An interview with Dr. Chris Spooner, CSO of Endocanna Health.
At Endocanna Health, cannabis is personal. It’s our life’s work. Collectively, our professional staff has decades of experience studying and researching plant medicine, biotech innovations, and the endocannabinoid system.
Below, get to know Dr. Chris Spooner, a renowned naturopathic doctor, Key Opinion Leader, medical advisory board member of Atrium Innovation, and Chief Science Officer at Endocanna Health.
Dr. Spooner is dedicated to plant medicine not only because he deeply believes in plant science, but because he knows first-hand the power of functional medicine approaches, integrative healthcare, and cannabinoid therapies.
Being a doctor means being a caregiver.
For Dr. Spooner, medicine has always been about care. He was first inspired to become a doctor when he was in sixth grade and fell into a coma for three days after a scuffle with a classmate. When he woke up in the hospital, Dr. Spooner remembered the expert care he received from the attending physician.
The doctor didn’t dismiss Dr. Spooner’s injuries or simply prescribe him medication. Instead, the doctor took his time explaining that staying active was crucial to Spooner’s recovery. When the doctor heard that Spooner enjoyed being outside and swimming, he invited young Spooner to the local swim club, where he was a member.
It was the doctor’s investment in Spooner’s long term recovery, his genuine concern, that sealed the deal for Dr. Spooner. To him, doctors were the ultimate caregivers.
Of his experience in the hospital, Dr. Spooner says,
“That really shaped my passion. From that time on, I said to myself, ‘I want to be him. I want to be a doctor that works with people, that helps them understand what’s going on and appreciates and sympathizes and empathizes [with them].’”
Since then, Dr. Spooner has held steadfast to a simple principle: Being a doctor means being a partner. It means being a steward of care and compassion.
An avid outdoorsman finds naturopathic medicine.
While Dr. Spooner studied naturopathic medicine, he also served as a forest firefighter in British Columbia. He remembers his time as a forest firefighter fondly, and admits that he’s always been a great lover of the outdoors.
As a forest firefighter, Dr. Spooner found great joy in using his knowledge of plants and herbs to offer natural remedies to his colleagues when they were hurt or injured. If, after putting out a forest fire, someone experienced a mild burn, Dr. Spooner would identify a useful herb, crush it up, and use it as a balm.
Being able to use the landscape and its natural plants to care for his friends became the cornerstone of Dr. Spooner’s ethic and philosophy. His focus shifted from general medicine to that of integrative care and naturopathic approaches.
A bridge between conventional and alternative medicine.
When Dr. Spooner first started practicing, he recognized that conventional medicine practices risk relying so heavily on science that medicine becomes impersonal. Dr Spooner says, “This is one of the main problems that we see. I believe in conventional medicine right now it’s all science all the time and patients are regarded as biased and inaccurate historians. So we see a lot of people saying, well, I went in to see my doctor and he says I’m perfectly healthy, but I can tell you I feel like crap.
Over the years, his own experience taught him that many patients were craving something else from medicine. They wanted a blend of science-driven, conventional medicine and personalized, patient-centered alternative approaches.
So Dr. Spooner went on to start his own clinical practice, always with his patient foremost in mind. His goals were to meet his patients on their own terms, offer them therapies and treatments that aligned with their goals and beliefs, and bring them long-lasting health.
On his dedication to naturopathic medicine and personalized approaches:
“I really strive to provide balanced, personalized care that respects the patient.” To sum up what he does, he admits, “I’ve always envisioned my role as a naturopathic doctor as kind of being a bridge between conventional and alternative [practices].”
For Dr. Spooner, cannabis is personal.
Well before Dr. Spooner became a Key Opinion Leader and medical advisory board member, his own belief in plant medicine was tested when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1995. After several serious surgeries, including three intestinal resectionings, he developed a massive infection in his abdominal cavity. He was hospitalized for five weeks and was put on an intravenous feeding regime. Dr. Spooner says,
“I dropped from 175 pounds to 140 pounds. And that was the third time that had happened to me.”
As his health deteriorated, Dr. Spooner discovered studies that were being conducted in Israel focusing on cannabis and Crohn’s. He applied for an MMAR license (Medical Marijuana Access Regulations), and he started incorporating cannabis into his therapy routines.
“That was a game changer for me. I mean, cannabinoids made a massive difference in my recovery to get me to the point where last April I did the Norwegian Birkebeiner, which is a 56 kilometer cross country ski race”
Dr. Spooner credits the “transformative capacity of cannabinoids” for his full recovery. Now, he is a strong advocate for cannabinoid therapies and integrative care both in his own practice and in mainstream medicine.
An advocate for cannabinoids in patient care.
One of Dr. Spooner’s most notable contributions to the field of medicine is his dedication to expanding the conversation of cannabinoid therapeutics.
Since his own experience with cannabinoid therapy in treating aggressive Crohn’s disease, he has been an advocate for the use of cannabinoids in appropriate patient care circumstances. And as a naturopathic doctor who is practiced in plant medicine, he has spent considerable time advocating for policy reform that makes cannabinoid therapy nearly impossible in some areas.
Of the countless hurdles to making cannabis therapies mainstream, Dr. Spooner says,
“What they’ve done is created a situation now where people are actually actively bypassing their healthcare providers and just going and getting [cannabis] from wherever they can find it.” This makes the process unsafe and sabotages the profound medicinal potential of cannabinoid compounds.
Dr. Spooner is thrilled that many breakthroughs in cannabis medicine are surfacing, but he believes that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully, Dr. Spooner muses, the future of patient care will welcome cannabinoids and plant therapies.
Dr. Spooner’s patients keep him going.
Dr. Spooner’s experiences in medicine and cannabis have brought him lifelong friendships and professional partnerships that he holds dear.
Among his heroes he counts Dr. Rick Marinellei, a naturopathic doctor in Oregon, Dr. Walter Crinnion, a fellow doctor in Phoenix, and Dr. Ethan Russo, Chairman of Endocanna’s Health Science Board. These relationships have not only molded his professional career, but they’ve influenced his personal life too.
When we asked Dr. Spooner about his biggest influences, he became emotional as he talked about his patients. Dr. Spooner says,
“There’s been patients in my practice that have massively influenced me. I mean, they’ve been very, very close patients that you get to know. I remember one person I worked with passed away from melanoma, but I watched her strive with such dignity. And the 37 year old mother of three who’s got triple-negative breast cancer and she’s fighting and hanging on. I mean, those are the types of things that show the spirit of humanity.”
Dr. Spooner admits that his patients keep him going and always remind him of what he found to be true as a small child in the hospital long ago: that medicine is always about care.
The power of Endo·dna and the future of cannabis.
Dr. Spooner is excited about Endo·dna’s breakthrough genomics testing. He champions the idea that patients are able to tailor their therapy needs to suit their unique genetics.
As a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Spooner believes that individualized and patient-centered approaches are the gold standard of safe and effective healthcare. He calls Endo·dna a powerful and profound contributor to personalized care.
Dr. Spooner says,
“This is a tool that becomes very useful and helps to drive innovation as well as helps to individualize your care. So you really are looking at sort of the next frontier of medicine.”
To start your own journey with Endo·dna’s breakthrough DNA test, upload your existing DNA results or order a DNA kit to your home. Click here to get started.
Endocanna Health is a biotechnology company committed to helping consumers find the right cannabinoid products to enhance their health and wellness. Using our breakthrough DNA test, Endo·dna, we empower you to take control of your health with access to over 55 different health reports that include suggestions for the best CBD and cannabis products that match your unique genetic code. Visit us here to find out more!