Bonnie Annis is a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2014 with stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma with metastasis to the lymph nodes. She is an avid photographer, freelance writer/blogger, wife, mother and grandmother.
In a follow-up post, one survivor explores the use of CBD products and shares how they've helped manage her post-cancer pain.
A little over a month ago, I wrote a post about the possibilities of using medical marijuana in conjunction with post-cancer pain. In this follow-up post, I’d like to add more information from my personal experience with cannabidiol, also known as CBD.
When my naturopathic doctor recommended I begin using CBD to help manage pain, I was shocked. I was very unfamiliar with CBD. Although I’d been seeing and hearing a lot about it on social media, the only thing I really knew was what I’d read. I had no first-hand knowledge. I did understand that CBD was derived from the same plant known as marijuana, or Cannabis Sativa. CBD, according to my doctor, was the good part—without the psychoactive component of the plant called tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC. Taking CBD oil, he assured, would not cause me to feel “high.”
For many months, the post-cancer pain I’d been experiencing had grown increasingly troublesome. I’d visited the doctor several times to find a solution and we’d discussed options such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, nerve blocks and even surgery. Not only was I suffering from post-cancer body pain, I also struggled with secondary lymphedema, degenerative spinal issues and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The pain and the anxiety I felt on a daily basis had become overwhelming. I needed help but didn’t want to go the prescription pain medication route. I was fearful about the possibility of chemical dependency and addiction.
The doctor recommended I take two cannabinoids, cannabigerol and cannabidiol. Cannabigerol (CBG) was a lesser known cannabinoid that worked well with the body’s own endocannabinoid system. I didn’t really understand it, but according to information found on the website leafly.com, things became a little more clear. Leafly, the largest cannabis website in the world, said:
“To understand the human endocannabinoid system, it’s helpful to know a little about one of the most fundamental concepts in biology: homeostasis. And the best way to understand homeostasis is to think of Goldilocks and the three bears. That classic fairy tale illustrated the idea that the best outcome often lies somewhere in the middle, between two extremes. We don’t want things too hot or too cold, but just right. Homeostasis is the concept that most biological systems are actively regulated to maintain conditions within a narrow range. Our body doesn’t want its temperature to be too hot or too cold, blood sugar levels too high or too low, and so on. Conditions need to be just right for our cells to maintain optimum performance, and exquisite mechanisms have evolved to draw them back to the Goldilocks zone if they move out. The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a vital molecular system for helping maintain homeostasis—it helps cells stay in their Goldilocks zone.”
After reading that information, I did think the cannabinoids would be good for my body. Anything that could help keep things in balance and prevent a recurrence of cancer was for me.
Along with the CBG, it was also recommended I begin taking cannabidiol (CBD), another natural component of the cannabis plant. Taking the CBG and CBD in conjunction with one another should give me good results, the doctor assured me.
Leaving the cancer treatment center, I was given information to purchase the CBG and CBD tinctures locally. The mom-and-pop shop selling the cannabis products was just around the corner from the hospital, so I went immediately to make my purchases.
Upon entering the shop, I felt skittish. I had no idea what I needed to buy. The shop owner began to show and explain about each product. I could choose from oil-based tinctures, gel capsules, vaping pens or even gummy candies. There were many strengths available, too. Relying on the advice of the shop owner, I left the store with one small bottle of CBG and one of CBD. Each one-ounce bottle cost just under $100.
Experimenting with Cannabinoids
Taking the products home, I planned the first dose of CBG after lunch. Assuming it would be best taken with food, I was excited and nervous.
Drawing up the greenish oil into the glass dropper, I readied my mouth to accept the liquid. I’d been instructed to place one dropper full of oil underneath my tongue. As I did so, I noticed a heady taste, almost like liquid grass. There were no immediate side effects noticed after ingesting, but I’d been told it could take up to two hours for the effects to be felt. I made a mental note to watch for side effects and share them with my physician.
That evening, I took my next dose. This time I’d be trying the CBD oil. Unlike the CBG, this tincture had been flavored with peppermint oil to make it more palatable. The taste was definitely better but even without a flavoring, the taste of the CBG hadn’t been unbearable— just different.
The effects of the CBD weren’t realized until the following morning when I discovered I’d slept soundly through the night— the first time I’d done that in several years.
Continuing to use the CBG and the CBD oils for the next few days, I noticed a significant decrease in my pain level. In fact, I barely noticed any pain at all! A feeling of relaxation was present as well. I was pleasantly surprised. These were significant changes that could only be attributed to the tinctures.
At the beginning of the third week, I found it necessary to add another dropper of the CBG to my daily regimen. I’d been only taking one dropper full of CBG in the morning and one dropperful of CBD at night before bed. With only two doses a day, I’d find myself needing something during the middle of the day as breakthrough pain would begin. “Since each body is different,” the doctor had said, I would need to make adjustments “to find what worked best.” In essence, I was going to have to be a human guinea pig.
After a month of using both products, my overall physical health has improved. I’ve finally found the right combination of CBG and CBD that works for me. Before starting the products, controlling bodily pain was a challenge. I’d tried over the counter anti-inflammatory medication but it didn’t help. With the cannabinoids, I could definitely tell the difference. I was surprised at how quickly I saw the benefits appear.
Shopping for CBD
The products I used for this experiment contained 24 mg of cannabidiol per dropper, but as I’ve searched online for other products, I’ve noticed most of them contain lesser amounts of CBD per ml. Conducting an online search for comparable products has been daunting. There are so many companies selling CBD products. Since none are federally regulated or tested, the consumer shoulders the responsibility to research products and companies before making a purchase.
A wide variety of CBD and CBG products are available for consumers to choose from. Some companies making and selling these products are transparent about which parts of the cannabis plant are used in making their products and some are not. Some claim hemp oil is the same thing as CBD, but that’s inaccurate. Hemp oil is made from the seeds of the cannabis plant while cannabis oil comes from the flowers, leaves and stalks.
And while CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC—not enough to get a person high— there are definite benefits to using it. Cannabidiol has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, reduce pain and inflammation, reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures, reduce inflammation related to diabetes and may even help fight cancer!
Some states have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal use while others have approved the use of CBD products, as long as they fall under the category of being a hemp-only product. Hemp oil products can provide an alternative to medical marijuana for those who are unable to legally obtain it in their state.
If interested in trying CBD products, please do your homework. Not all companies are legitimate in their product advertisement. Remember the old adage: buyer beware. CBD products are popular but they’re also unregulated. Without government guidelines, some companies provide substandard products that may contain unhealthy ingredients such as pesticides or solvents.
Finding High-Quality CBD: Do Your Homework!
When shopping for CBD oil, how can you know that you’re getting a quality product? Legitimate companies that are interested in providing quality products for their consumers adhere to specific guidelines and standards they’ve set for themselves. They are usually willing to openly share details of their product-making and quickly answer consumers’ questions. These companies may also use third party testing to verify product quality.
The market is saturated with an ever-growing number of companies selling products made from the cannabis plant. However, with a little research, it is possible to make a wise decision and reap the healthy benefits of CBD.
If interested in trying CBD for health benefits, talk with your medical professional. Ask for suggestions on usage and for suggestions on suppliers.
Bottom line — I have been pleasantly surprised by CBG and CBD. It was helpful to have guidance from a medical professional on where to purchase a safe, quality product, what dosage to consume and how to alleviate pain naturally. I don’t think I could have made an informed decision on my own without some guidance.
There are so many things to consider when buying CBG and CBD. There are literally thousands of products available online. Conducting your own internet search will provide a lot of valuable information and you’ll probably learn some new terms, such as terpenes and terpenoids.
If you’d prefer a shortcut to choosing products, check out this site for a quick introduction.
Using CBG and CBD can be part of an alternative therapy program, but as stated earlier in this post, each person’s body is different and the results may not always be the same. Each person must decide what is right for his/her own health.
Most CBG and CBD products on the market today contain under 0.3% THC. This is important to note especially when making purchases in states that have not legalized marijuana. Any product containing more THC would fall under the guidelines of those used for medical marijuana and may require a written prescription for purchase and carry.
Disclosure: The results I’ve received since using these tinctures has been amazing. I will continue to use the CBG and CBD products because of the beneficial results I’ve experienced. I will give a positive report to my oncologist at my visit next month.