By Sharon Letts This Crohn’s patient is healing herself and others, one batch at a time. Florida native, Mary Young, created the Butter Brewer, an infusion machine, specifically for making plant-based remedies, for personal reasons. Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when she was just 13 years old, by 2011 at the age of 32, she […]
By Sharon Letts
This Crohn’s patient is healing herself and others, one batch at a time.
Florida native, Mary Young, created the Butter Brewer, an infusion machine, specifically for making plant-based remedies, for personal reasons. Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when she was just 13 years old, by 2011 at the age of 32, she was still suffering from pharmaceuticals when someone told her about cannabis.
“I was a pharmacy technician and had tried every type of pharmaceutical option, including the last one of Humira, but nothing really worked,” she shared. “Finally, in desperation, I created a Facebook post about my struggles and a man commented ‘try cannabis.’ Then he messaged me explaining that I needed to ingest cannabis oil, not just smoke the flower. Then he connected me with Shona Banda, who has been successfully using cannabis oil to treat Crohn’s.”
Shona Banda became a cannabis patient in the illegal state of Kansas after going through 11 surgeries and taking upwards of 52 pills a day, when her husband literally begged her to try the plant. In 2010, she wrote the book “Live Free or Die (Amazon), on her struggles and having her son taken away (then returned) by Child Protective Services (CPS) due to her use.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there are more than three million people diagnosed with the ailment that’s similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Crohn’s patients present with persistent diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent need to move bowels, abdominal cramps and pain, sensation of incomplete evacuation, and constipation (obstruction). Daily symptoms can include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats, and loss of a normal menstrual cycle.
Obstruction can be caused by the physical entanglement of the digestive tract from excessive scar tissue collecting within the intestines, with surgery often needed to remove the affected area.
The nutrient deficient diet of the Western world is said to contribute to the ailment, as Cronh’s appears to weaken the immune system, with the patient unable to fight off the mildest of inflammation and infections. A cocktail of prescription meds is often needed to merely quell myriad symptoms. Search any medical platform and note that all emphatically states that there “is no cure.”
The good news is cannabis helps, and the medical profession is taking note.
In a placebo-controlled study published by the American Gastroenterological Association, researchers found the patients who were administered cannabis (via smoking only) went into “complete remission” from all symptoms of Crohn’s Disease. Three patients were weaned from steroid dependency, with all reporting improved appetite and sleep, with no significant side effects.
Add ingesting, as Young was instructed, and symptoms are quelled substantially with most going into remission more quickly than just smoking. That said, smoking gives a fraction of the medicine from the plant, but offers immediate relief. Add smoking with ingesting, and topical use around the digestive tract, and this is called an entourage effect, increasing efficacy all the way around.
Young connected with Banda, who then showed her how to make a single dose using a glass dome vaporizer. This method was realized by accident when Banda was vaping using this glass apparatus, but the dose is a very small amount.
“After taking my fifth small dose in this way, I didn’t need the anti-diarrheal pills I had been taking for years,” she said. “After just five doses, this was nothing short of miraculous.”
At the time Young had four children under the age of five at home, and took to making these small doses of concentrated cannabis oil in her bedroom closet twice a day.
“It was not the ideal situation, but because of Shona’s experience of having her son taken away, I just couldn’t take any chances,” she explained. “Her book is titled ‘Live Free or Die’ for a reason, and I felt I had to take the chance of medicating with the plant, but at the same time, I needed to protect my family.
Disappearing into the literal smoky closet twice a day wasn’t sustainable, and she began to make larger quantities of oil in an alcohol reduction in a rice cooker (see Daily Dose for cannabis oil recipe).
“I made my own oil like this for about a year, but when my oldest began Kindergarten in 2012, I stopped, afraid he’d say something in school,” she said. “That’s what happened to Shona when her son spoke up at a D.A.R.E. meeting at school, defending his mom’s medicine, and correcting the counselor that the plant was called ‘cannabis’ not ‘marijuana.’”
Important to note, Banda was arrested at this time, and Young’s fear was heightened, as cannabis as medicine wasn’t yet legal in Florida and she feared CPS knocking on her door. It’s not uncommon for patients to find relief in illegal states, and most parents proceed with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” in order to help their children and themselves.
Once off the oil, her Crohn’s symptoms began to flare up and she ended up back on steroids for a couple of years, until Florida legalized “medical marijuana.”
“During this time, my husband and I got the idea of a machine that could make cannabis oil, and in 2016, we were awarded a patent for a tincture apparatus that makes full extract herbal oils,” she said. “In 2021 we teamed up with a company called Hydropolis, Inc., and the Butter Brewer was officially patented.
The Butter Brewer is a large batch machine, allowing up to four quarts or 16 cups made at time, with a non-stick paddle to keep it stirred. Many who have used a crock pot to infuse oils know that you must keep stirring to avoid the material burning, as the low temperatures are never quite low enough in a crock pot. For this reason, the Butter Brewer has several time and temperature settings for different materials.
Young said she can use it like a rice cooker for the alcohol reduction, with the lid open, but is experimenting now on using it with the lid closed, then reclaiming the alcohol in a tube. Watch her website for information on this process.
“The machine infuses butter, oils, and tinctures,” she said. “It also cooks and bakes, like a dutch oven or crock pot. You can make an infused meal in there, because there’s as much room as a large crock pot. I like to infuse olive oil because I think it tastes better than infused butter. I use it to cook with, but you can also dose with olive oil like a tincture.”
The machine can also decarboxylate prior to infusing, but Young agreed that the cooking process already heats up the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to activate for psychoactivity, and she hasn’t really found the need to up the compound’s effects any further.
“Maybe I’d see the value in decarbing for a more recreational dose, but I’ve always made the oils for medicine, not to get high,” she surmised. “For those who want a higher THC effect, there are instructions in the manual on how to decarb.”
Healing the Family
One theory for Crohn’s and other chronic illnesses is that it’s genetic, and that a family’s lineage may determine an outcome. Young became aware of this theory in real time, as just last year her daughter, Gabrielle, was diagnosed with Crohn’s at 13 years old – the very same age Young was diagnosed, with a much worse case than her own.
“The thing is, I believe that many of our chronic illnesses are waiting to happen, and that something can trigger the illness,” she said. “I say this because I was diagnosed with Crohn’s at 13, the same year I got the Chickenpox virus. My daughter presented in the same year she got the COVID virus. Leading me to wonder, do viruses trigger Crohn’s?”
This same theory is used for cancer, as the dreaded disease is said to lay waiting in our stem cells, said to be triggered by any number of lifestyle issues, lack of a healthy diet, hormonal replacement for women, or too much sun – where skin cancers are concerned. Cancer is said to actually be a part of old age now, with just about everyone affected, and little specific reasons for the ailment in the first place.
Gabrielle’s first Gastrointestinal (GI) doctor was not on board with her using cannabis, even though Young shared her own story of healing with him.
“He made an ignorant comment about it not helping even one percent,” she said. “The thing is, neither of us have the doctor’s appointments we used to have. If you are a Crohn’s patient you know what this means. Maybe that’s what he was afraid of, that he’d lose a customer. I hate to sound that way, but if that’s not the reason, then the only other cause of his disbelief is the fact that he just wasn’t educated on plant based medicine and how beneficial compounds work with the body to heal us and keep us healthy.”
Young isn’t too far off, as doctors don’t learn about the endocannabinoid system or how it accepts the beneficial compounds of plants into all of our biological systems, creating homeostasis, or a place where illness cannot dwell. It’s not taught to them in medical school. The doctors who take it upon themselves to get educated on cannabis and other plant-based remedies are the ones who listen and believe their patients.
When Gabrielle was hospitalized last year, Young and her husband decided to get a second opinion and switched gastrointestinal doctors.
“Cannabis is not a problem for this new doctor, we really like him,” she said. “He only wants to see her feeling good.”
Currently, Young herself is off all pharmaceuticals, using cannabis to manage nausea, increase her appetite and reduce the inflammation that causes pain.
“Creating the machine was personal, because I needed to help myself, but since my daughter has been diagnosed I’m laser focused on helping her and others,” she concluded. “If that well-intended man hadn’t made that comment on my Facebook post, and if I’d never been introduced to Shona Banda, I don’t know where I’d be today. Probably still suffering on pharmaceuticals. But, that’s how the cannabis community helps each other. Until the Federal Government admits this plant helps people, and the doctors are allowed to be properly educated, all we have is each other’s experiences to learn from.”
For more information on the Butter Brewer visit, www.butterbrewer.com
For more information on Hydropolis Inc. visit, www.hydropolisinc.com
For more information on Shona Banda follow her on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/shona.banda/
For information on stem cells and cancer visit, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6286324/#:~:text=These%20normal%20stem%20cells%20residing,become%20tumor%2Dinitiating%20stem%20cells.