Cannabis an Adaptogen

Plant Power: Is Cannabis an Adaptogen?
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by Robyn Griggs Lawrence
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“After about a week of taking maca, I feel like a 14-year-old dealing with her first lustful crush, and my husband travels a lot! I’ve just had to embrace the libido boost.” - Zoe Helene

Is Cannabis an Adaptogen? Does Maca Make You Horny?

Cannabis is not officially an adaptogen (according to people who think officially), but it meets all the requirements: nontoxic, stress-reducing, balancing. “It In 1947, pharmacologist Nikolai Lazarev rebranded the plants, all but forgotten in Western medicine, as “adaptogens” and defined them as nontoxic herbs that protect the body from damaging physical and emotional stress while improving many of its systems and functions. The Soviets kept their research top secret for many years because of the advantage the plants gave their soldiers and citizens in worldwide competition. Soviet scientists continued to tweak adaptogen regimens, and by 1976, the nation’s athletes were dominating the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Adaptogens are pretty miraculous. They create and maintain homeostasis in the body, continually restoring its natural balance by slowing systems down when they’re overheating and speeding them up when they’re sluggish. (They can even do both things—calm and energize—at the same time.) The plants fight fatigue and reduce stress—in an age when stress is rampant and linked to the six leading causes of death.

Adaptogens such as maca, ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, and matcha are the new star ingredients on Instagram and Pinterest and in beverages, bars, powders, and chewables on shelves in natural food sections everywhere.

Medicine hunter and ethnobotanist Chris Kilham, who has been studying and advocating for adaptogens since the 1970s, is among them. “Cannabinoids regulate the cannabinoid system, and the cannabinoid system is a master regulating system of systems,” he says. “That implies all the balancing and harmonizing activities of an adaptogen.”

Kilham often drinks rhodiola and golden ginseng extracts mixed with water when he consumes cannabis because he likes how they all work with each other to make him feel. “Rhodiola and ginseng in conjunction with cannabis is mental Windex,” he says. “It sharpens up everything.”

Kilham is also a longtime promoter of maca, a root plant from the Peruvian Andes that can increase energy, strength, and stamina and is especially good for women’s reproductive systems. Kilham’s wife, Zoe Helene, founder of progressive feminist advocacy group Cosmic Sister, has taken maca supplements several times over the years but would always stop because it made her so horny — an effect many people welcome.

“After about a week of taking maca, I feel like a 14-year-old dealing with her first lustful crush, and my husband travels a lot!” says Helene, who recently began taking maca again because nothing else works as well to relieve her perimenopause symptoms. It’s worth it, she says. “I’ve just had to embrace the libido boost.”

August 2017