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‘Breaking Good’: How One Nurse’s CBD Microdosing Experiment Turned Into a Saving Grace

February 26, 2018
(Courtesy of Sana Sana Wellness)
In 2014, San Diego native Shannon Barnett, a makeup artist and set nurse now based in Los Angeles, hit a wall with fatigue and a series of red dots and open rashes started to show up everywhere from her ankles to around her mouth. Already dealing with polycystic ovarian syndrome since age 12 and Raynaud’s disease since in 2009, Barnett was prescribed hormones, steroids, and even anti-malaria medicine to help fight the painful symptoms.

Nothing was working. The medicines triggered lupus, Sjögren’s syndrome, and other bad side effects, including dry mouth from the absence of saliva, which caused her teeth and gums to deteriorate at a fast rate. She visited a top rheumatologist associated with John Hopkins and was told there’s no cure, but she could take Plaquenil and Prednisone. Barnett questioned him and asked herself, why bother if there’s no cure and she continuously experiences bad side effects?

“I asked for a product that wouldn’t get me high–the budtenders were just like, ‘What?'”

Barnett was sick of her bank account depleting doctor visit after dentist visit with no results, even with her clean, healthy diet. She took matters into her own hands and began research online. CBD came up over and over in related searches on inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Barnett was never a recreational cannabis consumer, but decided to try it after enough research.


CBD (cannabidiol): What does it do and how does it affect the brain & body?

‘Breaking Good’

(Courtesy of Shannon Barnett)

After getting her medical cannabis authorization, Barnett went to a dispensary to find some CBD products. “It was not that great. They were smoking inside, and when I asked for something [high in] CBD that didn’t have THC in it–something that wouldn’t get me high–they were just like, ‘What?’”

Small doses of cannabis could deliver better results in some patients, despite the fact that this seems contradictory to the way most medicine is approached.

As a nurse, she was looking for the gold standard amongst products, but soon discovered that the market was far from that. She found tinctures made with ACDC, a CBD-dominant strain, but they were all made with alcohol, which burned her mouth since she was suffering from such bad dry mouth symptoms.

Barnett visited another dispensary in West Hollywood and found a coconut oil THC tincture. Despite the lack of information available about the product, she decided to buy it and use it topically since she couldn’t ingest the THC. Lo and behold, it cleared her rash.


What are cannabis topicals and how do they work?

She returned for more, but the product looked different this time–the color gradient had changed. Barnett tried to explain to the budtender something was off about the product, but there was no explanation until she later spoke with a friend’s father, who was a long-time home grower.

“He told me, they’re fucking with science,” Barnett said. “They’re just trying to get a product made; they weren’t even making it to a standard.”

Her friend’s father gifted her an organic OG strain. “I couldn’t ingest what he gave me, but I was making something to use topically,” Barnett said. “This is when everyone said I was ‘breaking good.’”

The CBD Microdose Experiment

It started to work, but Barnett was still not totally better. A bad car accident caused a stress rash all over her face, and when the settlement came in 2016, she decided to find a good source to make her own ingestible CBD-dominant products.

While researching potency and dosing, Barnett came across an article about microdosing that changed everything. She learned that very small doses of cannabis could deliver better results in some patients, despite the fact that this seems contradictory to the way most medicine is approached. “If you tell a doctor that [a medication] is not working, they say take more,” she said.


A physician’s perspective on optimal cannabis dosing

On November 14, 2016, Barnett woke up to the sound of her alarm at 5:00 a.m. Typically, her symptoms would keep her up through the night, and fatigue would keep her down through the alarm’s call. But this morning was different. She put two microdoses of oil under her tongue, and within fifteen minutes, she’d fallen asleep. When her alarm went off at dawn, she woke up–feeling refreshed. “I was like, ‘no way,'” Barnett said. “No way, this isn’t even possible.”

Since then, Barnett’s health has returned alongside clarity in her skin. Inspired by the improvement in her own life, she has since invested in sharing her healing with others, and endeavor she today calls Sana Sana Wellness.

Then Came Sana Sana Wellness

(Courtesy of Sana Sana Wellness)

Based in California, Sana Sana Wellness is a medicinal product line that provides CBD-rich whole flower medicine, sourced from CBD-dominant strains from top-quality farms.

In Barnett’s exploratory phase, she tried many hemp-derived CBD products, but never had success. She found that CBD from other cannabis varieties provided a wider therapeutic window at lower doses–that lower, broader dosage range could activate the endocannabinoid receptors while encouraging the consumer to be mindful of how the medicine is working.


Can cannabis and CBD be part of your skin care regimen?

Transparency is vital to Barnett, and she provides a free consultation for every patient who purchases her products. Many who use her oil topically for chemo skin relief, scars, and wounds from accidents send photos often to share their results.

Her first product was “The Oil,” an ingestible/topical CBD-infused coconut oil sourced from the strains Ringo’s Gift (sun-grown by Ninja Dirt Farms) and ACDC.

Everything is organic, though there is no regulation in place to allow her to legally say so. Barnett’s suggested serving size is 0.25 gram, which contains 1.4 mg of CBD and 0.4 mg of THC. It can be purchased as an oil or capsule.

There’s also the Black Label, an oil sourced from Ringo’s Gift and Granddaddy Purple (1.5mg of CBD and 0.5mg of THC per serving), as well as CBD Plus (18.9mg CBD and 1.1mg THC).

Sharing the Knowledge

Knowledge is central to Barnett’s mission of providing only the safest, most effective methods for consuming cannabis. “If I can help you better understand how to use it for yourself, that’s a win for both of us, right?” she said. Out of the research rabbit hole finally, she stocked the Sana Sana Wellness website with a library of vetted, unbiased information so others could educate themselves.

“You don’t need to accept vague answers just because you assume that's the norm in cannabis.”

“I wanted people to know what they should be able to ask,” she said. “You don’t need to accept vague answers just because you assume that’s the norm in cannabis.”

Her product line expanded to include a Manuka honey facial scrub, a bath bomb, and even suppositories after hearing one customer’s success story in treating a hemorrhagic right ovary with The Oil. She had told her doctor about the CBD oil, and he immediately called Barnett to learn more.

Patient-doctor communication is integral to Sana Sana Wellness. “As much as I think you shouldn’t take what one doctor is telling you as the law, you should always consult with your primary care physician,” she said. “They should be a part of this. Accessibility and transparency open their minds.”

Sana Sana takes its name from the humorous Latino folk song, which tells, “Sana, sana, colita de rana, si no sana hoy, sanará mañana, si no sana hoy, sanará mañana,” which translates to:

“Heal, heal, little frog tail, if it doesn’t heal today, it’ll heal tomorrow.”

Trina Calderón's Bio Image

Trina Calderón

Trina Calderón’s books include Wall Writers, Pump Me Up: DC Subcultures of the 1980’s, Risk: Old Habits Die Hard, and 9:30 Club - A Time and a Place. She co-executive produced BBC America's The Nerdist TV show and co-wrote the feature film Down for Life. Calderón lives in Los Angeles and specializes in writing about art, music, and food subculture, aiming to add a voice where mainstream media does not. She can be reached on Twitter and Instagram under @trinaluz.

View Trina Calderón's articles

  • Cristina Sulzener

    How to sensibly buy LEGAL cbd oil? Because I got a letter saying customs has confiscated my package two times already and I’m pissed.

    • Shannon Barnett

      Where do you live?

  • Laura

    Shannons CBD oil (Sana Sana) is amazing. I always have a stock on hand. I have used it on both of my dogs (one for leash aggression and one for a benign tumor on her arm) with flying-color results, and my husband microdoses it when his back is acting up and absolutely loves it. I’ve even started putting it on a darkly colored scar on the back of my leg and the color has gone down by about 60%. Side note: I tried hemp oil for my dogs leash aggression and it pales in comparison to this stuff. This stuff is the real deal!

  • FlanaganArtistry

    Shannon Barnett and her company Sana Sana Wellness changes lives.

    My journey with SSW began last year when my father was dying of lung cancer and was suffering from awful headaches that NOTHING could treat (Dilaudid didn’t even touch them). Shannon’s product was the ONLY thing that made a difference. Because his pain was able to be managed in a miraculous way, he was given the ability to enjoy the time he had left and we were able to truly cherish our precious moments with him. My family and I will never be able to adequately express our immense gratitude to Sana Sana Wellness for this gift.

    Shannon’s product also assisted my mother in the grieving process. She was overwhelmed with sadness and anxiety and found it difficult to concentrate on work and daily activities because of this. Her doctor prescribed her anti-anxiety medication, but she saw no significant changes and was concerned about the high likelihood of addiction. She found substantial relief with The Oil and was able to more effectively process her emotions and concentrate on work. I, of course, dealt/deal with grief as well and happily experience the same benefits.

    Because of how fantastically Shannon’s medicine worked for our family, I have suggested it to multiple people in my life going through difficult times physically or emotionally. My neighbor had extreme radiation burns on his neck from treating throat cancer, so I suggested he try SSW. He applied the The Oil topically and his scars are almost completely gone – it’s unbelievable! Not to mention, his confidence is through the roof! I also suggested it to my friend who had a hysterectomy/oophorectomy and did not find adequate relief with prescription pain medication, which often just made her feel groggy. She was back to herself in no time! Once her surgical sites healed, she treated herself to a victory bath with Shannon‘s bath bomb and said it was the most blissful thing she had ever experienced. (Makes me wish I had a tub – I need a good soak myself, ha!)

    The list just goes on and on and on! I know this is because – on top of the product being so clean and the business so transparent – Shannon is a knowledgeable nurse who truly cares about her patients and consults with them should they have any questions or need to adjust dosage. This absolutely is what sets her apart from the growing amount of CBD businesses out there just trying to make a dollar.

    If I have not already made it abundantly clear: Sana Sana Wellness is extraordinary. Please reach out to Shannon if you have any questions as your health is her number one concern (and I mean that in a really, truly, not-in-a-sales-pitchy, honest-to-goodness way). You won’t find service and care like this anywhere else. Guaranteed.

  • Jem

    I am so grateful for Sana Sana Wellness!
    I have been a part of the cannabis industry for many years am familiar with just about every other CBD product out there.
    The quality of these CBD products surpass anything else on the market and Shannon’s medical expertise and passion to help others is truly one of a kind.
    I personally use The Oil & The Black Label for chronic pain in my neck and back from multiple soccer injuries & neck surgery due to a car accident, in addition to severe anxiety, ptsd & insomnia.
    I also use the CBD Manuka Honey Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub on my face & body & I just LOVE how it leaves my skin silky smooth!
    I can’t live without The Everything Balm… I use it on my lips, around my eyes (especially when my allergies are acting up) and it relieves any itchiness and irritation I experience. My skin is very sensitive and gets irritated easily, but as long as I have The Everything Balm it soothes any and all irritation. Even if I accidentally burn myself or get a small cut I can put some on and it gives me instant relief!
    My dogs absolutely LOVE The Oil too! It takes away separation anxiety when having to leave them at home and keeps them calm on our walks.
    I truly have never been more impressed with the quality of a product, and the person behind a brand as I have been with Sana Sana Wellness.
    Thank you Shannon!!! 🙏🏽
    I urge everybody to try Sana Sana Wellness and start their journey to living the lives that you all deserve to live!!!!

  • C Gosnell

    SO happy my MM registration should be arriving this week. FINALLY able to be OK w/o the state interfering.

  • Leslie

    Sana Sana products have helped me through challenging episodes of anxiety and insomnia. I am forever grateful to Shannon. She always goes above and beyond to make sure I am using the products that work best for my body. When one thing doesn’t work, she tries and tries again. I cannot say about how much I love these products. I am grateful for they have given me some peace and rest.

  • Adam Blain

    After a motorcycle accident in 2016, Shannon approached me about using her product topically on some road rash that was healing, as well as on some swelling/pain in my wrist. Honestly, I was skeptical at first, but figured it probably wasn’t going to hurt anything to try. It was shocking how well it helped my road rash heal; I mean it was BAD, and just a few months later of using Shannon’s oil the scarring had all but faded away. It also helped with the swelling in my wrist, but a year later after continued complications I found out it was in fact broken, and alas, even the best CBD in the biz doesn’t fuse broken bone. However, after my surgery I microdosed with SanaSana and I’m 100% certain it’s why my recovery was as comfortable as it was. Reduced swelling, calming the claustrophobic sensation my cast gave me, allowing me to rest at night all aided in moving the healing process along. I’m still in my cast, but as soon as it comes off, part of my rehab will be using SanaSana to fade the gnarly scar currently underneath it. I’ve started using the facial products as well now; if it can cure my cheese-grated arm, just think what it can do for my face!

  • Maggie Moon

    I’m so grateful that Sana Sana exists! I’ve always had trouble sleeping and staying asleep through the night, Since taking the oil I can honestly say, i’ve NEVER slept better. I wake up rested and never groggy. But it doesn’t end there, I absolutely love the Everythig balm! It’s magical, nourishing and moisturizing. Also, Shannon is a walking encyclopedia and knows her product through and through, I love how honest and transparent she is about the ingredients and benefits of her product and as a long time friend, I couldn’t be any more proud of her for creating a product that has helped and continues to help people with so many different ailments. She’s a true healer and the ultimate Medicine woman.

  • Bruce Ford

    A friend drected me to Shannon after hearing about my recurrence of lymphoma and resulting chemo. I’ve been faithful to the dosing regimen and must add that the spectrum of microdoses I take help alleviate post-chemo fog as well as even out the ups and downs of toxic chemical induced body reactions to my treatments. Shannon originally spent considerable time on the phone with me prior to any sale to understand my situation and recommended a proper approach. Her continued research is also bringing many aspects of CBD to those who need it most — both patients AND doctors.

  • Alexis Lamborn

    Both my dog and I use Sana Sana topically and internally and have had positive results with both. I am grateful to be able to use many of Shannon’s products. It feels good knowing she is dedicated to the quality of medicine and helping people heal naturally.

    It’s great to see her story and brand get some recognition after all the love and hard work she’s put into it.

  • Jess

    I love Sana Sana so much. It has really helped me with my anxiety, and the bath bombs are a gift from the Gods. This stuff is gonna be huge.

  • Christopher Mugglebee

    Sana Sana bottles now line my medicine cabinets. The magic of micro-dosing is Shannon’s genius, as you can take total control of how you manage your health, but the genius of Mother Nature shouldn’t be discounted in this relationship, either. Sana Sana is walking in lock-step with wellness and anyone interested in ingestible cannabis should try this. I did, and the list is growing. Smart medicine is personal, yet also global.

  • Kalila Sorrell

    I have suffered with endometriosis since I began menstruating at 14. Going through high school was tough. But the real emotional burden did not come until I was working full-time and commuting the university 5 days a week. I had been programmed into believing that periods were supposed to be painful and that you didn’t talk about it. It was “inappropriate”. So, I never went to a doctor. I never realized that my pain levels were abnormal. When I wasn’t in pain, I was worried about the next month. Would I be able to walk? Would I vomit? Would I be alone at home? Would my boss think I was lying? I was afraid to miss class, never called in sick to work, just showed up and suffered through lectures and shifts, often to the point of not knowing if it would be safe to drive myself home. Two years ago, when I had the means (and my mom split the cost of the appointment with me) I finally went to a naturopath. Her treatment didn’t address the full circle of symptoms I was experiencing and left me with awful side-effects that I am still dealing with today. Endometriosis is still being researched. My “western” doctors could only recommend going on birth control to stop the overgrowth of tissue that causes pain and scarring. I began researching every product out there, paying close attention to consumer reviews. I was overwhelmed but hopeful. I couldn’t afford to experiment with a half-ounce bottle of tincture that cost $90. I posed the question to my Facebook friends. Thank goodness one took the time to stop me from buying some B.S. product masquerading as legit CBD and referred me to Sana Sana. He told me to contact Shannon and tell her everything that was going on, that her stuff was the real deal. I have been using Shannon’s CBD suppositories for months now. Noticed a difference the very first cycle and it has been better and better every month since. Being that I can see my flow and discharge, I’ve noticed that it is actually preventing the overgrowth of tissue that is endometriosis. My body isnt in extreme pain trying to expel something that can’t be expelled. The suppositories do not act as a mere pain-reliever, but are actually addressing/curing the disorder. I was afraid to feel hopeful. I thought I would not be able to build a good career anywhere with this condition. I feared for my earning potential and my future. But now that I’m seeing a pattern of increased wellness, I feel the burden slowly leaving me. I am not afraid that next month will be debilitating. My future is looking much different than I thought it would and I am so grateful. Been trying to spread the word to others with endo <3

  • Julie

    Sana Sana wellness products are a godsend… Shannon (herself) and her oils have helped me tremendously throughout the past year. I’ve been working through intense grief and anxiety over the sudden loss of my beloved husband last March. I don’t know how I would’ve made it without her help. In fact, I thought I was feeling better at one point and I stopped using the oil‘s, but after about a weeks time I lapsed back into intense sorrow. Somehow miraculously, this takes the edge off and just helps. I highly recommend Sana Sana products if you’re dealing with grief, depression, or anxiety. JAF