Brandon Gardel: A Theologian Fighting Disease with Cannabis
Brandon Gardel, Medical Cannabis Patient, USA
Brandon Gardel is a writer and soon-to-be published author. Having just recently signed his first publishing contract, he’s at work on a book on theology and anthropology. Some of his greatest inspiration comes from Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theory, which states that imitation is the fundamental mechanism of human behavior. Thanks to cannabis, he has a renewed level of health that allows him to pursue these endeavors and enjoy his family!
I struggle with a rare autoimmune disease called Refractory Celiac Disease. I don’t really know what caused it exactly, but my wife and I moved to Rhode Island for a while, which was very stressful. I started having symptoms then, in 2008. Basically, Refractory Celiac Disease doesn’t respond to a gluten free diet, which means that there is no relief from the symptoms: diarrhea, abdominal pain, mal-absorption of nutrients, small intestine inflammation, etc. Only about 10-15% of people with Celiac Disease have the Refractory complication on top of it.
Basically, Refractory Celiac Disease doesn’t respond to a gluten free diet, which means that there is no relief from the symptoms: diarrhea, abdominal pain, mal-absorption of nutrients, small intestine inflammation, etc.
For a long time, I thought I was lactose intolerant. I had multiple tests done, three different endoscopies, two colonoscopies; you name it. From 2010 to 2011, I was getting progressively worse. Come to find out, I was developing lymphocytosis, which can easily lead to an overt lymphoma. It took a while to figure it out, but I was finally diagnosed in 2011. By that time, I was anemic/iron deficient, calcium deficient, and protein deficient. I just felt depleted, overall.
Come to find out, I was developing lymphocytosis, which can easily lead to an overt lymphoma.
Of course, when you are struggling with something physically, it affects you in mentally and emotionally, too. I felt so frustrated, day in and day out. I just wasn’t functioning well, overall. I felt grumpy all the time. I was often embarrassed, because I had to plan everything around the 10-15 bathroom trips I had to make daily. I was always explaining—and still do—why I’m not eating like everyone else does in social or group settings. Plus, the whole “gluten-free” thing has become sort of a fad, so a lot of people don’t take it seriously.
It just wore me down in every way. Dealing with the frustration of not knowing what’s wrong with you is exhausting…and then eventually knowing what’s wrong but not being able to do anything about it is almost worse. Cancer was always in the back of my mind. There’s no denying the body and mind are completely interconnected. When you can’t figure something out and continue to have issues despite your best efforts, it affects work, relationships, sex life, etc. Fortunately, my wife has been very supportive and helpful. She’s a nurse with a very open mind, so she’s really been able to be there for me.
I’ll never really know what caused this disease to develop in me. But I think we’ve ruined food, which in turn is ruining our health. We’ve ruined the earth. Our wheat isn’t the same wheat that it was even 100 years ago. It’s been hybridized and modified. Our bodies don’t know what to do with it. We’ve modified our food in so many ways, that our bodies can’t keep up. It wouldn’t surprise me if eventually we found out that autoimmune diseases are caused at least partially by the modification of our foods.
So, here I am with this disease that I can’t do much for. There are no medications for Celiac Disease and keeping gluten out of my diet doesn’t make a difference. I could have opted for an immune suppressant. That’s what doctors recommended once we figured out it was refractory. But that would have required I take a type of chemotherapy, too. That seemed so hard-core. My doctor also recommended Prednisone, a steroid. I knew what that was all about, though. I had used it before and couldn’t sleep for a week. And I’ve known people on immune suppressants, and they’re sick all the time! So, I never took the traditional meds route. When I got diagnosed, I was already kind of anti-big pharma. Don’t get me wrong; standard meds have their time and place, but I felt like that just wasn’t the route I wanted to take. I’ve taken stuff for nausea, and that’s about it.
I’ve always done my own research. Even before I was diagnosed, I was getting my news on everything—including health—from “alternative” sources. So, even before I was ever diagnosed and ever tried cannabis, I was an advocate for it. If it works for you, use it!
I’ve always done my own research. Even before I was diagnosed, I was getting my news on everything—including health—from “alternative” sources. So, even before I was ever diagnosed and ever tried cannabis, I was an advocate for it. If it works for you, use it! I was pretty blessed to have already had an open mind before my illness and diagnosis. Most people get their diagnosis and then start their research, which is unfortunate. It puts you in sort of desperate position.
I heard a quote one time. I don’t remember exactly, but it goes something like, “The least educated people are the loudest, and the most educated are the quietest.” That’s why I really appreciate this forum, CannaEffect.
“The least educated people are the loudest, and the most educated are the quietest.” That’s why I really appreciate this forum, CannaEffect.
I mean, I’ve been staring at cancer for 8 years. And I’m trusting a plant to keep me from getting cancer that could kill me. Statistically speaking, if I’d had one specific type of refractory celiac disease, I would have had a 30% chance making it past 5 years.
I’m helping myself in a healthier way than if I were popping a bunch of pills every day. If you want to take something for heartburn, for instance, there are all kinds of options. But people who aren’t educated about marijuana, just slap one label on it. There are thousands of strains for treating all kinds of illnesses and conditions!
I mean, I’ve been staring at cancer for 8 years. And I’m trusting a plant to keep me from getting cancer that could kill me…I’m helping myself in a healthier way than if I were popping a bunch of pills every day.
I started using Cannabis about three years ago. I had known of the science of marijuana for years. I started using it as soon as I got a confirmed diagnosis. I had already decided that if my celiac was refractory, I would treat with Cannabis, because that’s what my own research pointed to. I also got strict about my diet and exercise. My wife got me started on probiotics, which I take regularly. And we eat a healthy organic diet.
Cannabis is a part of my life on a daily basis. I do edibles sometimes. But I vaporize and smoke mostly. We live in a rural area, so dispensaries aren’t plentiful and sometimes they don’t have what I’m specifically looking for. But I always manage to find something to keep me on track.
I’m in an interesting position as a theologian, of sorts. I have a publishing contract and I’m going to these theology conferences with major theologians of the world. I’m taking a big risk coming out and saying, I use Cannabis for my health. I’m hopefully reaching the people who are politically putting up the biggest fight, and my message to them is to politically back off.
I’m in an interesting position as a theologian, of sorts. I have a publishing contract and I’m going to these theology conferences with major theologians of the world. I’m taking a big risk coming out and saying, I use Cannabis for my health.
On a fundamental level, even the “legalization” argument is just ludicrous. Among adults, anyway, we don’t need to be told or have permission for what works for us. I study a lot of philosophy. Needing “permission” in this regard should not be a universally applied ethic. If I were to say, “Well, there are more than enough blood pressure medications on the market, so you don’t need another option,” it would sound absurd. That’s what happens with marijuana, though. It’s the perfect analogy…except that we are comparing meds that are made in a factory to meds that are grown in a greenhouse or in a field.
I feel like we live in the Matrix when it comes to Cannabis. I don’t understand how our government can say, yes, we have proof that marijuana kills cancer cells and then turn around and say it has no medical benefits.
People counter that argument with, “Well, there’s no research supporting it!” Well, of course! There are no funds for research because you don’t get federal funds to research Schedule 1 substances! So the only research out there is by the pioneers who have managed to fund their own projects. If cannabis were even reclassified as Schedule 2, research would go through the roof.
I feel like we live in the Matrix when it comes to cannabis. I don’t understand how our government can say, yes, we have proof that marijuana kills cancer cells and then turn around and say it has no medical benefits.
Ironically, when I was working for a doctor’s office, we were supposed to merge with a hospital. If that had happened, I would have gotten drug tested and ultimately fired for having cannabis show up in my system. How ironic is that? So, I’m alive and relatively well because of cannabis, but can’t be employed anywhere that requires drug testing, even though it’s “legal” in California. What a conundrum.
It takes 10% of the population to start a movement. It just takes people willing to put themselves out on a limb, be honest, and talk about what matters.
I fully intend to use Cannabis for the rest of my life. Since I began using it, I have – on the whole – felt much better. Even a gluten-free diet doesn’t help me, but when I use Cannabis, I am able to function like a “normal” Celiac patient. What I mean by this, is that the cramping, diarrhea, and overall fatigue is extremely improved when I use Cannabis. My laboratory numbers are all normal now, whereas prior to using, I was iron deficient/anemic, protein deficient, and calcium deficient. This was due to malabsorption. My life is so much better now. I enjoy my life with my wife and daughter. And I’m better able to do the work I am meant to do.
Cannabis has the power to heal and change lives, and we must take a stand to end the war on human consciousness.
My message for the community: I will tell you folks the same thing I tell my theological readers and followers. It is not enough to simply be a good person anymore. (I’m not sure it has ever been). We must become activists to end the atrocities we humans commit against each other – one of these being the ‘drug war.’ Boldly stand up to oppression. Peacefully stand up for your rights to use the medicines that are improving lives. This is a war about human consciousness and it is a war we must win. Of course, that means not engaging in the violence the state has initiated when it started this immoral war. It does mean standing arm in arm in the name of progress, in love, and in healing. Cannabis has the power to heal and change lives, and we must take a stand to end the war on human consciousness.
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