If you want to see change in the world, tell a mother she can’t help her child. That’s how Heather Jackson came into the cannabis space, for the love of her child, Zaki.
“I am a byproduct of the 1980s, ‘this is your brain on drugs, egg in the frying pan,’ ‘Just Say No’ campaigns,” she explained. “So, I always believed that marijuana was probably bad for you. Although I have never been one to believe anything anyone in authority told me, blanketly.”
When her son Zaki was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood epilepsy, all the failed War on Drugs rhetoric went out the proverbial window.
“We discovered help for him with CBD after 17 failed pharmaceutical prescriptions, believe it or not!” she exclaimed. “He came off the last two, one of them being heavy hitting and very addictive—benzodiazepine—within a year of starting the cannabis treatment.”
Zaki was helped with cannabidiol, or CBD, one compound from the cannabis plant, derived from Charlotte’s Web of Denver, taking a 200 milligram dose, daily.
Due to the success of Zaki’s treatment, Jackson became immersed in helping other families in the same situation. The outcome was in establishing the Realm of Caring Foundation, with just four families initially signed up in 2012. Today, the network, which hosts a free call-center, has grown to a staggering 100,000, with patients from around the world being helped; nearly surpassing Israel’s registry run by the Israeli Ministry of Health; and Canada’s now closed registry managed by Health Canada.
“We are doing innovative and first-of-its-kind research with John Hopkins University, collaborating on what has become the largest cannabis registry in the country,” she added. “The research has been used to deliver revolutionary education to the community. This past summer we published our first peer-reviewed article in the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.”
Realm of Caring has also distributed nearly three million in grants to families in need, something Jackson said she is most proud of.
“We’ve been able to assist with the inception of cannabis legislation reform efforts in over 20 states, and are changing the face of cannabis and the way we think about this plant and who uses it,” she said.
It’s been more than eight years since Zaki began taking his preventive maintenance dose of CBD oil. The first media coverage of his story was titled “Pot for Tots,” embarrassing the proud mother, who had worked so hard to explain the seriousness of help received from the plant.
“To give you an idea of how things have evolved from education, a more recent headline read, ‘Growing Hope.’ So, perceptions have changed dramatically,” she added. “I’m thankful to the many families who have been vulnerable enough to share themselves with us and the world.”
Healing Her Family, Healing Herself
Jackson had experimented with cannabis as a teenager, partaking until she was 20, then stopped when she became pregnant with her first son, thinking that was the responsible thing to do.
“I hadn’t used any form of cannabis until recently, in the past five years, when I experienced my own neurological issues and declining health,” she shared.
Looking back, Jackson said the symptoms she was feeling were more than likely from the intense stress she went through as a mother caring for a sick child, then feeling the heavy responsibility of helping others from what she’d learned.
“There we were in the doctor’s office, going down the same traditional path of Western medicine that had betrayed our family prior with Zaki,” she said. “The doctor initially diagnosed me with migraines, but I knew that wasn’t it. I was eventually able to turn my own symptoms around using plant medicine, including cannabis, frankincense, other essential oils, with the goal of reducing inflammation in my body and resetting my brain and body from all the trauma.”
Her more holistic treatments and protocols included counseling, healthy eating, movement, better rest, and taking care of herself in a more loving way.
“In the end, I wasn’t just caring for one child, I was helping thousands, and I desperately needed to rest to give my adrenals a break,” she said. “Now, I take 25 milligrams of CBD by Charlotte’s Web everyday for prevention.”
“When my son was helped I wanted to help guide families and be a source of light and hope,” she concluded. “We knew we needed to collect more data, so we could educate about what the plant could do for those considering its use,” she surmised. “For the most part, many of the people we’ve helped had already run the gamut of what Western medicine had to offer. We give credit where credit is due—to the plant that has helped, and continues to help so many.”