top of page

Understanding your Body and its Relationship with Cannabis



My first position in health care was in a hospital Emergency room and Intensive Care Unit and then went on to do home care for the dying.


During this time I was published in nursing and respiratory care journals on a subject I coined as “The Emotional Needs of Critical Care Patients.” I was asked to teach on this subject for nursing conferences and hospitals.

Finally, I became a full time psychiatric researcher in the medical school at the University of Connecticut, a position I held for six years. I got to witness and know how this system works.

This past medical model as I have understood and observed it, tends to elevate the opinion of the physician (the expert) automatically putting the patient in a passive role. The patient is forced into “behaving” so they can fulfill expectations.

I sadly observed psychiatry stop teaching psychotherapy and instead suppressing symptoms with drugs and sometimes ECT (electroconvulsive [shock] treatment).

In concert with the pharmaceutical industry there has been a profitable alliance between physicians and drug companies that has blurred boundaries. “Big Pharma” has infiltrated scholarly medical journals, medical conventions, and medical schools. The results continue to suppress any investigation of both 1) what symptoms mean and 2) how to help the patient find a new balance of what “Holistic Health” calls for in body, mind and spirit.

Unfortunately, I have also observed many physicians accept this paradigm of suppressing symptoms with drugs as their norm and not trying to go deeper. They find a suitable name (a “diagnosis”) for people’s problems, try to suppress their symptoms with drugs and believe their job is finished (until the patient comes back with side effects from the drug and is given more drugs to address the side effects of the first one. These “side effects” are nearly always bothersome, sometimes disabling, and may be more accurately termed “Toxic effects.”)

Taking Back Our Power

By contrast, from working in both the recovery movement and holistic health for 23 years, and now watching the introduction of Medicinal Marijuana (MM) – I have seen that within these healing approaches the patient takes responsibility and becomes much more active in their own healing.

By using MM the patients have more choices for how to best work with it, a major choice being to take charge of using it selectively and carefully for their healing.

You may also notice that other prescription drugs for chronic pain are not always as necessary with MM available. At other times the opiate drugs’ dose can be tapered, if you so choose, or used with CBD’s alone. And it helps for tapering other drugs too, like muscle relaxants.

Another positive choice is that we do not deny, repress, drug or ignore our symptoms. Others and I have come to understand that our symptoms are trying to tell us something, as I discovered in my long experience when I was trapped in the body cast. I listened to the various parts of my life. While I was trying to make sense of my predicament I learned that underneath my spinal fractures, magnifying my pain, and not being the only source of it, was my experience of not having lived authentically from and as my Real Self for so long.

Listening to Our Symptoms

Psycho-neuro-endocrinology (PNE) is a field that studies how emotions and behavior interact with hormones and the nervous system. A related discipline adds immunology as psycho-neuro-immunology (PNI) to address the interaction among psychological processes and the nervous and immune systems.

When we combine these with what we have learned from some 120 years of experience in psychodynamic and trauma psychology we can begin to understand how recognizing and addressing unresolved issues can help us to a deeper healing. This understanding shows that underneath common chronic illnesses, there are unconscious trauma effects or wounding that may not be causing the disease or disorder directly, but have weakened our body systems so that wherever we are most vulnerable becomes “out of balance” or “diseased” and makes us potentially “sick.”

In other words, when we are often stressed and some of this is coming from unresolved issues with buried emotions, this wears down our immune and other bodily functions. The weakest link in our organs then starts to break down. By treating this weak organ or system, we may be able to resolve or at least medicate the chronic problem (the drug for every symptom paradigm).


However, if we don’t do some deeper exploration, there might continue to be one health problem after another. We may benefit from going deeper to find the underlying stressors that weaken our body so we can allow these stressors to become conscious and come into a natural balance where our body, mind and spirit can thrive. (the holistic paradigm).

Each one of us is more than a human being. We are each a focal point of consciousness that is becoming conscious of itself. MM helps us if we sit and allow it to show us a more expanded way of seeing.

Points to Take Home

What I am writing about here has to do with the wounding that underlies our too often clouded consciousness that thereby keeps our body, mind and spirit out of balance. For some, using Medicinal Marijuana can help us unlock and balance. This may seem agitating, fearful or scary at first. But in the long run it becomes an attitude of “I want to find out more about what happened and what’s inside me.” This is because there is a substantial emotional, physical and psychological release each time we have a realization that some call an “insight” and when one is in the extreme an “epiphany.”

There are countless clinical scientific reports now that show that most of us have experienced several to many hurts, losses and traumas that have affected our ability to navigate our life as smoothly as we would like.

Doing the kind of work that I am suggesting here with others, I am told, “On the other side of my fear, I found my Authentic Self!”

Used carefully and with appropriate focus, medicinal marijuana can act as a kind of interpreter to help us understand what in our life may benefit from being examined, moved into balance and then healed. Healing comes from accurately naming and working through our unfinished business. We can consider starting by using MM to explore our inner life.

What could my symptoms be about? And how might I heal around them? Can I accept what has happened over my lifetime and consider letting any of it talk to me and then let it go?

Using MM, to start, I imagine what might have caused this symptom or these symptoms. Then I imagine what nurturing changes I may be able to make in my life to facilitate my healing.

Some long-term MM users may already know some of this information. The war on drugs hid the information about using this gift of expanding our consciousness to include 1) helping balance our health and, 2) expanding our awareness by possibly, 3) stimulating openings of our unconscious mind.

If you may have a lingering image of two eggs in a fry pan and a voice saying “This is your brain on drugs!” don’t let it confuse you.


Your brain will not come out ‘sunny side up’ from using MM but your disposition on life may.

With any chronic illness, MM if used in the mindset I am explaining, will help you recognize what is helping you and what is not. It will help you go deep inside if you so choose and from a holistic health standpoint show you what is out of balance and can be changed. Or you also have the choice of just letting MM help you laugh, munch lightly and see the funny side of life that may have been hard for you to experience until now. It can take you out of the misery of your problems and lift your spirits. At the very least, it can help you to be distracted from your misery by lifting your state of consciousness out of your drama.

Santa Maria

MM has had many names over the millennia: pot, grass, weed, Mary Jane, ganja and the name botany and biological science gave it – cannabis. Modern shamans have called it “Santa Maria” because of the spiritual properties that emerge from it when we use it in our prayers and healing intention. I am not referring to Santa Maria as a particular strain, but all strains of MM when prayed over become the essence of her.

Praying over the seed as it is planted, as it grows, when it is harvested and of course when it is inhaled or ingested creates an opening of possibilities.

MM may have more healing applications than any other plant on Earth. But it is not in itself a cure. It is another tool to work with. Responsible use of it by engaging a mind-body relationship, we can open the door to a new and powerful healing that can take our journey to new depths and not just try to simply lessen our symptoms.

We can find a new understanding, a new freedom, a release of guilt or shame (how or why might I have acquired this illness?). During this process we may even find a tender intimacy that wraps us in a blanket of compassion for ourselves and where we are now. In this new relationship, the old stressors melt and we can use all of our energy for even more understanding of what our life
may be about and how we can balance our body, mind and spirit.


Barbara Harris Whitfield’s book The Secrets of Medicinal Marijuana is available to buy from Amazon now.

bottom of page