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Cannabis & Chronic Pain

Discover Rebekkah’s story and how cannabis helps her with managing her chronic pain. 

My name is Rebekkah, I live in Los Angeles now.

Which health issue do you suffer from?

I suffer from chronic pain as a result of back injury. A number of years ago, I had a disk that ruptured in my lower spine and it was to the point where I wasn’t able to walk for almost a year. Finally, I had to have surgery for it, the surgery helped, I could walk again but I still suffer from chronic pain. So, that’s one reason and then the other reason is that I had an infection in my ear a number of years ago, almost 15 years ago. And it rendered me deaf on that side but it also left me with fairly severe tinnitus that interferes with concentration and overall mental health, and it’s also painful sometimes.

How did you find your way to cannabis as a treatment?

I have known about cannabis as a treatment for many years. I am one of the lucky ones that grew up with a hippie as a mom. So, it’s sort of been part of our life and our framework for most of my life. I started using it as pain management when I have moved back to California and I understood that it was available medically here and it was actually recommended to me by a number of friends of mine who suffered from similar issues. A woman who is a very dear friend of mine has an even worst back issue than I do and she had been using it for years, she made the recommendation and I started using it and it was great. As a result of that, I was able to go off of all of the prescribed psychoactive medications, the opiates and the painkillers and the sorts of things that we are now seeing in the news that are real problem. Because they are addictive and toxics and this is a natural solution and best of all, it works better.

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What research did you do on its applications for your condition?

Before I started using it, I asked a lot of questions, I got a lot of anecdotal evidence from people I knew who had been using it already. Of course, in my own family, we have users, so, I was asking my own family members, I was asking friends. I did a lot of online research; there aren’t a lot of studies available because of the stigma around its use and how it’s categorized under federal law. So, it was difficult to find really good research about it but I did find some international studies that showed that it was going to be a really great help.

What was the most surprising to you when you started using it?

The first time I started using after I decided to use it in place of pharmaceuticals, the results were amazing, I slept better, I was in less pain. The pain didn’t have as much of an impact on my mental state. I was able to sleep through the night for the first time in years; I was able to walk up right. And the first time I tried it after someone has suggested it to me, let me back up a little bit. I was visiting a friend in Los Angeles before I moved back here and it was shortly after the surgery and I flew here and it was probably too soon after the surgery, I should not have flown. I got off the plane and she saw me and she said I was grey because I was in so much pain I could hardly stand up at that point. She took me straight home, she gave me some and it knocked me off for the night. And the next day, I was actually up and feeling so much less pain that I felt like dancing.

How are you consuming cannabis?

I was an opera singer for thirty years so smoking was out of the question for me. I learned very early on that consuming it as an edible was actually much more effective for a number of reasons. First it didn’t damage my throat or my lungs but also, because it was a slower burn so to speak. So, I played around with the typical brownie thing that was very popular back in the 70s and 80s. That was sort of how it was introduced to me. I am not a fan of sweets though, so, the brownies while they did the trick, weren’t very satisfying for me, I preferred something with a lot less sugar in it. So I started experimenting with my own recipes using savories, I would create my own butter, I would add it to pesto, curry, chai, anything that had a nice strong flavor on the savory side which made it a whole lot more palatable for me and the flavors worked quite well together in culinary fashion. So that was kind of a discovery for me that really made it a lot easier to use and then, of course the advantage too is that when you smoke it, it last for 20 minutes to an hour maybe then you’re done. But if you eat it, although it takes longer to take effect, it also lasts longer; it lasts from 6 to 8 hours, which was great for me because then I could actually sleep.

What would you say to people who are skeptical about cannabis’ benefits?

I would say I am living-proof that cannabis works, I was able to get off of a fistful of pharmaceutical medications and instead of taking all of that stuff and poisoning myself. I used cannabis on a daily basis in combination with ibuprofen and that’s it. And I am in less pain now than I have been in years.

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Do you have any advice for people who want to try using cannabis?

Start small, when you are trying it for the first time, you’re not really aware of how it can impact your body so my best advice for people who starts using it for the first time is start with very small doses and work your way up very slowly to the dose that is going to be comfortable for you. I learned over years what my minimum and maximum dose were, and it was only through personal trials and error. I tried too little, it didn’t work, I tried too much, it worked but the results were uncomfortable. So, my advice is to be cautious to start with, don’t overdo it.