After seeing how CBD helped her pets, when dog trainer Joe Nutkins was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, she wondered if it would work for her too.
“I’m a big believer in the power of CBD,” says 41-year-old, Joe Nutkins from Essex, who has been championing the benefits of the cannabinoid for around a decade.
After her Norwich terrier, Cassie, was diagnosed with epilepsy aged two, Joe was reluctant to treat her with strong antiepileptic medication straight away, with the seizures only happening once or twice a year.
She started researching other options and came across case studies in America of pet owners who had used CBD to help their epileptic dogs.
“I did tonnes of research and looked into what other people were using it for, I found people in America who had used it with their dogs for a couple of years without any issues.
“Everything has got a potential risk, but I feel that risks are much lower with something from a natural source than with pharmaceuticals,” she says.
“I thought it was worth a try, so I started her off with very small amounts, closely monitored and gradually built up to a dose that seemed to work for her.”
Cassie lived until she was 16, on no medication other than the CBD, and would go three or four years at a time without having a seizure.
“I do believe it was CBD, combined with a good diet, which helped her body to keep functioning,” says Joe.
When her second terrier Taylor developed cancer aged 13, Joe turned to CBD again and vets couldn’t believe how little pain he appeared to be in.
The day before he eventually passed away he was running around on the beach with the other dogs.
“He was splashing about having the time of his life, you wouldn’t have known that there was anything wrong with him,” Joe remembers.
“I put it all down to the fact that the CBD was helping him and I would do it again with any of my other dogs.”
It was a few years later when Joe decided to try CBD for herself.
After being diagnosed with fibromyalgia and Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) around eight years ago, she was prescribed various pharmaceuticals to help her manage the pain.
“I struggle with the fatigue side of things because it just stops me working and it can stop me communicating with my dogs and my husband, but when the pain is really bad, it is far worse than the fatigue and you can try different thing but you never know if anything is going to help,” she says.
“My doctor is really good and tried me on so many different medications to help with the pain but you get to a point where you’re on so many tablets which all cause side effects, so you need another tablet for them.
Joe adds: “It gets silly after a while, you’re not really sure whether some of the symptoms are actually caused by the tablet, or the illness itself.”
It was a case of ‘it’s good enough for the dogs so it’s good enough for me’, Joe says, of the first time she tried CBD, five years ago.
“A lot of what I was on wasn’t helping anymore and I was getting fed up with the medication that I tried some of Cassie’s drops that were left over,” says Joe, who saw the effects quite quickly.
“It took a bit of trial and error but I found a system that works for me. I still wear a morphine patch every day, but for the most part I can control a lot of the pain and the fatigue using CBD.
“Things can work together a
nd it’s nice to have something that you know helps you but is not going to.”
Joe still has to manage her conditions daily. She often doesn’t have the energy to socialise and will have to plan ahead and get enough rest before a particularly busy day.
But she is still able to run her dog training business, manage a team of instructors and look after her own animals, which she says wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for CBD.
“I genuinely think CBD has allowed me to carry on working,” she says.
“If I had to go up to the next level of morphine it would have me knocked out, so I wouldn’t be able to drive. As CBD doesn’t have the side effects I’ve been able to carry on doing what I love – helping people with their dogs – which I don’t think I’d be able to do if I didn
‘t have the option of something natural.”
The latest member of the family to try CBD is Hettie the hen, who recently lost an eye after suffering a respiratory infection.
When she started showing signs of discomfort due to the swollen eye, Joe gave her one of the dog’s CBD joint supplements.
“It certainly seemed to make her more comfortable,” says Joe.
“I’m sure it has the potential to help all animals.”
The joint supplements belong to Merlin, who along with Ripley, are Joe’s current Norwich terriers.
But it’s not just her own pack which seems to like CBD – she reports positive feedback from the other dogs she has worked with too.
“As part of the training, I do something called self-selection where I offer dogs different scents and if they feel they need it they will come and sniff it, if they don’t they will walk away. I use CBD and hemp scents, and dogs do choose them.”
The only who has taken a little more convincing is Joe’s husband, a police officer, who has taken a little more persuading to try CBD.
“I have convinced him a couple of times to try the balm and he’s been surprised that it works,” she says.
“The other day he even came in and said Hettie looked like she needed some of ‘that CBD stuff’ – even he’s been converted.”
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