Why HEMP Works For Me.
Sometimes you can do all the right things - eat a proper diet, exercise, find time to practice self-care - and still, your body betrays you. That has been my experience for the past several years as I attempted to find a way to manage my chronic pain that I have had off an on for the past 18 years, immune conditions stink!
If you’re unfamiliar with the saga that is my (back) pain, allow me to take you on a very frustrating journey (well, for me anyway). While the birth of my son was a wonderful and exciting experience, one thing that wasn’t particularly welcome was the dull aching neck and sharp shooting back pain that tagged along for the ride (luckily I don’t hold it against him!).
Just when I thought my aches couldn’t get any worse I had a dental accident that threw my neck out. Suddenly my pain went from annoying to debilitating. Over the years I have tried everything to ease my pain - hypnotherapy, painkillers, more specialists than I even knew existed - and nothing worked. When you live with an auto immune disorder you search for answers, at least I have....
Last year I even went through nine months of intense physical therapy, only to be told at the end that there was nothing more they could do and I was pretty much stuck with it. Yep, that was my medical professional effectively throwing in the towel. Despite being on LDN (or Low Dose Naltrexone), which is generally considered an effective treatment for chronic pain, I was still regularly rating my pain as high as a 9 or 10 on the SUP (subjective units of pain) scale.
Then I was introduced to Cannabidiol or Hemp oil - and I can honestly say my life has been changed. My doctor advised that this may be the solution to my pain, she also told me that there were hundred of studies pointing towards relief for all sorts of health challenges. I was hesitant, absolutely! Who wouldn't be after trying everything under the sun with little to no change... Well, I have good news, since I started using Hemp my pain has been regularly reduced down to a 2 or 3 on the SUP scale and I am confident in its ability to help me get that down even lower. Now you might be thinking that I’ve been transformed into some sort of 60s flower child with all this hemp oil in my system but trust me when I say it doesn’t work like that. Nope!
Despite the commonly held belief that anything that comes from cannabis is going to get you high and turn you into a munchies-craving stoner, Hemp doesn’t actually contain THC (known in scientific communities as tetrahydrocannabinol) which is the ingredient in marijuana that makes its users feel high.
While there is a time and a place for THC - specifically it is used medicinally to treat anorexia in people suffering from HIV/AIDS as well as refractory nausea and vomiting in those undergoing chemotherapy - I’m far more concerned with the positive effects Hemp is having on my endocannabinoid system.
WHAT IS THE ENDOCANNABINOID SYSTEM?
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system of cannabinoid receptors naturally occurring within the brain and throughout the central nervous system, made of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors that help to regulate nerve impulses. CB1 receptors are found in the brain and nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found in the immune system and associated organs.
The eCS system helps to control and regulate a variety of physiological processes including appetite, feelings of pain, memory, and mood - which you might recognize as being related to a lot of the typical side effects of cannabis use, such as an intense craving for that cheese pizza and a pint of Ben & Jerry's.
It can come as a surprise that all humans have an endocannabinoid system and that we actually need to nourish it to help our bodies to perform at their highest level. (Hello, did you read that? We need to take care of it, nourish it!) The fact that we’re able to isolate the compounds in cannabis that have medicinal benefits from those with psychotropic side effects means that we’re able to do this safely - whether we’re looking to treat seizures, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, pain or even cancer.
The endocannabinoid system’s processes can be summarized as “relax, eat, sleep, forget and protect” and when you think about it these are the processes we need to be able to perform in order to function properly, so diseases that are related to these processes - such as migraines and fibromyalgia - can be associated with suboptimal functioning of the endocannabinoid system. Amazing right? Just imagine helping your sister who has been suffering from fibromyalgia for years with a little pump of Hemp oil. She will love you forever!
The endocannabinoid system can break down, which means that certain receptors and neural pathways stop signaling properly, which exacerbates the conditions we’ve previously mentioned. This can be caused by stress, poor diet, and nutrient deficiencies. Now let me ask you this, do you think your endocannabinoid system is running at full speed? Are you nurturing it? It seems that we all need support here, with how the world is running these days.
With chronic pain, it can feel like you’re on high alert at all times. It’s an ache that is constantly sending and receiving signals from the brain and can lead to stress and anxiety if left unchecked. My pain makes me crazy, it's like an extremely sharp sushi knife blade that I walk barefoot on -- and I'm never quite sure if I'm going to fall and get sliced in half. If I turn this way will I hurt? If I don't pick up the laundry basket from the ground up will I pull on my back muscles the right way? If I run after Adrian and play tickle fest will I end up twisting the wrong way and feel the shooting pain? My pain leads my life, and unconsciously my thoughts. It makes decisions for me and leaves me feeling deprived and hopeless, to say the least.
HOW HEMP WORKS
While the body naturally produces cannabinoids to support the eCS system, we can still find ourselves deficient which can lead to a number of different conditions as I mentioned above. This can be similar to the effects on our body of vitamin deficiencies, for example, a Vitamin D deficiency can affect how our body absorbs calcium and in turn can lead to weakened bones and osteoporosis.
So a deficiency in the endocannabinoid system can potentially lead to migraines, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome, among many other conditions. Taking Hemp orally allows your body to rebalance the endocannabinoid system and helps to relieve common symptoms of these conditions such as pain.
THC strongly stimulates the CB1 receptors, leading to increased feelings of hunger and the ‘heady’ psychoactive feelings associated with cannabis use, but hemp is able to minimize or even block the psychoactive properties of THC and allow the positive effects of cannabidiol to take control and perform the vital neural processes that relieve pain, fight inflammation and even have antidepressant properties.
Hemp, on the other hand, is a weak agonist for the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but instead is able to modulate how other cannabinoids affect the receptors, which is how it reduces the psychoactive effects of THC. So rather than directly stimulating these receptors, it binds itself to an allosteric site on the receptor that allows it to regulate the interaction between the receptor and the cannabinoids, whether they are ingested or created by the body.
Now what about it being addictive? As you may of may not know I love to go down the rabbit hole and if I can eat one piece of chocolate then five are going to be better, right? HA! WRONG. I am the type A personality who always wants more, more toast, more ice cream, more road trips, more amazing sex, more money, more... more, more! Before diving into this and consuming it, even with my docs permission, and direction I needed to know if this hemp stuff was going to lead me down that rabbit hole, of MORE. I'm happy to say that there are quite a few studies with both animals and humans, and double blind that point to NO, yet they need to continue to search for more information, as this is such an intersting component of Hemp.
"Hemp has low hedonic property and inhibits drug seeking ..." Hemp has long been recognized as a nonpsychotropic constituent of cannabis and is generally the second most abundant cannabinoid present in the plant [2, 3] " ...
Altogether, many pharmacological, preclinical, and clinical properties (e.g., antipsychotic, anxiolytic) of Hemp that had been demonstrated over roughly the last decade all point towards a potential role for hemp in alleviating behaviors relevant to addiction disorder. Different animal models have confirmed the low psychotropic nature of hemp [69–71], suggesting that in contrast to what is normally observed for THC, hemp does not have hedonic property on its own, that is, it is not rewarding and does not induce drug-seeking behavior. Such studies have demonstrated that hemp does not promote conditioned place preference [69, 70] or increase the reinforcing efficacy of brain stimulation , which are both definitive characteristics of addictive substances.
EXPERIENCES WITH HEMP
Since the majority of effects people were wanting from cannabis in the past several decades were focussed solely around the psychoactive properties of THC, many advancements were made in the creation of strains with extremely high levels of THC (in the 70s you’d expect around 7%, but with advancements in growing strategies you’re now able to get strains as potent as 20% WOWZA, which is great news for stoners but terrible news for those wanting to take advantage of the health benefits of cannabidiols and still be able to function throughout the day.
In contrast, it has taken many years for the necessary advancements and research to be performed to create strains that are high in HEMP and low in THC, which counteracts the psychoactive side effects of THC, while still having a calming effect on the brain and body. These beneficial levels of Cannabidiol/THC in hemp oil mean that you’re not experiencing a ‘high’ but your body is able to process the cannabidiols to fight pain and inflammation.
You might have heard the story of Charlotte Figi, who at 5 years old was diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome and was experiencing up to 300 seizures a week. She had tried pretty much every medical treatment available - including a number of experimental drugs in clinical trials that still had no effect. After introducing hemp oil to her daily routine they were able to keep her seizures at bay for an entire week, while also spurring legal policy changes in the process that encouraged a number of US states to introduce pro-hemp legislative initiatives years before anyone could have expected them.
Now I know it can get a little bit confusing with all this talk of cannabis, marijuana, and hemp - especially when it comes to the legal side of things. Basically, the hemp products that you can purchase legally in the US, and which I use, are hemp-based and contain less than 0.3% THC which means that they are incredibly unlikely to get you high.
While the dramatic decrease of pain in my body has been the most incredible side effect of me taking hemp oil orally on a regular basis, it is definitely not the only thing that I have experienced. It has helped me to feel calmer and able to handle my defiant seven year old, with reduced stress and anxiety. This can be directly attributed to the effects of hemp, but I’m also sure that a part of those feelings has come from simply not being in agony for every second of the day. NOT having the pain at a 9/10 eases my neural circuitry, hence easing up my day!
Doors keep opening for more research to be conducted on this product, which will help us all to discover even more uses and benefits of hemp and extract even better ways for us to metabolize the active cannabidiols that are bodies need to thrive.
Grab a bottle and see what happens with you!