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In the words of writer and artist Augustus Britton from our CANNABIS print issue:
“The subject of cannabis is vast; it is political, spiritual, medicinal, ancient, personal. There are a select group of contemporary people embracing the herb publicly, and helping to awaken the subject. My brother Eben Britton is one of them.
Eben is an entrepreneur who played six years in the NFL, and cannabis is a dreamscape for him. We sat down in Los Angeles – a literal haven for the herb – to wax on some of the mysteries of the beautiful THC and CBD, as well as stone-cold words on why this plant may change the world after all.”
A Talk With Augustus Britton
AUGUSTUS BRITTON: When did you realize cannabis was medicine?
EBEN BRITTON: I think that awakening to cannabis as medicine happened around my fourth year in the NFL. I started being very conscious of the fact that I would take pharmaceutical drugs and without a doubt they made me feel angry, irritable, and uncomfortable. They made it difficult for me to sleep. I was waking up at two or three o’clock in the morning with withdrawal symptoms, cold sweats, and chills. I realized that any time I consumed cannabis I felt none of those things. I was able to relax. I was able to get calm and find peace after a long day of beating myself up both physically and mentally. From meetings and hours of weight lifting and practice I would come home and the thing that helped me come down was cannabis. I could smoke a little bit of a joint and find relief, whereas I was finding if I took pills they would exacerbate the discomfort. My last two years with The Chicago Bears I didn’t take any painkillers. I didn’t take any opiates. I was really going to cannabis as my main source of pain management.
AB: Tell me about intuition in terms of finding a healthy lifestyle for yourself.
EB: Intuition is something that is being blinded and fogged in many ways by pills, processed food, and technology. We are constantly being bogged down by toxic materials, as well as both ingestible and cultural exposure. I think there is something to be said for intuition and having an awakened experience in life as something that comes down to paying attention to what you are putting in your body and how that makes you feel. I think I have been very fortunate in my life that I haven’t taken things at face value. I’ve always questioned everything, and that has helped me to not always sacrifice my personal experience, or, the experience I would want to have. This is incredibly important because our bodies tell us things all the time; they are giving us feedback. Everything you put in your body is accompanied by an experience afterward. And I think we need to get back to this kind of understanding as people.
AB: What would you say to the person who is afraid of cannabis?
EB: I think the path to normalization and to acceptance with cannabis for the layperson that may be steeped in the propaganda and the misinformation and archaic ideas that surround Reefer Madness, I would say that they need to educate themselves on two main components: one is the history of the plant. This plant has been utilized for as much as ten thousand years. Treating quite literally everything from depression to impotence. This is a plant that has far-reaching healing powers. It contains the most abundant source of cannabinoids, which are an incredibly essential compound within and for the human body. And taking that a step further we have an endocannabinoid system in our bodies, a system that produces the same chemical compound that is found in the cannabis plant. The endocannabinoid system is found in our brain, our bones, skin, lungs, liver, heart, all the vital organs, our digestive system, and our blood. It is very much in part responsible for our mood, how we feel and deal with pain and stress, our sleep rhythms, and our appetite, which are our four key processes that the human body goes through on a daily basis. This system is responsible for regulating it. It is basically responsible for keeping us in homeostasis. When you ingest cannabinoids from the cannabis plant you are helping to facilitate all of these processes that our bodies must go through on a daily basis. That is the medicinal and historical side of the plant. The other component is the industrial aspects of cannabis. There are over fifty thousand uses for the plant material, from sails on sailboats, to household materials, to computer chips, clothing, paper, and there is the hemp seed, which is, essentially, the most nutritious food on the planet. It has a perfect spectrum of Omegas, ten grams of plant-based protein within three tablespoons; it is an incredible super food. There are so many ways to consume cannabis. Anyone who may be afraid of getting high, well, you don’t have to smoke it or get high. You don’t have to take the THC part to feel and obtain the benefits of cannabis.
AB: How might you describe the ethos of what is happening right now with cannabis?
EB: The cannabis movement is the people’s movement. The movement toward the legalization of cannabis is a microcosm of people being tired of our government, tired of our healthcare system, and wanting to take back control of their lives.
AB: What is the most exciting part about all of this?
EB: We are in a wellness revolution. Cannabis fits very intricately into that pie. What that means to me is that we are moving into a realm where cannabis will be accepted as a normal part of the family kitchen, because it will be viewed as an essential part of optimal nutrition. We are seeing a shift in our consciousness as a people, to a much more holistic, healthy future.
AB: How do you consume cannabis?
EB: Many forms. I eat the seeds, first and foremost. I purchase as much hemp-derived items as possible, including clothing and wares. I consume the flower by smoking it. I vaporize the concentrates. I take oils. I use topicals. I rub CBD and THC cream on my back and shoulders, neck, parts of my body that sustained the most damage in my football career. I try to incorporate it into my everyday lifestyle. That’s how I view it. That’s how I live. This is not alternative to me anymore. This is how it is done for me. It is about finding a way to heal myself. A part of dealing with trauma, dealing with anxiety, and with depression. I use it on a daily basis.
AB: What are you doing to move this movement forward and help spread awareness?
EB: This whole journey for me started in advocacy. I started writing about my experiences using cannabis as opposed to opiates and how healing that was for me. I realized there is a need for this type of information. I am a founding member of Athletes For Care, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to being a health and wellness resource for athletes of all ages. It is for people to come and get educated on how to take care of yourself in a holistic and sustainable way following an athletic career. Our cannabis advocacy flowered into being about how the herb fits into a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, nutrition, and meditation, and more. I felt there was a need for athletes to feel safe to get this type of information.
AB: Have you created any cannabis-derived products?
EB: I’ve created a health and wellness company called Be Trū Organics. We specialize in homeopathic products with phytocannabinoid-rich hemp extract. We have a fantastic pain relief cream that is good for sore muscles and joints. We have an oral spray made from hemp-extract combined with goji berry and ginseng. It is uplifting and focusing and helps manage inflammation. We also have a gummy, like a daily vitamin, which provides phytocannabinoid-rich hemp extract as well, along with Vitamins B12 and D3. What sets us apart is that we are combining this cannabinoid-rich hemp oil alongside super foods and also various essential oils within our cream, specifically. The hemp extract elevates the efficacy of all the other ingredients. Our products are also completely THC-free. You get all the fantastic anti-inflammatory properties into your system without getting high.
AB: Cannabis feels like the tip of the iceberg.
EB: Cannabis is reframing pain. We have slipped into a softness of thinking that everything needs to be easy. Into an idea that we should avoid pain at all costs. But for any amount of growth to happen there has to be pain, there has to be struggle. The idea of a “painkiller” is funny to me. But cannabis allows us to move through physical, mental, and spiritual hardship in a productive manner, without doing further damage to our bodies. We can learn from all of this, from all of our inner and outer surroundings.
Eben Britton played for six years in the NFL. He is the cofounder of the wellness company Be Trü Organics and the nonprofit organization Athletes for Care, and has written for publications including Playboy magazine, SportsIllustrated.com’s The Cauldron, and Leafly. Eben is also the co-host, with fellow NFL alum Nate Jackson, of The Mindful Warrior podcast. Listen here. Visit betruwellness.com and athletesforcare.org to learn more, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @edsbritton.
**A version of this article appeared in print in Honeysuckle Magazine’s CANNABIS issue. Order copies here or find one near you with our Store Locator.
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