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November 2019 Rapid River Magazine

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IS CBD SAFE? AND DOES IT HELP WITH CHRONIC PAIN? Your Health By Max Hammonds, MD The latest “medical miracle” to come on the scene is cannabidiol (CBD). It is one of 113 compounds found in the plant cannabis sativa. The common name for this plant is hemp. But, in fact, there are several strains, one which is rich in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC – marijuana), one which is rich in CBD (and low in THC), several others which contain lesser amounts of these two compounds, and some which have none at all. Hemp is one of the oldest fibrous plants known since earliest recorded history. It has been used in making rope, clothing, paper, paint, fuel, and food. But because THC is found in some strains, all cultivation of hemp was banned in the US since the 1930’s and classified as a Schedule I drug. The Farm Bill of December, 2018 de-scheduled hemp, allowing its cultivation under strict guidelines state by state. Hemp seeds (which contain no THC or CBD and are used widely in human and animal food) were declared “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS). Because of the illegal status (federal government), the research on the uses and effectiveness of THC (marijuana) is scanty and questionable. At best, observational studies suggest — Caleb Simpson, an avid photographer, and owner of Hemp Daddy’s Therapeutics, an online only CBD oil brand. that marijuana may be helpful to 1) alleviate chronic pain, 2) lessen anxiety (PTSD, etc.), 3) reduce muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis, 4) and improving cancer pain. But the increased potency of the new varieties of marijuana, the variable concentrations of THC in different plants, and the high concentrations injected into various foods makes the medical use of marijuana risky without some professional guidance. Side effects of THC include anxiety/panic attacks, loss of time and spatial disorientation, paranoia, decreased muscular activity, fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure – all making operating machinery of any type extremely hazardous. Even medicinal marijuana is still illegal in North Carolina. The availability and legality of THC (psychoactive marijuana) depends on the state in which you reside. The federal government still regards the sale, possession, or use of marijuana as illegal. But 33 states allow it to be sold for medicinal purposes and 11 states allow it to be sold for recreational use. CBD (containing no psychoactive activity) as a drug has been approved by the FDA for two rare types of epilepsy. Also, the FDA allows CBD to be used in cosmetics, but does not allow it to be used in food, beverages, or supplements and does not allow hemp to be sold in interstate commerce. North Carolina does allow the sale of CBD oil. But otherwise, North Carolina follows the restrictions of the federal government about food, beverages, and supplements and shipment. In fact, most foods, advertised as containing CBD, usually contain very little or none. For those who actually have added CBD to food or beverages, the FDA has sent out warning letters to cease and desist or face fines and/or criminal ‘Health’ continued on page 29 20 |RAPIDRIVERMAGAZINE.COM | RAPID RIVER’S ARTS & CULTURE | VOL. 23, NO. 3 NOVEMBER 2019

THE FULLNESS OF EMPTINESS ZEN PHILOSOPHY WITH BILL WALZ “Become totally empty. Quiet the restlessness of the mind. Only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness.” - Lao Tzu Our typical American life is very full with possessions, work, recreational activities, and very busy minds. Yet many struggle with a feeling of emptiness. We acquire more and more things, and we are, to a degree, grateful for what we have, yet the feeling of completeness, of needing nothing more in order to be fulfilled eludes us. We keep acquiring more and more and striving for more and more, yet the abiding sense of gratitude that makes life truly full and rich beyond circumstances seems out of reach. Buddhism and Taoism have a great deal to say about this conundrum. These ancient Eastern philosophies tell us that our problem stems from attaching our value and well-being - importantly, our very identity, in our external circumstances. We confuse having with being. We believe that the more we have materially, along with having social status and affiliations, and having positive emotional experiences, the better we are. We depend on these circumstances being advantageous for our well-being, but there is no lasting certainty to any of this. So, our well-being swings with the advantage or disadvantage of our circumstances. Our problem is that in order to be okay we need to feel filled with advantageous circumstance, and this is pretty shaky ground upon which to build a life. When the great fountainhead of Taoism, Lao Tzu, advised us to become totally empty, he was telling us to go deeper into our foundational self, to empty ourselves of all dependency on possessions, status, and affiliations, all ideas, philosophies, emotional dependencies, and preconceptions, like pouring out the contents of a cup to realize the infinite potential of the cup itself as a vessel for anything, for everything. A cup of tea is a cup of tea; the cup is full with one thing and has no room for anything else. When we empty the cup it is a space filled with infinite potential, with the Universe itself, ready to accept whatever is needed in the unique circumstance that is a moment of life. Importantly, every moment of our life is like a cup, and only when we enter it empty can we be filled with the moment’s own unique preciousness, but we do not generally enter the moments of our life empty. We enter the moment carrying a train of previous memory-moments and anticipated future-moments filled with our subjective interpretation of what the value of those moments has been and will be, shaping our sense of the value of our life. The momentum of this train of impressions and judgments is so great that we fly on through each present-moment as we encounter it, adding an occasional strongly positive or negative moment on as one more box-car on the train of our life speeding on to some future destination where we hope to find fulfillment or, as it is for too many, just a train to ride, going they know not where but fearing it goes to nowhere. Lao Tzu advises, “Quiet the restlessness of the mind.” Our restless mind, seeking fulfillment, is what already fills our cup and drives our train. We enter the moment projecting into it our memories, expectations, desires and fears. We have no room in our cup to be present in wonder because we are rehashing where we have been while looking further down the track. We do not know how to empty the cup, to stop the train. We don’t know that we must quiet the mind that restlessly pushes us forward, to avail ourselves fully to this moment where Life is actually happening. We don’t know that there are miracles and wonders to be experienced while we are unavailable because we are already filled and racing forward. The result is that for too many we experience life, instead of being filled with gratitude for these wonders, as filled with grudging acceptance, dissatisfaction and anxiety over the perceived contents of our lives and our minds. They are filled but still empty, racing into an uncertain future. The miracles are lost as unnoticed blurs as we speed past. Only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness.” It is quite remarkable and quite a privilege to be alive at a time when science is discovering the underlying quantum field nature of reality. Just as the ancients intuited, it seems to be true that every thing arises from no-thing. The underlying reality of the universe seems to be a field of energy potential containing no gaps or no separations, truly a Uni-verse, a single story/source of Creation. From this proto-energy field arises spontaneously the building blocks of atoms – electrons, gluons, quarks, Higgs-boson particles that all become the stuff of the world, the stars and the planets, the oceans and the mountains, the trees and the rocks, the rivers and the streams, the vegetation and the animals, and you and me. All these things arise from what is a no-thing because it has no boundary, and no boundaried things within it. Everything unfolding from emptiness. So too, our minds are quite possibly like quantum fields. In fact, the once very enlightened view that the brain is like a computer that stores bits of information in memory and has a remarkable retrieval mechanism that allows us to creatively mix and match the up to 100 terabytes of information stored in a human brain, is giving way to a view of the brain as a quantum storage, retrieval, and reorganization biological information technology that, like in the world of physics where particles pop into materialization from out of what seems to be a vacuum but is now described as “quantum foam,” so too, quite possibly, does information in the mind. From this universal field of potential that precedes and permeates everything, both the physical world and the world of mind materialize, exactly as they need to so as to create a world of perfect balance and harmony with layer upon layer of harmonized strata. When the balance is upset by too much of anything, the balance is restored naturally, but in the human mind, Nature ‘Walz’ continued on page 23 VOL. 23, NO. 3 — NOVEMBER 2019 | RAPIDRIVERMAGAZINE.COM | RAPID RIVER’S ARTS & CULTURE | 21