Selma Holden on location in the Amazon. Photo by Tracey Eller / Cosmic Sister

Selma Holden
Plant Spirit Grant 2016
Cosmic Sister
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Medical Doctor, Mother
Date of Birth: 3/26/1977 (40 in ceremony)

Selma Holden is a board-certified family physician who practices and teaches medicine in southern Maine. She recently finished Harvard Medical School’s Integrative Medicine post-doctoral research fellowship, where her work focused on using clinical research as a means to offer prenatal yoga classes and educational support groups to expecting mothers. Believing more in skills than pills for helping people heal from dis-ease, Selma weaves mindfulness, yoga, herbs and other complementary techniques into her clinical repertoire. As a mother, she is particularly interested in factors that can improve maternal wellness.

“Back home for the winter solstice after a journey to the jungle. Yesterday morning I was in the Peruvian Amazon with a group of beautiful, intelligent and kind women, enjoying the dynamics of their unique characteristics. Yet it was time to say goodbye to my new group of cosmic sisters and head home. Now I’m in the silent snowy woods of Maine with my family for the longest night of the year. As I get ready to sleep, I feel a wave of deep gratitude roll through me with a refreshed connection to the profound beauty of our mother Earth. Working so intensely with the Amazonian medicine was challenging for me on many levels, and for this long night, I’m fortunately able to rest peacefully and dream that the rest of our planet has the chance to heal with the same depth I was able to.” - Selma Holden, M.D.

IMAGE: Selma Holden in Amazon old growth tree. Photo by Tracey Eller / Cosmic Sister

Why Women Are Leading the Charge to (Re)unite Cannabis and Yoga

LA Yoga, by by April M. Short

As cannabis is gradually re-legalized in the U.S. and elsewhere, the public is learning about its potential to help children with epilepsy, shrink cancerous tumors, alleviate chronic pain (more safely and successfully than opiates, helping to combat the national overdose epidemic), and provide feelings of relaxation and bliss in a much safer way than alcohol.

Selma Holden, an M.D. in Maine who recommends cannabis to medical patients according to the state’s laws, is also a yoga teacher who focused on yoga at Harvard's Integrated Wellness special program. She practices family medicine in rural Maine and became interested in cannabis medicine as a response to Maine’s opiate overdose epidemic. She says the way cannabis manages pain is, in itself, yogic.

In rural areas where people tax their bodies, whether by logging in the woods or catching lobster on the shore, there was a chronic pill problem, she says. Holden calls herself the “newer breed of doctors” whose training included warnings against overprescribing opiates for pain, but she could see her patients needed a solution. When a friend told her about cannabis as medicine, she saw it as “a harm-reduction method, quite frankly, to get people to step off of opiates.”

Unlike opiates, which she says can be considered a “painkiller” that erases pain, she says, cannabis changes people’s reaction to the pain.

“You can be more contemplative about it, you don’t experience the suffering of it so much, you’re just more in this yogic awareness, or mindful awareness, of noticing the pain, analyzing it, not reacting to the pain instantaneously, but maybe working with it,” she says.

Sometimes Holden recommends both yoga and cannabis to her clinical patients.

“I wish everybody would be able to have the time and space to explore these disciplines, and establish one, and weave it into their life,” she said. “There’s so much destruction and so much anger in this world right now, and I am feeling impatient about getting these medicines available to people because we need to move more quickly on healing from the traumas and damages that are happening to the world.”

Read Why Women Are Leading the Charge to (Re)unite Cannabis and Yoga

Plant Spirit Grant 2016
Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance Grant 2016
Women of the Psychedelic Renaissance Grant 2018
Cosmic Sisters of Cannabis Grant 2018
Ayahuasca Retreat: DreamGlade / Ayahuasca Foundation

December 2016