Keiko Beatie really is a woman of many hats. She is currently an OC NORML Board Member, CEO/President of Green Wave Relations, Community Outreach and writer for Edibles Magazine, and Curator/Producer of Cinema Paradisio and Alma Surf Fest. Keiko was also COO of the first ever Canna-based TV Network, U.S. Weed Channel. She has also been a vegetarian/vegan chef, cultivator, and co-host on Hemp Radio. Oh, and she was also one of the first people in the U.S. to have a baby born underwater! So, it is fair to say that Keiko is quite the trailblazer, as well as quite the busy lady. Keiko studied Holistic, Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine, and has supported whole plant cannabis treatment for many years. Although we ought to be sceptical about some of the treatments that make up the term “alternative medicine” (medicine technically either works and is therefore “medicine”, or it doesn’t and cannot be considered medicine if it has no proof behind it), it is interesting that cannabis – which was often deemed an “alternative” therapy – has many antecedents in these fields. We have decided to catch up with Keiko and hear what she has to say about her experiences on medical marijuana … Could you tell us your cannabis story, and what made you want to go into the world of cannabis? I first started back in the 70s, studying Ayurvedic, Chinese and Holistic medicine, and one of my passions was box flower [genus Buxus] and homeopathics. And, as we know, box flower and homeopathics were flower medicines from hundreds and hundreds of years ago. And it always fascinated me. I do remember watching Zeffirelli’s Romeo & Juliet, and seeing the friar mix together potions. Flower essences like Lobelia and things like that, that were on his “laboratory table” per se. And I thought, “Those are just flowers that are put together for benefiting us, or doing detrimental things like making people go to sleep for a long period of time.” So my interest was piqued at a very young age about plants and how they affect the human body. And why I went into the understanding of cannabis … Yes, I did utilize it at a young age recreationally when I was 18. And I felt its effects on me. I had never drank alcohol, never smoked cigarettes and I never wanted to drink caffeinated beverages, because I had always felt more in-tune with myself naturally. And seeing that this [cannabis] was a plant that I was ingesting through smoke and that it altered my perceptions whilst feeling more relaxed. Not that I was a nervous person, but I was piqued again by how a natural plant had the capability to support us in certain times, when the body needs it. And that’s why I wanted to go into the industry, although I have to say I didn’t look to be in the industry part. I looked into it more for patients and being able to have a better, healthier situation by utilizing the cannabis plant, not as an industry. So, I first attempted to start my research and my passion about studying cannabis, because I saw this as a medicine, first of all. Not an industry. Could you give us an idea of how Chinese, Ayurvedic and Holistic medicines view cannabis? Well, of course, the outlook of Holistic Medicine is that we’re looking at the whole body and how natural medicines can help. When we’re looking at natural plant like cannabis that produce cannabinoids similar to the ones in the human body and, thanks to Raphael Mechoulam and his research when he made the correlation between the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the human body … That resonated with me. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam. Picture from http://ediblesmagazine.com/tag/keiko-beatie/ Understanding that the plant matched our human body, and why Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines partnered with it. Those are the types of plants that that the ancients from different cultures used in their medicines.They were also working with natural medicines as well, and how to integrate them into the body for certain ailments. Traditionally, in China, you paid the medicine doctor. If you were still unhealthy, you didn’t pay them anymore! Now wouldn’t that be an interesting concept to bring up today!? But that’s what they felt. I think that our society now has changed so much, and in a direction that’s not as comfortable for me. I’m looking back on how natural plants are our medicine. From Ayurvedic medicine, there’s so many herb, spice and other plant mixtures that are meant to assist in keeping our bodies healthy. This is the same for Chinese medicine. And the reason why many come to try it [cannabis] is because all of our bodies are different, and how they assimilate cannabinoids is different. Of course, this changes over time and is altered by what we put into it. So I look at “Holistic Medicine” as “taking everything into consideration.” From geography and where we reside, to dietary aspects, as well as the environment and stress levels. The whole picture will tell us where we are right now and what situation the body is in. By utilizing cannabis, hopefully it’ll come at a time when the person involved will take a step and look at themselves, feeling like they need to approach their body and taking care of it in a more holistic manner, rather than synthetic pharmaceuticals that mask the symptoms of it. The whole point is to look at the cause, and not just the symptoms. The symptoms are just where we are right now, but if we look at the causes, it’ll help us understand our bodies and help us to take care of them. So have you found many other plants that have as many medical applications as cannabis, or plants that suit cannabis particularly well? It depends on the person. I have found many people to have quite an acidic dietary plan. I haven’t found any particular one plant that works as successfully, overall. Cannabis seems to have a well-rounded approach to the body. Yes, it does better for some ailments, and less so for others, but again it depends on the person and where their body state is at that time. There are certain plants that you can take that can help making the body more alkaline [note: Keiko is talking about making the body’s blood more alkaline in order to prevent cancers – there is little evidence that diet alone can do this, but it is true that, like any other cells in the human body, cancer cells do not thrive in alkaline environments. Sadly, there are a lot of diet myths around]. For example, Spirulina, which is a blue-green algae that may assist the body with making it more alkaline. But, in all my years of speaking to patients and seeing all the successes, I cannot think of another particular plant that is as well-rounded as cannabis. Yes, I believe ginger, turmeric and other Indian or Ayurvedic herb combinations can help, but nothing seems to work as well for as many ailments as cannabis does. Could you give us an insight into any theories behind “plant consciousness” or anything like that? Well, we ourselves are live and living entities. And I feel if we put into our body live enzymes from plants that match [the ones in our bodies], will assist in keeping us healthy. And I really support raw cannabis because of that [in contrast to Dr. Robert Hashemiyoon last week]. One is because of the ECS; but also, in its raw state, it has a lot of powerful attributes that we have not even begun to scratch the surface on its benefits. What we need right now is more research. More documentation, clinical trials and support from the research community. I know it does takes funds to do that. What has been done so far is wonderful, but we are only at the beginning here. I know that there are cannabinoids within the plant that we haven’t been able to isolate yet. I was able to give to Dr. Saul Garza Morales’s son, who was at the endocannabinoid research laboratories in UCI (University of California Irvine) under Dr. Palmieri, some raw THCA. He started to do some research on it. Unfortunately, he did have to go to Spain to continue to do research, but his plan will be to come back to the United States to continue to do research with raw THCA. Biosynthesis from THCA to THC and CBDA to CBD in the human body. Could you tell us more about THCA? THCA is the precursor to THC. When you have a live enzyme like that and you’re putting it into our bodies, how it resonates with our bodies is very powerful, from what I’ve experienced. There are no psychoactive effects of THCA. The gentleman who was first able to extract it in a very healthy, safe way, was Mike Coombes of Joe’s Extract. They’re located in the San Francisco Bay area. I actually presented an educational evening with Dr. Diego Morales’s son and Mike Coombes going over what the researchers have found out about THCA up to this point, and what they want it to do for the future. But of course, that always takes more time and funding and support. So I will touch base back with them to see how things are going. I have been saying to some patients who have some serious health issues to try taking raw cannabis. And they are finding that they’re recovery from certain illnesses and their general health is improving much quicker than if they were just using other cannabinoids for their health. That’s an encouraging thing, but I am not scientist and I’m not doing any clinical trials or research, so it’s only coming from a layperson’s interaction with it. Which is sad! You shouldn’t really put yourself down for that. Technically, due to the lack of research, most scientists are laypersons in this area as well. Perhaps the people who know this plant best at the moment are the ones who have been growing and breeding it … I understand what you are saying. I feel I know nothing. I have everything to learn, everyday, as much as possible. I feel that I am a student and will always be a student, because we need to do so much more research on this plant. So, it seems we have a debate on our hands! Does THCA have medical applications or not? Is Dr. Hashemiyoon’s research so far right about non-decarboxylated cannabis or not? There are some studies that show that THCA may have some potential as an anti-emetic. Of course, rodents physiology is different from human physiology, so this could be a major factor in determining whether a particular cannabinoid is helpful for humans. So far, all we have is theory and conjecture, with some studies but no sample size to prove conclusively one way or another, or with many studies using rodents. However, this is what makes the world of medical marijuana and its applications so exciting! There is just so much to discover.