Exploring CBD

The start of the year is when I schedule all my annual doctor’s appointments. I see my primary care physician for my annual physical, my OB-GYN for my PAP and typically see my dentist around this time as well. During my PCP visit, my doctor asked me about any issued I’ve been having lately. I’m generally in decent health except for some chronic neck, shoulder and lower back pains. I always ignored this and just reminded myself that everyone suffers from back pains and it isn’t something special that needs to be addressed. My husband insisted I bring it up so I casually mentioned it to my doc. He asked if I would like muscle relaxers. He said it could help ease the pain temporarily until I find the root of my pain. I’ve never taken them before so I said I’ll try it. He did warn me that it would make me drowsy and having taken medication in the past that caused drowsiness, I said sure. I knew what to expect. I took it before bed and hoped that I’d be good and pain free in the morning. I woke up the next day feeling welded to my bed. I could not move but my alarm was screaming at me to get up and get ready for work. I felt heavily drugged and I initially thought I was just tired and about an hour in it dawned on me that I was experiencing the effects of the muscle relaxers. A feeling I have never felt before. Was I in pain? NO. But was I alive? I wasn’t sure. It was a horrible day and the side effects lasted a full 24 hours, longer than the pain relieving effects did. My husband threw the bottle of pills in the trash as soon as we got home. I was never taking that again. So now I though to myself, how do I deal with the pain now? I’ve had lower back pain since I was a teen and my mom took me a doctor and an x-ray showed that a vertebrae wasn’t sitting right in my lower back was causing the pain but it was not serious enough to merit surgery. I was told that pregnancy would be difficult for me.

So why CBD?

I’ve heard about it but knew little about it. So I went to ask my Instagram community for recommendations. As the brand suggestions flooded in, I read all I can about CBD. As much as Google gave me. If you’re here scratching your head wondering what I’m taking about and what the hell CBD is, CLICK HERE. Everyone else can keep reading. So why CBD? Well why not? I’ve tried prescription strength ibuprofen and we all know what those things do to your liver. I’ve tried turmeric too with absolutely zero effects. Even when I was at the height of my gym rat phase, exercise did nothing for my pain. Don’t tell me to take yoga okay. If someone else mentions yoga, imma lose it. Listen, I gave yoga a real try. I DID. Multiple times I tried it and I JUST CANNOT BRING MYSELF TO LIKE IT. The whole time I’m in there, I keep asking myself WHY?!?

But I digress, I decided to give CBD a try. Marijuana isn’t alien to me. I’ve heard of its benefits for cancer patients and those with epilepsy and other ailments. Recent surge of CBD has it being the cure all for pain and anxiety. And of course, I’ve been smoking that shit on and off since I was 18. Does that shock you? I don’t know who you’ve been following if any of this is surprising to you.

The recommendations poured in and I now had a big task of looking up every single product rec sent to me to see which ones I was going to try.

We couldn’t pass up a dispensary tour during our visit to California

We couldn’t pass up a dispensary tour during our visit to California

How did I pick the brands I tried?

First off, the CBD market is so saturated that if I hadn’t asked my followers for recommendations, I honestly wouldn’t know where to begin. There are a ton of choices and no way for me to verify which one was better. So I narrowed it down with the number of recommendations a brand got. Then narrowed it down further with price. Then there was the issue of Full Spectrum CBD and CBD Isolate. A good article I read on the differences between the two can be found by clicking this link. To summarize, both oils are extracted from the hemp plant. Full Spectrum is full of all the terpenes, cannabinoids, etc found in hemp, all of which have therapeutic value and create what is known as the entourage effect. This includes very small trace amounts of THC but not enough to get you high. But I’ve read taking full spectrum can give you a positive result on a drug test which brings us to CBD Isolate. CBD Isolate is just that. It’s pure CBD without all the other cannabinoids. If you read that article that I linked then you will note that CBD contains all the benefits of all the hemp’s cannabinoids combined, without the THC. So it’s great for people who want the benefits of CBD without having to worry about the legality of having THC in your system. This is great for people where marijuana is not legal or athletes who require drug testing. You will hear a lot of talk about Full Spectrum being better at delivering pain relief but there are those who will swear on CBD Isolate’s effectivity too. It’s a matter of choice and one that I will not make for you. I also read this article about what to know before buying CBD. Did I follow it? Not really. But I figured you might want that information anyway. You’re welcome.

Tinctures? Edibles? Vape oil? Balms?

There are a multitude of ways to use CBD. When choosing which kind I was going to try, I also had to decide how I was going to use it. I ended up trying one of each tincture (oils to be taken sublingually or in a beverage) in Full Spectrum and Isolate. I also decided to try a few balms and a vape oil for its convenience. I picked Pure Relief (Full Spectrum) because it was the most recommended and because they offered sample sizes of their tinctures and balms. For those not ready to commit to a full sized bottle, this is a good place to start. CBD Extreme Athlete products was VERY HIGHLY recommended by a very close friend who uses it religiously and has recommended it to his own family. You’ll notice that CBD Extreme Athlete’s marketing is directed towards athletes and is CBD Isolate. They emphasize on their product being THC and drug free. Scrolling through Thoughcloud’s website can be overwhelming given the variety of products they offer but I decided to give their e-liquids a try. I also tried CBD tea from The Brothers Apothecary.

How long does CBD take to kick in and how long do the effects last?

This all depends on a person’s health, weight, pain tolerance and method of delivery. Lots of articles available that explain this but this article explains it pretty well I think. Dosage and strength of the CBD you’re taking matters too. Start small and see how you feel and up the dosage until it gives your the relief you’re asking for. There isn’t a standard dosage for CBD, you will read and hear people saying take 1ml (a full dropper) of tincture to start but consider the strength of CBD you’re taking too. Tincture strength vary by brand and can go from 250mg, 500mg up to 1500mg or more.

How did I start?

I didn’t know what to expect to be honest. I took half a dropper of a 500mg tincture and waited. I was expecting to “get high” as marijuana usually does. The best way I can describe the initial feeling I got was gravity pulling my shoulders down. Like someone wrapping me in a weighted blanket. My head didn’t feel cloudy like being high does but my body felt relaxed like I was high but not. It was a bizarre sensation at first that confused me. It was because I was waiting for the effect that I noticed this. You don’t usually wait for Advil to kick in. This wasn’t a feeling that I felt again in the doses that followed because I wasn’t paying attention to it anymore. But did notice the pain that I usually have in my neck and shoulders has lifted significantly. I did some experiments and tried going off it some days to see how I felt and noticed the difference in how I feel towards the end of the day. Without it, I was exhausted by day’s end. Both balms I tried worked well but it works no differently than applying some Icy Hot or Bengay to your sore muscles. Again, it’s an alternative. It’s up to you if the holistic value is worth the $$.

Does it really relieve pain?

I’m not sure how to answer this since I’m still learning dosage myself. I will say that it mutes down your pain. The best metaphor I can think of is putting on earplugs to dull out your spouse’s loud snoring so you can sleep. Does that make sense? You still hear the snoring but its at a comfortable level that you get to have some sleep. This has been my experience but I’ve gotten feedback from plenty others with much more serious conditions and swear it has relieved them of their issues. So I have more to learn about this.

Why don’t you just smoke weed? Why all this fuss over CBD?

I can’t count the number of times someone sent me this. First off, I live in New York state which is still behind on marijuana legalization. Second, I am not a high functioning stoner and is the reason I went off it. It doesn’t matter which kind I take, you’ll have to peel me off the couch. I’m utterly useless when high and I’d like to be able to function like a normal adult at work so this is not an option for me.

Will I continue using CBD now?

Yes but I don’t think I will use it on a daily basis. Primarily because of cost. CBD is not cheap. I see myself taking it as often as I would if I needed to pop an Advil. I do enjoy the vape though and it’s one that I reach for more often than the rest mostly for its convenience. In the beginning I thought it wasn’t working because I didn’t get that weighted feeling I initially described but soon realized it did aid with my pain specially one a day I forgot to take a tincture and my neck pain was so intense I took a few puffs of the vape pen and relief was almost instant.

I hope this shed just a bit of light on CBD for those who have been curious and/or hesitant to try. It would do well for you to do some further research on your own so you can better decide if CBD is right for you. I am in no means an expert on this matter and can only offer information based on my own experience. Good luck!