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‘If CBD is good enough for my dogs, it’s good enough for me’

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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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Why are women more likely to use medical cannabis than men?

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Women are more likely to swap their prescription medication for medical cannabis, a study has found.

Researchers in the US have found that women are more likely to use medical cannabis than men – and to reduce using prescription drugs as a result.

The study, which was carried out by a team at DePaul University in Chicago, examined the behaviours of medical cannabis patients with a range of chronic health conditions in Illinois.

In the state, patients do not need a prescription, but must have one of a number of conditions to qualify for a medical cannabis card.

Researchers concluded that women ‘appear to be more likely than men’ to use medical cannabis for a range of symptoms, including pain, anxiety, inflammation and nausea.

Although previous population studies have shown that men are more likely to use cannabis recreationally, women were found to increase their consumption since qualifying for medical cannabis and as a result have ’reduced or completely discontinued’ any prescribed medications they were taking.

The study came about following interviews with medical cannabis patients about how they use cannabis, either as a complementary or alternative treatment or to reduce prescription medication altogether.

“This was a correlational, cross-sectional study, in which we were looking at potential correlates of the discontinuation of prescription medication and female gender appeared to be one of them,” lead author and associate professor in health sciences at DePaul University Dr Douglas Bruce told Cannabis Health.

“We didn’t go into the study thinking that men and women were using cannabis differently, but women seem to be adopting medical cannabis in a way that parallels with how women are more likely to access alternative and complementary treatments, such as yoga, guided meditation or acupuncture.

The women in the study also reported ‘marginally lower levels’ of support from their primary care provider, and ‘significantly less support’ from specialist physicians than the men, which researchers believe could point to why women are more likely to look for other options.

“The study suggests interesting patterns and maps onto findings of other studies which weren’t looking at medical cannabis specifically, but alternative complementary therapy trends,” continued Dr Bruce.

“I’ve worked in public health for many years and there are feminist theories which would argue that men are less likely to seek out healthcare than women, and that women may be more likely to seek out alternatives due to less satisfaction with the medical care they receive.”

He added: “There are gendered patterns in terms of medical care utilisation and diagnoses that feed into women seeking out alternatives and being less bound by conventions regarding going to the doctor.”

The majority of women in the study reported fibromyalgia [a condition which is said to affect around seven times as many women as men] as their chief qualifying condition for medical cannabis, while in men the most common conditions were PTSD, spinal cord injury and cancer.

“We controlled for fibromyalgia, given that around 80 percent of those with fibromyalgia sufferers in the study were women, but the parameters of the final model remained the same, with the key differences being gender, the amount of support from a provider and whether the patient was treating multiple symptoms,” explained Dr Bruce.

A paper Dr Bruce and his team published earlier this year found that those with multiple symptoms were more likely to report experiencing some benefit from medical cannabis.

“Medical cannabis seems to infer the successful mitigation of a range of symptoms that may reinforce one another,” he said of the findings.

“Those who were treating multiple symptoms were more likely to rate cannabis as efficacious, which suggests some benefit in people using cannabis products instead of different classes of prescription medications to treat their individual symptoms, which is typically how they are prescribed.”

The report concludes that more ‘patient-centered studies’ on medical cannabis are needed to ‘understand differences in dosing, outcomes, beliefs, attitudes, formulations, pharmacology, and metabolism between men and women’.

“There’s a whole pharmacological universe that may be gendered, particularly in terms of how men and women metabolise these products,” added Dr Bruce.

“Medical cannabis is a real patient-driven phenomenon and one of my aims in conducting this kind of patient-centred research is that physicians will start to learn from their patients.

“More open communication within the medical practice will benefit both the patients and the provider.”

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Community extends support to cannabis icon Rick Simpson

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Medical cannabis legend Rick Simpson has appealed to his supporters for financial help after suffering a stroke in 2018.

Cannabis campaigners, advocates and patients, whose lives have been changed by Rick Simpson oil (RSO) are being urged to return the favour, as the man behind it has revealed he is facing huge medical bills.

Over the last 15 years Rick Simpson has become a household name for many of those who have experienced the benefits of medical cannabis.

A former engineer from Canada, Rick ‘rediscovered’ the benefits of the cannabis plant in 2004 and published his findings and recipe online.

He has since become one of the best-known and loudest cannabis activists in the world, hailed for growing the plant in his own garden and giving it away for free to those who could benefit from it.

It is thought that his work helped paved the way for regulation and legalisation of medical and recreational cannabis in several countries, including his home of Canada.

Now Rick has revealed that he suffered a stroke in May 2018 which left him paralysed, with doctors doubting that he would ever walk again.

He has spent the last two and a half years out of the limelight, focusing on his recovery with his wife Danijela, but now his family has admitted that the couple are facing ‘immense financial challenges’.

A Go Fund Me page has been launched with a target of $160,000 to help cover Rick’s medical expenses.

In a statement on the fundraising page, a family spokesperson said: “After years of advocating for people’s rights to heal themselves using natural remedies, more specifically cannabis oil today widely known as RSO – Rick Simpson Oil, which a great number of people around the world are using to either cure or help regulate many different health conditions, and after writing two books on the subject, giving countless interviews and lectures, Rick is now in need of some kindness from all of you who are willing and able to help.”

His supporters from across the world have urged people to help the man who has helped so many.

Prominent Irish campaigner Vera Twomey, whose daughter Ava uses cannabis oil to treat severe epilepsy, commented: “Our dear friend rick simpson has been a mainstay in the world of cannabis for decades the measure of his knowledge and willingness to help people all over the world about cannabis has resulted in saving lives on every continent.

“We are deeply indebted to this wonderful man and now we hope that we can support him in a small way in his recovery from illness. He deserves nothing but the best for his concern and actions for people worldwide.”

Meanwhile Canadian, Sheriann Baker, who claims RSO saved her life when she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2017, issued a moving message for him.

“Rick, I pray you return to full health soon,” she said.

“You have helped and inspired so many of us around the world and you gave us hope when some of us had none. You gave us the strength and the education to fight and I know I will forever be grateful to you for that.

“Please know the cannabis community around the world is praying for you.”

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CBD has no adverse effects on health – study

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A landmark study has shown that long-term exposure to CBD does not appear to have any adverse effects on health.

The study, which is the first of its kind to examine the toxicity and long-term effects of CBD, has found that it did not demonstrate ‘any degree of acute or life-long toxicity’.

Instead, CBD actually extended the average lifespan and increased activity in later life.

The research was conducted by Spectrum Therapeutics, the medical division of Ontario cannabis company, Canopy Growth Corporation, as part of a commitment to provide the data which is needed to support and influence public policy.

These findings could be instrumental in changing public attitudes and improving access to CBD for patients who use it to help manage a range of symptoms including anxiety and pain.

The study evaluated the solubility, stability, acute toxicity, thermotolerance, and effects on lifespan of CBD in what is thought to be the first long-term toxicity and lifespan research regarding the effects of chronic exposure to cannabidiol.

Acute and long-term exposure studies of CBD at physiologically relevant concentrations were studied in the worm model Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), which is recognised as a valid model for this kind of research on the basis that 60-80 percent of their genes are shared with humans and their short lifespan of two-three weeks makes such studies feasible.

Researchers found that CBD did not demonstrate any degree of acute or life-long toxicity or related liabilities at physiological concentrations.

Instead, it extended the average lifespan up to 18 percent and increased late-stage life activity by up to 206 percent when compared to the untreated controls within the study.

While further research into the life-long use of CBD should be carried out in mammalian models, this study indicates a lack of long-term toxicity at physiologically relevant concentrations.

“Despite widespread use of CBD, no life-long toxicity studies had been conducted to date to determine the impact – or potential impact – of long-term exposure to CBD,” said Hunter Land, senior director of translational and discovery science at Canopy Growth, said:

“These results serve as the only CBD life-long exposure data in an in vivo model to date, and the absence of long-term toxicity gives us the evidence we need as an industry to continue researching the potential health benefits for the broader application of CBD.”

The study is published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research journal and available online.

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