“Nature by itself is the best physician. – Hippocrates
With legalization of cannabis coming up in just over a month in Canada, I thought it was a good time to put out a post about the topic. For a long time people with chronic illness have used medicinal cannabis for various benefits, but is still remains a topic of controversy. I would just like to present the scientific facts behind it and not try to steer people’s opinion in any one way. From running different support groups I have become aware that there is a lot of misinformation out there in regards to this discussion point.
As someone who worked in the school system for years, cannabis was always a taboo topic. It was a strange area to even look into for me. I didn’t even know where to start to ask questions. All I knew was that it was the stuff that made you high and gave you the “munchies.” The more I started looking into it a year ago, I was amazed at how much I did not know. Previous to that, I had taken pharmaceuticals for pain. I am diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and have a lot of problem with nerve pain. At times, it can be intolerable. It keeps me up at night at times and makes me not very pleasant to live with. I also have significant issues with anxiety based on where some of my lesions are in my brain. I have been placed on antidepressants to deal with the effects of that. I started to look into medicinal cannabis to try to deal with the pain primarily. It took me a long time to look into it because my thoughts were that I live a busy life and can’t imagine being impaired all of the time. My neurologist talked to me about going to look into it because there were portions of the plant that did not make you impaired that could be useful to me. Another reason I was intrigued to research this idea, is that I am usually negatively affected by most pharmaceuticals. I had previously taken Gabapentin and baclofen for pain. Before I could get to any relief from the pain, I was overly impaired by the drugs. They made me so tired that I could not take them during the daytime so I just had to try to grin and bear it during the day. So, I started my investigation.
What I found out was that there are two components to cannabis. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). The THC is the portion that impairs you and what we associate with the “high.” It does have some benefits for people who struggle with sleep as well as dealing with loss of appetite from things like chemotherapy. However, what was news to me was that the CBD portion of the plant is what contained most of the healing properties for people. It is a natural anti-inflammatory, and most autoimmune diseases are based around inflammation. Multiple studies have found that CBD, although it does not impair people’s cognition, has been shown to ease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, MS, movement disorders, chronic pain, neuropathic pain, chemotherapy side effects like nausea, and inflammatory bowel disorders. For me, a lot of those things on the list were things that were making my life difficult. Something that was also appealing to me was that there are many studies that show that CBD has been shown to lower anxiety levels. Another benefit to me, was that with all of the pharmaceutical drugs I was on, I had to take them everyday regardless of how I was feeling. However with CBD and THC, I could just take them when I needed them, not necessarily everyday.
So I decided to start taking a low dose of CBD oil to deal with my anxiety and neuropathic pain related to my MS. There are also blends of THC and CDB that you can take at times if that is what works for you. What I do know is that everyone is very different in what will work for them. Some will need only CBD and some will need both. What is most important to me, is that I purchase mine from a licensed producer. That way I know exactly what is in it and it is regulated. With so many other street drugs out there, you don’t ever really know what you are getting unless you grow it yourself.
It is fairly expensive, so if you are on a limited income, it can be difficult. You can write it off on your taxes as a medical expense, but you have to be able to pay for it in the first place. This is still and issue for many.
A downside that I have found is that a lot of people use THC with an illness. I am not saying that in itself is a bad thing. What I do know that there are also many studies that show that THC over time can drastically affect cognition negatively. In my opinion, it is something that should be used sparingly. I struggle with cognition at the best of times so certainly don’t want to make that condition worse for me with something that I am taking for treatment.
As with any treatment or therapy, I always recommend starting in conjunction with medical guidance. I am absolutely not a doctor, so this is my personal opinion and what has proven useful for me. My belief is always to try things and see what works for you. There is no magic pill or herb that is going to magically fix our conditions, but you never know what may help with symptoms.
What I hope this post does is maybe provide some answers to questions you may have regarding medical cannabis. I have done a lot of research with medical professionals in this area, and always love to hear of other people’s experiences. I hope we can all have more pain-free days in any way we can find them.
If you have any questions, I am always willing to discuss.