Cannabis and ‘self-care’ can work well together | News

Editor’s note: This commentary is provided by the Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative (MMERI) of Florida A&M University.

Anyone who does something to feel better, either mentally or physically, or both, is experiencing “self-care.” That term would seem to be self-explanatory, however, it’s open to interpretation.

Getting a manicure might be someone’s way of alleviating stress, while going for a long walk could be another’s preferred method for realizing the same benefits.

“Essentially, self-care is more of a conscientious decision to prioritize yourself and deal with the things that are really the foundation for a lot of the stress that we feel on the surface. People don’t associate this with selfcare,” explains Dr. Alishea Rowley, a mental health clinician and associate professor in counselor education at Florida A&M University (FAMU).

Neuropsychologist Dr. Gwendolyn Singleton, associate professor and chair of FAMU’s Department of Psychology, agrees and says there are significant benefits to practicing intentional self-care.

“Research has shown that it decreases blood pressure. It can improve our cognitive processing along with how well we sleep, our thinking, our relationships, because we’re calmer, we’re positive, we’re happier. It helps us to balance so many aspects of our lives. I strongly urge everyone, if you’re not engaging in self-care intentionally, identify some intentional practices to engage in starting today,” Singleton said.

But you don’t have to take the “self” part literally. You may need to get help with improving your overall well-being, whether through expert advice on nutrition, with medical marijuana treatments or with therapy.

Dr. Genester Wilson-King is a firm believer in taking a natural approach to healthcare.

She is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who provides integrative wellness at the Victory Rejuvenation Center in Lake Mary near Orlando.

In addition to advising her patients to eat real food, drink clean water and breathe fresh air, as a qualified medical marijuana physician in Florida, Dr. Wilson-King has helped hundreds of her patients make legal cannabis and CBD treatments part of their selfcare regimens.

Insomnia help

“There are many self-care practices that cannabis can help with,” says Wilson-King. “One of the main reasons to use it is for REM (rapid eye movement) sleep which really helps heal, repair and rejuvenate your body. Oftentimes, sleep medicines will not get you into REM sleep. They just zonk you out. Low-dose cannabis does not disrupt the sleep architecture.”

She says insomnia is often caused by other medical issues, such as pain and anxieties, that medical marijuana also is effective at treating.

“You can’t have a quality life or practice self-care if you are in pain. Cannabis is very effective for pain relief. Cannabis is very helpful for anxiety. Cannabis is very helpful for depression, too,” said Wilson-King.

Dr. Singleton’s concern over medical cannabis treatments is their potential for side effects, which could stem from dosing amounts and interactions with other drugs or alcohol.

“It’s so critical that individuals work closely with their physicians because the way our brains respond to substances will vary,” she says.

Men and mental health

All of the doctors stress the importance self-care plays in establishing a better quality of life. Dr. Rowley, who has more than 15 years of experience as a mental health counselor, recommends visiting a therapist as part of a self-care routine.

“We’ve gone through a very, very difficult time with COVID. If people are having mental health disturbances, a therapist is someone they can talk to and get some of that toxicity out of their system.”

She also has a message for men dealing with emotional disturbances.

“We need to have more conversations about men and self-care because men deal with anxiety and depression issues too. As a matter of fact, they’re more likely to have emotional disturbances that are not treated. So, we have to make it socially acceptable to have these conversations that encourage men to seek treatment for their mental health.”

Visit watch?v=D04P3E5dOcA] to watch MMERI’s Conversations on Cannabis Virtual Forum on YouTube featuring Dr. Alishea Rowley, Dr. Gwendolyn Singleton and Dr. Genester Wilson-King.

For more information on medical marijuana and to sign up for the MMERI newsletter, go to http://


In Florida, a qualified medical marijuana physician can recommend low-THC cannabis treatments to patients who have a “qualifying condition” and a medical marijuana card.

For more information on qualifying conditions and how to obtain a medical marijuana card, go to the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use website at]

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