Horticultural Cannabis Therapy

Many of us hold fond memories of being a child and doing yard work. For some it was a means to get an allowance while others performed the tasks as punishment. Whatever the reason may be for “working on the yard” it probably was not very apparent that you were developing a skill that could be utilized to manage things like stress, anxiety, or even recovering from a severe accident. Many cannabis patients likewise do not realize those same skills can be used to greatly increase the effectiveness of their holistic herbal treatments.

lawn mower

Horticultural Therapy (HT) is the engagement of a person in gardening and plant based activities to achieve specific treatment goals. In the 19th century Dr. Benjamin Rush, A Founding Father and recognized as the “Father of American Psychiatry”, was the first to document the positive effects of gardening on mental illness. Unlike many medical and psychiatric professionals of the time, Dr. Rush believed illness in general was the result of imbalance in the body’s physical system and was caused by malfunction in the brain. During World War 2 HT was used to rehabilitate hospitalized war veterans which greatly expanded the acceptance of the practice in modern health care.

HT_Raised-Bed-618x359

One of the many favored activities of medical cannabis patients is making or growing their own medicine. Aside from being a great way to lower the cost of personal medicine, according to Dr. Rush those same activities could be the cheapest therapy known to man! Particularly for patients who suffer from stress vulnerable disorders like PTSD, anxiety, or even depression. For those of us who have made their own medicine it is well known that, like with most things, you can get by with doing the bare minimum. Most patients find it impossible to stop there when it pertains to their medicine.

shasta garden

When we look at growing medical cannabis we see a great opportunity to practice focus and maintain a daily schedule. Both tasks can be a living nightmare for some patients. Growers tend to have a set time of day that they prefer to feed their gardens at and a very specific regiment of nutrients to be used. Many patients report feeling a state of calmness and focus when mixing their nutrients. We focus so closely on the measurements of nutrients used and the Ph that we actually forget to feel stressed out. The “out of body” experience offers a small release from the current stresses of life and can allow the user a chance to mentally step away from an issue.

 

In addition to just mixing nutrients another daily task is checking the health and progress of your medicine plants. This is another beneficial form of disassociation that is actually coupled with heart rate slowing exercises. When patients check their plants they do so with great care, softness, and normally very slowly. Some patients say this is the most therapeutic part of growing. The brain is actively trying to keep the body calm so not to cause hand shaking and this is typically followed by slower conscious breathing.  This is literally meditating through the plant!

 

At the end of the budding cycle comes the joyous activity known as trimming. This is a very slow, tedious, and detailed part of growing. The main bulk of this time is spent sitting in one spot moving from nug to nug. To shift focus and curve anxiety or becoming anxious many trimmers rely on the use of music. Research has shown that listening to music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.

trimming

All steps of growing also offer a very good opportunity to disengage temporarily from whatever is causing you stress, and then come back to it later. When under great deals of stress, we are not in a very good position to think our clearest, most creatively, or have very good problem solving skills. Prolonged stress can also lead to more chronic physical problems and even a shorter life!

 

All of these are very useful coping skills that we can apply to every facet of our life. Making your own medical cannabis products is a very medicinally and psychologically beneficial activity that every patient should try.  For the patients that feel like they are missing out on the benefits of HT, think back to the last time you medicated with medical cannabis. That was also a “Plant Based Activity” used to achieve a specific treatment goal that I’m guessing was also extremely relaxing. Cannabis is the plant of almost endless benefits!

Anthony Senate

Anthony Rangel is the founder and president of Natures Remedy Collective in Livermore, California. Mr. Rangel is dedicated to making cannabis accessible to patients. He actively advocates for medical cannabis at the Local, State, and Federal level to improve laws on medical cannabis. Mr. Rangel is also a chapter president for the organization Grow for Vets.

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