I Tried Medical Marijuana For My Chronic Pain
(heavy breathing) (crying) - My name's Kelsey and most of you know me as the loud mouth, no filtered, boss ass bitch producer from Buzzfeed, which I am, but something that very few people know about me is that I suffer from a neuropathic, chronic pain condition know as Trigeminal Neuralgia, or TN. The Trigeminal nerve is a nerve located within the brain. It's primarily responsible for transmitting sensation from the brain to the face. TN is a type of neuropathic pain. A type of pain that can occur when nerves are damaged or injured.
In the medical field, Trigeminal Neuralgia is considered to be one of the worst pains known to mankind, sending excruciating pain throughout the face, head, and jaw. The pain of TN is comparable to severe burns, childbirth, and even the bite of a bullet ant. (crying) - Don't, don't, I'm okay. - At one point, TN was nicknamed the suicide disease because people who suffer from this would take their own lives because of the severity of the pain. Because of the pain, I've had multiple surgeries to try and fix it, along with expensive medications, therapies, treatments, injections, acupunctures. I just had Botox injected all across my forehead, into my scalp and jawline to try and help with the pain. You can kind of see the bruising.
I mean that costs $1,200 just to get this area done. You name it, I have tried it. Well, I have tried almost everything. (upbeat music) Recently, I've heard news stories and read articles about marijuana helping chronic pain. I am at a point in my pain and in my life where I can't take it anywhere and I'm willing to try anything. I don't smoke weed.
Anymore. Something you should know about me, I smoked weed back in high school and then once I got older, I kind of started having really adverse reactions to it, and just quit. Though I may not be a smoker anymore, I know that there's hundreds of strains of cannabis, so I needed to know exactly what I was looking for. So I decided to a really smart place at UCLA and talk to a really fancy doctor about it. - There's pretty strong evidence that whole leaf marijuana, or extracts of it, can be helpful for nerve pain.
Chronic pain, but specifically nerve pain. Is the strongest evidence. - Wait a minute there, doc. Just how far back does this evidence go? There are records from 2900 BCE of Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi stating marijuana possesses yin and yang. Around 1000 BCE in Ancient India, cannabis was combined with milk to drink as an anesthetic. The Ancient Greek doctor Galen would use cannabis to treat flatulence and pain. The Mexican Revolution of 1910 brought many Mexican immigrants to the US who introduced Americans to the recreational use of weed. The Great Depression increased racial tension which caused the public demand for government to crack down on marijuana use.
Marijuana was then associated with lower class communities. So basically for forever, marijuana use wasn't seen negatively until an influx of immigrants and racial tension caused it to be criminalized, causing it to lose its historical association with medicine. But, back to Dr. Strouse telling me something that blew my mind. - It's not at all clear that THC alone has much pain-relieving affect. - Oh. Gonna be on the hunt, not for weed, but something called CBD oil, which is actually THC free. What is the difference between CBD and THC? - The psychoactive part of marijuana, the part that gets you high, is THC.
- Right. - CBD does not tend to make people feel high or intoxicated, that there's a balance there that a roughly one to one mix sort of makes it easier for people to get a pain relief without that highness that at least some people experience as unpleasant. - What? Why don't these teach us this kind of shit in high school? That there's a weed out there that I can smoke and not get high.
Today I'm gonna go try and get my weed card. I'm actually walking to a place that's on the corner of my street, because in Los Angeles, these places are everywhere. So you can't just go to your regular doctor to get a marijuana card, you have to go to a doctor that specializes in medical marijuana evaluations. So, got the paper, and the card. It took what, how long? - [Man] Like five seconds.
- Like five seconds. So literally I sat in a room and a nurse brought in a computer screen and a guy on the other side was on Skype and I told him what was wrong with me and he said, "Great, I'm gonna give you a recommendation." It was very sketchy but super easy. So I had my card and now I knew what I was kind of looking for, so now I just needed to go to a dispensary.
Dispensaries just like a store for weed. (upbeat music) - My name is Allen, we're at WHTC in Studio City. You know, we're not doctors, so, we really work with the patients to see what's bothering them, what their ailments are, and how we could help them. - So I notice you're using the word "patients." - Yes. - [Kelsey] Explain what that means.
- A lot of people say customers, it's that, no, we're a medical marijuana dispensary. Everyone here is a patient. They went to a doctor, they have a-- - Medical marijuana card, I just got one. - Medical marijuana card, which is actually their prescription or their doctor's recommendation, saying that they can come in here and that they have an ailment that requires medical marijuana. We see a wide variety of patients, dealing with all sorts of ailments. Anywhere from Crohn's, diabetes, neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and chemo and cancer patients, absolutely.
- Right. And people know about cancer. A lot people don't know about, like, the anxiety that it can with, or depression, or other "invisible illnesses." - CBD's very helpful because it's an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, anti-arthritis. - So, what is the most popular medicine you sell here? - Between flowers, edibles, and concentrates-- - Wait, flowers? - Flowers, as in medical marijuana. - [Kelsey] Okay, I was like, "What?" - So yeah, we refer to that as flower, then you have concentrate, which is also know an oil. Then we have topicals and tinctures and edibles, so there's top sellers within every market. There's just a wide variety.
- Now it's time to get to schmokin'. I just left the dispensary and I'm actually feeling like, insanely optimistic. I'm in the parking lot at work, and I'm gonna just try one of these things now 'cause I can't wait to get home, so. I'm going to use this stick. - Another popular method, especially for neuropathy, is topicals. - [Kelsey] Lotion. - [Allen] Lotion, exactly. - Oh.
Oh wow, that's very nice. Ah, god, that feels so good. It definitely smells like kind of, Icy Hot. It has this weird cooling. So it's been about two hours since I used the roll on stick. My muscles feel so relaxed. I still have a lot of the tightness where the nerve damage is.
As far as the muscles in my actual jaws and temple, oh my god, it's like no amount of physical therapy has given me relief for this long. - When people hear CBD, they don't know what CBD looks like, but if you're looking at it from a raw form. This would be our Mai Tai Cookies, and this has actually won first place at the High Time Cannabis Cup for best CBD flower.
- I was also really nervous to try the flower. It tastes like pot. Because it reminded me of what I smoked in high school to get really high. When I used to smoke weed, I just knew about two kinds: mids and dro. How much should I smoke? This is weird. I don't know, I don't trust this. Jesus fuck. Okay, so, I'll let that settle in.
But I was nervous for nothing. It turns out it was really great, and the thing I loved most about the flowers was that it helped me the most out of all the methods with my headaches so, anyone who suffers from chronic migraines, I would highly recommend this product. We see those things on Facebook, those videos where someone's having some sort of seizure or convulsion and they're given some weed, whether through a pen or a dose, and then five minutes later, they're totally normal.
If we have proof like that, why is the research still so, I don't know, underfunded, or shunned upon? - I'm gonna sound like a nerdy doctor and try to answer this question. - Please do, that's why we're here. - I apologize. But, you know, I've seen some of those amazing video footage, for example, the kids with these horrible epilepsy problems who go to Colorado, who get Charlotte's Web.
- Right, we've all heard it. - That looks very compelling, and I think the fact that it's so compelling and there's so many really moving testimonials by parents is why there are now clinical trials being done with CBD by major university medical center neurology, epilepsy specialists. - So we're moving in the right direction? - [Dr. Strouse] We are, we are. - Okay, so it's 6:30 on a Friday night, and while everyone else is going out and doing shit, I can barely function as a human. The only thing that I can equate it to is like red hot fire ants just biting your face and no matter what you do, you can't stop it. So, I'm going to try Black Medicated Rub.
One CBD to THC, it doesn't really say how much to take, so I just took that. Oh my god, it smells so good. Let this settle in. It kind of looks like I just have a really poppin' gloss on. - It's a process. Start very small the first night, see how that affected you.
Take note. Moving forward, you adjust. - So it's been about 30 minutes and I don't feel anything, so we're gonna take it up a notch. Gonna use this pen. What do you find to be the most popular? - The vape cartridge, which is really quick. This is like almost instant relief. You vape it, and within a minute, you're probably gonna feel the effects. - Delicious.
Yo, I still cannot get over the fact that I am a vape bro. It's also considered to be one of the healthiest ways to ingest cannabis, 'cause you're not smoking any chemicals or papers. It was fast, it was easy, it was by far the most convenient way to ingest the cannabis, but its effects didn't last very long. So if you're gonna try this method, I would suggest bringing it with you wherever you go, or getting a higher concentrate in the pen. I'd read online that people had a lot of success with tinctures, so I bought a variety of kinds with various amounts of CBD and THC.
Was pricey at $60, but hey, willing to try anything. They were the most expensive method that I tried, and none of them really worked for me. I don't feel shit. About halfway through, I think after repeatedly failing with the tinctures, I really started to get depressed. (slow music) I just got done with one of my doctor's appointments. The appointment is $195 for a 20 minute appoinemtnt for someone to tell you it's trial and error and shit may or may not work. These specialist kinds of doctors aren't covered by insurance and they have to get paid because the work that they're doing is so underfunded.
Of course they have to charge a bunch 'cause all of this shit is so experimental. The idea that medical marijuana is something that you can keep in your home, it's at my disposal whenever I want it, I can take it whenever I want it. That would be like a fucking miracle, 'cause I am so sick of these fucking doctor's appointments. But then I think medical marijuana maybe that is the best option to even try first. I don't know, it's starting to really fuckin' fuck with me. Is the legalization of marijuana kind of undermining the use of it as medicine, too? Like, are people afraid that if medical marijuana becomes kind of the norm, will people stop going to see doctors, will people stop writing prescriptions, will the pharmaceutical world collapse? Is that a concern? - Though yes, my hunches may be there are people concerned about that, at another level people, many people are worried about how responsible is big marijuana gonna be, right? Big marijuana, like big tobacco, which until whatever year it was, 1982, was telling us that cigarettes didn't cause lung cancer. So it's a huge business opportunity here and they're going for it and so, in whose interest will that business development be? Marijuana's still illegal according to the Controlled Substances Act of the federal government.
It's simply to work with the organizations that the federal government sustains, is really complicated and bureaucratic and that's one of the reasons why there's so much anger. - Right, around it. - Around it. - 'Cause then it becomes like a government thing. We're letting the government control whether or not people can get better. While there is research being done, the US is so far behind compared to other countries. There are still so many states where this is illegal, and there is a stigma of that hippy stoner, vibe attached to this medicine.
I could not imagine living in a state where I needed this to function and then potentially having to go to a job where they drug test and not being able to take my medicine. I want people to watch this video and rethink their relationship and their opinions on marijuana. To cheer myself up, I decided to take an edible which I have heard so many horror stories where people have eaten it, don't feel anything, they eat more, and then like two hours later, they're melting into the wall. So I made my roommate try it with me, and guys, this was the one time that I got super high. And we also made some brownies and just laughed and I got nothing done, I couldn't even blog about it.
I just realized that that method is not practical for my lifestyle. Last minute I decided to add one more thing to the test. This was a medication that I had talked to Dr. Strouse about, it's called Charlotte's Web. So they can actually sell it to any state in America because it's considered hemp, and not cannabis. This one I'm really excited to try because this is the kind of strain that we see in those Facebook videos.
They recommend that you use this and kind of integrate it into part of your diet so they're saying it might not work the first time, maybe it does for some people, but it's something that you should do daily. Mmm, it tastes like mint chocolate chip. Charlotte's Web.
Oh my god, Charlotte's Web. I promise, despite the look of my hair, I'm doing much better today. I actually slept, like, some of the best sleep I've slept in a long time, which, to have a pain free sleep night is pretty rare. So I'm gonna start using this a lot more. It took a couple days of tinkering with the amounts to figure out what was most effective, but I highly recommend any chronic pain patients to try this first. Even though it's $150 a bottle, which lasted me about a month, it was worth every penny.
When I started this journey, I think the thing I was most afraid of was, would ingesting the cannabis affect my energy or my ability to function or my personality? When in reality, I was able to sleep better, and my headaches were less frequent, which gave me more energy. I just so badly want others to be able to have the chance to experience what I did. What's it gonna take for that to happen? Is it like a big company backing medicinal marijuana? What is it gonna take? Is it money? Is it more signatures? I don't know, what? - Well I think for us to do, for example, this kind of research in the VA, a federal entity, would probably require a repeal of the Federal Controlled Substances Act. - If you get anything from this video, know that it's, chronic pain sufferers don't just want your sympathy. They want your support and your action. I put some links below to organizations that are working all across the country to reform medical marijuana laws as well as some resources for chronic pain sufferers. I want to give a huge shout out and thanks to WHTC, UCLA, and the Facial Pain Research Foundation. And if you're a sufferer, I just wanna say, don't give up.
Keep trying different methods. Talk to your doctor, make them listen to your concerns. Tell them about cannabis, talk to them about cannabis. I am happy to have found an alternative to prescription pills or opiates because a lot of times that's the first option chronic pain sufferers are given. And for people like me, whose condition doesn't even react to opiates, this has been an incredibly life changing experience. I've been so happy to be educated about this and learn more about how my body reacts to medical marijuana so that I'm not so nervous or afraid of it anymore. I'm gonna keep using the CBD roll-on stick and I use the Charlotte's Web everyday, but I'm not gonna stop trying things. This is definitely not the solution.
It's not over. And just seeing the widespread acceptance of this plant as medicine, makes me feel incredibly excited and optimistic about chronic pain. For the first time ever.
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