Recently we had the pleasure of sitting down with Kelly Gibson, a patient and cannasseur. She describes her experience in being diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, and with the cannabis treatment that followed.
What issue are you dealing with and how did you first approach addressing it?
In late 2001 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. Crohn’s is an illness that affects your digestive system and has no cure and few treatments. Some of the symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and loss of appetite, with some sleeplessness and depression. I have also developed some secondary issues due to a lack of minerals and nutrients as a result of this ongoing illness. For the first couple of years, I followed the advice of my doctors and tried traditional methods such as surgery and several pharmaceuticals. These included anti-inflammatories (Salofalk), steroids (Entocort and Prednisone), different types of painkillers and nausea medicine etc. I even had to take Actonel and Pamidronate Injections for Osteoporosis as a result of the steroid use. I had very little success with the medications partly because of the lack of absorption due to my illness. Most of the medication made me sick to my stomach, more often than not.
How did you come to make cannabis a part of your health regimen?
Because I had such little success using the pharmaceuticals, I looked for an alternative and I began using medical cannabis to control my illness. I use it daily and in most forms. I use products with both THC, for pain management, and CBD, to control inflammation. I use the dried herb for vaping and smoking because it provides the most immediate relief. I sometimes use transdermal patches, tinctures, sprays, suppositories and infused glycerin in my tea (cold or hot) for the long-term effects.
In what other ways has cannabis helped you? Is there a particular cannabinoid or terpene profile you find most helpful?
Cannabis has increased my quality of life, no question. It helps to lessen my discomfort and pain, helps controls nausea and increases my appetite. Cannabis can help me sleep and controls mild depression, which is common for people with chronic illness. I feel strongly that cannabis should be used in its whole form, the “entourage effect” provides the most health benefits. I use products with high THC, because of my tolerance level, and something with as much CBD as possible. I also use cannabis topically to heal my skin from mild acne and eczema. Try finding strains that are high in Bisabolol – this terpene helps with absorption and is ideal for this application.
Can you tell us the salient part of your journey in terms of doctors and family and friend support?
There have been many hurdles and realizations along this journey to wellness. The most significant part was realizing that I was responsible for my own health and healing. I learned that the doctors and the medical profession don’t have the answers and I must rely on myself and trust what is good for me. Educate yourself because you can have a successful life even with a negative diagnosis!
Are you happy with the direction Health Canada, and the powers that be, are taking us?
I feel that any progress for medical or recreational cannabis is a victory. The point of legalization is to gain better access to regulated (or safe) product and for greater public safety by way of regulation and education. However, day-one legalization isn’t perfect and there is a ways to go before the true rights of individuals are reflected in the laws. Another concern is the potential Excise Tax on medical cannabis, increasing the cost for patients. I hope there can be a compromise between the government, the industry and the citizens soon as the regulated market progresses.
What do you see as your role within the cannabis community in the next few years?
Currently, I work at Spiritleaf doing many different roles such as content writer, purchaser and educator. And I have been speaking at local events, sharing my experiences with others. My participation in the cannabis culture and industry will continue to grow over the coming years. I hope my career will give me the opportunity to educate others in a bigger way about using cannabis effectively and safely. Personally, I would like to be involved in formulating and making infused beauty products in the future, in addition to the advocacy work I’m doing now.
What ingestion method is best? Are there any that aren’t recommended for Crohn’s?
Ingesting cannabis infused oils can be tricky for individuals with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease), fats are considered a stimulant and can irritate the digestive tract. If you prefer this method, it is better to make your own using Safflower Oil and stay away from ingesting products using coconut oil etc. Most edibles are difficult to use also because food is a barrier for digestion for those with IBD, making it difficult to get any effects from the cannabis. It is best to stick to things like hard candies because these will dissolve into your saliva instead of through your stomach.
Were you on pharmaceuticals and cannabis concurrently? If so where there are contraindications? And if so, did cannabis allow you to wean off the pharma?
I had used cannabis socially since I was 18, I was already sick then but was not yet diagnosed. In retrospect, I was possibly self-medicating without knowing. I continued to use cannabis occasionally while I tried the pharmaceuticals and didn’t notice any negative effects. When I made the decision to stop the mediations it was cold-turkey and I did increase the cannabis at the same time. I can only assume and hope it makes the transition easier.
Can you tell us a fun thing about yourself that would surprise us?
My past work history may surprise you, I spent many years doing entry-level accounting and three of those years I collected money for a large bearing company. Another fun fact is that I am a bit of a geek, I like spending time on the computer doing graphic design etc. I also love scrapbooking and photography.
You can catch Kelly on episode 92 of The Cannabis Show and online @KellyHasCrohns.
— Kait Shane, Community Outreach Educator Natural Health Services. Follow Natural Health Services on Twitter @NatHealthserve.
*Natural Health Services is for information only. Nothing contained on the blog is intended to constitute professional advice for medical diagnosis or treatment. We do not claim this information to be complete or exhaustive or to be applicable to any particular individual’s medical condition. You should always consult with a qualified and licensed physician or other medical care provider.*
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