This week in our patient spotlight, Eliza Arent, shares her life changing cannabis journey with us.
What symptoms led you to seek out medicinal cannabis?
Migraine headaches led me to seek out medical cannabis. I endured migraines for 30 years. They were infrequent at first but kept increasing over the decades, until I got up to 16-28 migraines per month.
What treatments had you explored prior to cannabis?
Through the years, I tried many things to treat the migraines. They included:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as Aspirin, Tylenol, Naproxen and Advil
- Beta-blockers (blood pressure medication)
- Birth control pills and birth control injections
- Elavil (anti-depressant)
- Topamax (anti-seizure medication)
- Botox injections
- Rizatriptan and sumatriptan (abortive, triptan medications)
- Diet restrictions
- Cold compresses to the forehead
- Herbal and homeopathic remedies
- Cannabis (THC)
- Yoga asana (physical postures practice)
- Cefaly (a device which delivers neurostimulation of the trigeminal nerve)
Other than the triptan medications, which I took at the onset of a migraine, nothing else worked and the medications all had unwanted side-effects. Although the triptans worked, it still meant 1-2 hours of pain until the medication took effect. I was desperate and wanted to prevent the migraines, not just treat them. Through a friend (and fellow medical cannabis patient), I learned about CBD. I wasn’t very hopeful that it could work because I had tried THC in the past for migraine pain, with no effect. After 30 years of pain though, I was willing to try it and the fact that it was non-psycho-active was appealing.
How was the cannabis exploration? How many products did you try? How did you settle on dosing?
I made an appointment with NHS. I felt I was in good care at the clinic and felt very welcomed at the education centre. I ordered CBD #1 flower and CBD oil from CannTrust. I began vaping the CBD #1 and taking the CBD oil at the onset of migraine aura and was surprised when it took the aura away and the migraine pain never came. I then began experimenting with taking the oil as a preventative each day.
How long did it take to get the dosing down? Did you use a journal or other helpful tools?
It took about 3 months of experimenting with the oil dosage to significantly decrease migraine frequency. As instructed by NHS, I started slow and increased the dose, about once per week. I eventually reduced the frequency of the migraines to about 4 per month, which was significant compared to the 16-28 I used to get. I had no side-effects from the CBD. I eventually was able to stop taking the oil and just vape at the onset of an aura with good effect. I still use triptan meds but only when I am unable to vape or if I am experiencing a migraine without aura. I used websites and attended online NHS education sessions to educate myself about cannabis.
How has your life changed now that your symptoms have been brought under control?
My life-satisfaction has greatly increased since the beginning of my cannabis journey. I no longer am in fear of chronic pain. Being free from chronic pain has begun a journey into greater wellbeing, as I now have increased awareness of how stress affects my physical and emotional wellbeing. This stronger connection to myself has allowed me to take better care of myself, emotionally, rather than just physically. I think because I was in charge of finding the right dose of cannabis for myself, I now feel more empowered to take charge of my health and wellbeing. I believe in myself, much more than I used to, in many aspects of my life.
Is there anything you would go back and tell your pre-cannabis self about your journey?
I would tell my pre-cannabis self that it is certainly worth trying cannabis, even though after 30 years of pain, I really had given up hope in anything working. I would tell myself that this journey will be about much more than just trying another medication; it will be life-changing.
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us, Eleeza!
Pain management can be a difficult thing to navigate and everyone is unique in how they respond to treatments. If you and your doctor have determined that cannabis should be added to your health plan, remember to start low and go slow, journal, and take an exploratory approach.
If you would like to book an appointment to find out how medical cannabis may help you, please visit the homepage on our website, or give us a call at 1-844-262-0942.
— Kait Shane, Community Outreach Educator Natural Health Services.