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Living with chronic fatigue – my CBD story

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Emma Franklin, who lives with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), on how cannabidoil changed her life.

CFS is like having the worst flu of your life ALL the time so your energy is very limited and you are debilitated (there are different severities). You only have so much energy each day almost like a battery that goes flat really quickly and you have to wait until the next day until it’s charged again.

For example, with my current energy levels I have a few hours each day where I can ‘do’ things – they include making food / eating / showering / watching tv / replying to emails / any work etc / meeting a friend / having conversations then once that energy is gone it’s gone.

So it’s hard for me to do ‘extra’ things like reply to emails when I only just have enough energy to look after myself, there isn’t much spare! Most people with CFS also have other symptoms like joint and muscle pain – which can be so debilitating – and cognitive problems like memory loss and poor concentration, which is partly why I’m limited in the amount and type of work I can do.

Sore throat and enlarged lymph nodes are also common, The point being it does affect my life still every day but I’m so grateful for how much progress I’ve made and continue to make.

I believe CBD oil has been a really important part of my recovery. I was diagnosed with CFS aged 19 – eight years ago – and spent about five years prior to the diagnosis seeing numerous GPs and specialists on the NHS doing a lot of different tests. None of them could find out what 35 was wrong with me until, eventually, an immunologist diagnosed me with CFS.

It was actually my mum who first knew something was wrong. She was the one who started taking me to the doctors because I was coming home from school going straight to bed, getting up to eat then going back to bed until the next day. Fatigue is different to tiredness; it’s debilitating where you physically cannot do things no matter how hard you try.

Imagine the worst flu of your life multiplied by 100. You just physically can’t get out of bed. With CFS your body is like this ALL the time it doesn’t come and go. I didn’t realise something was wrong though I assumed everyone was like this because I was so young!

Just before I was diagnosed with CFS I was working part time at Topshop as a personal shopper and I had to quit my job because I couldn’t stand up enough to work. I used to go to the toilet every hour and lie down on the floor because I wasn’t able to be up and about. I still had no idea what was wrong with me.

I had to quit and soon after I was diagnosed. I was out of work from the age of 19 until last year aged 26 when I started to work from home as a part-time freelancer. I had managed to go to uni for two years to study Fashion Communications and Journalism in London and Sydney, Australia.

But by the end of the 2nd year I was in a wheelchair, had to return home from Australia and couldn’t go back to uni after that. When I was bedridden I didn’t have a routine. I was paralysed of the arms and legs, unable to eat, walk, stand or talk, and my mum used to spoon feed me puréed food.

Then every two weeks she’d lift me out of the bed into the bath, wash me, change my pyjamas and put me back in bed. I couldn’t tolerate any light or noise so I lived in silence and black out for seven months.

I didn’t have much feeling I was so unwell; it was like I wasn’t there and you couldn’t communicate with me. My mum was forced to give up work when I needed 24 -hour care. She gave up her entire life to look after me and help me get better. She couldn’t even leave the house or see family or friends for a year because I needed round-the-clock care.

My dad financially supported my treatment during this time. I wouldn’t be here today without them! I have struggled with depression from the trauma I experienced and being so debilitated and limited. My life hasn’t exactly been ‘normal’. I also have anxiety and fear of ending up like that again from post traumatic stress.

I see a psychologist though who is amazing and helps me a lot. Sadly I lost a lot of friends from being ill. I went from being the fun outgoing person who lived life to the full 36 to not being able to go out so much or have much energy to maintain friendships.

Thankfully I’ve made many new friends who I wouldn’t have met if I hadn’t become ill, which I’m really grateful for. I’ve faced a lot of judgement and criticism over the years because I don’t look sick and I’m generally a happy, upbeat, optimistic person so people wonder ‘how can she feel so bad when she’s like that?’

People just don’t understand when you have a chronic illness those symptoms aren’t going to be going anywhere anytime soon so you either make the most of the situation and what you can do despite how bad you feel or you just give up, which wasn’t an option for me.

I’ve learnt to not care what other people think though. As long as I’m happy with where I’m at and what I’m doing, that’s all that matters! Last year I tried CBD for the first time.

I had seen many different types of CBD advertised but found it overwhelming with so many different types and so much information to process and understand. But I chose Hapi Hemp. It appealed to me because it’s an independent British business which I always love to support.

I also really liked their ethics; they felt much more approachable, friendly and family orientated than other CBD brands available. I began to take the CBD to help with CFS and anxiety and depression. Over a period of a few weeks I began sleeping more easily. Prior to this I used to stay awake for hours each night unable to sleep.

These sleep improvements have meant I’ve been able to return to work after seven years out of work. I’ve also seen huge improvements in activity levels as my pain levels have reduced. I’ve taken CBD every day for nearly nine months now and will continue to take it as part of my daily routine.

My doctor believes CBD is a really important part of recovery for anyone who has CFS / ME! It’s wonderful to have my doctor’s encouragement and support. Taking Hapi Hemp CBD oil fits perfectly with my routine health limitations

As time goes on I hope it will allow me to work more and more, growing my freelance social media business and my online community to help as many people as possible with the information and knowledge I’ve learnt over the years so they don’t have to go through what I’ve been through.

I would also like to spend more time with friends, family and travel more which I’ve not been able to do as much as I like. I feel like social media is a very important tool because without it I wouldn’t have discovered Hapi Hemp or CBD generally.

I think the most important thing is not to give up hope because there are options for treatment out there like Hapi Hemp CBD to help people to get better. You just have to find them and try them! I’ve met hundreds of people who have recovered from CFS so recovery is possible. For details about Hapi Hemp go to www.hapihemp.co.uk.

Lifestyle

NFL to explore effects of CBD in players with chronic pain

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The NFL-NFLPA Pain Management Committee wants to find alternative treatments to manage player's chronic pain

America’s National Football League (NFL) is looking into how cannabis and CBD can help in managing player’s chronic pain.

The league and player’s association (NFLPA) made a formal request for information to researchers on “pain management alternatives to opioids” earlier this month.

In an official statement, the NFL-NFLPA Pain Management Committee (PMC) said it is working to “improve player health through evidence-based treatment of acute and chronic pain” and to “facilitate research to better understand and improve potential alternative treatments.”

The NFL is seeking out qualified researchers who could lead studies into pain management and athletic performance in its players.

Areas of investigation include the potential therapeutic role of medications and “non-pharmacological interventions” that are considered to be alternatives to opioids in routine pain management of NFL players, including, but not limited to, cannabinoids such as CBD.

The committee also wants to explore the cannabis or cannabinoids on athletic performance in NFL players.

The PMC was formed in 2019 as part of the NFL-NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement with the goal of benefitting the health and safety of NFL players through education and research.

Last year it conducted two informational forums on CBD to learn about the current state of CBD science and manufacturing in the US, as part of its aim to find alternatives to opioids in the pain management of players.

Respondents to the request are expected to have experience conducting controlled, experimental studies in the relevant areas and should be affiliated with institutions or companies that meet state, federal, and IRB requirements.

However the NFL is not committing to funding any specific studies at this stage, and instead wants to seek out qualified scientists who can assist with future research projects.

CBD is not currently listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Prohibited List and, as a result, is permitted for use in sport.

However, all other cannabinoids such as cannabis, marijuana and THC are prohibited in competition due to the receptors activated in the brain which cause a ‘high’.

A 2018 review assessed the impact CBD has on relieving chronic pain. The review examined a number of studies, concluding that CBD was effective in overall pain management and didn’t cause any other negative side effects.

In addition, it has been suggested that CBD can speed recovery and fight fatigue – welcome news for athletes suffering from long-term or recurring injuries.

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How can CBD help arthritis?

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In a Canadian study, nine out of 10 patients said CBD was effective in managing their pain

In the UK, more than 10 million people have arthritis or other, similar conditions that affect the joints – and many are turning to CBD products to ease their pain and discomfort.

With an ever-expanding range of drinks, gummies and edibles on thee market CBD could be seen as something aimed at the younger generation.

However, there is a growing body of research that suggests CBD can also be of great use for the older members of the population – and one condition in particular.

Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint, and while it can affect people of all ages, it is more likely to begin when people are in their 40s and 50s, worsening with age.

A Canadian study from 2020 found that up to one in five patients who consulted an orthopedic surgeon for chronic musculoskeletal pain were using a cannabis product to treat them, with the express aim of reducing pain.

The researchers also found that interest in the compound was high, with two thirds of non-users curious to try a cannabis product to treat their muscle and joint pain.

Furthermore, those patients already using CBD had generally positive experiences using the products. Nine out of 10 said it was effective in managing their pain, and four in 10 said it decreased their reliance on other pain medications. Nearly 6 in 10 said cannabis products were more effective than other drugs.

Such findings corroborate what we already know about CBD; thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, early research into its use as a treatment for acute and chronic pain is promising.

A 2016 study found that transdermal cannabidiol has potential for reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis without any noticeable side effects.

Cannabis-based medicines can help manage the pain of arthritis by rebalancing the body’s natural endocannabinoid pain-processing system and soothing inflamed body tissues.

There are two primary ways of taking a CBD supplement; topically or orally.

In the case of arthritis, a cream or ointment containing CBD would be rubbed into the affected area. Topical products may also include common over-the-counter ingredients such as menthol, capsaicin or camphor, which could make it difficult to determine if any positive effect is due to the CBD or another ingredient.

There are a number of ways to take CBD orally, from gummies, snacks and drinks to tinctures and capsules – although gummies are discouraged in households with children, due to their similarity with sweets.

However, all work in largely the same way, being absorbed through the digestive tract. However, it is worth noting that absorption can be slow and dosing is tricky due to the delayed onset of effect (one to two hours), unknown effects of stomach acids, recent meals and other factors.

Whichever method you choose, it is always a good idea to check with your medical practitioner first, as CBD, although it is natural, may interact with other treatments, such as prescription medications.

However, for those looking for an alternative to prescribed drugs, with fewer side effects, CBD could well prove to be the answer.

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9 out of 10 readers have self-medicated with cannabis

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Nine out of 10 Cannabis Health readers have consumed cannabis for medical purposes without a prescription – and almost all said they found it to be more effective than conventional medicines.

 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been asking for your views on social media to delve deeper into how people are consuming cannabis.

As expected, the proportion of our readers who self-medicate with cannabis was high, but the results also demonstrate the perceived effectiveness of cannabis in comparison with traditional medication, highlighting a need for wider access to safe cannabis based medicines.

Self-medicating

Despite the law around medical cannabis changing over two years ago, gaining a prescription can still be challenging, particularly on the NHS.

This has forced a lot of patients to take matters into their own hands.

According to research, as many as 1.4 million Brits are self-medicating with cannabis, equivalent to just over two percent of the country’s population.

Studies from the US have backed this up, with one suggesting that as many as a third of teenagers with a chronic health condition have taken it upon themselves to manage their symptoms with cannabis.

We asked our readers if they were self-medicating to treat a health condition, with the results confirming that almost 94 percent of people said they were.

On top of this, a further five percent said they were not currently, but were open to the idea.

Just over one percent said they weren’t self-medicating due to the stigma attached, however no one responded that the law was a factor in this. 

Effectiveness of self-medicating 

 

Anecdotal evidence and some early studies suggest that cannabis can ease symptoms of some chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, where other, more conventional medicines have failed.

There is also promise in the potential of cannabis to relieve some mental health conditions, with some saying it has provided huge relief for disorders such as PTSD.

Ninety five percent of Cannabis Health readers polled said they found cannabis extremely effective at relieving symptoms. 

In addition no one said they had found it ineffective when it comes to treating their condition.

The remaining five percent said they found it to have a similar effect as their conventional treatments. 

Route to administration 

How patients consume cannabis can have an impact on its effectiveness, as well as how quickly it kicks in.

With such high numbers both self-medicating and reporting positive effects, we wanted to discover the common consumption methods.

Smoking the flower is the traditional method of consuming cannabis and often viewed as the one which can provide the most relief.

However, even though it has been seen to be less harmful than tobacco, smoking can still lead to a number of other health issues and is note recommended by health professionals.

Despite this, it remained the most popular choice among Cannabis Health readers, with just over a third saying this is how they consume cannabis.

The modern alternative to this is vaping, which was the second most common route to administration among Cannabis Health readers.

Around a third of readers said this was their preferred consumption method.

Some professionals argue this is the healthiest way for consumption, with clinics recommending vaping cannabis flower, but more research is needed in this area.

One method which has few negative effects is the use of oils or tinctures.

This is typically how CBD is consumed, with 21 percent of readers saying this was their preferred method.

Self-medicating alongside conventional medicines

The NHS says it is unlikely that many people in the UK will be able to gain access to a medical cannabis prescription.

Despite this, many patients have chosen to self-medicate with cannabis either alongside or often in the place of conventional therapies. 

The majority of readers agreed with this, with 55 percent saying they no longer use conventional medicines in favour of cannabis.

A further 22 percent said they would only use their conventional medicines if they did not have access to cannabis and the remainder said that they still consume cannabis alongside conventional medication.

Want to get involved? Cannabis Health will be running a number of polls over on our social media pages, to find out more about your views on CBD and cannabis for medical and wellbeing purposes.

Follow @CannabisHnews on Twitter and @Cannabishealthmag on Instagram and keep an eye out.

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