In life you always have that one friend that can’t wait to bring you wine from her last trip around the world so you can debate politics, laugh about our husbands and discuss vitamin supplements that I should be taking for my hot flashes; because she brought them in her purse and she’s blocked out four to six hours to check on up me and disguised it as “our sisterhood” time.

Well...that’s Mrs. Vitale! Some quotes are self-explanatory, surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher. -Oprah Winfrey

Let’s meet Amber Lynn Vitale.

Amber first obtained a BA in 1994 from Colorado College, and then went on to pursue her passion in bodywork and nutrition. She became a Licensed Certified Nutritionist and then went on to study Ayurvedic medicine.

Ayurveda draws on thousands of years of experience utilizing foods, herbs, body treatments, and lifestyle changes to achieve balance and prevent disease.

As Nature’s Formulary Director of Ayurvedic Education from 2007-2010, Amber was responsible for designing and creating all of Nature’s Formulary’s consumer and retailer Ayurvedic education materials and advising on new product introductions.

She loves to practice yoga, eat fabulous foods, hike in the mountains with her family, travel to other countries to experience new cultures, and educate herself and others about health and wellness whenever possible.

Amber is now a full time Educator for Garden of Life where she educates and speaks, bringing health awareness to many parts of the United States and Canada.

Amber also serves on both the Taste for Life and Natural Practitioner select Editorial Advisory Boards as an authoritative practitioner to provide readers with insight and perspective that will help them build and better their practices and their health.

What are your thoughts on CBD and Cannabis?

I, myself, did not have a healing journey that involved the cannabis plant species. I was more of a witness to the evolution of the herbal and medical world in their perspective on these plants.

As a nutritionist who worked with a physician who was an expert in interventions for autistic children, I heard many families’ stories. A majority of families suffered with their child’s dysphagia, highly selective eating patterns, synesthesia, and weight loss that threatened their child’s life.

Those that chose to implement cannabis derivatives, especially at a time when it was considered taboo, were both desperate and bravely heroic in their choices and determination.

Finally, medically recognized research and clinical experience have demonstrated the ways that the cannabis plants and their derivatives can act as important therapeutics not only for children on the spectrum, but for many other patients as well.

Now, as highly standardized cannabis extracts are widely available in the form of CBD, I’ve also witnessed the shifting tides with the typical consumer of cannabis, and the realization of the broad spectrum of benefits.

Strong standardizations to CBD act so differently from earlier cannabis extracts, and they have attracted a whole new audience. As a part of my stress management toolbox, this widely available cannabis derivative has become a powerful ally.

So many “normal” people suffer from long term stress and do not realize that it is the original cause of diseases they may develop long down the road. Anything that helps to mitigate the effects of stress on the body is a necessity in my pharmacopeia.

Do you think cannabis education for therapeutic professionals and healthcare providers is lacking?

I definitely think there could be both more and deeper education on cannabis in all its derivatives for medical professionals and healthcare providers. Because it is a plant, an herb in fact, its application varies individual to individual.

Not only does a provider recommending the use of any form of the cannabis plant need to be familiar with all the properties of that particular cultivar and preparation, they also must be an astute observer of the unique constitution of each individual patient.

Medical and clinical research must be paired with strong clinical knowledge and experience to achieve the best and most consistent outcome.

What kind of cannabis study is needed that hasn't been covered yet?

I hope I’m not missing out on some research that has been conducted…but I would be very interested in clinical studies to demonstrate the interactions of the cannabinoids with individual and combined terpenes.

While medical cannabis researchers say the terpenes are the entourage, herbalists may say that the cannabinoids act as the entourage for the terpenes, strengthening their actions in the body beyond what they might have without cannabinoids present.

For example, we all know that lavender can be relaxing and calming, and that the terpene linalool can play a huge role in this. What is the difference when linalool is combined with individual, and then a complex of, cannabinoids?

This research needs to be conducted with isolated terpenes and isolated cannabinoids to really demonstrate the roles played by each and to be able to better tailor cannabis medicine to each patient’s needs.

Where do you see therapeutic cannabis in five years?

Within five years I do expect to see a much higher standard in all cannabis products with respect to growing conditions, processing and extraction methods, and chemical analysis for all products available to consumers, whether through dispensaries and practitioners or over the counter through stores.

Definitive research on the efficacy of specific derivatives and combinations of the cannabis plants will promote this higher standard.

This will require much greater education of the consumer so that they will be demanding only quality products with demonstrated efficacy, instead of falling for every bottle of “snake oil” available at the gas station or online.

As the stigma of the cannabis plant fades, knowledge can replace ignorance, and the possibilities to help more people will multiply.