Why a Hemp Expert Uses Cannabis to Treat Her Crohn's Disease

·6-min read
Mary Pryor Interview, cannabis
Mary Pryor Interview, cannabis

Nadir Pearson

Sundays are a day to recharge and reset by hanging with friends, turning off your phone, bathing for hours on end, or doing whatever else works for you. In this column (in conjunction with our Instagram Self-Care Sunday series), we ask editors, experts, influencers, writers, and more what a perfect self-care Sunday means to them, from tending to their mental and physical health to connecting with their community to indulging in personal joys. We want to know why Sundays are important and how people enjoy them, from morning to night.

In 2012, Mary Pryor, who would eventually become the CMO of Tonic CBD and co-founder of Cannaclusive, an inclusive-based cannabis marketing company for brands, was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. As she was trying to handle the anxiety and pain of her own, she was also in the midst of supporting her mother, who was in hospice. While dealing with both of these things was challenging, two years after her diagnosis, though, her friends introduced her to research studies on the use and benefits of cannabis, and her life and pain level began to change for the better.

Over the next several years, Pryor would try to fly to Denver to buy cannabis products for her and her mom all while working stressful jobs to afford the costs. Although her mother sadly passed away in 2015, Pryor continued to use cannabis today to aid with her pain. "I realized that cannabis had helped in my relief needs beyond research studies," she tells HelloGiggles. "I found that cannabis, through research, studying, and talking with healers and doctors in the space (shout out to Dr. Rachel Knox) can aid in a lot of issues related to inflammation and body stress."

With the help of cannabis, Pryor eventually relied less on medications that were classified as opioids. And once she discovered insertion via the belly button with CBG and CBC extract was a thing her "whole life changed."

This lifestyle shift not only affected Pryor's physical pain but her career as well. Since her discovery of cannabis, she's made it her life's mission to educate others about the plant—especially people of color. When she moved to Los Angeles, she discovered very few Black people were in the cannabis industry. To help change the landscape, Pryor co-created Cannaclusive in 2017, which focuses on helping brands with inclusion awareness and BIPOC representation to hold the industry accountable.

Soon after, Pryor also joined CBD company and farm Tonic and Tricolla Farms as the Chief Marketing Officer to help with educating customers about cannabis through blog posts. But even though Pryor has a lot of titles under her belt, her current main focus is using cannabis to help others in need when it comes to pain.

"I highly suggest consulting with a doctor who cares and understands the plant in a way that conforms to supporting the body through issues related to anxiety and inflammation," she says.

For this week's Self-Care Sunday, we spoke to Pryor to learn more about her journey with cannabis, her go-to self-care rituals, and the CBD products she uses for her Crohn's pain.

Mental Health

HelloGiggles (HG): How has your relationship with cannabis impacted your mental health?

Mary Pryor (MP): Improvements. Vast and steady improvements. The anxiety release when it comes to the endocannabinoid system and its effects with CB1 and CB2 between the gut and brain are studied actively by researchers and doctors. I highly suggest reading up on these items and learning about the body and its response to cannabis and its medicinal properties.

HG: What do people get wrong about how cannabis can affect one's mental health?

MP: That you'll be a stoner, it makes you lazy or dumb, and that there isn't a way to use it as a part of a daily style, which is not true at all. Propaganda and negative false stigma are a big part of why people are anti-cannabis. I believe that moderation is key and there are ways that we need to talk about the use being all use...not just medical or recreational. Use is use. Period.

Physical Practices

HG: What are some ways you incorporate cannabis or CBD into physical everyday practices?

MP: I tend to use Chronic Tonic roll-on all over my belly whenever my moon cycle comes around. Cramps are the worst. It's CBD-based and the ingredients are sustainable and organically grown from our farm in upstate New York.

If I have any aches and pain from working out, I go pretty heavy on CBD-infused fruit strips from Fruit Slabs (super tasty and also organic, too). I usually need to have a bit of a body inflammation release while I foam roll the tightness away.

I also love all the products coming out from Congo Club, which is a brand based out of Oakland, California. Congo Club is a cannabis-based brand with a really amazing cultivar that comes in pre-rolls.

HG: How do you suggest others physically connect with their bodies when they're having a hard time doing so?

MP: It's about monitoring your doses, trying items that are small in milligrams to start, and then tracking and advancing where needed. I think that using items such as an Ardent device (infusion device that happens to be Black woman-owned, by the way) is great for creating ingestible items, which give your lungs a break from an inhalable.

Community Care

HG: How have you been trying to support your community's mental health during this time?

MP: Sharing resources, doing weekly calls with loved ones, co-founding a food scarcity nonprofit with friends called Breaking Bread NYC, and making sure I'm okay and encouraging others to take naps.

Personal Joys

HG: Are there any products you've been gravitating toward lately for your self-care routine?

MP: Here are my top choices:

hellogiggles Available at Amazon

hellogiggles Available at Amazon

HG: What are some self-care practices that have been bringing you joy?

MP: I love to DJ for friends and myself every weekend. Gotta keep the music entertainment skills sharp. Bubble baths, constant music listening, working out (my trainers are Alex Navarette at Kaeos Fitness and Thomas Boatswain at JTW Fit), keeping romantic company (wink, wink, nod, nod), and sleeping.

I will sleep anywhere. I am sleeping a lot more this go-round because the body just seems to need it. All of this screen work and sitting down doesn't feel good for the body. Movement is essential so working out on a regular basis is great for the stress and endorphin rush.

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