If you know me or have read my posts, you know that I avoid drugs and prefer natural approaches and lifestyle choices to cope with my fibromyalgia and chronic back pain. That is not to say I don’t use any drugs, it’s just that I minimize what I take due to my heightened sensitivity to side effects.
There has been a lot written about CBD oil the past few years, especially as more states begin legalizing marijuana. It’s even made its way onto the pages of my beauty magazines. But since I am reluctant to use drugs (legal or otherwise), and I work for the government, I have never considered this as an option until recently.
My Pain Background
I was diagnosed in June, 2000, with a herniated disc in my lower back (L5-S1). In September, 2000, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I have suffered for years with the pain from both. When my back flares up, I try everything: rest, ice, heat, massage therapy, physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, TENS, etc. I even gave up walking on the treadmill in favor of gentler, kinder yoga. A bad flare will cause one or both hips to lock up, causing sciatic nerve pain down one or both legs, so at times I also visit the chiropractor for an adjustment. And then of course, back pain often also leads to a fibromyalgia flare. Double whammy.
A recent MRI shows I now have three bulging discs in my lower back, coupled with some misalignment, dextroscoliosis, and stenosis. Add to that two more bulging discs in my neck above and below the disc fusion I had, and that is a lot of spine issues and a lot of pain.
Three weeks ago, right before a trip planned to Portland, my back went out for no known reason. Knowing I needed to get on a plane in a few days and couldn’t wait this one out, I got a shot of Toradol, a steroid pack, and I visited the chiropractor for an adjustment. I was recounting the story of my shoulder problems and how I discovered magnesium malate for the pain. I mentioned to her that I was headed to Portland in a few days, and she suggested I try CBD oil while I was there since I could get it from a dispensary. She said she knows people who have had a lot of success with it. Wait, what? We live in Texas, after all.
Why CBD Oil?
I knew I had to do my research before even considering this as an option. Some would argue that this is definitely a more natural approach than pharmaceuticals, after all. First and foremost, I was concerned about the possibility of CBD oil triggering a positive result in the event I was drug-tested at work. Second, I wondered if all of the hype was really true. And third, is it legal in Texas?
There has been a lot written about CBD oil, and it is a very confusing topic, so I will try to boil down down what it is and what the pros and cons are.
Just the Facts
- Cannabidiol (CBD Oil) is a naturally occurring compound in varieties of the cannabis plant, such as marijuana and hemp. Industrial hemp is bred and grown with the lowest concentration of Tetrahydrocannabidol (THC) and the highest concentration of CBD, the big differentiation from marijuana. The key lies in the extraction process as to whether there are other compounds and contaminants in the oil.
- In December, 2018, President Trump signed the Farm Bill removing hemp from being classified as a schedule I narcotic. But states still have the right to determine legality.
- The difference between legal and illegal hemp plants is the amount of THC, which must be less than 0.3%.
- CBD products do not produce any sort of “high” – that comes from THC – or have potential for misuse. In fact, research shows that CBD counteracts the psychoactive effects of THC.
- Patients do not build up a tolerance to CBD.
- CBD binds to receptors in the brain to stimulate processes that improve mood and stress control.
- CBD binds to neuropathic receptors in the brain to suppress chronic pain.
- In July, 2018, the FDA approved the first marijuana-derivative drug to treat two forms of epilepsy that have been resistant to anti-seizure medications.
- New studies from the National Institute of Health have shown the use of CBD oils as an anti-inflammatory for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- There’s no testing levels for CBD at this time. The problem with this is that CBD products on the market can be unreliable, having too little or too much of the oil, or containing THC. Buying from a dispensary in a state that has legalized marijuana at least gives you some assurance of safety.
- CBD oil is touted to help everything from glaucoma, anxiety, pain, acne, insomnia, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s, and Multiple Sclerosis, to name a few.
- CBD oil can be found in a variety of products – oils, lotions, bath salts, skin care, capsules, edibles, and vaping oils.
- Possible side effects can include: dry mouth, low blood pressure, drowsiness, lightheadedness, tremors, and changes to the liver enzymes used to process drugs.
- Most employment drug tests screen for THC, not CBD. But CBD is metabolized by the body and can be picked up if it’s screened for. And since some products contain trace amounts of THC, that could register a positive screen, depending on the sensitivity of the test. And of further concern: “CBD oil is not regulated in the U.S. That means the government is not regulating that THC levels stay low.”
- Is it legal in Texas? Still a gray area. Despite being able to find it on shelves, it is only legal if you have a prescription. “It is a felony to possess CBD with any trace amount of THC, the component that, in larger amounts, produces a high. It is a misdemeanor to have THC-free CBD.” But not all District Attorney’s have the same opinion and are pursuing these cases. (Read about it here and here.)
Will I Try It?
After three weeks of back pain, I finally asked for some pain medication – opioids and muscle relaxer. With all we hear these days about the opioid crisis, I am using these sparingly. But at this point I am willing to try anything!
The pain medication was only helping marginally for three days. After three days more days of constant, excruciating pain and no sleep and no relief, I managed to see a pain management doctor. So by the time this posts, I will be at home recovering from Epidural Steroid Injections (ESI) and hopefully have some pain relief.
“The greatest evil is physical pain.” Saint Augustine
My frequent trips from Texas to Oregon are difficult to manage when I’m experiencing pain. I didn’t buy any CBD oil on my last trip to Portland, and probably won’t, given Texas’ position at this time. I hold out hope that states will allow and legalize these sorts of alternatives to big pharma solutions like opioids.
Here are a other resources for you to learn more about CBD:
- CBD Oil for Sleep by Julie at Counting my Spoons
- What you need to know about CBD by Donna at Fed Up with Fatigue
- How to choose hemp CBD Oil by Donna at Fed Up with Fatigue
- Project CBD
Do you use or have you tried CBD oils? What do you use it for? What brands do you recommend? I would love to hear your experience!