Cannabis extract saved my career

How over-the-counter hemp oil did what 70+ medical practitioners could not

I’ve had chronic arm pain, exacerbated by typing, for the last 9 years.

After all that time, I’m finally having some success with a drug for the pain. It’s cannabidiol oil (“CBD” oil), an extract of hemp that is not psychoactive and contains no THC. (There may be trace amounts, but THC must be less than 0.3% of the oil — that is, at least 99.7% of it is not THC.)

I want to emphasize that I came to CBD from desperation to cure my pain, not desperation to find an excuse to promote pot. Though I do admit to once owning a hemp bracelet in high school.

A friend of a friend, a psychologist and journal editor, discovered CBD after her own long journey of testing possible solutions to her pain, and she has become quite the authority.

This friend found relief through smoking pot — something that has never seemed to help me — and wanted to explore other organic compounds with medicinal potential. She enrolled in a course and began studying and trying them, and discovered that CBD was effective for her and for many people, for many conditions.

For me, CBD is a godsend. The difference in my pain is not night and day — I’d say it only means my pain is at 3 out of 10 vs 6 out of 10 — but the improvement is significant and absolutely consistent.

It takes about two days of once-per-day use, or (going the other way) maybe 3 days of not using it, for me to notice the difference. But the difference is unmistakeable.

I want to say that again. For me, the difference is unmistakeable. I don’t say that lightly. If you’re skeptical of others’ claims that various remedies are effective, I think you’re right! Most people seem to have a low threshold for declaring a treatment effective, whether it’s a drug or meditation or aromatherapy.

What’s worse are the many doctors who prescribe a drug and then immediately ask, “Is it working?” I need a good dozen times I start and stop a treatment before I consider the evidence to outweigh my wishful thinking.

So let me put my enthusiasm in context. CBD is the best medical thing of any sort that I’ve found in 9 years of looking. In 9 years of trying a dozen prescription drugs. In 9 years of seeing more than 70 doctors, healers, and physical therapists, having every sort of scan imaginable, and paying a network of medical students $1400 to review my case.

I have used CBD on and off for alternating 2-week periods for much of the past year, to avoid confusing its effect with any broader trends.

Maybe the impact is not as large as the total effect of sleeping more, running and biking and doing yoga, but it’s on a level with that.

If this were a patented drug that GSK had developed, they’d be selling it for top dollar. On the hemp extract market, I pay about $4 per dose.

It feels as though CBD makes my muscles and soft tissue less sensitive, less tense and less inflamed.

It could be just masking the pain sensations, though I normally notice a cumulative effect from typing (the biggest trigger of my pain) which doesn’t seem to come back when the drug wears off, the way it comes back if I just take ibuprofen.

Friends have asked if it is a mood thing — if it calms me physically because it calms me mentally. I don’t think so, though there is some degree it makes me feel a tiny bit, well, stoned — not at all high, just subdued.

It feels noticeably different physically, though that too could just be a product of somehow having a lower level of stress. I don’t perceive lower stress with the drug, but it could be there; stress is hard to quantify.

I am not a lawyer, but I believe CBD oil is completely legal and available without a prescription. (At least until the pharmaceutical industry lobbies for a version to be sold at a massive markup! For now they’re fighting medical marijuana in all forms, for obvious reason.)

I am also not a doctor, and you should consult yours. Though I doubt many people really have a trusty career family doctor anymore who embraces his ignorance and doesn’t just say the first overconfident thing that comes into his head!

I’m angry that I saw dozens of doctors about this for eight years and submitted to their expensive and painful tests and procedures, without a single one ever suggesting a cheap plant extract whose anti-imflammatory properties have been known for years.

I’m told there are very few reported side effects, even long-term, and that oral doses up to 300mg/day have been used safely up to six months. (I take about 50mg/day, and it’s plenty for me.) The only side effect I’ve encountered is the small amount of mental cloudiness I mentioned above, almost like I smoked pot the previous day. It’s noticeable, but not an issue for me.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the cannabis family of plant species is a remarkable and underexplored medicine. History will not judge this era of arbitrary prohibition well, and I wonder if one day, doctors’ and medical researchers’ complicity with blocking access and knowledge will come to seem embarrassing and inexplicable. I’m not going to accuse the medical profession of literal bloodletting, but you might wish to speculate just how many fewer times my blood might have been extracted and spilled had doctors not subjected themselves to this taboo.

I get mine from as either “folium hemp oil” or “CBD gold”, either 24%, 43% or 70% concentrated; all these work for me, if I adjust my dose accordingly. (I have no relationship with them and they don’t know I’m writing this.) I find the 20%-50% range works better for me than a higher concentration, because high concentrations can be too thick and dense.

I’m sure you could find other sources online, though of course with this sort of thing you might not always know what you’re getting. A popular (but pricey) oil tincture called “Charlotte’s Web” has been selling well lately.

I’ve found that about 50mg, taken sublingually and held under my tongue for a few minutes, is effective without making me too cloudy. I rub it in with my finger, and try not to let it circulate around my mouth, because the taste is bitter.

You might start with this Washington Post piece about CBD oil’s medicinal uses.

Drop me a line at @benjiwheeler and let me know if you’re trying CBD and what you think!

Independent programmer, chatterbox.

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