Shari Blum is the founder of WINGS Tinctures in Washington State. What most do not know is that she is also the mother of a special needs child with Angelman Syndrome, a “rare neurologic disorder [that results in] balance issues, motor impairment, and debilitating seizures,” according to the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics.
In her attempts to improve the condition of her child, Shari began researching alternative treatments, including organic solutions such as hemp extracts. This naturally led to the investigation of the science behind the constituent health molecules—cannabinoids and terpenes—found within the herb.
Her quest to help her then five-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, gain more communication and motor skills led to an understanding of not only the efficacy of individual cannabinoids and terpenes, but also the nuances of the endocannabinoid system.
This included endocannabinoid deficiency and the importance of accurate dosing. She developed a passion for the hemp plant and its ability to help her daughter with multiple facets of her health, from behavior and cognition to motor control and sleep. Her focus on helping share her success with the parents of other special needs children became the genesis of WINGS.
Shari’s story resonates with millions of other parents because she is not unique. Countless others are challenged with ways to help their children and loved ones with special needs who have no other treatment options for their conditions. The results of her work with her daughter, although fully anecdotal, is evidence of the extreme efficacy that lies within the cannabinoids and terpenes produced by full-spectrum hemp.
Interviewer: “What first inspired you to create a line of organic full-spectrum hemp extracts?”
Shari Blum: “I just went looking for CBD oil in general because others were saying it was good for several symptoms. I started with a little research of what is best in CBD-rich oil to make it the most effective for a neurogenetic condition such as Angelman Syndrome.
“My journey for a product was short lived; it was too niche of a market to find specific cannabinoids and terpenes together. Another headache was the fact that most products consider only the THC and CBD contents of the formulation. What about the hundreds of other cannabinoids and terpenes?! I tried Elizabeth on two different tinctures from a local dispensary in Washington. Unfortunately, they didn’t do much of anything at all.
“I knew I didn’t want to grow anything, as that would be too timely and complicated. I eventually discovered that I could get one of these concentrated full-spectrum cannabis products with high CBD and low THC. However, I still had to learn to decarboxylate the concentrate to activate it. I attended a pot forum and took the advice of three or four people and also befriended a lovely gentleman named Psychedelic Sam, who had been medicating with hemp and cannabis for decades, to guide me.
“I ruined the first batch because I tried cooking on the BBQ. I didn’t know how much it would stink. Back to the dispensary I went; the second round of decarboxylation went well! I had procured specific terpenes based on symptoms of Angelman, MCT oil, and a touch of lecithin. Six weeks later, my nonverbal child said her first word, ‘mom!’”
Interviewer: “How did you determine the cannabinoid and terpene ingredients for each of your nine hemp extract formulations?”
SB: “Reading and researching the studies that have been performed on specific cannabinoid and terpenes opened pathways to formulating unique tinctures refined more specifically to the conditions for which we are trying to help. You’ll soar to new heights with WINGS because it is more than an isolate, broad-spectrum, or even full-spectrum product. Think of the WINGS tinctures as ‘full-spectrum plus.’ The proof is in the extremely low dosing!”
Interviewer: “You’re passionate about making and selling only full-spectrum extracts, not isolates or broad-spectrum oils. Why are you such a full-spectrum die-hard?”
SB: “Because science says so! Wouldn’t you expect a bigger pot of gold at the end of a really bright colorful rainbow, versus a dull faded one? WINGS has more beneficial molecules (active cannabinoids and terpenes) than other products. This can provide more specific effects, as well as deal with a wider variety of symptoms within a condition. Additionally, we use a much lower dose and have a much longer efficacy by utilizing the entourage effect.”
“Most of my passion for full-spectrum and enhanced full-spectrum hemp formulations came to fruition when I discovered the entourage effect and how the various molecules can change the effect of each other. The science is beginning to show that sometimes a molecule like a cannabinoid or terpene can result in a positive effect, such as a reduction in pain or seizure activity, but that it does so indirectly, by boosting or buffering the effects of other cannabinoids.
“I consider it critical that my tincture formulations reflect the cannabinoid and terpene profiles from the whole spectrum. —I believe the science and research proves the value of this approach.”
Interviewer: “What are some examples of how WINGS hemp extract has helped your daughter, Elizabeth?”
SB: “The first thing I noticed in Elizabeth was more refined gross motor control. She was walking straighter and was more organized. She started sleeping more restfully through the night. Communication increased across the board, whether it was pointing at what she wanted, taking me to something, asking with her assistive device, or using sign language and a lot of babble— even a couple of words! Cognition is through the roof.
“This child understands almost everything that is said to her! When she mumbled, ‘My name is Elizabeth!’ two days after saying ‘mom,’ I knew I’d been being played for a long time! The benefits have been sort of endless. Elizabeth’s trajectory has changed dramatically since she began using WINGS.
“I had to share and find out if these hemp extracts would work this kind of magic on others! They do! Other parents of Angelman Syndrome children and others with neurogenetic conditions have reported similar results. My heart grows every time I read another story of a parent describing the things their child is doing that they weren’t able to do before using the tincture. They are seeing true progress in the cognitive and motor skills of their children.
“There have been countless things that I’ve seen Elizabeth do in the last one-and-a-half years that I know she would not have been able to do so soon if not for this hemp extract—and in many cases, not at all.”
Interviewer: “What are some examples of how your WINGS hemp extract has helped other children with Angelman's Syndrome?”
SB: “One small change leads to a snowball effect that just grows into an avalanche. If a child can begin to master one new skill, they can build on it and build on it. It eventually becomes something huge that may have otherwise taken years to achieve. I’ve heard of so many Angelman Syndrome children learning to walk shortly after starting WINGS!
“It’s why I created WINGS—to help others gain the same benefits and make progress similar to my daughter Elizabeth. Every parent deserves to see a smile on the face of their child and everyone in the home deserves a good night’s sleep to best assume the challenges of the following day.
Interviewer: “What is the trajectory of WINGS hemp extracts?”
SB: “The first stage was to see if it would do for others what it was doing for us. My focus now is education and access for everyone. The key to success is understanding the plant, how it is helping you specifically, and adjusting your dose properly. I want more Angelman families to have a product that can utilize the hemp plant to its fullest. The kind of gains I have witnessed in Elizabeth would be criminal to keep to myself! If you are a special needs parent, you understand how small gains change the world in big ways.
Interviewer: “You are a strong advocate for Angelman research, which is close to a cure for this disease. How are you supporting this effort?
SB: “We are very close to a cure for Angelman Syndrome (we’ve cured mice), but we need money and human trials. Before this adventure began, I was searching my mind for ways to raise money. WINGS flew right down my path! Donating and sponsorship for curing Angelman Syndrome is extremely important to me. And when we’ve got the cure for Angelman, it will bring us closer to genetic cures for multiple other neurologic conditions such as Alzheimer disease.
If you would like to learn more about Angelman Syndrome, roadmap to a cure or how you can help, please visit www.cureangelman.org.
Awarded for our contributions to F.A.S.T.
Amazing Grace, a plant-based hemp tincture, was originally formulated for personal use by the mother of a child with a rare neurological disorder known as Angelman Syndrome. Elizabeth, or "Izbee" as we call her, has been affected by balance and motor skill issues, suppressed appetite, abnormal sleep patterns and myoclonic seizures. Some AS individuals never walk, and most, including Elizabeth, do not speak. Over the past year, Amazing Grace has been distributed primarily to parents of individuals with AS (and other similarly presenting neurological disorders) in the hope that they may share similar improvements in well-being to what Elizabeth has experienced. What we, as a community, have experienced has driven the desire to make WINGS accessible to everyone as well as more specific to a variety of health conditions.
In the near future, many neurological diseases, including AS, will be cured. Current research and trials on many fronts including targeted gene editing therapies such as CRISPR cas-9, as well as drug therapies, are producing unprecedented promise and real results. Despite what the future holds, our family and many hundreds of thousands of others with an array of similar diseases, must hold the promise of these miraculous cures close to heart as we press on to deal with the immediate and very real day-to-day (or night-to-night as the case may be) symptoms and heartache of these diseases.