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‘CBD opened my eyes and gave me a different perspective’



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After being diagnosed with endometriosis, Christina French has used cannabis to manage her pain for years, but discovering CBD changed every aspect of her life, she tells Cannabis Health.

Christina French isn’t ashamed to tell people that she has smoked cannabis for years.

The 38-year-old mum first began using it to manage her symptoms after being diagnosed with endometriosis and suffering a prolapsed disc six years ago.

An electrician by trade, the prescription drugs doctors prescribed, including a cocktail of heavy opioids such as Tramadol and Diazepam, left her unable to drive or return to work safely.

So she turned to cannabis having seen how it had helped her partner in the past.

Christina, Jennifer and family. Photos by Natalie Wootton Photography


Suffering severe hyperemesis throughout her pregnancy with the couple’s now nine-year-old daughter, Christina’s partner, Jennifer O’Neill had found cannabis (inhaled through a herbal vapouriser) was the only thing that provided any relief from her symptoms.

Despite warnings about cannabis-use during pregnancy, without it Jennifer felt she would become too ill to carry to full term.

It was a source of much conflict between the couple.

“It caused a few arguments between us at the start,” admits Christina.“I agreed with cannabis, but I didn’t agree with using cannabis while she was carrying our baby.

“We had to weigh up a lot of things. Jenny literally couldn’t eat or drink, she was severely dehydrated and constantly throwing up all day every day.

‘The cannabis meant she was able to get food and fluids into her and eventually I calmed down because I could see that without it Jenny was so poorly she wasn’t going to have the energy to make it.

“Thankfully we had a healthy, beautiful baby girl, who wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for cannabis.”

For the last five years, Christina has been managing her endometriosis on her own, with no conventional pain medication.

In 2018 during a severe flare up she started researching medicinal cannabis and discovered CBD.Armed with just a bottle of hemp seed oil, coconut oil and a little bit of CBD she mixed her first bottle of what would become Essench.

“As effective as smoking it had been for me, I wasn’t utilising the full range of benefits from the plant by consuming it in that fashion,” she says.

“The CBD helped with my pain straight away so we started experimenting and mixing our own recipes.”

She found CBD improved her skin and complexion, which had faced years of dusty, manual work and blemishes from the hormone imbalance caused by endometriosis.

“I started making the skin products to improve my confidence and then all my friends and family started using it and it just took off,” she says.

Within just a few months of launching Essench, the brand had been nominated for a global award for its CBD hair serum. But the main focus of the brand is helping others living with chronic illness, with the couple donating items to people with serious health conditions who want to try their products.

“We’re very passionate, because it’s helped us in so many areas, we wanted to give back,” Christina explains.

“I don’t use my illness to try and promote sales but I would like to be able to offer discounts to people with these conditions.”

“We’re not just here to make a quick buck, I’ll talk people through it and help them from start to finish.Christina and Jennifer make all the products by hand and earlier this year they rebranded to reduce their plastic and become a fully sustainable company. Essench now carries a range of oils, skin, hair and bath products – including a new muscle rub due to launch this month – all of which Christina uses to manage her conditions on a daily basis.

“The CBD helps with the pain but my conditions are still there in the background, says Christina.“I’m in agony each day but I’ve got a routine now, I use the bath products to help me with my back and the muscle rub, which I apply to every evening and I use the oil when I’m really bad and a little bit for general wellness.”

Since discovering CBD, Christina says it has changed her whole approach to life.

“CBD opened my eyes and made me reflect on my lifestyle,” she says.“I’ve changed my diet, I try to be more active and I’ve got an allotment. It’s given me a whole different perspective on taking care of myself, because if I don’t I’m not going to be here.”

And she also counts it as the saving grace in her relationship.

“We’ve been together for 13 years, we’ve got a family, we work together and we’re both Aries, so things can get feisty,” Christina laughs.

“Luckily CBD keeps us chilled out.”