Diagnosed with a personality disorder and experiencing debilitating anxiety which left him housebound, Craig*, had exhausted all treatment options and was losing all hope. He reveals how medical cannabis has helped him see the light.
My health issues started around 2014, when I was two years into studying to become a nurse. I ended up having a nervous breakdown, which resulted in me choosing to leave the course and return home. I entered the mental health system from that point onwards.
In 2016 I was diagnosed with mixed and other personality disorders. I tried Cognitive Analytical Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) [types of talking therapy] and exposure therapy to deal with the anxiety, but after that I hit the end of the road.
My GP considers me treatment resistant, as NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence) guidelines don’t recommend the prescription of mood stabilisers or antidepressants for people with personality disorders. The NHS basically said they couldn’t help me anymore, I just had to learn how to deal with things.
I wasn’t able to work due to my anxiety and was relying on benefits, I was in a really bad place. I ended up becoming a social recluse, I wouldn’t go outside at all and was left feeling completely hopeless.
Around 2018 I started researching how CBD could help with anxiety and then I became aware of the medicinal benefits of THC. I’m the type of person, who in school would have not said ‘boo to a goose’ – people would never have associated me with cannabis – but I began accessing it illegally and medicating on a daily basis.
Seeing in technicolour
For me the world is a very scary place, I constantly feel as though I’m shrouded in darkness, but when I medicate it’s as though I see in technicolor. It helps to empty my mind and there’s no longer a voice in my head telling me it’s not safe. I’m able to engage my DBT skills and tolerate the world, whereas before cannabis I just didn’t see the point.
Cannabis has made me realise how much of my life I have actually lost over the last 30 years. Before I wasn’t living, I was simply existing. Even my family have commented on how much more talkative and happier I am, rather than closed off all the time. I’m actually excited to be able to go outside again.
Earlier this year I got a legal prescription through Project Twenty21.
I never thought getting a prescription would be an option for me with my mental health conditions. I remember calling the clinic the first time and repeating that I had a personality disorder over and over again, because I could not accept that they were still willing to see me.
The clinic listened with such care and compassion and now I see a brilliant doctor. I know what he’s prescribing me and I’m in control of what I’m taking.
There are many other people like myself, with mental health conditions, who don’t realise medical cannabis is an option for them because of the stigma associated with cannabis and psychosis.
When I tell people that not only do I have cannabis prescribed for anxiety, but a psychiatrist actually prescribed, it shocks them.
I don’t think there’s enough awareness about medical cannabis in generally, and definitely not that opportunities such as Project Twenty21 exist.
Accessing cannabis treatment has made me feel empowered, as though I am taking control of my own destiny. I’m seeing a therapist privately as well, which is one of the best things I’ve done.
I tried every avenue in terms of accessing mental health care through the NHS but it’s very one-size fits all – most likely down to a lack of funding – and I didn’t fit into that box.
If I hadn’t of been able to get this prescription I don’t know what other treatment would have been available for me and I think I would have lost all hope.
It has shown me that I can experience joy and the world is not the miserable, dark place I thought it was.
*Craig’s name has been changed to protect his identity
Clinical trial will assess if CBD can be used to treat PTSD
A new clinical trial could be a breakthrough moment for the treatment of PTSD
US biotech firm Ananda Scientific has launched clinical trials of a cannabis-based treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The company has teamed up with New York University Grossman School of Medicine to carry out the eight-week study.
The Phase II double-blind, randomised trial will involve 120 patients in a large scale placebo-controlled experiment which could be a breakthrough moment for the drug.
If successful, the trial will be an important step on the journey to winning regulatory approval Ananda’s Nantheia treatment, a drug incorporating CBD into a liquid application.
PTSD is a common mental health disorder which occurs in people following a traumatic experience and is a particular problem among people who have served in the armed forces.
A 2014 study found as many as 12.9 percent of US soldiers who served in Iraq displayed some symptoms of PTSD.
Recent months have seen warnings health workers on the front line during the Covid-19 crisis could also be experiencing PTSD.
A study in the British Medical Journal compiled earlier this year found 39.5 percent of staff on critical care wards ‘met the threshold for probable clinical significance’ when surveyed for PTSD symptoms.
The study will also evaluate its impact on patients with neurocognitive impairments resulting from a traumatic brain injury.
Sohail R. Zaidi, Ananda’s president, said: “This is an important milestone for Ananda’s clinical development program, and we look forward to continuing to work with the NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
“We are impressed by the scientific rigour and professionalism of the NYU team in getting a cutting-edge program in place to test the efficacy of our very promising drug.
“The initiation of patient enrolment in this study reinforces our commitment to our goal of improving health and wellness empowered by cannabinoid science.
“This is also an important step in our efforts to provide patients with PTSD with potentially improved therapeutic options.”
This trial is being led by Esther Blessing, assistant professor of psychiatry and Charles R. Marmar, chair of psychiatry.
Dr Marmar leads NYU’s PTSD research programme and is a leading expert in clinical trials for innovative treatments for PTSD and related conditions.
He said: “We are excited to get this important trial underway. Our collaboration with Ananda Scientific allows us to progress in the development of evidence-based CBD products for this debilitating condition.”
Friends and CBD founders donate profits to mental health charity
10 percent of the brand’s profits will go to the Mental Health Foundation this month
Two friends who co-founded a CBD brand after experiencing anxiety, are donating a percentage of the company’s profits to a mental health charity this month.
Best friends and CBD co-founders, Laura Walton and Catherine Meardon know the importance of looking after your mental health.
Both of them have experienced anxiety either personally, or through a loved one.
This June, the pair who co-founded CBD brand Moi+Me, are donating 10 percent of their profits to the Mental Health Foundation to help raise awareness.
The charity provides support for those experiencing mental health issues, as well as campaigning to raise awareness and reduce stigma.
The friends and former colleagues founded Moi+Me after Laura’s struggles with anxiety after losing her mum.
She says discovering CBD, along with other tools and being able to be open about her experience helped her find her “way out”.
As a friend, Catherine has found it difficult to know what to say and together they wanted to build a brand that could provide tools and support, as well as taking the confusion out of CBD.
“Both of us have been touched personally by anxiety, either through our own suffering or that of those we love,” said Laura.
“I used CBD along with other tools during her mental health journey and found them to be a great support, but I didn’t want to only create a brand or product, we want to help support as much as we can by encouraging people to take extra care of themselves and have self-love.”
She added: “It is our mission to raise further awareness of mental health, we are fully aware it can still be hard to be open about mental health in fear of being judged so by supporting this charity who in turn helps others also suffering feels a perfect fit for our brand.”
The concept for Moi + Me came from the idea that our busy lifestyles leave us feeling pulled in different directions with little time for reflection and self-care.
The range includes CBD balm, temple roller, peppermint oil mist and massage candle to encourage customers to take time for themselves.
Catherine added: “We both understand the importance of getting your life balance right. If you don’t allow time in your life for reflection and relaxation, things can very quickly feel on top of you.
“Our busy lifestyles can leave us feeling like you have one soul and two minds. One ‘Moi’ side of us is thriving externally while the other ‘Me’ side feels tired, worn out and has too much on.
“We’ve designed our high-quality, pure CBD product range to help bring moments of calm into your daily routine through a combination of stimulating flavours and scents.”
Access mental health information and support via the Mental Health Foundation
How should I take CBD for anxiety?
Increasingly people are finding relief from anxiety with CBD.
Living through a pandemic has made us all, understandably, a lot more anxious and increasingly people are finding relief in CBD.
Whether we’re worried about finances and or concerned for our health, what’s being termed Covid-anxiety has hit the population in a major way, with dedicated anxiety helplines even extending their hours of operation to accommodate demand.
Now, many people are turning to CBD to help them manage their anxiety – but is it effective? And, if so, how much should we be taking?
Is it effective?
It would appear so, yes.
A recent two-year review of the research so far has shown that CBD can have a significant positive impact on anxiety and stress.
The report, which examined worldwide clinical papers from 2019 and 2020, was produced by Florida-based Nutrition Formulators and published in the peer-reviewed Innovare Journal of Medical Science.
When focused specifically on anxiety, the studies showed that CBD reduced anticipator anxiety, such as speaking in public, by affecting the part of the brain that processes emotional information.
How does it work?
According to the authors of one 2015 review, CBD works by interacting with the cannabinoid type 1 receptor, the serotonin 5-HT1A receptor, and other receptors in the brain that regulate fear and anxiety-induced behaviours.
In a more recent 2020 study, researchers evaluated CBD’s effects on 397 adults with a variety of ailments.
Those who received CBD treatment for anxiety or depression reportedly experienced improvements in their ability to perform daily functions and reduce pain and anxiety or depression symptoms.
How should I take it – and much should I take?
There are a variety of CBD products on the market, so which you choose will depend largely on when and why you’re feeling anxious.
Methods include the oral route, through tinctures, oils and gummies, or more topical remedies, such as balms and creams.
For anxiety, you will probably be more suited to an oral administration method, as this will enter the bloodstream, but here too there is a world of difference between products.
The effects of orally administered CBD, such as oils, edibles, or capsules, begin working within 30 minutes to 2 hours, as they have to work their way through the digestive system.
Products such as gummies are pleasant-tasting and discreet, meaning you can use them to relieve anxiety throughout the day. Alternatively, you could take a drop of oil in the morning with some food.
Smoking or vaping CBD oil on the other hand, results in more immediate effects, which may help people during especially stressful events, such as giving a speech.
In terms of dosage, as with using CBD for any issue or ailment, the key is to start low and go slow.
There is a misconception that you will only get the desired effect using a higher dose, but this is far from the truth; micro-dosing can be just as effective.
Studies have shown that between 300mg and 600mg a day is affective for controlling the symptoms of anxiety, but this is dependent on a number of factors, such as the type of CBD used and the consumer’s own health, weight and metabolism.
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