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Medical Marijuana For Chronic Illness

Medical Marijuana

When it comes to the use of marijuana in any form or for any purpose, I have found that people tend to place themselves one side of the fence or the other.  You either fully support it or you don’t at all.  There may be some “gray area” for people, but I have found that unless someone has something like cancer, marijuana its still considered taboo.  It’s part of the reason why I have hesitated for so long to write and publish this post.  Unfortunately there is a huge stigma attached to ANY cannabis use.  When you use the herb in any capacity you are typically labeled a pot head, hippie, or full blown drug addict.  And believe me, up until 6 months ago I carried many of the same preconceived notions about general marijuana use.  Even though I knew cannabis oil was being used for things like epilepsy/seizures, cancer, PTSD, glaucoma, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, autism, and Parkinson’s I was still somewhat on the fence about the place it has to treat other chronic conditions and serious medical issues.  I assumed people seeking a medical marijuana license were in it solely for the purpose of getting “high”.  Stoners rolling up a joint or packing a bong, smoking, coughing, laughing hysterically, and then gorging themselves to satisfy those darn munchies!

Don’t tell me that’s NOT what you think of when you picture someone smoking weed.  Save it.  I know I was right there with you…

However as I’ve said before, when you begin to live a life almost entirely bed/couch bound due to the extreme pain from a chronic pain disease like mine, you become desperate to find ANY bit of relief.     Traditional medicine prescribed by doctors usually comes with a huge array of side effects (both short and potentially long term) and in my case, NOTHING helped ease any of the pain and symptoms I was having.  Not only that, my doctors at Kaiser offered NO help or treatment or options or even suggestions on what I could do to help alleviate symptoms or slow the progression of my disease.  I was actually told NOT to come back to the neurosurgery department because there was absolutely nothing they could do.

Thanks again Kaiser for always putting your patients first.  Yuck, shame on you!

Modern medicine (and my insurance company failed me)… miserably.

Sure, I was having prescription drugs thrown at me but also told “Sorry I can’t help you” then shoved out of the doctors office.  Not only that, my condition was quickly causing me to fall into a deep depression. I felt helpless, hopeless, useless, and the side effects from the meds I was prescribed were causing suicidal thoughts, I cried ALL of the time, the pain was growing, my symptoms were progressing quickly, our lives’ were turned upside down, and I lived every single day in fear when I woke up because I had NO idea what my body would decide to do.  I lived minute to minute knowing that anytime, as each second passed there was a very high probability that I would feel utterly broken again.  Most days I could barely walk, my husband needed to carry me upstairs to bed and even to the bathroom sometimes when it was really bad.  I could no longer shield my family from seeing me at my worst and I was tired of feeling absolutely helpless.

So after living in absolute HELL for six months where the only ‘activities’ I was doing were my daughters volleyball practices & tournaments, I began to do some research on marijuana.  I wanted to see real studies, I wanted to know the science behind the plant, I wanted to know what it was specifically that was helping people, and side effects (short and long term).  It didn’t take long to realize I was completely and utterly clueless about marijuana (as is the general public).  Within the first few hours of my “research”, the stigma I was attaching to those seeking out a medical marijuana license was completely absolved.  Gone were the preconceived ideas and visions of Cheech & Chong bong sessions.

One of the first things I discovered was that there are over 60 different compounds within the plant (some would say closer to 80-100).  Each compound has its own purpose, effects, and own unique medicinal benefit.  Here are the most well known:

THC & CBD

THC & CBD Video

Wait what???  You can actually use marijuana and NOT get high?

Yup, absolutely!!!!

THC is the cannabinoid that produces the psychoactive effects so when you use a product with larger amounts of THC content, the more high you can/will get.  On the flip side though, CBD is 100% NON PSYCHOACTIVE.  You could take an entire bottle of high CBD tincture (not recommended) and will not feel the slightest bit “high”.  You can take CBD during the day, just before work, while exercising, with dinner, before attending an event, at bedtime, going bowling… it doesn’t matter.

CBD will NOT get you high!

Not only that, I also learned that CBD made from hemp (the stalks of the cannabis plant) is totally LEGAL in ALL 50 STATES!  You do not need a medical marijuana license, it can be order right online, delivered directly to your mail box, and nobody can say a thing about it.  As long as the THC content (that psychoactive compound) is below 0.3%, it won’t matter if you are in a legal MJ state or not.  In most cases if you are using quality products (from a reputable company who also offers lab analysis), CBD in your blood will not even show on a drug test.

I’m sure you’ve heard of children who suffer from seizures utilizing marijuana for a treatment option right?  A large number of seizure patients are using a strain called “Charlotte’s Web”.  You can watch this video below for that story (just click the picture).

Charlottes

Can you imagine being a parent of a child suffering with something like 300+ seizures a week?  What if you had to watch YOUR child go through seizure after seizure, scared, in pain, in and out of the emergency room, and still on numerous HEAVY prescription drugs which aren’t helping much anyways… would you turn to marijuana as a “Hail Mary” pass?  Perhaps.  Never say never.

And certainly you are thinking to yourself, “Well Corina, you don’t have seizures or cancer.  Your medical condition is entirely different.  Marijuana can’ help with your issues.  You just want to get high!”

Not true, even a little bit.

CBD is actually where I first started.  While I didn’t have seizures, I learned that CBD was providing relief for many of those suffering from things like PTSD, anxiety disorders, depression, headaches, sleep issues, inflammation & gut issues, and of course pain.  I ordered from a reputable company online, they offer FULL lab analysis on each of their products (SO important), it required no medical marijuana license, they would ship right to my doorstep, AND because the THC content was less than 0.3% (most are 0% THC)  I wouldn’t get high.  Awesome.  Let’s see what this is all about.  I prayed and wished and crossed my fingers and toes I would be provided with some relief…. any amount of relief would be welcome.

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Since CBD needs to first be built up in the system, I wasn’t hopeful I would feel any effects in the first couple of days.  I had heard first hand from many individuals that it took them at least 1-2 weeks before enough CBD was built in their systems to notice any changes.  Not me.  First dose of CBD I immediately felt more relaxed and anxiety improved almost instantly.  A huge sense of calming came over me.  After a few days, I noticed some minor changes with pain but nothing like I was hoping for.  If I was only looking to help with issues like depression, anxiety, headaches, and minor aches & pains… CBD would suit me just fine.

After a few weeks of regular CBD doses and only small dents being made with my pain, I knew it was time to step things up.  I had heard over and over again that to get the full benefits of the plant, all/multiple compounds should be present.  The “entourage effect” is basically what you have when you get to see the full cannabis plant in ALL of its glory… THC, CBD, terpenes (the flavors within marijuana), CBN, CBG, amongst many others.  This is the biggest reason why the pharmaceutical drug “Marinol” isn’t an ideal treatment for those suffering with chronic OR acute issues.  Marinol only contains THC, not any of the other therapeutic compounds found within the plant AND Marinol is SYNTHETIC!  Yuck.  You’ll get high, but will also be missing out on nearly all of the true therapeutic benefits of the full plant.  Take a look at this chart which shows which marijuana compounds work for specific medical conditions.  Each cannabinoid has its own unique profile and therapeutic value.

Cannabinoids

Pretty extensive list huh?

Full plant usage for me it is then!  However, I wasn’t about to go to a dark alley and buy something that might be laced with God knows what.  I had to do it legally, I had to find HIGH quality products, and I had to speak with someone who was knowledgeable that could answer ALL of my questions.

On February 25 of this year, I finally worked up the courage to get my medical marijuana license.  Again, I knew I needed something stronger than CBD alone and I was extremely hopeful.  I needed all of those other wonderful therapeutic compounds to attack my disease/s and everything it was doing to my body.  I had no idea what to expect, where to go, who to talk to, and kept this secret from EVERYONE.  What was the point in disclosing anything that could potentially cause problems in my family or with friends without any evidence marijuana would actually help me?  It was a journey I decided to take alone until I knew either way if it would help.

Let my story here to give a brief run down of how darn easy it is to get a medical marijuana card here in San Diego… you look up a “medical marijuana doctor” in your area on google, a ton of doctors pop up, you choose one thats closest to you, you make an appointment, you fill out some paperwork (maybe 2-3 pages), you meet with a doctor or staff member and tell them your ailments, and you walk out 5 minutes later with your MJ card.  It’s HILARIOUS how easy it is here in California.  Again, since I had no idea what to expect I had brought my medical records, charts, notes, etc. and nothing was even looked at.  The entire process took about 20 minutes total and I left the office thinking “Holy crap.  What did I just do?  Is this ‘license’ really legit?”

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Yup, it was.

From there, I went to my very first dispensary that was about 5 minutes away and registered myself with the company.  Scared, anxious, and feeling totally out of place… my preconceived view of a dispensary was immediately shattered within the first 2 minutes of stepping through the door.  The greeting I got was NOTHING like I’ve ever been given at ANY doctors appointments.  I was viewed and treated as a “patient”, not a tweaker.  EACH & EVERY single person in this dispensary was OVER the age of 45-55… no joke.  These were men and women coming from work, going to work, soccer moms, people in business suits, grandparents, people who I would have never expected to see at a place like this!  I was SHOCKED!  Not one single “druggie” looking person to be found.

Not only that, the lady working behind the counter spent at least 45 minutes with me answering EVERY single question I had.  Every concern was addressed.  And each product that could potentially help me was discussed.  I didn’t feel rushed or pressured.  The staff was kind, discreet in their ‘patients’ conversations, and much to my surprise had a HUGE variety of products.  Yes they have plain herb to smoke of course, but an even wider selection of oils, edibles, tinctures, pain patches, creams, ointments, baked goods, and even drinks.

I got a serious and extensive crash course in marijuana during that hour.  The woman I spoke to broke down everything I needed to know.  She told me things I had no idea about… but am EXTREMELY grateful she did!  Here are a few of the lessons I was taught:

  • There are three different ‘varieties’ of marijuana (sativa, indica, and hybrids which are a mix of the the two).  Indica plants are short with fat green leaves and are great for evening use, relaxing, wonderful for sleep, reducing pain, and is stress relieving.  Sativa plants are taller with long, thin, light green leaves are typically used more for day use.  Sativa strains actually give you some energy, are uplifting, and great for pain relief.  And then hybrids which are a mix of the two dominate  varieties (sativa and indica).
  • Our bodies actually have a BUILT IN cannabis system.  Wait, did you really just read that correctly?  YES you did.  The human body (as well s animals) have something called an endocannabinoid system (ECS) which contains a group of receptors in the brain, central, and peripheral nervous systems.  Cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and Cannabinoid 2 (CB2) are the two main receptors and as with each strain of cannabis, each receptor serves a specific purpose.  CB1 is primarily found within the brain and CB2 is within the immune system and is geared heavily towards INFLAMMATION.  Bingo for me!
  • In order to get the FULL benefits and therapeutic effects of the plant, it should actually be ingested NOT smoked.  When you smoke marijuana, the high is nearly instant.  It passes immediately through the brain so you get hit hard and fast, then the high is diminished.  When you ingest THC and marijuana compounds it actually passes through the liver where its metabolized.  The process takes longer so the effects are very different.  It’s a more gradual process when ingested. Not only that… taking oils and edibles is obviously a much better option for your lungs.

edibles_1

  • High amounts of CBD can actually counteract the psychoactive effects of THC which leaves people with less of an actual “high”.  So the fact that I continued to take my CBD oil every morning and at night actually reduced any chances of feeling psychoactive effects.
  • CBD is actually naturally occurring in mother’s breast milk… this was SUCH a fun fact for me.  It’s like we were designed to use the herb from the very beginning!  You know that “milk drunk” term you hear all of the time with newborns… yup, CBD compound found in cannabis my friends!
  • Different strains, different products, and different dosages can effect EVERYONE entirely differently.  What works great for someones pain may not be optimal for someone else, so its extremely important to test out strains and products.
  • QUALITY dispensaries who carry QUALITY products will also be able to readily provide FULL lab analysis on everything!  This was HUGE for me.  Unlike the herb some may buy on the street which often times is laced with other drugs and synthetics, you SHOULD know exactly what you are buying and using.  This lab report will show the breakdown of each compound, its ratio with the other compounds, and exactly what you are buying.
  • Marijuana products at dispensaries are EXPENSIVE.  Sure you can buy herb which is a little less expensive than edibles for the most part, but again… ingesting various compounds is best.  Pricey, but best to treat medical conditions.  This is NOT a cheap medical route to take by any means.
  • Did you know that The United States actually holds a PATENT on marijuana???  Now this is a discussion for a different day, BUT I find it pretty damn ironic that a government who fights so hard to ban marijuana usage, mark it as a SCHEDULE 1 drug thats just as “dangerous” as LSD,  and who also claims it has NO therapeutic/medicinal value would go through a patent process.  Money, greed, and big pharma… your cards are showing.

us-marijuana-patent-2

Yeah, that last one is a doozy huh?  Really makes you think?  Modern medicine, government, and pharmaceutical companies, you disgust me…

So, I remember walking out with my little brown bag filled with a bottle of CBD oil, an ointment/rub, a sativa edible, a THC only oil, and an edible which contains both THC/CBD and thinking OMG, what have I done?  I was excited and nervous, but even more ready to give this a try.  It would either be a game changer for me or a complete waste of money and time.

On February 25, the same day I decided to seek this alternative form of treatment/relief for myself, EVERYTHING changed.  After the very first dose (and it was a very small amount, only 1/4 of ONE edible gummy), I immediately noticed a HUGE difference.  It wasn’t even just with pain which was why I wanted to try marijuana in the first place of course.  The high anxiety levels I had, the depression I was falling into, and the lack of sleep I was having nearly instantly disappeared that same day, no joke.  Of course I didn’t know at the time if it was mere coincidence or the fact I wanted to believe so bad something, ANYTHING would help… but that day was a huge milestone for my medical journey.

I was still hesitant to tell anyone and had to make sure this was really legit.  I continued to take regular doses of CBD oil each morning, CBD in the afternoon, and then a small bit of my THC edible or oil at night before bed.  All of the fears I had about walking around high, having my kids see me all loopy, and feeling anxious and paranoid (like I had on the handful of occasions where I smoked in my twenties) were completely gone!  Again, smoking marijuana is SO vastly different than ingesting oils and edibles.  Because I was only taking small amounts of THC at night RIGHT before bed, I was always asleep by the time ANY psychoactive effects even had a chance to take effect.  Remember that when ingested, it has to pass through your system to metabolize.  That process takes a good amount of time to occur.  I was finally winning and making progress!  Sleep sleep sleep= recovery, regeneration, and reducing inflammation.

The biggest test of my new cannabis ‘routine’ would come on our yearly trip to Lake Tahoe.  Prior to getting my MJ card, I could usually only sit for about 5-10 minutes at a time because it simply hurt too much.  Car rides were always excruciating, brief, and on trips/errands taking longer than 15 minutes, my husband would usually have to stop for me to stand up for a couple of minutes.  A 9+ hour car ride AND a week vacationing in Lake Tahoe would be all the proof I needed to “come clean” to my family and friends.

Test was not only A’ced with flying colors, it exceeded everything I could have expected!

In case you missed THIS post…. not only did we make it to Tahoe with having to take very few stops, but our time spent there was absolute perfection.  I took all of the precautions I needed, took my time moving around, went slow, took breaks, rested in between activities, and knew my limitations.  BUT it was the most “normal” I had felt in over EIGHT months.  If you would have asked me last December if I could take a trip like this, I would have said NEVER in a million years.  Those days and trips and outings were long ruled out after my diagnoses.  My health would continually decline and eventually I would not be able to walk.

Upon leaving that trip, I was more than hopeful.  I knew I was better with having marijuana compounds in my system and it was absolutely undeniable.  Family noticed I was getting better, friends did, strangers weren’t looking at me because I was having a hard time walking or in a wheelchair.  I knew my quality of life was dramatically improving. And I knew getting my medical marijuana card was one of the BEST things I could have proactively done for my medical condition.  Without ANY doubt in my mind, marijuana changed my quality of life… TEN FOLD!

So there you have it friends and family… I’ve come ‘clean’ 🙂

My hopes with this post is to attempt to change the thought process and preconceived ideas about legalizing marijuana.  Since its an election year and many states have something on the ballot with its legalization, I knew the time was now.  I’m not a druggie.  I was never a huge drinker and actually haven’t had a single sip of alcohol in over 5 years.  I take ZERO prescription drugs, my pain & symptom routine is entirely managed with herbs, vitamins, supplements, meditation, stretching, and movement whenever possible.  You (nor my kids) will ever see me walking around high or intoxicated in ANY capacity.  I’m not dependent on marijuana and if I ever decided to stop taking it, I could do it safely at ANY point without the need to wean off or anything else like that.  Cold turkey with ZERO repercussions.  And most important of all… marijuana helped improve my quality of life.  It’s helped me:

  • battle depression from chronic pain
  • relieve ALL anxiety I feel on a daily basis
  • taken away EVERY single daily CSF headache & migraine I was having
  • allowed me to sleep 6+ hours a night, every night for my body to heal and cells to regenerate
  • reversed my pre diabetic blood levels
  • reduced stress
  • AND of course reduced my overall pain & symptoms (nerve damage, muscle spasms, reduced joint pain, regulated all of my stomach issues, eased pain during my monthly cycle)

Cannabis States

So before you turn up your nose at me and classify me as a drug addict, please please please I dare you to walk (or attempt to walk) a day in my shoes!  I guarantee you without a doubt in my mind, if you felt every sensation I feel on a DAILY basis/24 hours a day… you too will see that its NO WAY to live.  I’ve found something that helps far beyond ANY medication I was prescribed.  It’s exceeded my expectations and I’m beyond thankful to live in California where I’m entirely within my rights.  Don’t be so quick to judge ANYONE that chooses to medicate themselves with cannabis.  And yes, I whole heartedly consider cannabis medication!  There are people with true ailments, very real pain, chronic AND ‘silent’ conditions which you don’t see physically occurring on the outside, and people who do NOT have cancer but live their lives’ with the same uncertainty who have turned to cannabis use because it WORKS for THEM!

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I’m one of thousands and thousands and  thousands of people who have seen the true benefits of cannabis.  I’m proof that regardless of whether you think marijuana should be legal, it should be an OPTION for EVERYONE.  We can go to the store and stock up on kegs of beer, 10 bottles of wine, hard alcohol which have ALL proven to be less than optimal for health.  We can gladly and legally take the prescription CRAP drugs that are thrown at us which often carry a long list of side effects, only mask our conditions, damage other organs, AND often be lead to dependancy.  But we aren’t allowed the complete rights to this plant thats helping SO MANY children & people?

Something is wrong with the system.  It’s time to change it.  It’s time to change the vast general publics misinformed views and ideas.  It’s time!

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  • Jayne - I’m so happy that it is helping you. I believe this is a miracle for so many people. I do not take it but wouldn’t hesitate if the need arose. It has and is helping so many people and so much better than all the prescription medications docs are giving people with so many side effects. I hope you get so much relief from it and if anyone judges you then they are not reading all the info. Best wishes and continued improvemen.ReplyCancel

    • corina - Fortunately, I’m well beyond fearing the judgements! No matter what anyone says or how hard they disagree, this is the path I’ve chosen and I stand by it 100%! Thank you so much for your comment and kind words. They mean so much to me!ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - Thank you for sharing this!! I live in Arkansas and medical marijuana will be up for vote for us in November. I know so many people opposed to it because of the stigma so I appreciate you clearing that up and if you don’t care I would love to share this post on my FB page.

    I am glad that you have found something that will not only give you relief from the pain, but also still allows you to maintain a quality of life!ReplyCancel

    • corina - Oh absolutely!!! Share away with anyone and everyone you think could benefit from some information!!! Thank you so so much!ReplyCancel

  • Blair - This was a super interesting post! Thank you for writing it, Corina! I have never used marijuana, and have been a bit on the fence about legalizing it. However, hearing your story and experience about how it has addressed your chronic pain puts this issue in a new perspective for me. I have OCD and have to take several daily medications to keep my symptoms at bay. I hate taking them because I know they are hard on my internal organs. Medical marijuana could be a good solution with no adverse effects. I really appreciate you sharing your life with us. Stay positive and kick this illness’ butt!ReplyCancel

    • corina - yes yes yes!!! This is exactly why I chose to share this part of my life!!! Thank you for taking the time to read my article and words. I truly appreciate it. Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions 🙂 I’d be happy to answer them if I can!ReplyCancel

  • Julie - I’m such a firm believer in this!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Brenna - Corina I am really glad you have found something that works for you. I am in total agreement that prescription drugs should be avoided whenever possible. I am from a state where Marijuana is legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes and I know tons of normal, good people that use some form of marijuana. I really think that how people view Marijuana usage is really changing. And if you find something that works for you you shouldn’t be afraid to share that information. Thanks for sharing your journey.ReplyCancel

  • Johanna Silva - Hello, You mentioned you found a website that would ship CBD and that it was a reputable company. do you mind sharing the website or where you suggest I can purchase this? My mom is suffering from pains all over and anxiety. After I read your post I think this would really help her.ReplyCancel

  • Tammie - Corina,
    I just want to thank you for this post. I am a voter in FL and this post stuck with me and made me re-think my stance on this so much so I voted yes for medical marijuana in FL. I have a friend from high school who lives in FL and she has been pushing for legalizing marijuana for medicinal use because she has some serious illness that she never has talked about publicly. I never really believed it would help her and was against it until I read this post. You break everything down and it makes so much sense! FL voters ended up approving the use of medical marijuana. Thank you for taking the time to share your research.

    TammieReplyCancel

    • corina - You have no idea how much this means to me… thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story. THIS is exactly why I felt so strongly I needed to speak out about this!ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - I know someone already posted this question but would you mind posting the website to where you found the reputable CBD oil? Or at the very least how someone would know if they are ordering a good product? I’ve done a search and it seems like the possibilities are endless. I live in Maryland and it is very hard to get a medical MJ license. I am in the process of getting approved for one right now.ReplyCancel

  • Tonya - Hi! Thank you for having the courage to share on behalf of all of struggling with some type of debilitating disease or disorder. Would you please kindly share what CBD oil you started with?ReplyCancel

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