Olivia Newton John Claims Cannabis Has “Helped Me Greatly” With Cancer Battle
The actress was hesitant to try the alternative treatment at first, but her husband convinced her to take the leap.
Ever since Olivia Newton-John’s first breast cancer diagnosis in 1992, the pop icon’s family, friends, and fans have been there cheering her on. But even as she’s publicly battled the disease, she’s never let it define her: In fact, since her cancer came back in 2013 (and again in 2017), she’s used it as inspiration to help others by opening her own public hospital: the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre in Australia.
This week Olivia is speaking at a cannabis conference in Portland, Oregon — which is probably the last piece of news you ever expected to hear about the Grease star. But since publicly announcing her third cancer diagnosis (this time, stage four breast cancer that has metastasized to her bones) in September 2018, she’s been open about how she’s been using the plant to treat her pain and other symptoms.
Olivia admits to being hesitant to use cannabis for her pain at first (especially considering the stigma that still exists around marijuana) but her husband of 11 years, John Easterling, convinced her to take the leap. John has been a long-time advocate for plant-based medicine: In 1990, he founded Amazon Herb Company, an herbal wellness company that has since merged with TriVita.
“I’d heard a lot from my husband about how [cannabis] could help me,” Olivia tells GoodHousekeeping.com. “I was a little nervous because I don’t like the feeling of any kind of mind-altering thing … but I started out very slowly, and I adjusted to it, and it’s really helped me greatly.”
For the past couple of years, John has been growing herbal remedies “pretty specifically” for Olivia, he says. Today, he grows 21 different cultivars (or strains) of cannabis, which he uses to create a product for Olivia that’s made up of 47% THC, 26% CBD, and a whole slew of other cannabinoids, including CBG, CBC, and CBN. (Cannabinoids are the naturally occurring chemical compounds found in cannabis plants.) Rather than isolate a cannabinoid like THC or CBD, as is popular now, John personally believes in the power of something called the “entourage effect.”
According to John, the entourage effect is the idea that each of the cannabinoids and terpenes (aromatic essential oils) that are naturally present in cannabis plants are necessary to help medical patients reap the maximum benefits from the plant. While isolated THC might make you feel “high” or isolated CBD might help ease anxiety, John believes that cannabis taken in its natural state — with no cannabinoids isolated — can lead to greater results.
Medical experts are less confident about the validity of this idea. Little to no research exists on the topic, and scientists say there’s still no hard evidence to prove that the entourage effect is real: “The lay public has really taken on the notion of the entourage effect, but there’s not a lot of data,” Margaret Haney, a neurobiologist at Columbia University and cannabis researcher, previously told Scientific American.
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