How cannabis has helped my Ankylosing Spondylitis and my Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

Cannabis has helped me tremendously in managing my illnesses. There are different forms of cannabis that can be used in conjunction with one another so it’s a myth if you think that you have to smoke in order to consume cannabis . Cannabis has come a long way which is why it has earned its reputation as a medicine. There are edibles which is something that I honestly don’t use for managing my symptoms because I haven’t found the right way to cook with it and when consumed through food, there is a time period that needs to take place in order to digest it and feel the effects (60-180 minutes). Also, I’ve only consumed it through desserts and weight gain is a big no no for Ankylosing Spondylitis and Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis patients.

The most common form of consuming cannabis is by smoking it. You can roll it in a joint, use a vaporizer, a bong or a pipe. In my opinion, a vaporizer is the best way to consume cannabis . It eliminates the problem with smell, you don’t have to consume as much and it creates a purer smoke. With cannabis , you want to get the right strain for the purpose it’s being used for. Sativa is generally used during the day because it can provide energy and motivation to accomplish day to day tasks. The sativa strain that you choose is a personal preference. There are different flavors and different quality levels but the overall effects are all quite similar.

Indica is a strain that is used for pain, when needing to relax and for a better sleep. There are hybrid strains that have 50/50 sativa/indica which work to relax you but do not necessarily make you sleepy. Just like with sativa, the indica strain that you choose is a personal preference. Most indica provides you with similar overall effects. How much you smoke depends on your tolerance and your pain level. The higher the CBD content in the strain, the better it will work for pain. A low level of THC and high level of CBD will not give you the effect of being high which is a great option for anyone that strictly wants to use it for pain management or for someone that is new to it. Smoking cannabis is the method of consumption that is least recommended because of the side effects that it can have on your lungs so that’s definitely something to consider.

If you really don’t want to smoke it, and even if you do, oils are also very effective and can be used on their own or alongside smoking it. CBD oil is a very effective oil for pain and is often prescribed by doctor’s for all kinds of pain from arthritis to fibromyalgia to migraines. I’m currently taking a prescription with a proper dosing schedule and I’m already seeing some progress. I simply measure it with the dropper and I keep the CBD oil under my tongue for 30 seconds before swallowing it. It’s that easy and if it’s high CBD, low THC, you won’t get high. If you do want to calm your mind as well as your body, you can also find oils that are more balanced, 50% CBD and 50% THC or even a higher THC content. I will be talking about this journey in another post but I truly believe that anyone with arthritis should consider taking CBD oil for pain management.

Cannabis has been a lifesaver on my health journey and it’s one of the most versatile options for patients with arthritis. I will never understand why someone feels comfortable taking the pills they are prescribed while turning a blind eye to a more natural option that can be used as a support when your medication just isn’t enough. It has since become legal here in Canada but there is still an unfortunate stigma that surrounds cannabis even though its effectiveness has been proven time and time again. Please don’t allow the judgement of others or your own preconceived notions about cannabis stop you from exploring it as a viable pain management option. It may seem overwhelming at first, but I will walk you through purchasing on the OSC (Ontario Cannabis Store) website (for those of you in Ontario) in more detail in a future post.

I’m passionate about using cannabis as a pain management option and I want others to feel comfortable embracing it as an option for themselves too. It could be life changing. My AS can get so bad that anything is worth a try at this point. Cannabis can provide that boost of energy when fatigue is overwhelming. It can provide pain relief for those days when every body part is stiff and getting ready for the day seems like an insurmountable task. As I mentioned above, a regular dose of CBD oil can help manage symptoms and keep the pain more under control. Cannabis can help with sleep on those nights when nothing feels comfortable. Many of us who suffer with arthritis have minds that race with anxiety. The never ending cycle. What if it gets worse? I am feeling worse. What if I’m completely stiff when I wake up tomorrow? What if I can’t get ready for work? What if I’m nauseous from the methotrexate? All of these thoughts can make it difficult to sleep. Meditation and cannabis can have a positive impact on your sleep.

Cannabis offers an alternative to pills. I’m unfortunately at my limit in terms of how often I can get my infusion. I get it every 6 weeks and most people get it every 6-8 weeks. My rheumatologist offers me Celebrex to take when I have a flare up or start suffering weeks before my next infusion. I completely understand this and have used Celebrex and it has helped me but I have comorbidities. I have Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis. I have a liver disease. In order to protect my liver, cannabis is a great option. So for someone like me who already takes Remicade and Methotrexate, replacing a pill with cannabis makes complete sense and it was actually supported by one of the top rheumatologists in the field.

If you are new or even if you’re not new to cannabis, consult your doctor. Getting the proper dosage is so important and they can help guide you through it. Try a more targeted approach and use the right plant for the right symptoms. Also, cannabis use is not recommended for anyone under the age of 25 and it’s also not recommended for seniors. I hope that sharing my experiences might spark some of you to talk to a doctor, talk to someone you trust. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

CBD oil <2.1mg THC and 21.1mg CBD
It will not get you high
I draw the oil out by placing the bottle upside down and then I remove the dropper in this position. Then I put the dropper under my tongue and let the CBD oil sit for 30 seconds before swallowing it.

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