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“Medical cannabis has given me my life back” says mum-of-three



Charlotte Leonard felt the full force of chronic pain for years before she discovered medical cannabis

Charlotte Leonard has lived with chronic pain, nausea and sleep issues throughout her life. It wasn’t until she discovered medical cannabis that she was able to take control of her symptoms and get back to the things she loves.

The professional writer and mum-of-three has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a rare inherited condition which she has lived with her entire life. But following the birth of her first child 15 years ago, the condition became increasingly difficult to manage.

Suffering with the most common form of the illness, Hypermobility Type, Charlotte says the condition is “incredibly unpredictable”.

“Some days I can lead a very active life and other days it is hard to do the most basic of things such as walk up the stairs, shower or cook dinner,” says the 40-year-old from London.

“Life becomes about surviving rather than living.

“My joints can dislocate at any moment and my bones break very easily. I become incredibly tired and use an awful lot of energy to do things which other people take for granted.”

As well as suffering from EDS, Charlotte also has a number of associated conditions including postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) and mast cell activation disorder (MCAD).

Before Charlotte began her cannabis treatment she was constantly in and out of hospital for regular pain management procedures. This wasn’t helped by her allergies to the majority of medications for treating pain.

“Every few months I would need to be admitted to hospital for IV infusions and steroid injections,” Charlotte says.

“I also struggled with constant nausea and had problems sleeping. I had over 20 operations in the space of ten years and spent a lot of time stuck inside, unwell and in bed.”

Charlotte suffered with these debilitating symptoms for years until she discovered medical cannabis. Now, she says, life is much better.

“As a result of the medical cannabis, I no longer suffer from constant nausea and my pain is really well controlled. It has not only improved my life, but also the lives of my family.

“The first day I started treatment with medical cannabis was the first night that I slept well and wasn’t woken up regularly in pain.

“Less pain, less nausea and better sleep has enabled me to do more exercise which in turn has improved the strength of my joints, allowing me to do more and more.”

Charlotte first heard about medical cannabis in an article about a woman with EDS who was able to reduce all of her medications with the help of cannabis.

Not long after, an NHS consultant recommended that she consult Sapphire Medical Clinics, a specialist medical cannabis clinic, the first registered by the CQC in the UK. She approached the clinic and soon embarked on her treatment. Charlotte says she hasn’t looked back since.

“Whist medical cannabis can’t cure EDS,” she says, “it has made living with the condition so much more manageable.

“Medical cannabis has given me a life back.”

Despite a growing body of published research and greater public understanding and acceptance of the plant as a treatment for chronic health conditions, many people remain sceptical about medical cannabis and its efficacy.

Charlotte says critics should talk to real patients first and consider the effectiveness of alternative medications before dismissing cannabis-based treatments.

“The NHS are able to prescribe drugs such as ketamine for pain,” she says.

“Ketamine is a dangerous substance with a huge number of adverse side effects.

“Personally, I have found cannabis to be more effective, safer and lacking in the side-effects that come with traditional pain management options.

“Hopefully the UK Medical Cannabis Registry will start to build a significant body of evidence which will irrefutably prove, even to the most sceptical, that Cannabis can provide huge medical benefits to patients.”

Although cannabis has had an invaluable impact on Charlotte’s life, the cost of the treatment produces a “significant outgoing” each month.

As patients are unable to have cannabis prescribed through the NHS, they must instead turn to private clinics which are often out of reach for the average patient.

In spite of the high costs, she believes that anyone who is interested in medical cannabis should try it but warns that CBD oils found on the high street are often “largely ineffective.”

“There is a massive difference between CBD oils that you can buy almost anywhere and medical grade CBD oil,” she says.

“People need to be aware of the differences and the potential benefits of medical CBD which is properly prescribed and monitored for effectiveness.

“Similarly, there needs to be more education around THC oil,” adds Charlotte.

“The public associates THC with recreational drug use and the potential for psychiatric harm. The reality is very different. When medical THC is prescribed in very small amounts by a knowledgeable doctor the benefits are immense.”


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