Thursday, October 22, 2015

Interested In Medical Marijuana?
Read Cannabis Pharmacy by Michael Backes

A guidebook for those interested
in medical marijuana.

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Medical Marijuana
As of this writing, medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and in Washington DC. Each state has its own laws about how much usable marijuana you can possess and how many plants you can grow. I'm sure a year from now, this number will be higher and hopefully it will also be decriminalized by the Federal Government sooner than later. Living in Sebastopol, California, where our ex-mayor started the medical marijuana clinic, medical marijuana is quite commonplace. However, it's extremely difficult to find good information from qualified doctors with regard to how to use it, how much to use, and what strain to use for a particular medical condition. Michael Backes, in his book Cannabis Pharmacy, fills the gap with an excellent guide for both patients and physicians on the uses of cannabis as medicine.

Historical Context
Cannabis has a long and remarkable history which Backes covers in the first chapter. Many of the reservations people have about cannabis stems from the fact that it's illegal as far as the federal government is concerned. But it's interesting to know that as far back as 4,700 years ago, cannabis was considered a very important herbal remedy by the Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung. It makes you wonder why we are still debating this.

The Cannabis Plant
Even if you "inhaled" in college, you may not know a lot about the actual cannabis plant and the 700 plus chemical compounds such as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), various terpenoids, and others compounds that work together as a whole plant to provide various medical benefits. Backes gives a basic overview about the plant itself, how the medicinally active resin resides in the trichomes in the female plants, and how these compounds work in our body's endocannabinoid system. 

Using Medical Cannabis
There are many ways to use medical marijuana other than smoking a joint. Backes explains your many options which prepares you for the mind-blowing number of products you will find at your medical marijuana clinic.  

An important chapter in the guide is how to deliver and dose medical marijuana. Backes writes, "the most appropriate medical approach is the one that provides the most precise dose, for the desired duration, in the appropriate form, with the fewest side effects." He discusses various delivery methods from smoking with a vaporizer to consuming edibles and tinctures, using oils for cooking, using topical creams and more with the advantages and drawbacks for each. He even includes recipes for making an alcohol tincture, making the Indian cannabis drink Bhang, and how to make infused cannabis oil for cooking.

And unlike the pro-marijuana advocates that claim cannabis cures everything without any ill effects, Backes is upfront about the adverse side effects of its use. 

Varieties of Medical Cannabis
This is one of the most important sections in the book. Just as you wouldn't take a statin to treat an infection, you wouldn't take just any strain of cannabis to treat a specific condition. Variations in the amounts and ratios of THC to CBD as well as variation of terpene content make each variety of cannabis a different medicine. Backes takes you through a number of varieties from Afghan to White Widow, their medical uses and characteristics. When you walk into a medical marijuana clinic, you will find dozens of jars containing different strains of cannabis. They will have different tastes, aromas, potencies of CBD vs THC, duration of effects, amount of psychoactivity, amount of analgesic effect, whether it relaxes your muscles, stimulates or sedates. This chapter spells all that out for you along with other interesting notes and medical uses. For example, Backes writes about the strain LA Confidential:

 "LA Confidential is a great pain medicine, as good as any cannabis variety gets. Patients report that it is also effective for calming flare-ups of Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Low doses of LA Con are used to treat anxiety and slightly higher doses can help agoraphobia. It is also used for seizure disorders and migraines, because of its high micron and linalool content."

Medical Uses of Cannabis
I thought this was also an extremely helpful section of the book. Backes discusses many ailments where cannabis has been used or has shown to be effective for relieving symptoms and also discusses those where cannabis has not been as effective or where more research needs to be done. For each ailment he provides:
A description of the disease
How effective cannabis is for treating it (and he's quite honest about this one, not claiming that it works for everything). 
The mechanism by which cannabis helps the condition.
Information on the effective dosage.
Best methods of ingestion.
Specific, popular varieties of cannabis that have been used to treat the condition.

He reviews over two dozen specific ailments including anxiety disorders, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, HIV/AIDS, insomnia and sleep disorders, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy, pain, skin conditions, stress and more.

It may be a while before medical cannabis is available to everyone and it will be an even longer time before there will be sufficient integrative doctors who will know how to prescribe it to you. So if you have a medical condition that you think might be helped by using medical cannabis and you want to learn more about it, this is a great place to start. 

Watch Michael Backes' excellent uTube video for more information.

Monday, October 19, 2015

How Can A Tree Have Both Fuju And Hachiya Persimmons?

Fuju (smooth pointy ones on the left) and Hachiya (the one with ridges on the right) persimmons on the same branch?

The Persimmon Saga Continues
Last Christmas, when I posted my recipe for Chia Hachiya Vegan Eggnog, I told you the story about my persimmon tree.

In 2010 I planted what I thought was a fuyu persimmon tree. It didn't grow very well and, in fact, it took 4 long years to get ONE lousy persimmon. And it wasn't even the right persimmon. It was a hachiya. I was pretty upset with the nursery for selling me the wrong tree, especially when I lost 4 years of growing time. 

I went and bought another fuyu tree. I know it will take years to get anything but I'm determined to grow fuyu persimmons, one of my favorite fruits. 

This year the tree is doing quite well. In fact I can count about 36 persimmons beginning to ripen! To my surprise, they are large fuyu persimmons. All except for a few at the end of a single branch. That branch has both types of persimmons.

Can Someone Explain This?
I've had fruit trees in the past that had several types of fruits grafted onto a single rootstock. Once I had a tree with lemons oranges, and pomelos. But they were on their own unique branches. I have no idea how a single branch could have two types of fruit.

So this is not a blog post but a plea for someone to help explain this. So if you are a master gardener or botanist out there who can shed some light on this, I would greatly appreciate it.

Meanwhile I anxiously await the ripening of my persimmons!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Make Your Own Hot Sauce

Turn late season peppers into hot sauce!

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When Garden Peppers Turn Red
At the end of the season, peppers are finally ripening and turning red. In fact, you may notice that your entire jalapeño plant has gone from green to red as well as your smaller, hotter peppers such as hidalgos and serranos. If you don't have any in your garden, I'm sure there will be plenty at your farmer's market or grocery store. Whether you are growing them or buying them, it's a great time to whip up some hot sauce for later use.

Spice up your Health
If your stomach can tolerate the heat, hot peppers have some real health advantages. Capsaicinoids, the substance that give peppers their heat, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are good for the heart and can also increase your metabolism and help your body burn fat. 

Here's a pretty simple recipe to use up those red peppers in your garden. Doug and I used jalapeños and hidalgo peppers because that's what we grew but you can substitute other too. Different peppers will give you different flavors and levels of heat. We left the seeds in when we made this but if you want a milder sauce, you can remove them. 

Jalapeños (large) and hidalgo (small) peppers

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Hot Sauce
Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes about 3 cups]

Requires a high speed blender

12 ounces red jalapeño peppers
4 ounces hidalgo or serrano peppers
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 cups water
1 1/4 cups white distilled vinegar

Wearing gloves in a very well ventilated room, thinly slice the peppers.

In a 5-quart enamel-coated dutch oven, or other non-reactive pot, heat the oil to medium-high heat and add the peppers, onions, garlic and salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Add water to the pot and cook the peppers until they are soft and the water is greatly reduced but not completely dry.

Add water to pot
Cook down until the liquid is reduced.

Let the mixture cool in the pan.

Place in a high speed blender with the vinegar. Blend until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more vinegar. Adjust salt if needed.

Pour into jars or bottles. Store in the refrigerator. It will last for several months or more.

Use to spice up any dish. You can also add it to mayo for a milder dipping sauce.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Low-Calorie, Vegan Banana-Nut Apple Muffins
Made With Ancient Einkorn Wheat

These delicious muffins are only 180 calories each!

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Einkorn Wheat
Because of my husband's slight allergic reaction to wheat, we often bake with Einkorn wheat or eat Einkorn pasta. It's not gluten free but because it's an ancient form of wheat (and hasn't been hybridized to increase the gluten content like modern wheat has), it is generally tolerated by many people who are sensitive to gluten. 

This recipe is made with
organic Einkorn all-purpose flour.

This morning I was in the mood for a muffin. I'm trying to lose a few pounds and wanted to keep the calories low so I used very little sugar and less oil than most recipes.  I also wanted to use one of the beautiful Fuji apples we just harvested from our tree. So here's what we came up with.

This recipe is specifically for Einkorn flour. Modern wheat absorbs more water than Einkorn so it can not be substituted one for one.

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Einkorn Banana-Nut Apple Muffins 
Vegan, Dairy Free, Low Gluten
[makes 12 muffins]

Requires a muffin pan.
Best with an electric hand mixer

1/4 cup olive oil plus some for greasing pan
2 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
4 tablespoons room temperature water
2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
1/3 cup organic apple sauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large very ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups Einkorn all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon stevia powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon plus some for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup English walnuts, chopped
1 apple, peeled and diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease the muffin tins.

In a small cup, make flax eggs by beating the ground flaxseeds with water. Beat well and set aside until they get gooey.

In a large bowl, add oil, sugar, applesauce and vanilla and beat with an electric hand mixer until creamy. Add mashed bananas and flax eggs and beat again until well combined.

In a medium bowl, mix Einkorn flour, stevia, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and beat with an electric hand mixer until well combined.

Fold in walnuts and diced apples. Using an ice cream scoop (or large spoon), fill the greased muffin tins with the batter. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on each muffin.

Ready for baking

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the muffins, about 20 to 23 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. 

After baking

Remove muffins from the pan and serve warm with low-calorie jam or vegan cream cheese.

Per muffin: 180 calories, 9 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 756 mg omega-3 and 2,522 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 4 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 186 mg sodium.