CBD & Crohn’s Disease

People often talk about the magic of marijuana, as opposed to the science of modern medicine. There’s a lot of science behind the cannabinoids found in cannabis plants, but until recently discussing this was taboo. Unfortunately, the “Reefer Madness” stigma still thrives.

I am fortunate enough to live in Washington State, a place where safe access to alternative medicine is soon to be as commonplace as a trip to the grocery store pharmacy isle.

I work in the cannabis industry, working with regulatory tracking software to be exact, but I owe a lot more than my financial livelihood to this miracle plant. I owe my life to it. Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease; I was barely 18 years old and had no idea what a role this auto immune condition would play in my day-to-day life.

I’ve injured myself more times than I can count during my youth, but nothing and I mean NOTHING compares to the constant abdominal pain I’ve felt some days from my disease. Crohn’s is a severe  form of IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) caused by a combination of genetic and environmental conditions in one’s immune system. It is a painful, uncomfortable and debilitating disease and unfortunately western medicine recognizes no cure.

Crohn’s afflicts the digestive tract of more than half a million people in North America, resulting in abdominal pain, diarrhea and bloody stool, severe vomiting, and extreme weight loss. It can also result in skin and eye conditions and arthritis.

The pain and cramps have often been so bad that they literally have brought me to my knees in tears, something that the people who know me in my professional setting could never imagine. At work, as well as at home, I’m often observed as acting only on logic, devoid of emotion. I am the wall that does not move. It’s not that I do not care about things; the truth is that I’m just trying to hold it together. My family and my co-workers rely on me to be strong, and I’m OK with that, but some days are just harder than others.

I tried everything my doctors threw at me. From the 22 pills a day I was taking to the bi-monthly shots to the gut and everything in between. I took steroids for my weight loss, Mesalamine/Asacol/lialda to treat my flare-ups and had to be really careful about taking any aspirins, as this could greatly influence bleeding. I eventually worked up the nerve to try Humira, although the thought of regular self-injections, on top of my regular pain, was not a welcoming thought. It was a rocky start and it actually got worse at first, but after a few months my symptoms started to get a little better. Unfortunately, for me, the results were short-lived and I started looking for my next round of treatment attempts.

My gastroenterologist has given me some really great advice over the years, and was always upfront that there is no cure, just things that can help treat my symptoms and make my general quality of life a little better. I took everything my doctor mentioned to heart, including his advice to change my diet. But no matter how hard I tried and how well I ate, the pain and discomfort was always there. A few years ago, my dad of all people recommended I try marijuana. I’ll be honest, I smoked some in high school but that was just to have a good time. I tried it out for its medical benefits, and to my initial disappointment it didn’t really help. But it turns out I was just plain doing it wrong.

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Puff Puff Pass: Methods of Ingestion

It turns out that not only was I having adverse effects because I was smoking it, but the biggest shocker was that I was using the wrong kind. I guess I should have applied a little common sense and realized that smoking anything is just going to add to my inflammation problems. I should have been eating it all along.

I knew there were different strains of cannabis plants, but I figured it’s all about the same, right? The more I learned about cannabis and its cannabinoid compounds, the more in awe of it I became. And I only came to discover this wonder, through wonderful happenstance.

I was given a “medicated” blueberry muffin by a friend of mine and boy was I mad. I was mad because I ate this muffin hoping for a good buzz and I just waited and waited and waited. I’d heard that cannabis-infused edibles can sometimes take a while to kick in. My friend came up and asked me how I felt, and I angrily retorted that I didn’t feel anything! That’s when I realized that I really didn’t feel any pain either, for the first time in years. And that to me was better than any high I was looking for. Turns out that it wasn’t a dud, it was simply a CBD-infused muffin. CBD is a compound found in cannabis plants, some strains more than others, that doesn’t get you high!  Ever since then, I have been using CBD cannabis products almost every day.

Turning a New Leaf      

CBD is found in hemp, and can be legally imported into the United States. It turns out humans actually have natural receptors for cannabinoids, which is one of the reasons this plant works so well on people, across the board.

What is difference between marijuana and hemp plants? At first glance marijuana and hemp plants look almost identical, but they are different in almost as many ways as they are similar. In their own rites they are each hailed as miracle plants. Marijuana is used specifically as an alternative to pharmaceutical pain relievers and is known for giving the user a strong intoxicating euphoria to go along with its pain relieving properties.

Hemp can be used to make paper, rope, clothing, plastic alternatives, fuels, cosmetic products, and more. But the amazing thing that they have in common is that they both produce CBD in varying amounts depending on the strains. CBD  helps relax muscle spasms, which means that instead of just numbing the pain symptoms, like an Advil would, it actually helps with the causes of the painful contractions in the first place.

CBD has given me back a quality of life that years of debilitating pain and piles of prescription medications made me feel like I could never find again. I have been able to stay off of all of my prescription medications, and still use CBD products almost every day.

*The FDA has not evaluated the validity or truthfulness of these claims; therefore, we encourage you to review published researches relating to the benefits and properties of CBD hemp oils and other CBD products..

Dan McMahon is the EVP of Government Solutions at BioTrackTHC, the world leader in the cannabis tracking compliance solutions. After a career in banking and finance he decided to use his business degrees and regulatory compliance background to follow his new-found passion and fascination in the cannabis industry. Although his job in the industry keeps him travelling, he resides in beautiful Washington State. In his leisure he enjoys fishing, hiking and other outdoor activities.

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