Over my time battling Multiple Sclerosis, there have been a few moments where I could point to something and say, wow, that’s been extremely helpful and life-changing for me. Starting my current disease modifying therapy (DMT) has been certainly been one, in that it has slowed my progression when other DMTs couldn’t. We don’t take DMTs for our everyday symptoms though, so it’s hard to realize their importance when we are still falling down, fatigued, or in pain. When it comes to my everyday symptoms, I’ve mentioned before how medical marijuana has been a game changer for me. Today, I want to discuss something related, but more accessible, to medical marijuana that has made a major impact on my life: CBD (cannabidiol) derived from Hemp.
Hemp vs. marijuana
As I explained in my medical marijuana article, the compounds that are most helpful for our symptoms are called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids mimic naturally occurring compounds in our body called endocannabinoids. The most basic description of how all this works is that these compounds can change and improve the way our cells communicate with each other. When we take in cannabinoids, they interact with the already existing endocannabinoid system of our bodies and the cannabinoid receptors found in all human cells. It’s important to realize that these compounds are already part of us, and although these cannabinoids are coming from plants, they are still similar to the ones in our bodies.
When we talk about marijuana, the two cannabinoids we get the most of are CBD and THC. THC is the compound associated with the more psychoactive effects of marijuana. These effects can be very helpful to those with MS, however, they are also the reason marijuana is constantly fighting a legal battle. THC is what we associate with people getting “high”. Most folks using medical marijuana will actually choose a strain that is higher in CBD than THC because it’s the CBD cannabinoid that is often most effective in helping our symptoms like pain and spasms. Here is where hemp comes in! The hemp plant contains a good percentage of the CBD cannabinoid and a very low percentage of THC. So people can’t really use it to get “high”, but they can use it to extract CBD for its medicinal properties. Because of this, it is much easier to obtain CBD oil produced from hemp than from the cannabis plant.
This sounds great, right? It does, but the problem is that it isn’t regulated. Producing and selling CBD oil has become a big business, but it can be extremely hard to find consistent and effective product. There are various extraction methods for getting CBD oil from the hemp plant, some more effective than others, and you rarely know which method a company has used. That can making finding a consistent and effective CBD product difficult. It can also mean that many will try CBD oil and not have a positive experience and think it simply won’t work for them, when in reality, they just acquired a batch that was poorly extracted.
I’m most certainly not an expert on all things CBD, but I did do some research and found a place online that seemed well-reviewed and looked like they knew what they were doing. I was still very skeptical, more so than I was with medical marijuana. I purchased a bottle of CBD tincture that contained 500 mg of CBD into a 2 ounce bottle. I then began using this tincture each day by placing a few drops under my tongue. I found that the key for me was doing this every day regardless of how bad my symptoms were. For me, it is not an instant helper, in fact, if I know I will be extra busy on a Tuesday, I’ll take extra on that Monday. Consistency has been the important factor to me. When I take it every day, or even close to every day, my body is much better off. Less pain, less spasticity, and less fatigue. Hard to believe, even for me. This is one of the few things I’ve taken where I’ve had multiple people come up and asked me if anything changed, because they can see that I am out more and I am more active. I’ve been using this for close to eight months now and I can honestly say it’s made a huge difference in my life.
I know not everyone will have the same experience as me (remember, we’re all a little different), but I wanted to share what it’s done for me. I stress that consistency and quality are important aspects of CBD usage for me. Quality CBD products can be expensive, though in my experience, less expensive than medical marijuana and much more easily obtainable (you do not need a special medical marijuana card or prescription). If you have the means and desire, go ahead and try it. As always, do some research on your own as well, there is a wealth of resources and groups related to CBD use for chronic illness.
Thanks for reading!