Caomihe Ni Drisceoil shares how she uses CBD, alongside other natural remedies, to help combat the pain from arthritis and migraines.
Caoimhe Ni Drisceoil was diagnosed with arthritis when she was in her 50s. The pain began in her knees before moving to her hands and other joints. She also suffered from painful migraines.
“It was a gradual development over the years, to a point where it was becoming uncomfortable to do the things I loved such as gardening or walking,” she said.
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. It can affect people of all ages but particularly, older people. Symptoms can include joint pain, tenderness and stiffness, inflammation and restricted movement. It is thought that over 900,000 people in Ireland live with arthritis pain.
Patients will often have to make lifestyle adjustments to help ease the pain they experience. Caoimhe learned to avoid causing extra pressure on her joints if the pain was particularly bad, but she also struggled to fall asleep.
“If I was having a bad day then I wouldn’t stress the area that was inflamed. I would break up what I was doing during the day to relieve the pressure on that area and go back to it again if the pain eased off or I would take medication in the evening,” she said.
“Sometimes it would stop me from sleeping which is difficult for your physical and mental health, as well as not being able to do things you love. It’s also stopped me from learning a musical instrument which was on my bucket list. I haven’t been able to do this because of the joints in my hands being too painful.”
Natural arthritis pain relief
Caoimhe has always been a big believer in natural remedies or homoeopathic alternatives. She often took echinacea for colds or flu. When she began researching pain relief, she looked for the natural options first.
She explained: “I started off with glucosamine and chlondroitin first, they are herbal remedies that you can get over the counter to ease the joints. Glucosamine and vitamins help the cartilage around the joints. The chlondroitin helps the glucose absorb into your body quicker. I was on that for several years while adding paracetamol if I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep from it.”
Caomihe had been experiencing migraine pain at the same time, and was struggling to find a pain relief option that helped her with both. As her doctor prescribed pain relief, she began to explore if CBD could offer an alternative.
“I was on half beta-blockers for over a year and they weren’t stopping me from getting the migraines,” she said.
“My doctors wanted to increase the pain relief and I wasn’t happy with that which is why I started taking CBD,” she said. “They were daily headaches that were very uncomfortable. It would make me miserable and stop me from going out.”
CBD for arthritis
Caomihe began to take CBD drops in the morning. She describes experiencing the effects “almost immediately” on her migraines. However, when it came to arthritis pain, it took further lifestyle changes.
“I noticed that once I was on it, I didn’t get full-blown migraines. I would get headaches, but they never developed into migraine symptoms. I wouldn’t get the tingling in the arms or the tongue, the brain fog or lose the ability to think clearly. It would just be a normal headache,” she said.
Caoimhe found that CBD was just part of the many different things she could do to fight the pain rather than a cure for everything. She combined her CBD intake with dietary changes. One of her daughters is a personal trainer who was able to design a diet plan with pain relief in mind.
She said: “There are things that flare up inflammation in the body such as bell peppers, aubergines. Those [can be] bad if you are prone to inflammation so I avoided those, added more protein for energy and stopped eating gluten as a personal preference. I also gave up red wine, chocolate and cheese as they were triggers for my headaches.”
She also started to combine the CBD with ginger and turmeric which are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
“It’s part of a whole collection of things that you do to alleviate the problem,” she said.
But she does hope that the CBD industry will eventually regulate the way that dosage is worked out to make it easier for consumers.
“Figuring out the right dosage is the worst thing, especially if you are new to it,” she added.
“You do tend to find one bottle and stick to it because you get used to the system. I know they need to declare what is in the bottle but it’s not put out clearly. It doesn’t make it any easier to compare one week to another what strength you are taking.”
The difference in her pain levels has been incredible, Caoimhe says, noticing it most when she took her first holiday since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Two years ago, going on holiday would have been difficult because I would have to carry my own luggage, and would struggle going up and down the steps of the plane. This time I was able to put the case up by myself over the seats. I suddenly realised I had been able to do that and walk up all the steps without any pain,” she added.
“That was something that really shocked me because we hadn’t done anything like that since Covid. I had been in my normal routine and not really noticed it.”
Caoimhe lives in a rural part of Ireland, but thankfully access to CBD has not been an issue. The town she is closest to has many health food stores that stock Irish CBD products. She says she would consider trying medical cannabis for the pain if it increases over time, but with the restrictions concerning chronic pain through Ireland’s MCAP program, this is not currently an option.
“I was taking medication from the doctor for years that was doing my liver absolutely no good, THC is a natural, herbal thing,” she said.
“I would have taken CBD for either condition, but I was lucky that it worked for both. I was able to come off the medication from my doctor as a result.
“I haven’t taken beta-blockers or anti-inflammatories in a couple of years, not since I’ve been taking the CBD.”
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