An interview with nutrition and wellness expert Laura Lagano about her new book, “The CBD Oil Miracle.”
Laura Lagano’s journey learning about health began initially with her mother. Her mother and her Italian nonna were amazing cooks, but her mother had a negative relationship with food, which inspired Lagano to go to school and study nutrition. Let’s move forward for many years and Lagano had earned a Master of Science in Nutrition Education and became a Registered Dietitian / Nutritionist and a Certified Dietitian / Nutritionist. She also gave birth to a daughter, Isabella, who suffered from developmental delays and seizures due to chromosomal duplication, a genetic disease associated with an autism spectrum disorder.
When Lagano began looking for new ways to combat her daughter’s challenges, she began studying marijuana and CBD after learning that it worked to fight seizures. Lagano never imagined that he would give cannabis to his daughter, whom he referred to as “drug” in college, but found that it helped Isabella a lot. Cannabidiol relieved her daughter’s stomach problems, helped improve her concentration and control her anxiety, which made a dramatic difference in her daughter’s life. Isabella, who the doctors once said she would never speak, is now 22 years old, works in a cafe and trains to be a barista.
Inspired by her daughter’s success using cannabis, Lagano founded the Holistic Cannabis Academy in 2016 along with her lifelong friend and colleague, Donna Shields, MS, RDN. The online cannabis education program is designed to help people integrate cannabis with other healing methods, whether related to diet or otherwise. After appearing on The Food Network and CNN, in addition to being cited in publications such as The New York Times and Glamor, a book editor called. The result is Lagano’s new text, The Miracle of CBD Oil: control pain, improve your mood, increase your brain, fight inflammation, clean your skin, strengthen your heart and sleep better with the healing power of the CBD oil.
The book explores all the different and specific ways in which CBD can be used to help people affected by a variety of conditions, including acne, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, PTSD and schizophrenia. The book is presented as a medical manual, highlighting several causes, symptoms and how CBD can work to treat them. However, Lagano defends how CBD, when integrated with food and nutrition, can change lives.
MERRY JANE spoke with Lagano to find out if all the exaggerations about CBD are legitimate, what unexpected benefits the cannabis plant can offer, how to cook with CBD and if we, as a society, are moving towards a more natural and holistic way of approaching welfare in the food, cannabis and medical industry.
There was a lot of exaggeration about the CBD when it exploded in the national consciousness, but what is the reality?
Laura Lagano: The CBD is definitely a good entry point for people who accept cannabis, the whole plant. Hemp is cannabis, but people are confused because it is classified as containing less than 0.3% THC. People do not understand that it’s the same plant. As to whether CBD works or not, it’s a very powerful anti-anxiety compound. The caveat that I want to point out here is that it does not necessarily work for everyone in all areas. So people need to understand who they are and what their interaction with the plant may be. You must really be aware of it. And there are certainly times, for specific health conditions and some people, where THC is absolutely necessary. For many people with pain, THC is also needed. But for insomnia and anxiety, the CBD works extremely well.
In the book, I describe 32 states for which the CBD has shown a certain amount of clinical applications. This is more like clinical evidence from patients. And, of course, there are studies for many of the conditions, anxiety, insomnia, and pain in particular. We know that CBD is already effective in patients with severe forms of seizures because there is a drug called Epidiolex. But many patients who have other types of seizures also use CBD with very good effects. I do not want people to buy CBD themselves, especially when they have a very serious problem like epilepsy. They should work with a health professional to determine the [appropriate] dose.
What are the other benefits of CBD and THC in your research and application?
CBD is a very potent anti-inflammatory, and oxidation is largely responsible for aging. We have wrinkles in the skin due mainly to oxidation and oxidative stress, which is, of course, related to inflammation. Aging is certainly not a disease, but oxidative stress and inflammation are the causes of aging. In addition to general well-being, people also use CBD to regulate their mood, be it depression or anxiety. Many people refer to the CBD is non-psychoactive, but this is not technically true. The reason the CBD works is that it is psychoactive. It does not necessarily mean that it traditionally elevates you, but it works with mood disorders because it’s psychoactive.
I live in St. Louis, Missouri, and I have noticed that many CBD products are appearing everywhere, including creams and aerosols. How do you know if you are getting the real thing or not?
It’s difficult. I have a section in the book [with] guidelines for selecting the CBD and I have more information on my website. It’s difficult because there are too many options and we know what happens when there are too many. I’m not a big fan of the internet, CBD writing and product selection. You really need to know what you select. You should get a recommendation from a health professional, of course. I do not think you want to connect and buy CBD at random.
I have many recommendations in the book on what to look for with the CBD. Knowing your farmer is very helpful, and I think for many states, many CBD manufacturers are small [and] can know who they are and where they grow their hemp. You must call the company and ask them questions about their certificate of analysis. I think it is very useful to know if the product is organic. There are very few products that [grow using] [biological] methods. It is very difficult to know.
What about cooking at CBD? What is your opinion about this?
You can add oil to the food. When cooking with, people usually add it at the end of the cooking cycle because you do not want the temperature to be too high. There are so many foods that contain CBD, even though the FDA is very confused with the legality of CBD as an ingredient and even as a supplement. Adding it to a drink, such as coffee, is a much easier way to eat it. Or add it to some kind of sauce or seasoning that you make at home. In this way, it is easier to know how much you ingest, because you do not necessarily want to add it by leaving it at all. There is an upper limit to what people can consume.
The book also talks about CBD and pets. How can CBD benefit the welfare of your dog?
People are willing to spend a lot of money on their pets. Most people are giving CBD to their pets to regulate the behavior of their pets. That is probably the number one reason, in addition to creating a shiny coat. I meet people on the street all the time who knows me and says: ‘I give CBD to my dog along with fish oil, and he has a much brighter coat than I had before.’ Those are the two main reasons why people are giving CBD to their pets.
Recently, CVS announced its transfer to the CBD market. Do you think it is the right move for the industry to involve the large chain stores in the distribution?
It is quite interesting that some of these chains are selling CBD but not cigarettes. These companies seek to make a profit, but that will also give them access to consumers. I hope these great chains select good quality products. I could compare that with fish oil.
Years ago, fish oil was very large in the market and there was a lot of publicity around. And then people started to realize, wait a minute, we better look at what kind of fish oil we use because fish oil could be contaminated with heavy metals. It is better that it comes from a pure source. The same will happen with CBD because CBD is a bioaccumulator. We know that it actually absorbs heavy metals. I think we will finally see a consolidation of the companies and brands of CBD.
When you were writing the book, what surprised you most about CBD or how it is used?
What is surprising are some of the new studies and research that are being carried out that have not been published. The biggest surprise was observing the impact it can have with diabetes. And actually with type 1 diabetes in the restoration of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. That is quite amazing.
Do you think we are heading for a more natural form of well-being in the medical and food industries with CBD and cannabis?
I absolutely believe that cannabis, with or without THC, is leading the way to personalized medicine for lifestyle. But people have to be willing to do the job because this also involves changing behaviors. This is not as simple as taking a pill. I have been a registered dietitian/nutritionist for a while and changing eating habits is one of the most difficult things to do. As an integrative and functional nutritionist, I am looking at the resolution of the root cause.
When someone comes to me, they are talking to me about what conditions and symptoms they have. I try to get to the root of what may be causing those symptoms or triggering them. And obviously, many times, [is] diet and other lifestyle behaviors. We talk about changing food, obviously, and other lifestyle behaviors. Add supplements, and sometimes add CBD, or I could refer them to a [doctor] to recommend medical marijuana. But I don’t do any of that without first changing the behaviors.
I am not in favor of adding marijuana that contains THC or CBD derived from hemp without first looking at what else is happening in your life. I will give you a great example, easy: insomnia. Many people have insomnia, and this is classic what happens in my practice: people come in and talk about insomnia as one of its side effects. And they could be taking Ambien. Unfortunately, many medical marijuana recommendations simply replace Ambien with cannabis.
That is not really what we are talking about. We are talking about integrating cannabis into a comprehensive health program to help with insomnia. That is, you have to see what else this person is doing that may be interfering with the dream. Whether it has to do with what they are eating, electronics or exercising too late at night. There are many things. And there are other ways to promote drowsiness besides simply adding marijuana or CBD. I think we have to be careful about that.
The conclusion is that cannabis, as a plant, is leading the way towards personalized lifestyle medicine. And it is something we can consider integrating into our health and wellness plan, as long as we make those other changes.