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“The best years are ahead of me”: How CBD is helping this former Paralympian get back on track

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Will Smith competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games

A Paralympian who competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow aims to return to professional wheelchair racing in 2021 – and he says CBD is helping him get there.

Will Smith, 25, from Northallerton, suffers from Spina Bifida, a lifelong spinal condition which means he has no use of his lower limbs.

At the age of eight years old, he competed for the first time in wheelchair racing athletics and has since represented Team GB, becoming a decorated Paralympian who was tipped to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, six-time gold medallist David Weir CBE.

Following a successful stint competing for the national team, both at a junior and senior level, Will side-lined his competitive wheelchair athletics to study law at university.

“I partly decided to go [to University] because I was always interested in the academic side of things while I was training and competing, but I also wanted to move down to London, because that’s where my training base was,” Will tells Cannabis Health.

“I managed to balance the training and studying at the same time, but as I was really enjoying the degree I was studying, I thought I’d like to really make a go of it.

“The training dropped off a little bit so I could focus on my degree and now I’ve graduated and landed my first job in the legal sector, I’m starting to increase my training again.”

Now working in the trademark department at the UK Intellectual Property Office, Will is undertaking an increasingly tough training schedule as he builds towards competitive racing again in 2021.

He has been using a CBD to combat the aches and pains induced by a gruelling training routine, as he targets a return to competitive racing.

“I plan to enter some domestic competitions by the middle of next year and then hopefully to kick on into the winter. I see the spring of the year after that as a benchmark to properly get back into the sport,” Will adds.

Former Paralympian, Will Smith.

 

While working to get his fitness levels back to competitive standards, Will has become reacquainted with the challenge of injuries and niggles that come with the territory of wheelchair racing.

Wrist injuries are common, as the sport requires a demanding clenched-fist technique on the push rims of the wheelchair.

Finding that these injuries and strains had a negative effect on both his training and his concentration in his day job, Will started using a pain-relieving CBD topical gel, applying it to his wrists, back of his neck and upper shoulder area before and after sessions.

He instantly noticed a benefit to his training capacity, completing longer sessions and recovering from his training at a quicker pace than usual.

“With wheelchair racing, you tend to see athletes really struggle with wrist injuries and shoulder impairments,” Will explains.

“Our bodies aren’t designed to do what we do in terms of the training and the force that we need to generate through these parts of the body.

“I’ve previously had wrist and shoulder injuries, so I would use it initially as a preventative measure before a session. I would put it onto the wrist areas and found that I could train at a higher intensity for a little bit longer without necessarily feeling those common pains that I usually get.”

He adds: “I’d also use it for niggles that I felt when the day’s finished to help with the recovery. With the training that’s required for elite athletes, time is extremely precious and valuable. The ability to use it as many times as you need without the need for a physio is something I’ve really benefited from.”

CBD treatments for athletes are not uncommon in the marketplace since the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed the anti-inflammatory cannabis compound from its prohibited substances list in 2018.

Looking back to this time, Will remembers a stigma surrounding the supplement and a hesitation among the sporting community.

“There was definitely a kind of hesitancy,” he recalls.

“And with British Athletics being my governing body, they were obviously really conscious and tight on what you put into your body. I think now, as the market grows and expands, people are becoming more aware of the legitimate high-quality products on the market and some of the real benefits that people can enjoy from it.”

Despite growing awareness of the supplement and a widening choice of products, it was difficult for Will to find a compliant solution. Many CBD brands claimed to have products with low-THC without certification. As professional athletes are subject to THC testing, making many of these options were unusable for him.

In the end, Will settled on the brand, Biosportart, which has undertaken third-party certification from the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG), confirming their products contain absolutely no THC, making it a safe option for elite performers like Will.

“Before I found this gel, there just were not quality products out there with the third-party verification that you could trust,” Will says.

“WADA removed CBD from the prohibited substance list, but they are very clear that any other residue of the cannabis plant, not just THC, is illegal.”

Will’s targeted comeback for 2021-22 will be welcome after a frustrating year in light of the COVID-19 climate. At 25, he feels confident that he is yet to achieve his athletic peak. There are still records to be beaten, as he still seeks to fulfil and surpass expectations that he will be the next David Weir of the sport.

“2020 has been a pretty trying time for everyone and of course I’m just thankful that I have my health, but like most people, quietly hoping that things get back to normality soon. Ultimately, I’d like to get back to the level I was at and of course, exceed it,” he says.

“I think the beauty of wheelchair racing is that it’s a real endurance and power-based sport, so we find that the guys who compete at the top level tend to peak in their late 20s or early 30s.

“I’m lucky that at my age, I’m still considered to have my best years ahead of me.”

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Australia lists first subsidised medical cannabis drug

Epidyolex has become the first medical cannabis product to be subsidised by the Australian Government.

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Epidyolex is the first medical cannabis product to be subsidised by the Australian Government

The epilepsy drug, Epidyolex has become the first medical cannabis product to be subsidised by the Australian Government.

Australians living with the rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome, will now have access to the cannabis-derived drug via the country’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for the first time.

As of 1 May, 2021, Epidyolex, which contains CBD, is listed on the PBS for patients with the treatment-resistant condition, to be used in combination with at least two other anti-epileptic medicines. 

Epidyolex is only the second medicinal cannabis drug registered for supply in Australia, and the first one to be subsidised by the Government on the PBS.

Dravet syndrome is a rare, genetic epileptic encephalopathy that gives rise to seizures which don’t respond well to the standard medications.

It is estimated that around 116 patients each year will benefit from the listing of Epidyolex, who might otherwise pay more than $24,000 per year for the treatment. 

They will now pay only $41.30 per script or $6.60 if they have a concession card.

According to a report by FreshLeaf Analytics published last year, there are now around 30,000 medical cannabis patients in Australia with “record-numbers” of doctors prescribing.

But as prescriptions are not covered under the PBS, they remain costly compared to conventional medicines and out of reach for many.

In a statement announcing the listing of Epidyolex, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Government’s commitment to ensuring patients can access affordable medicines “remains rock solid”. 

 

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Experts to explore the role of medical cannabis in women’s health

A line-up of leading experts will discuss how cannabis medicines can play a vital role in women’s health.

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Many women are still unaware of female-specific health conditions such as pelvic inflammatory syndrome (PIS) or vulvodynia

Leading pain specialist, Dr Sally Ghazaleh will join a line-up of experts to discuss how cannabis medicines can play a vital role in women’s health.

The first of a four-part webinar series, taking place on Wednesday 12 May, will focus on the experience’s of women who have not felt supported by the current healthcare system – and how cannabis has helped them find relief from their conditions.

Dr Sally Ghazaleh, a pain specialist at Integro Medical Clinics, will join Sarah Higgins, clinical nurse specialist and women’s health lead at Cannabis Patient Advocacy Support Services (CPASS), alongside endometriosis patients Abby Hughes, outreach chair of PLEA (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) and Laura, author of The Endomonologues blog.

Dr Sally Ghazaleh

Dr Sally Ghazaleh is a pain management specialist

Aimed at patients, clinicians and the general public the webinar series, hosted by Cannabis Health, Integro Clinics and CPASS, aims to discuss the application of cannabis medicines in the management of complex female health conditions.

It will also highlight some of the wider issues and gender inequalities played out in the modern medical model.

Studies have shown that women’s pain is not acted on as quickly and is more likely to be dismissed than men’s, while many conditions can present differently in women than in men and therefore take longer to diagnose.

Many women are still unaware of female-specific health conditions such as pelvic inflammatory syndrome (PIS) or vulvodynia and can live with the symptoms for many years before they are correctly diagnosed and treated.

Some patients are now reporting that they have found cannabis medicines to be helpful in the management of their health conditions.

Dr Ghazaleh, a consultant at Whittington Hospital and the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, joined Integro Clinics as a prescriber of medical cannabis in January. 

She specialises in managing patients with a wide range of pain conditions and has a particular interest in bladder and abdominal pain in women, and women’s health in general.

The free webinar will take place on Wednesday 12 May at 7pm.

The event is hosted by Cannabis Health, Integro Medical Clinics and CPASS, sign up for free here

If you would like further information, or to make an appointment for a medical consultation with Dr Sally Ghazaleh please contact Integro Clinics:  

Email: Contact@integroclinics.com

Twitter: @clinicsintegro

www.integroclinics.com

 

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Cannabis treatment to be trialled for common pet health issue

Trials of a synthetic cannabinoid treatment for common eye problems in dogs have been given the green light.

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Eye ulcers are one of the most common health problems in dogs

Trials of a cannabis-derived treatment which could rid dogs of common and potentially blinding eye ulcers, have been given the go-ahead.

Tetra Bio-Pharma will continue with clinical trials on its synthetic cannabinoid products in the hope of finding an easy-to-use medication for pets with the painful condition.

Eye ulcers are one of the most common health problems in dogs and, if left untreated, can lead to the loss of an eye.

The condition is particularly common among a number of breeds which have gained in popularity in recents years, including pugs, bulldogs and West Highland terriers.

Initial symptoms include a red and aggravated eye and the condition often needs to be treated by a vet.

Progress has been slowed due to the Covid-19 pandemic but now the company is looking to forge ahead with the first-of-its-kind trial after receiving authorisation from the Veterinary Drugs Directorate of Health Canada.

The company is also engage in developing a treatment for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) which could eventually be used to treat people suffering with the coronavirus.

The trials of PPP-003v, Tetra’s proprietary veterinary ocular formulation for treating ocular pain and inflammation in companion animals, could see Tetra find a way into a market expect to be worth over $220 million by 2026.

Dr Guy Chamberland, CEO and CRO of Tetra Bio-Pharma, said: “The PPP-003 program, including PPP-003v, represents a significant opportunity for Tetra since there is a substantial unmet medical need for painful inflammatory eye disease.”

He added: “We are pleased with this regulatory authorisation and the ability to re-activate the trial.

“While the active pharmaceutical ingredient used in the PPP-003v drug formulation is the same as the one used in ARDS-003, Tetra’s innovative immunomodulator drug concurrently being developed for Covid-19, there is a major difference with how the drug is delivered.

“PPP-003v is intended to be used as a topical medication and is delivered as a sterile eye drop and ointment, while ARDS-003 is a sterile injectable nano-emulsion finished drug product.”

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