I’ve had multiple sclerosis (MS) for almost a decade, and while I’m on what’s considered to be the most powerful, last attempt, treatment … most of my decade of MS has been about trying anything that might work.
Once I was diagnosed, I immediately became a juicer. I juice as many greens a day, as possible. I stopped consuming dairy, gluten, yeast, wheat, most oats, sugar, caffeine, and anything else one might find in a grocery. Kidding. Sort of.
I rely heavily on chiropractic care and medications. And, yet, the one, almost laughable thing I didn’t know about was hemp oil. When my friend told me she was a representative for a hemp oil company, and thought it would be helpful for my peripheral neuropathy at night, I just stood there with my mouth open. I had no idea about what it was or how it differed from medical marijuana, even.
So I did what I always do. I texted my doctor. His response?: “Go for it!”
So, what’s hemp?
Hemp is a really tall plant with big, thick stalk that grows to about 15 feet tall. That’s huge compared to marijuana, which barely clears five feet. They grow in varying ways and different parts are important to different people, for a variety of reasons.
Hemp is both legal and considered safe, hence my doctor’s response. Because of that, it’s reported to be grown in over 30 different countries. Because medical marijuana isn’t legal everywhere in the United States, and controversial all over the world, we don’t have an accurate report of where it’s grown.
What makes these plants of interest to scientists, healers, and those in need of treatment is cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is present in both hemp and marijuana, but what makes marijuana psychoactive — giving you the ‘high’ sensation — is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, and studies have shown that CBD is not psychoactive like THC.
The way I explain it to anyone now is: Hemp doesn’t go high. It hits low. It’s considered to be soothing and relaxing.
Why is it so fascinating to the world of neurological disorders?
CBD has been shown to have significant antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, suggesting that it could be a potential treatment for neurological disorders.
While CBD is not yet FDA-approved for any condition, many studies and user testimonies have shown promising results for a variety of indications.
I used to treat a student with a very aggressive seizure disorder. It was so aggressive, I couldn’t turn the lights on or off in our room while she was there or it could trigger a grand mal seizure. I was talking to her mother on the phone about her progress one day and she confided in me that she’d started using hemp oil, rubbing it on her daughter at night, and that she hadn’t had a seizure since. I was happy to hear.
Overcoming the stigma
I think there’s a stigma attached to hemp products, which is why her mother told me in confidence. It’s also why I didn’t find out about how many people use it for multiple conditions until I began to try it for my own peripheral neuropathy and spasticity.
People are scared they’ll be judged. It’s not medical marijuana — though I don’t believe anyone should be judged for their personal treatment plans if it involves this, either. It’s both safe and legal, without psychoactive effects.
So, I began to use the oil on my feet and lower legs, massaging it on topically at night. I almost feel bad saying this — I haven’t had one bad night, in terms of peripheral neuropathy and spasticity in my lower limbs, since trying the Ananda hemp oil.
But it was a different story with the pill form, which I was told would relax me before bed. One study showed that hemp seed supplements with other oils had beneficial effects of improving symptoms in people with MS. But my experience was so bad, I don’t want to rehash.
We believe we had the dosage wrong — we were way off, in my humble opinion — and my friend has begged me to try it again. But for now, I’m too afraid. And frankly, I don’t feel that I need it.
I get so much relief from the topical form, I can’t even put it into words. That is all I wanted. I never dreamed anything would work this well.
So should you run out and get hemp oil from the health aisle in the grocery store? No, it’s not that simple. Not all hemp oil is created equal.
There are certifications and regulations that testify to the quality of the hemp used. These certifications are important because they’re essentially the brand’s credentials. You must research the brand you use. I chose Ananda hemp because they had every certification possible, and they’re affiliated with a higher learning institution to do further research.
Hemp oil isn’t for everyone. How effective it is will depend on your individual symptoms, biology, and dosage. And research hasn’t yet proven its effectiveness. But it’s worked for me, and may work for you.
My advice is to not walk into the world of hemp oil blindly. Discuss your treatment options with your doctor and do thorough research on the different brands and forms of hemp oil before you take the leap.
Jamie is a blogger and author who’s been thriving with MS for almost a decade. Her award-winning blog, Ugly Like Me, is being edited into a book and her work currently appears in 97 countries. She lives outside New York City with her husband and two children.