Natalie Meredith turned to CBD after developing restless leg syndrome (RLS). Speaking with Cannabis Health, she explains how it helped her to fall asleep and feel less anxious.
Restless legs syndrome is a condition of the nervous system that causes an overwhelming irresistible urge to move the legs. It causes a crawling sensation in the feet, calves, thighs and occasionally arms. While it can happen during the day, it often gets worse at night preventing sleep.
It is not known what causes RSL but doctors suspect it may be associated with how the body processes dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical produced in the brain that is associated with muscle movement. It is also thought to be potentially caused by kidney issues or low iron levels.
Natalie left Australia to move to England before noticing she was experiencing bursts of energy in her legs. She is not a huge fan of going to her GP because of her previous experiences with misdiagnoses and medication so tried to cope as best she could.
Natalie said: “I would try to go to sleep but I would get this energy in my legs. I tried to ignore it but it would get worse until I couldn’t sleep or rest. I couldn’t watch anything on my laptop without being really disturbed. It was frustrating because I couldn’t sleep. I would try so many things before I researched what was happening.”
She added: “I tried drinking wine every night to put me to sleep. I don’t use cannabis so that wasn’t an option for me. I finally looked it up on the NHS website and that’s what told me exactly what it was. I had every symptom and I found out I had it worse than most people.”
Natalie was not just experiencing restless leg syndrome (RLS) at night when she was trying to sleep but also when she was trying to go about her daily life. She would experience it on public transport or planes when travelling.
However, the lack of sleep was one of the more difficult symptoms she experienced.
“I would not have any sleep or a minimal amount then I would go to bed that night knowing that I am not going to get any rest. It weighed on my mental health so I was irritated. I was mad at everything but nothing could fix it. I was exhausted and my focus was down so I couldn’t concentrate on work or the littlest thing would set me off.”
She added: “It led me to go out of my way to find things to do at night so I wasn’t just sitting there. Oddly enough, even though I was irritable, I started socialising and drinking more. That lifestyle just continued and it was really bad. I’m not a typically big drinker yet this was causing me to have wine every night. Not only that but sleep deprivation gives me sleep paralysis so it was a horrible vicious cycle.”
Sleep paralysis is when a person cannot move or speak as they are waking up or falling asleep. It can be distressing or cause anxiety.
Natalie continued: “My mind was going to sleep then I would be woken up by my own legs kicking. I didn’t understand why I was doing this to myself. There was no outside thing causing this that wasn’t letting me sleep. It was almost like self-sabotage.”
Natalie began to research alternative methods to see if there was any way she could control her symptoms as her GP’s suggested more pharmaceutical options as dopamine replacements.
She was very aware that this was not sustainable as the available treatments left her unable to function.
She explained: “There is ongoing research into what causes restless leg syndrome but so far they have no confirmation. They think it may be how dopamine gets distributed throughout the body. So those with RLS are missing something or it goes elsewhere or doesn’t do its job properly.”
Restless leg syndrome and CBD
As Natalie was aware of the growing cannabis and CBD movement, she decided that she had nothing to lose.
“I tried CBD and it worked so quickly. I got a CBD vape which was quite strong with different terpenes and I can’t explain the relief that I had. I couldn’t believe this had never been suggested before and I literally had to guess. The vape kicks in quickly so I don’t have to sit there and wait for half an hour but it also doesn’t last long.”
Natalie kept increasing the strength of the vape as she needed faster results and to fall asleep more easily. However, she started to notice different things in her life improving such as her anxiety levels. As well as her anxiety, she noticed that her emotions were more balanced along with her temper. She felt it gave her the space to process the emotions rather than being reactionary.
Although Natalie noticed that the CBD she was taking had a very definite effect on her RLS. It was the anxiety relief she noticed that tipped her into becoming a business owner. As an Australian woman, during COVID, with a family on the other side of the world, CBD provided her relief from anxiety especially as she lived alone.
“It started to help with my anxiety. If I feel anxious or fearful and I’m on my own then my family is in the opposite timezone. If I was having an anxious day or teetering on the edge of a panic attack and I want to call my parents then its 4am where they are. I couldn’t do that so I would need to deal with it by myself.”
Developing a CBD brand
Natalie began to research how she could develop her own CBD brand which she named Empwr Botanics. She began with oils but plans to branch out into skincare in 2022 starting with bath salts. She is aware of the effect that skin problems can have on mental health.
“I’m not a fan of make-up and don’t wear it if I can get away with it. If you use CBD as oil and are naturally less stressed that shows in your skin. It’s the first place you see it.”
When Natalie announced to her family that she was moving into the CBD industry, there was a difference in opinion. While she was surprised at how receptive they were, she chose her words carefully.
“My dad was very receptive towards it. He is very abreast of what is happening in the world and he could see what was happening in the US with legalisation. CBD was available everywhere so he said go for it. He could see what a massive industry it would be.”
She added: “My mum is Jamaican but she didn’t want to know about it at first. It was only after she saw an article in the newspaper one day that mentioned how CBD helps anxiety that she got really excited.”
Natalie’s brother, a footballer, was already interested in CBD for muscle recovery following training or matches.
“My older brother is a footballer and when I told him, he started taking it more regularly. He swears by it for inflammation. He is now 34 which means he doesn’t recover the same way. Another brother has arthritis and he uses it for pain. It’s cool to see everyone you are connected to who has some form of issue using it and it just works.”
Can CBD help with feelings of sadness on blue Monday?
Blue Monday may or may not be a real thing, but feelings of sadness, anxiety and stress are.
The third Monday in January is often referred to as ‘blue Monday.’ But what is it and could taking CBD help with feelings of depression, stress or anxiety?
What is blue Monday?
Blue Monday is thought to be the most depressing day of the year.
It was created after psychologist Cliff Arnall was asked to create a formula for the holiday blues. It falls on the third Monday of January each year. While there is a lot of debate as to whether it is real or not, depression and anxiety can be difficult to cope with.
January can be a really hard time of year for those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It may be due to the increase in cold weather, post-holiday sadness and credit card statements.
Real or not, it can be an opportunity to start talking about how depression or anxiety affect us all.
Could CBD help to lift our mood during this difficult month?
CBD for depression
Symptoms of depression can include a persistent low mood, unhappiness, low self-esteem or feeling tearful. It can cause a loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, withdrawal, tiredness or sleep issues. In severe forms, it may also cause suicidal thoughts.
CBD may have a positive interaction with the hormone, serotonin in our brains. Serotonin is involved with different functions in our bodies but it can impact a person’s happiness or emotional well-being. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression.
A study examined how CBD could make a difference to people who struggle with seasonal depression. Participants in the study were given 400mg of CBD or a placebo. Researchers reported those given the CBD reported less anxiety than those on the placebo.
CBD for anxiety
Anxiety is a reaction to stress creating an apprehensive feeling about what may happen. Some people struggle with strong feelings of anxiety every day. These feelings of anxiety can be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) or social anxiety disorder.
A study on CBD and sleep quality also found it may reduce anxiety. It involved 72 participants with 47 experiencing anxiety and 25 with poor quality sleep. Each participant was given a daily dose of 25mg of CBD then asked to report how they felt afterwards. The researchers recorded that 79.2 per cent recorded reduced anxiety and 66.7 per cent said their sleep had improved after the first month.
CBD for stress
Our bodies naturally produce a hormone called cortisol which is responsible for our feelings of stress. When we encounter fear or a stressful situation, our brain signals our nerve and hormone systems. Adrenaline and cortisol rush into our body causing a spike in blood pressure and heart rate.
Cortisol increases the glucose in the bloodstream and increases the availability of substances that can repair tissue. It controls mood, motivation and fear.
In one study, male participants with Parkinson’s disease were given CBD then asked to undergo a simulated public speaking test. Researchers reported that an oral dose of 300 mg of CBD given 90 minutes before the test reduce the participant’s anxiety and stress.
The best way to take CBD
There is no right or wrong way to take CBD if you are feeling blue.
The most common ways to take CBD are oils or tinctures, edibles or vaping. Each person may have an individual preference for one method over another. Oils or tinctures can be great if you need a quick, easy way to take a dose but vaping helps the CBD to reach the system faster. This could be a great choice if you are struggling with panic attacks and need a faster dose.
Edibles are a discreet way to take CBD and they also taste nicer than some oils. The best way to decide what is right for you is to try different methods until you find the one you prefer.
Could CBD be the key to a healthier 2022?
We explore the myriad of ways CBD could help you have a healthy 2022.
The start of a new year is always the time for making changes, setting goals and new promises, could CBD help you make some positive changes this year?
At the end of 2020, 43 per cent of one survey’s participants resolved to eat healthier, while 50 per cent aimed to exercise more. And that was after one year of a pandemic; as we now enter the third, Cannabis Health looks at how CBD could be the key to a healthier 2022 for you.
What is CBD?
Its official name is cannabidiol and is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis.
Unlike its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive enzymes and therefore does not cause a ‘high’.
Although studies are continually ongoing, it has not yet been found to have any effects indicative of abuse or dependence.
Here are just a few of the ways CBD can help you feel healthier this year.
We thought we’d start with the big guns; period pain. Something almost every woman suffers from to some degree, the monthly cramps can have a huge impact on your mood and lifestyle.
With its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, CBD is a perfect remedy for menstrual difficulty – and there are so many ways you could take it!
While oils and edibles are perfect for a quick fix, there are other methods that can be more enjoyable and direct.
Craving chocolate during your period is totally normal, so why not mix a few drops of CBD oil to a soothing mug of hot chocolate?
Or if you prefer lounging in the bath, throw in a CBD bath bomb to help you fizz away to your happy place feeling relaxed and calm (they’ll even help with lower back pain too).
Want a more direct route? You can’t get more precise than CBD tampons. Vaginal absorption is one of the fastest ways to get a dose into the system, as the walls of the vagina absorb the CBD immediately into the bloodstream where it can get to work.
New year’s diet
We’ve all been there – pledging to eat well, maybe even lose a few pounds, but how can CBD help you eat healthier?
Adding hemp (the plant from which CBD hails) can have numerous benefits – it’s considered a superfood after all.
A great source of Omega 3 and 6, polyunsaturated fats that cannot be manufactured by the body, hemp is thought to help reduce cholesterol, and be associated with improvements in skin, heart health and mental health.
Hemp seeds are also a fantastic, complete protein source so if you’re a gym-goer, athlete or body builder looking to improve their macros, a sprinkling could work wonders!
A good night’s sleep
It’s no secret that good health starts when you’re not even awake. A bad night’s sleep can cause a ripple effect of unhealthy decisions. But CBD can help.
A study from 2019 with 72 patients, 25 of whom experienced poor sleep, looked at whether CBD could improve sleep. The participants were given a capsule containing 25 milligrams of CBD and in the first month, 66.7 per cent reported better sleep.
With several methods available, there’s no right or wrong way to take CBD for sleep, but many find oils and edibles work best, although it entirely depends on your own endocannabinoid system.
Avoiding anxiety and burnout
The added pressure we put on ourselves at this time of year, not to mention the current climate we’re living in, can leave us feeling frazzled and burnt out. This is where CBD could come into its own.
In 2021, a review of all the research so far found that CBD can have a positive impact on anxiety and stress. Scientists believe that CBD works by interacting with receptors in the brain to potential sending signals to the neurotransmitter, serotonin.
While more research is needed to uncover how precisely the two react, what we do know is that serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for mental health and that lower levels are sometimes associated with depression or anxiety, which why the medicinal treatment for anxiety is usually selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Whatever you’re using CBD for, and however you choose to take it, the advice from professionals is always to start low and go slow, upping the dose only once you’re sure of the effects – and always speak to your doctor before making changes to your medication.
Yoga and CBD – how a new event hopes to combine benefits of both
If you have ever been curious about cannabinoids or yoga, then this is could be the event for you.
Practising yoga is perfect for connecting the body, while CBD may help you to deal with stress and anxiety.
After the stress of the past two years, we could all do with making relaxation and unwinding one of our new year’s resolutions. Taking up yoga or introducing CBD could be a great start to 2022.
The yoga will be led by Victoria Logan, who has been working in the cannabis space for three years, alongside teaching yoga. Roísín Delaney of cannabis consultancy firm, Neon Green, will provide information on the endocannabinoid system while Herbotany Health will be providing CBD products for attendees.
Victoria has been teaching yoga for around four years after completing her teacher training in India, and is passionate about mental health, CBD and reconnecting with the body.
Victoria said: “I came to the cannabis space through the medical route instead of wellness. I’ve been working for the Centre for Medical Cannabis for about three years now trying to change policy around prescriptions. I’ve also been using cannabis myself for a long time as well so I was able to cross over into the CBD market.”
She added: “I understood that people were quite curious about using CBD as a supplement. I met a lot of interesting patients who were using it as part of their daily rituals, especially if they have members of their family who are quite sick. They use CBD as a supplement to help them manage that situation as well. It seemed like a really natural progression to start talking about CBD and introducing it into my practice.”
Yoga and mental health
Yoga and CBD share a lot in common when it comes to the health benefits they could offer. This is especially true when it comes to helping with mental health conditions.
“It slows everything [down] and allows you to connect the mind and body,” explained Victoria.
“CBD is a natural product that shares a lot of the sort of healing and calming aspects that yoga does. It allows you to come into a correct headspace while giving you the space to manage things. It melts away a lot of mental health issues especially with meditation and pranayama which is a breathing technique we use in yoga.”
Victoria stressed that the session will involve a gentle vinyasa practice, with attendees at the event led through breathing techniques and given CBD to sample. The variation on each pose will allow beginners and experts alike to tailor the event to their experience level.
Although yoga is often associated with flexibility, it isn’t a requirement to get started. There are many different physical and mental health conditions that can benefit from taking part or introducing a regular yoga routine.
“You hear people saying, oh no, I can’t do that as I’m too stiff. You are too stiff because the body is holding on to that trauma or illness, grief or anger, whatever situation has happened to you,” said Victoria.
“With yoga practise, it really works on those areas. Especially a practice called Yin yoga which holds postures for three to five breaths. It’s very floor-based and restorative while also being calming and passive. You may find it a bit uncomfortable to begin with, but the longer you sit in the posture, you learn that it’s actually really beneficial as you are melting away the stress.
“You are opening the body, allowing it that little bit of space and recovery. Then with the CBD, it’s a lovely extra thing to have in the practise. It can help with stiffness in the body and help with holding the poses for longer.”
Endocannabinoid system education
The event will begin with an introduction to the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Victoria said: “I think it’s really fundamental that people understand that we have it in our bodies. A lot of people don’t actually know it’s there and that comes down to education. We will introduce the ECS, receptors and how the plant interacts with that.
“We will also have a bit of pranayama which is a breathing technique and w will all take some of the Herbotany CBD. There will also be little pots of ointment for self-massage too. We invite people to smell the product and consciously use it, to take time to appreciate it and nourish the body.”
The event is hoped to be the first of many, with plans to develop a series that can be held across the UK, in person and online.
“Yoga workshops are a really nice thing to attend. It’s a nice environment where you meet lots of lovely people who are on similar journeys or paths. If people are dealing with things, especially at the moment, or something traumatic has happened then it can create a safe space to go and release some of that stress or tension,” added Victoria.
“I love organising events and wellness workshops which bring people together while creating community vibes. I think people would really respond to it at the moment because of the last couple of years. It feels like the next natural thing for us to do is to step outside of this little Covid bubble to create some wellness events and help people move back to whatever normal life is.”
For more information on the event, click here
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