Women and Weed: Cannabis for Female Health and Wellness with CEO of Ellementa
Could you give us an overview of what you do and how you do it?
Sure. We connect women to cannabis experts and brands who have quality products for their health and wellness journeys. So, we are very focused on women. Particularly 35+. And we’re also very focused on health and wellness as an aspect of the benefits of cannabis. We fully believe that if women want to use it recreationally or for their enjoyment that’s fabulous because that’s part of wellness. Laughter, joy, relaxation – all part of wellness. But we really do focus more on the medical side or the medicinal side of cannabis.
We do this in several ways, we do it with content on our website, with private online forums where women can speak more openly, with face to face meetings in cities across North America, over 50 cities now, where women can walk into a room that is welcoming that makes them feel safe, and through e-mails as well. So, we try to reach women in multiple ways to inform them and empower them.
How did you come about this idea? I’m curious about your history and what inspired you to start this kind of company?
My history is very long and varied, but what led me specifically to the topic of cannabis, first I looked into the cannabis industry a few years ago as a potential opportunity for new digital marketing clients. I’ve worked in the digital marketing and the Internet fields since the early 90s. And so, you’re always looking for new pools of potential customers and the cannabis industry seemed very interesting and one of my jobs to in work is to do future trends and future predictions for brands and so cannabis was on my radar already.
As I began researching it for work it occurred to me everything I learned about cannabis in the 80s and 90s was wrong. I kind of felt shocked and betrayed in a way because I did not realize the medicinal value and didn’t understand the science behind it. So, I started to educate myself and then suddenly this big light bulb goes off on top of my head, maybe it could help me with the issues I’m suffering with which was menopause and chronic pain from arthritis. So, all of a sudden what was a work endeavor turned into this personal quest to improve my own health.
What menopause was causing for me was interrupted sleep, like crazy interrupted sleep. Waking up at 2:00 in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep, 3 in the morning. And so, I began to explore it as a means of sleeping through the night and as a means of relieving pain and really the first time I tried some at night I woke up the next morning I did not have pain and I had not woken up in the middle of the night. So, it worked. And it was a tremendous discovery. So that’s really my personal side of what motivated me. What we do is exactly like a company I had back in the 90s where women educated women about the internet. This is the same model. Women educating women about cannabis. So, the business model is not very different from something I’ve done before. It’s just the topic of the subject matter. It’s quite different.
The biggest complaint I hear from menopausal women is about is sleep women are always asking me, “how can I use cannabis for sleep”, and we really don’t have a great answer yet since everybody’s so different. Thoughts?
Well you just nailed it. Everybody is so different. Every individual body will respond to cannabis differently so what works for you might not work for me and vice versa. So, the important thing to know is a little bit more of the botany and the science of it all. What makes cannabis work? Well the cannabinoids and the Terpenes which are compounds inside of cannabis are the pieces that interact with our bodies and our body chemistry to have these effects occur. So, for sleep a cannabinoid, or THC, can make you sleepy. But depending on the plant – this is where Indica versus sativa comes in – if it’s an Indica plant everything within it is a little more relaxing – versus the sativa plant which is a taller, thinner leaf plant and everything that comes out of that tends to be a little more stimulating.
So, picking the right kind of flower is important. So, an Indica would help you sleep but also what else is in there? So, there’s the cannabinoid called CBN. Too much of it is that thing that makes you paranoid when you smoke really bad old pot. But enough of it, the “right amount” – and I put that in quotation marks because it’s different for every person – it’s a sedative. So that helps. Also, a terpene called Myrcene is a sedative. Linalool which is a terpene contained in both cannabis but also lavender relaxes and sedates. So, you begin, as our industry progresses, and you start to see testing results you start to see different compounds within that particular cannabis product or they reintroduce something like linalool and Myrcene into another product in order to enhance its sedating effects then it becomes something that you want to choose if you want to go to sleep.
There are also the different forms that you can consume, vaping versus an edible, the different times that it takes for things to take an effect – vaping is very fast, but it wears off pretty quickly. So if you vape an Indica flower that is high in Myrcene and linalool and it puts your right to sleep and you’re relaxed it’s the best sleep ever for like three hours you wake up some people will also take an edible which is slower to process through the body and especially when you’re sleeping and it takes a little bit longer for it to come out of your body so you can fill in that gap and continuously being relaxed if you’re combining things and so it’s a lot of trial and error.
It’s hard to keep track of and it’s hard to understand. And every company makes a different claim. I was using a product – and I won’t mention names – but I was using a product which sounded phenomenal and it had a mix of herbs, some Chinese and others that I recognized. But as a menopausal woman my body chemistry is different than it was 10, 15, 20 years ago and the effects of this product sent me back into a tailspin of menopausal symptoms. It was so darn effective but effective in the wrong way for my aging body and brain. And that’s something else to consider. A woman in her 20s her chemical makeup, and the fact that if she still has her period, is very different from a woman in her 50s or 60s who doesn’t have the same chemical makeup anymore.
So being really careful and understanding that most people are producing products first and foremost for men. If they’re producing it for women, it’s mostly for women in their 20s and 30s. I went back to this company and said have you tested it on menopausal women. And they hadn’t. Hadn’t even occurred to them that a menopausal woman’s chemistry would respond differently to this product. And so, it opened their eyes to something and this is what Ellementa does. We open up the eyes of brands who think they want to reach women but are doing it in the wrong way, or who think they want to make products for women but haven’t considered the nuances. So, we help them, guide them to make a better product.
Let’s Talk about sex: How can cannabis help women struggling with various issues related to sex, or hoping to enhance sexual pleasure or menopausal women?
First and foremost, I have to sort of say this upfront, I’m not a doctor. I’m not a medical provider in any way. So, anything I do share is really from either personal experience, anecdotal experience from women I know and trust, some obvious research I’m about to come out with a book in June about cannabis and CBD for health and wellness that I co-authored with Dr. Junella Chin, so she’s a medical doctor, we have advisors who are medical doctors and naturopaths. So, I had a lot of resources at my fingertips to get this information, but I’m not a doctor.
But let me tell you, here’s what I’ve heard: THC is a great stimulant sexual stimulant if you don’t overdo it. Because if you get too stoned whether you’re a man or a woman it’s not going to be beneficial to sexual arousal. But it can be very helpful in the “right dose” – and again right dose quotation marks has to do with you individually. CBD is a good anti-anxiety, it can relax when you take it internally but also as an external additive to a lubricant or a topical of some kind. Very soothing very anti-inflammatory. So, if you have painful sex whether it has to do with something that you have when you’re younger as a woman or whether it’s due to menopause, CBD can be extremely healing and soothing and assist.
So, in combination taking a little internally of THC and or CBD and taking a little externally as well THC externally as a topical, it’s a really interesting phenomenon. It doesn’t numb, but what it does is it removes that intense pain, sets it back a little bit so it’s not forward. So, your pain is recessed in the back and it doesn’t interrupt the moment. It’s kind of a weird explanation because you want to say the pain is gone but it’s not quite gone. It doesn’t bother you. Well, you don’t feel it in the same way. So, it kind of interrupts that pain signal.
You have to be careful because when you experience pain it’s usually a signal of something bigger. So, pain in a menopausal woman is a symptom of thinning vaginal walls, less lubrication, less natural lubrication and so what do you do? Well, you can’t thicken your vaginal wall, but you can lubricate more. And you can pretty much not use too much lubricant! So, if in that lubricant there’s THC in that lubricant there CBD that can be extremely helpful. When there’s no pain there could be more pleasure. When you’re relaxed there could be more pleasure if you kind of allow yourself to feel that pleasure more without anxiety.
One last thing to think about is THC and CBD what they say is they’re antagonistic meaning they kind of work against each other while working together. So, in some ways they super enhance each other. And in other ways CBD can temper THC. So, like if you take THC and you get too high, get a tincture that’s rich and CBD and it helps to regulate that high and bring you down. So just understand that. So, if you are trying to get the THC effects but you’re taking lots of CBD you might be sort of neutralizing the THC. So again, right balance for the right person. You just have to test it out. And that’s fun testing.
I’m curious if you are someone that’s in a state where THC is not legal, but you are able to use CBD, can that be just as effective for some of these things sleep or sex can CBD also be effective in the same way?
Well not in the same way, but it can be effective. So, if you think of the properties that the studies have shown that CBD can be beneficial for anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and if you put those two things against pain, for example, both of those can help. If you’re feeling more relaxed the muscle spasms relax, the pain and the inflammation is reduced. Yeah. Very helpful. If you put it in the context of sleeplessness, being more relaxed, less anxiety, that can be helpful. And a lot of us can’t sleep not just because of what’s happening chemically in our bodies but also from pain of any kind. Aches, pains, restless legs, you name it.
So, CBD can be effective for that. Also if you’re taking it regularly as a supplement it can help you overall just sort of balance your system and especially if you get a full spectrum meaning the whole plant is used to extract that CBD versus the isolated and it doesn’t have the benefit of all the other cannabinoids or terpenes, it’s just this isolated bit it can be more effective for some people. So, it’s a yes and a no. It can’t do all the things that THC or other cannabinoids can do or that they can do together. The entourage effect is the term when all the cannabinoids work together and enhance each other in sort of the right ways. But it can be helpful.
I think CBD is being peddled a lot as the cure-all, and it’s not. And without a little THC, CBD is kind of a little more surface, meaning THC can bind to receptors in our body and in our brains. But CBD can’t bind. And so, with a little THC though the effectiveness is just really upped. So, if you can’t get the THC you will gain some benefits from CBD but it’s a little less deep if you will. In some regards, it really depends on what you’re trying to address.
Would you be able to share with us some of your favorite products that you’ve come across?
Oh yeah sure. So, it depends on what type of product we’re talking about. But let’s see, I have found – and this is a totally personal experience- there are two topicals that I have been using and I find them both to be effective, a little bit differently than each other, but effective for what I would call surface and right below the surface pain and a little bit deeper pain as well. I have arthritis in my neck. And both of them have helped me right before bed to relieve that pain. And it’s a product called Bask. They have a topical, but they also have a transdermal. So, if you’re looking for a little bit more penetration through the epidermis through your skin you want to transdermal. So, Bask has a transdermal cream which I find to be helpful.
And I just started trying Dr. Kerklaan’s pain cream. And that actually is working as well, and I like it a lot. Dr. Kerklaan has a really lovely line of other products. There’s a sleep product which is a cream that you’re supposed to put on your forehead and temple. I’m not sure if it’s actually working but it’s lovely to give yourself a little temple massage. It always helps. Then they have a general regular CBD skin cream. Same thing. Is it really working? Well I have very very dry skin. I live in Alaska. It has relieved a lot of that tight, dry, burning feel. So that’s a really good one.
But also, on the topical side, Clean Coconut has beautiful pure products produced by a registered nurse. And lavender is still my favorite go-to aromatherapy, which is also a terpene. And so, I like her lavender line. There’s a sugar scrub, there’s a body lotion, really wonderful clean pure product.
Internally I’m taking CBD. It’s called CBDistallate, it’s out of Colorado’s CBDistallate which I had to buy at a legal marijuana retail shop here in Alaska. That’s where they sell it here in Alaska. And that has been an interesting sort of internal one to take. Indigo and Hayes as a beautiful bath and beauty product that is CBD infused. So those are some of the things that are literally either in my bathroom, in the shower, or by my nightstand.
At Ellementa we specialize in reviewing products from a woman’s point of view for a woman’s life. So, we have women testing these products and where it is legal we have women testing THC products as well. So, this is something we’re really wrapping up this year to be a product discovery outlet for women because they are trusting us and how they see the information we provide is good now we can talk about a product and we do test it. We will not put it out there if one of us doesn’t say wow this really worked for me.
Another thing that we touched on earlier are your gatherings. Can you tell us what happens at these events and just sort of how women can find them?
Yeah absolutely. Well the first thing to find them, two ways: you can go to Ellementa.com/gathering. But you can also sign up at Ellementa.com/join and you’ll hear about all the gatherings happening across North America. And those are the two ways to find out. What you can expect is a welcoming space of like-minded women who are seeking health and wellness information. We want to feel better, we want to help our loved ones feel better. Many of us are caregivers maybe to our partners, maybe to our children, maybe even to our aging parents, our circle of friends. We need to be taking care of ourselves. But we’re kind of all in that same boat. And you walk into a room, you get to meet other women like you, you get to hear from women who are experts in the field, you get to connect with brands – representatives from trusted brands – you get to hold a product in your hand and ask questions about it. This is not a place where you can get diagnosed or get a real medical recommendation, but it is a place where you can ask any question. And nothing’s off limits. So, it’s just this great empowering – we call them a wellness circle. It’s not even like a meeting. It’s not a lecture. Not exactly, just a panel. It’s a chance for a conversation to happen and empowerment to take place.
I just wanted to open it up to you if there’s anything else you’d like to add anything we missed?
Well I think the biggest thing is that we all have to talk about the elephant in the room. This is still not federally legal. Maybe someday someone will listen to this podcast and go well yes, it is. Wow. Hope that’s the case. They’re probably living in a much better world at that moment. But at the moment we are all stressed. We are overloaded, overworked, overwhelmed. Lots of things happening outside of our circles, but also within our circles and within ourselves. And if you want to feel better and you want to see what alternatives are out there, there’s Ellementa, there’s also a lot of other great groups.
Tokeativity is one of them. Oov’s lifestyle is another, just a lot of people holding these events. I was just talking to a woman about her event called Mary Talks. Look for these events. Go and educate yourself, surround yourself with people who aren’t afraid to answer your questions, who aren’t afraid to talk about cannabis. We have to get rid of that fear because if you find that cannabis or just CBD are helpful to you, you shouldn’t be ashamed of it, you shouldn’t have to hide it, you should be able to just feel better, have a better life. Honestly, I’m talking to myself as well because I am the “Just say no” generation. I’m still really crippled by the stigma. I am the Ellementa woman. And I get that fear. But reach out to any of these groups who are trying to empower you with good information. It’s very hard to find good, credible information but there are reputable groups out there like ours. And your podcast an educational resource. Educate, empower, don’t be afraid.