In this episode of Call Me Cannabinoids, we sat down with holistic clinical nutritionist Laura Lagano. Laura is a Registered Dietician/Nutritionist (RDN) and author of The CBD Oil Miracle, who has been featured in the New York Times, Glamour, CookingLight, WebMD, and has appeared on Fox News, CNN, and The Food Network. She teaches her clients not only about nutrition, but also about how to integrate cannabis into their lifestyles.
Laura’s Introduction to Holistic Nutrition
Growing up, food and cooking were important to Laura’s family. She grew up in a multi-generational home where memories were made in the kitchen–three kitchens, in fact, stacked one on top of the other in their three-story home.
Through listening to her parents’ and grandparents’ talk radio station, she was introduced to the work of Ben Feingold, M.D., creator of the Feingold Diet. His nutritional philosophy made sense to her and fueled her interest in studying nutrition later in life.
“He talked about avoiding certain types of sugar, and food colorings and other chemicals as contributing to hyperactivity,” Laura says. “And at the time, many, many people dismissed him. Fast forward many, many, many years, and he has actually been vindicated.”
After earning her RDN degree, Laura began her career as a food and nutrition writer and continued to grow her interest in the connections between mood and the foods we eat (or don’t). She also became a mother of three. At nine months old, one of her daughters, Isabella (now 23), began having grand mal seizures–some lasting as long as 15 minutes. Isabella was given multiple diagnoses, including a seizure disorder and sensory integration issues.
Isabella’s condition reawakened Laura’s interest in food and nutrition. She leveraged Dr. Feingold’s guidance to begin healing Isabella through diet.
“Early on, many of the characteristics that you qualify as autism, were dissipating. Many of them dissipated because of food and nutrition,” she says.
Hemp-Derived CBD Creates Unexpected Outcomes for Isabella
Isabella’s seizure disorder is ultimately what brought Laura to study cannabis. She began to view cannabis (the interchangeable term for both low-THC hemp and high-THC marijuana plants) as a healing plant–a plant that ultimately changed Isabella’s life for the better.
“I have seen the power of cannabis with Isabella and enabling her to improve her focus and improve certain language,” Laura says. “And, it’s not all the time, and it hasn’t been a direct trajectory. I’m not saying that it will work for everyone.
“I also integrate this with nutrition and many, many other modalities. So this isn’t just one thing that I’m applying. Because it’s never one thing. That’s why I use the term ‘holistic’; it’s a lot of different things.”
Laura stresses the importance of integrating cannabis with other lifestyle changes and habits; CBD on its own, with or without high THC content, won’t solve a complicated health situation. She also emphasizes engaging in activity that stimulates the brain, because the brain continues to develop through adulthood.
“We used to think that the brain was not malleable–that after a certain age, you were done [developing],” she says. “Don’t do the exact same thing every day; do something new. If you were never good at languages, take a language class. If you never did a crossword puzzle, do that. Take a different route when you walk to the bank.
“All these different things help to create new neural pathways–when you’re dealing with somebody who has a developmental delay and a seizure disorder, their neural pathways are never working properly. So the goal is, of course, to enable that to happen.”
When Laura first learned about CBD oil, she mainly associated it with anxiety–which is what she understood people were using it for. At that point, Laura had already implemented a progressive approach to Isabella’s health that involved mulitiple natural supplements and healing modalities beyond nutrition. Laura was interested in using CBD to address Isabella’s anxiety, but was surprised to see the other outcomes her daughter experienced after starting it.
“If you don’t have a developmental delay, the anxiety gets in the way of everything; you cannot even function,” she says. “And it really helped to quell her anxiety, but I wasn’t expecting the other things. Her speech improved. Her conversation improved, as well as word retrieval–using more complicated vocabulary terms–all of that changed.”
Laura worked with one of her colleagues to develop an integrative program (available at holisticcanna.com) that utilized cannabis alongside nutrition, aromatherapy, meditation, yoga, and other modalities to balance and regulate the endocannabinoid system.
Nutrition and Holistic Healing: Never One-Size-Fits-All
According to Laura, all approaches to holistic healing should be tailored to the individual. There’s no “right answer” that works for everyone. So, while a person might try something that doesn’t appear to work for the first day or two, they shouldn’t give up on it right away. And, they may need to tweak their approach or their specific protocol to better fit their needs.
“In functional nutrition, you’re always treating the person, not the condition. So you always want to look at what that person can tolerate–what’s the best thing for them? How does it fit into their lifestyle?”
When it comes to starting CBD, Laura advocates starting “low and slow.” But she also emphasizes that it’s possible a person may not notice results with the first serving–and not to give up if that’s the case.
“People think that they’re just going to have something once and then if it doesn’t work, they just they get rid of it,” she says. “This happens all the time in nutrition, and it certainly happens every single day in medicine.
“If anti-epileptic medications worked for everybody, all the time, we wouldn’t have 27 different anti-epileptics; we would have one and it would work for everyone. And that’s the same with food.”
CBD Methods of Delivery in Holistic Nutrition
Laura advocates for CBD delivery methods that don’t include added sugar or processed ingredients, since dietary supplements or vitamins disguised as candy could be dangerous for children. From an anti-inflammatory standpoint, she says it doesn’t make sense to include ingredients that cause inflammation in a formula meant to fight it.
“Edibles could be a possibility; I wouldn’t rule those out,” she says, “but I would never use gummies or anything that appeared like a candy.”
As for Isabella, Laura says she prefers for her daughter to take CBD sublingually. Sometimes, though, Isabella consumes CBD in a fiber format that interacts well with her digestive system. And, she prefers CBD capsules for convenience, especially when she’s on the go.
When it comes to the future of CBD, Laura believes the choice of delivery system will be at the forefront of consumers’ focus.
The Importance of Sourcing the CBD You Purchase
When it comes to consumer safety, Laura says it’s vital to get to the root of your CBD’s source. Because of the widespread falsification of Certificates of Analysis, it’s the consumer’s responsibility to trace the CBD’s origin and safety.
“As a manufacturer, I want to know about the farm. I also want to know about the extraction method. I want to know, are there any incipient ingredients in the product? I mean, there are many questions to ask. And there are so many products on the market right now, it’s very confusing for people,” Laura says.
According to Laura, consumers should avoid buying CBD in places like convenience stores, gas stations, or liquor stores.
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