy), heavily spiced items (as these have the quality of fire which is transformation), onions, eggs and fish. Sattvic foods are wholesome, pure and organic. Examples of these are cereals, wholemeal bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, pure fruit juices, organic milk and ghee, legumes, nuts, seeds, honey and some herbal teas.

Once these energies start to arise and Tamas is eliminated, the individual will begin to feel more motivated, less fearful or indecisive and more driven, thus eliminating the desire to escape as they will feel more embodied.

3. To relieve stress, anxiety, fear, pain or anger.

These issues tend to relate to personal or psychological issues, which often have deeper roots if we are able to acknowledge or have the awareness to acknowledge.

In these cases the use of herbal medicines that have no addictive nature is the key and ones that are also Sattvic in nature are even better.

So let’s start with “stress” which can be alleviated through the use of adaptagenic herbs, such as, Withania, also known as ,Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is one of the most vital herbs in Ayurvedic healing and has been used since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions.

In Sanskrit Ashwagandha means “the strength of a horse,” indicating that the herb imparts vigor and strength.

Traditionally it has been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness and for people who suffer from stress.

Anxiety is a product of the nervous system being imbalanced by exterior or dietary influences thus affecting the adrenal functionality, which can be helped, and in my own experience completely healed, through the use of Bacopa, which is also know as Brahmi.

Brahmi reveals its sattvic quality by helping to give up bad habits and all types of addictions. It aids in recovery from alcoholism or drug abuse, and also helps to kick the sugar habit and is also valued as a “Rasayana.”

The onset of anxiety can also be related to excessive sugar intake which, in the Ayurvedic system, is considered “Tamasic,” and creates a dullness to one’s state of being, or psychological state, and is also related to fear and anger.

Many users seek out sugars when they are high, but what goes up must come down, lending its hand to the downward spiral of lifestyle choices. This also affects their ability to choose natural or more sattvic inclined foods, like fresh fruit, as they become conditioned to that quick hit refined sugars  offer.

4. Curiosity.

As a species we are such a curious bunch and seek out new experiences but this has harsh consequences for our race. We will munch on that new brand of cereal or take that new age Yogic style without really researching it in order to be perceived as being a part of the crowd, but why is it that we require to be part of something to be accepted.

We tend to look to our peers for wisdom, but is this positive if they lack true awareness themselves? Marijuana in this context is seen to be cool, but who really knows or understands and truly acknowledges the sacredness of this herb which is glorified all over the world (and especially in the entertainment industry).

Over the course of our curiosity we tend to throw ourselves into something without knowing its full effect until years later, and this is why the legalisation of this plant is not really the issue; the issue here is education and that people have full knowledge and understanding of its effects in the long term.

Some other of the adverse effects are not just psychosis, or what I have included above, but also marijuana use during adolescence interferes with proper brain development and can increase the risk of chemical imbalance in later life.  According to Jadgish N Vaidya, director of Maharishi Ayurvedic programs at Lancaster Health Center, in Lancaster Massachusetts, “Recreational use of marijuana creates Ama, which in Ayurvedic terms is toxic and in any cases detrimental to our health.”

5. Helps with appetite.

Yes, the munchies. Just recently some researchers have been able to get a better understanding of how marijuana alters appetite. The compounds in marijuana affects the sections of the hypothalamus and hind brain that regulate food intake and trigger the reward centre of the brain—helping food make us feel better.

So, yes, it’s been researched that marijuana increases appetite which for people who are ill and don’t crave food. Marijuana can help them have some actual nourishment from food instead of synthetic drugs, etc.

But what about us who have no real problem with appetite or physically eating food? In my view, that is aligned with the Ayurvedic model, this is a serious issue. Not only is it effecting our natural urges but it also has a detrimental effect on our organic palette and natural constitution.

This impact of eating when you’re not actually requiring nourishment causes toxins ‘Ama’ in the system, which if not attended to early on lead to disease, cancer, reproductive issues, bone degeneration and malnutrition; as the digestive fire ‘Agni’ is constrained our ability to assimilate any nutrients is greatly impaired.

So if you don’t see this as cause for alarm, what does one reach for when one has the munchies?

Is it a bowl of veggies? Is fresh fruit? Is it a seasonal salad? No, I thought not. Usually stoners reach for food that gives instant gratification such as sugary foods, food with preservatives/colours or food with excess salt—all of which are ‘Tamasic’ in nature. The excess use of sugary foods have an adverse effect on the nervous system that leads to fear and anxiety. Excess salt dulls the taste buds which make us crave increasingly saltier foods in order to actually taste them, and when it comes to foods with preservatives you can draw your own conclusion on their nature and the intention put into them by the companies spewing them out.

Tamasic Foods.

Dark and dull. A Tamasic diet benefits neither the mind nor the body. Energy (prana) is withdrawn, powers of reasoning become clouded and a sense of inertia and stagnancy sets in. The body’s resistance to disease is destroyed and the mind is gripped with darker emotions, as stated above.

Some Tamasic foods include red meat, avocado, mushrooms, garlic, lamb, pork, alcohol, non-ceremonial inorganic tobacco, onions, fermented foods, such as vinegar, stale and left over food, contaminated or overripe substances and all fast food and other intoxicants.

Basically all food that is over-processed, no longer fresh, and/or difficult to digest are all Tamasic. Also foods that are prepared unconsciously or while the preparer is angry or in a negative mood are also considered Tamasic.

If you are interested in vital health and spiritual growth it is best to avoid these foods and follow the Yogic diet.

Also, in relation to being “stoned” or “out of it,” when we have the munchies the combination of certain foods also has an impact on our digestive system and overall health.

Below is a simple outline of bad combination foods.

Basically the consumption of heavy foods with light foods, the intake of frozen with hot is not advised and drinking water with a meal also diminishes our digestive fire or ‘Agni’ (always wait ½ an hour after a meal before taking liquids).

Some basic concepts of an Ayurvedic Food Combining program include the following:

Avoid taking dairy with meat, sour or citrus fruits, eating fruits with potatoes or other starchy foods. Never cook with honey! Uncooked honey is nectar; cooked honey is poison. Do not eat meat protein and milk protein together. Meat is heating and milk is cooling so they counteract one another, disturb Agni and produce Ama. Ayurveda also advises against taking milk with sour fruits, yogurt, sour cream, cheese and fish.

In closing the recreational use of marijuana on the mind, body and subtle body is very regressive and can lead to bad lifestyle choices and dysfunction of the 13 bodily humors (strotas), many of which are usually not detected until it’s too late; with the diagnosis at these later stages being quite difficult as it could be a number factors that may determine the source of the illness.

I would like to end on something that is a bit reflective. I pointed to the foods people crave when they are high, which I will call “bad mood food.” In the ancient Hindu texts the sages state that there are two gates to each human being, one being the higher (mouth) and the lower being the genitals. If one cannot tame their food intake one cannot and will not tame their sexual impulses. This begs the question, “How moral and true is our sexual drive when the food we are consuming is generating Tamas (darkness). Food for thought.



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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wiki Commons


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