After facing IVF, a cancer diagnosis and a hysterectomy, founder of Our Remedy, Rachel Mason is bringing women’s health and wellness to the forefront of the CBD industry.
After struggling to conceive naturally, Rachel Mason couldn’t have been happier when her first round of IVF was successful.
But around a year after giving birth to her son, she went to the doctors for a check-up complaining of feeling bloated.
She hadn’t been overly concerned, so was shocked when the hospital rang two days later and asked her to come in for an emergency appointment.
“I had felt a bit bloated, but I also wanted to get the process started for my second round of IVF, as there are so many checks involved and I knew I wanted another child,” she recalls.
“I went in and had the tests on the Friday and on the Monday morning they rang with an emergency appointment and said it looked like it was something more concerning, which was really unexpected.”
It turned out to be a 12cm tumour on her ovary. While doctors were able to remove it safely, a few months later Rachel was told she would need a hysterectomy.
“That was a particularly tough time as I really wanted another baby,” she says.
“I did get a few second opinions from other doctors, but in the end I felt I had to go through with it.”
By this point Rachel had already been using CBD for a number of months, finding that it was reduced her anxiety and helped her to sleep better during what was a difficult time.
“I do try my hardest to stay positive, such as taking the right supplements and eating a healthy diet and I feel like everything I went through I handled quite well, but there were definitely points where I was down,” she says.
“I’ve always been a bad sleeper anyway and everything that was going on was contributing to a lack of sleep and me feeling anxious. I found CBD really helpful.”
However, Rachel who ran a vape store with her husband at the time, was aware that were it not for the samples she received through the business, she probably wouldn’t have discovered the benefits of it.
“The two industries are so closely linked, it was almost common knowledge to us, but to other people CBD can seem such a strange concept, you can’t necessarily get your head around how it might work for you,” she says.
“It was around the time that I was due to have a hysterectomy that I started to think about the fact that no one was really aiming CBD at women or talking about how helpful it could be.”
“It was really important to me to make the brand appealing for women, for it to be something they would want to put on the bedside table and be proud of,” she says.
“Women’s health is definitely not focused on and in the CBD industry you often come across often big, faceless brands and high-margin products, with no one behind it advocating for anything.
Rachel continues: “It was important for me to talk about CBD in way that women could understand and to educate and raise awareness of this natural product, which means we don’t need to reach for the Ibuprofen every month or go to the doctors to be prescribed antidepressants.”
Increasingly women are reporting the benefits of CBD for chronic and painful conditions such as endometriosis and adenomyosis.
But it may also help with symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), hormone imbalance, PMS and the menopause, as well as boosting fertility and sex drive and helping soothe the general ups and downs of the menstrual cycle.
Our Remedy’s award-winning Moon Swings blend combines 500mg of broad-spectrum CBD, with essential oils of peppermint and clary sage – to soothe mood swings, PMS symptoms, cramps, bloating and support balanced hormones.
Meanwhile the Pretty Peaceful product contains CBD and geranium, lavender and sweet orange to create a natural remedy to help with sleep and anxiety.
“It’s been almost a year now and it has been really well received, I’ve had so many positive responses,” says Rachel.
“CBD is definitely having a moment and I think so many more people are reaching towards natural alternatives in general.”
The brand has now secured 30 CBD wholesale stockists, ranging from online stores, independent cafes & restaurants and boutiques.
But Rachel also donates to the UK’s leading period poverty charity, the Bloody Good Period, for every full price item sold.
“At the end of each month we donate a certain amount of sanitary pads or tampons,” she says.
“I’ve always supported my local women’s refuge and I understand that not everyone can afford these basic necessities. There was an obvious link with the CBD for periods but our philosophy to give back underpins everything we do.”
The brand is also committed to protecting the planet. It’s boxes are printed using eco-friendly soy inks and recycled card, the products are shipped in compostable mailer bags and biodegradable packaging and customers get incentives such as money off on plastic-free refills.
“Everything I do with the brand I try to be as eco-friendly as possible,” says Rachel.
“It’s down to us at the end of the day and as a consumer and business owner, I always try to choose products that are plant-friendly.
She adds: “Hopefully Our Remedy is giving people the option to make that choice too.”
Integro Medical Clinics: Living with and managing MS
In the latest of their ‘Medical Case Book’ series, the team at Integro Medical Clinics explore living with and managing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis with cannabis medicines.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune condition, which has several different forms and levels of severity.
It occurs when the body’s immune system malfunctions and attacks a healthy part of the body, in the case of MS, the brain or spinal cord of the nervous system.
The attacked layer that surrounds and protects the nerves is called the myelin sheath. This damage to the sheath and underlying nerves, means that messages travelling along the nerves become slowed or disrupted.
Exactly what causes the immune system to act in this way is unclear, but most experts think a combination of genetic and environmental factors is involved.
MS can affect the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms, including problems with vision, speech, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance. It’s a lifelong condition that can sometimes cause serious disability, although it can occasionally be mild. In many cases, it’s possible to treat symptoms.
It’s most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, although it can develop at any age. It’s about two to three times more common in women than men and is one of the most common causes of disability in younger adults.
The symptoms of MS vary widely from person to person and can affect any part of the body.
The main ones include fatigue, back and neck pain, difficulty walking, vision problems, problems controlling the bladder, numbness or tingling in different parts of the body, muscle stiffness and spasm, issues with balance and coordination and problems with thinking, learning and planning.
Depending on the type of MS you have, your symptoms may come and go in phases or get steadily worse over time. MS starts in one of two general ways: with individual relapses (attacks or exacerbations) or with gradual progression.
Relapsing remitting MS
More than eight out of every 10 people with MS are diagnosed with the relapsing remitting type.
Someone with relapsing remitting MS will have episodes of new or worsening symptoms, known as relapses.
These typically worsen over a few days and these relapses can last from as little as a week to many months, then slowly improve over a similar time period.
Relapses often occur without warning but are sometimes associated with a period of illness or stress. The symptoms of a relapse may disappear altogether, with or without treatment, although some symptoms often persist, with repeated attacks happening over several years.
Periods between attacks are known as periods of remission – these can last for years at a time.
After many years (usually decades), many, but not all, people with relapsing remitting MS go on to develop secondary progressive MS.
In this type of MS, symptoms gradually worsen over time without obvious attacks. Some people continue to have infrequent relapses during this stage.
Around half of people with relapsing remitting MS will develop secondary progressive MS within 15 to 20 years, and the risk of this happening increases the longer you have the condition.
Primary progressive MS
Just over one in 10 people with the condition start their MS with a gradual worsening of symptoms.
In primary progressive MS, symptoms gradually worsen and accumulate over several years, and there are no periods of remission, though people often have periods where their condition appears to stabilise.
There’s currently no cure for MS, but a number of traditional treatments can help control the condition including steroids, specific treatments for individual MS symptoms and disease-modifying therapies and medicines.
Cannabis medicines & MS symptom control
Many patients have found that using Cannabis medicines to control their MS symptoms can be incredibly helpful.
Dr Anthony Ordman, senior clinical adviser and hon. clinical director at Integro Medical Cannabis Clinics said: “Over the years I have treated many MS patients in my clinics. Whilst they generally receive excellent care for their MS, the secondary conditions such as chronic back pain can be neglected.
“Traditional pharmaceutical pain medicines often have unpleasant side effects such as brain fog and constipation and frequently stop working after a few weeks. Cannabis medicines can prove extremely helpful in the pain management of MS patients pain because they reduce muscle spasm and inflammation.”
The wholistic approach
In the overall management and improvement in quality of life for a patient, many elements need to be assessed and different approaches tried to see if they work for the individual.
Emotional support and being monitored and listened to by a trusted healthcare professional are absolutely vital. At Integro Medical Clinics specialist cannabis practise nurse, Sophie Hayes, is very experienced in dealing with MS patients and on call to support and deal with any questions they may have.
“Managing the symptoms of MS often requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Every individual’s presentation is different and benefits from a combination of pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods,” said Sophie.
“These can include physiotherapy exercises, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS), cooling and/or heat therapy, supportive braces, alternative therapies and CBT.
“In addition to this, cannabis medicines can be a useful prescription to help manage the pain and relax the muscles. This can enable individuals living with MS to engage with these methods and regain a greater sense of control over their symptom management.
There are several organisations in the UK that MS patients can turn to including the National Back Pain Association – BackCare, the MS Society and the MS Trust (see contact details below).
Denice Logan Rose, executive director, BackCare, commented: “BackCare can offer practical and emotional support to MS patients living with back pain through education, information, advice and a small network of UK based branches.
“Even though it can be one of many side effects of MS it should not be underestimated the distress back pain can cause. Turning to an organisation like BackCare for support can help alleviate the stress, anxiety and discomfort that arises from the added complication of back pain.”
She continued: “Back and neck pain can affect MS patients for a number of different reasons. For example, spasticity, sitting in one position for too long, incorrect use of mobility aids, struggling with mobility, or possibly the same type of wear and tear that many people without MS experience.
“These pains can often get neglected within the overall larger framework of an MS diagnosis.
“At BackCare we are constantly investigating new approaches to back pain management to try to help people living with MS to have an improved quality of life and less discomfort.”
The patient’s story
Sarah Martin is a seasoned cannabis advocate and activist for Project 21. She is 51-years-old and first began to manifest symptoms of MS in 2002.
However, it was misdiagnosed for a couple of years as Dion Beret syndrome.
“As time passed the symptoms spread from numb feet and mood swings with depression, to an absolute physical inability to get out of bed or make a cup of tea. Even swallowing and speech became a challenge,” Sarah said.
She was then correctly diagnosed with relapsing and remitting MS but refused to be treated in hospital and struggled on at home.
Sarah was at her lowest ebb, when a friend suggested to her that she try cannabis, as she had heard it could have a positive effect on MS symptoms.
“At once my leg spasms reduced and the constant ache, I felt in my body decreased,” she added.
“I was finally able to get a good night’s sleep and relax, leading to a huge elevation in my mood.”
Sarah has become a dedicated cannabis proponent and continues to use medical cannabis to improve the quality of her life and control her MS symptoms.
Dr Anthony Ordman added: “Integro Clinics Ltd always recommend remaining under the care and treatment of your GP and specialist for your condition, while using cannabis-based medicines, and the Integro clinical team would always prefer to work in collaboration with them.”
If you would like further information, or to make an appointment for a medical consultation, please contact us at Integro Clinics:
To contact BackCare: +44 (0) 208 977 5474
https://www.mssociety.org.uk/care-and-support/local-support – @mssocietyuk
https://www.ms-uk.org/ – @MSUK6
https://mstrust.org.uk/about-ms – @MSTrust
https://shift.ms/ – @shiftms
Can CBD help you lower your alcohol intake?
Thanks to long days working from home and home schooling stresses, many of us have upped our alcohol intake during the Covid-19 pandemic – can CBD help us put down the bottle?
The Covid 19 pandemic has caused a lot of people to change their habits, and not always for the better.
Research has shown that more than a fifth of people admitted drinking more alcohol than usual during lockdown, rising to two fifths of parents and those on furlough.
And while a glass of wine at the end of the day is seen by many as a small treat, it’s not a harmless hobby; even moderate alcohol consumption – around seven to 14 drinks per week – is thought to be associated with a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease.
Those looking for a way to relax at the end of the day might want to consider the ever-increasing range of CBD drinks, which offer the same calming effects without any of the side effects.
In fact, they’d be in good company; earlier this year, CBD drinks brand TRIP made the headlines when it was revealed that its products were flying off the shelves at the Queen’s farm shop.
The Windsor Farm Shop sells goods from the Royal Estates, but, according to reports, it also recently enjoyed huge demand for TRIP before selling out completely.
Each can, which is infused with 15mg of CBD, has also been popular at the Queen’s Tennis Club in Kensington, alongside stockists such as Selfridges, Liberty, Fenwick, Planet Organic, Harvey Nichols and Daylesford Farm.
Co-founder Olivia Ferdi, a Cambridge-educated lawyer who left her career to launch TRIP, said: “We’re thrilled so many customers are finding much needed calm with TRIP, especially in these particularly tricky times.
“Lockdown has been very tough and it’s so important to unwind in stressful moments.”
Meanwhile Craig Hutchison, founder of Ceder’s non-alcoholic gin and CBD Botanical Spirit, Maria and Craig’s, says booze-free options are becoming more popular with both those who are teetotal and those who want to cut down on alcohol.
“We’re seeing popularity increasing across all demographics and age groups,” he said.
“A lot of people are resorting to alcohol and self-medicating [during the pandemic] and it’s up to each individual to decide when they should or shouldn’t drink alcohol, but I would say that when you’re stressed and anxious, it’s not always the way to go.”
While there have been calls to regulate CBD in the same way as alcohol, the two are not comparable, not least when it comes to the harms associated with them.
Alcohol misuse is connected with domestic violence, sexual assault, liver toxicity, cancers and neurodegeneration, among a range of other ill-effects. CBD, on the other hand, has actually been shown to have health benefits, including stress and pain relief.
It appears that more people are turning away from alcohol and to CBD for that stress-busting effect; a poll released at the end of 2020 found that more than a third (33 per cent) of Britons have tried CBD products, while 42 percent have increased their usage since the outbreak of Covid-19.
More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they had found CBD products to be effective, with anxiety the most common reason for using them – making the fizz of a can of CBD just as alluring as a G&T.
Cannabis “significantly reduced” fibromyalgia pain – study
Cannabis was found to improve symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, when used alongside prescription medication.
Medical cannabis has been linked to a reduction in pain and other symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia, according to new data published in the Journal of Cannabis Research.
An Italian researcher explored the long-term use of various types of cannabis preparations in 38 patients with treatment-resistant fibromyalgia.
Participants in the study consumed cannabis for up to twelve months in combination with their prescribed medications.
The author reported that “significant improvements were observed” following the initiation of cannabis therapy in most patients.
Medical cannabis therapy was found to “significantly reduce pain intensity”, with approximately half of the patients reporting a reduction in pain.
Most patients reporting response to therapy said their pain intensity had decreased by at least 50 percent.
Participants also reported a decline in their disability index and overall symptom severity.
The most common side effect experienced by participants was mental confusion, however no patients experienced serious adverse effects, with most who were responsive to medical cannabis reporting “no or mild side effects.”
Subjects also did not appear to develop long-term tolerance to the substance, as they had no need to increase their dosages of medical cannabis over the duration of the study.
The author concluded: “The current study revealed the positive effects of MC [medical cannabis] therapy in some patients with FMS [ fibromyalgia syndrome] and resistance to conventional treatment.
“Thus, cannabinoids may be considered for FMS treatment, although several side effects may still occur.
“Further studies are warranted to confirm these findings.”
The data supports a previous Italian study published last year, which demonstrated that medical cannabis improves the efficacy of standard analgesic fibromyalgia treatments.
Published in the Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology journal, the study followed 102 patients who had not responded well to conventional treatments and collected data over a six-month period from patients, who self-reported fibromyalgia symptoms, how well they slept, and feelings of fatigue, as well as depression and anxiety levels.
While only a third of fibromyalgia patients reported reduced symptoms of the disease overall, cannabis did improve overall quality of life for some.
The study of 367 patients found that pain intensity decreased when treated with medical cannabis, leading the team to state that “cannabis therapy should be considered to ease the symptom burden among those fibromyalgia patients who are not responding to standard care”.
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