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When Dr. Jason Mitchell, N.D., was diagnosed in 2011 with the autoimmune disease ulcerative colitis, it changed his life. The Florida-based, board-certified doctor of naturopathic medicine had dedicated himself for more than 20 years to developing vitamins and supplements for the veteran supplement company Country Life Vitamins. He ate well, exercised regularly, and lived the principles he knew about healthy lifestyles. Still, ulcerative colitis struck and rocked his world.
“What happened is, I got sick,” Dr. Mitchell said in an exclusive interview with God’s Greenery. “At the time I was working as Chief Science Officer for a vitamin company, and I had this terrible personal experience with a disease. I took a medication regimen and was fortunate enough to find myself in a state of remission; however, my doctor was offering me things called ‘biologics’ like Humira, drugs that are advertised as the savior to the autoimmune system.
“When you look at the warnings, you see that you can actually end up developing more things that could be fatal. So the choice was to trade a disease that is not necessarily fatal but possibly could be someday for the risk that the side effects from the medication could kill me, possibly sooner. So I started researching. As a naturopathic doctor, I knew there had to be things that could support my body without all the potential devastating side effects.”
What Mitchell found set him on a new path. He left Country Life Vitamins and cofounded Probulin, a company that produces high-quality probiotics. Mitchell’s determination to heal the gut was intensely personal, birthed in part from his own encounter with ulcerative colitis. But his research didn’t stop there. He also came across emerging studies on the powerful benefits of phytocannabinoids, plant-based cannabinoids found in cannabis.
“Before I got sick, I was firmly against cannabis,” Mitchell said. “As a Christian, I thought everyone who was advocating for medical marijuana just wanted to get high, that marijuana was a drug with nothing medicinal about it. I thought it was garbage.”
Then Mitchell learned more about terpenes, the aromas that flowering plants emit that stimulate receptors in the human brain to release calming chemicals like dopamines and serotonins. He knew powerful terpenes could be found in lavender, pepper, and cloves, for example. He also came across the fairly new scientific research into the human endocannabinoid system.
“I came across a terpene found in cloves, pepper, and other spices that has immunomodulatory benefits, and that was very interesting to me; but it also has anti-inflammatory benefits and gastroprotective benefits,” Mitchell said. “I wanted to know how it was doing all those things in the body. That’s where the doctor in me came out.”
Mitchell learned that the endocannabinoid system is a God-designed intricate system of receptors throughout the human body that interconnects with all the systems and is created to support or maintain homeostasis, or balance. He also discovered that hemp-based cannabis is a unique plant packed with powerful cannabinoids.
“When you have an autoimmune disease, you have a system that is just not working properly,” Mitchell said. “But what if there was something that could bring it back into the fold and make things work properly? I thought, ‘You know what? There just might be something to this whole thing about cannabis, especially benefits from hemp.”
After Mitchell discovered that the human endocannabinoid system reacts to phytocannabinoids (plant-based cannabinoids) and that hemp is a rich source of phytocannabinoids, he cofounded and today is President of HempFusion, a company specializing in full-spectrum hemp products. Mitchell believes that the combination of hemp’s natural cannabinoids, along with terpenes, gives the body a big natural healing boost.
“Everyone has jumped on the CBD bandwagon, and it does have some really cool benefits, but it is just one more than 113 cannabinoids that have been identified,” Mitchell said. “And there are even more terpenes. Any plant that flowers has terpenes, or aromatic properties. These properties act as either repellants to keep the plant safe or attractors. They are nature’s really awesome signal to the world to say, ‘Come see me.’”
Mitchell says diffusing essential oils is the perfect example of the effects of terpenes. The scents diffused from the pure oils of certain plants are the terpenes interacting with our brains and immune systems to make users calmer, more energized, or more relaxed.
“Terpenes and cannabinoids react with this endocannabinoid system,” Mitchell said. “We want to deliver full-spectrum products that do not isolate one cannabinoid but give the body multiple natural cannabinoids and terpenes that work better together to promote health and balance to our systems.
“Hippocrates is credited with saying, ‘Let they food be thy medicine.’ In so many words, Christ said it before him and Edison after. We ought to be really concerned about the food we eat and what we put in our bodies, making sure it is wholesome and natural.”
Mitchell said that is often the opposite of Western medicine, which isolates single compounds and offers them as medicine.
“What Hippocrates did not say is, ‘Let’s find a single compound, identified in a laboratory and isolated to a high level of refinement, and put it in a double-blind placebo controlled study for some application,” Mitchell said. “That tends to be Western medicine. We create medicines that treat symptoms but don’t cure the disease. Because, let’s face it, medicine is big money. If you cure the disease, you put yourself out of business. And it’s a very profitable business.”
Mitchell paints a picture of the days when sailors used to contract scurvy after months away at sea without proper nutrition. Irish sailors learned to eat citrus fruits, which kept scurvy at bay.
“We think what cured scurvy is Vitamin C,” Mitchell said. “But it is more than that. They ate citrus, especially limes. Vitamin C does have an effect on scurvy, but maybe not as much as we think. What the modern-day researcher would say to scurvy is, ‘What’s in a lime? Let’s take out the one magic bullet – the isolated compound of ascorbic acid – and say that’s the cure. Because you know what else is in a lime? Bioflavonoids that make the ascorbic acid work more effectively. Western medicine would say take Vitamin C. Naturopathic doctors would say, ‘You know what? Just eat the lime.’ The food is the medicine.”
Today, Mitchell remains in remission and on a mission to make hemp-derived cannabinoid products fully legal and approved by the FDA. Mitchell says his 25 years of experience developing products under the guidance of the FDA is helping him lead the charge in getting hemp and products that contain cannabinoids approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“There is a lot of really wonderful hope in this plant,” Mitchell said. “If powered correctly, our bodies will operate pretty amazingly. Think about it: If you cut yourself and bleed, within seconds – no, instantaneously – it starts clotting and healing. If you can power your body correctly and do something to support it, it will heal itself.”
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