10 Self-Care and Self-Love Promises

6 years ago my health deteriorated so badly I became virtually bed bound. I was physically and mentally broken, and I felt like I had no reason to live. I could never have imagined that such a catastrophic event could actually (eventually) bring about positive events and changes.

Becoming so physically ill has forced me to reevaluate my life, but it has also forced me to confront my demons. It has forced me to face my mental ill-health head on.

It hasn’t been easy – it still isn’t. But I know I have come so far. I have learnt about self compassion and forgiveness, and I’m slowly putting into practice the many lessons this has taught me.

I’m finally at a place where I don’t beat myself up over every little mistake. I no longer blame myself for being so ill, and I’m finally starting to love the person I am, in spite of my many flaws. And this would not have happened if I hadn’t been forced to confront my anxiety, depression and self hatred.

I know I have made a lot of progress, but it’s an ongoing process. With this in mind, I have written myself reminders, self-care promises, if you like. I will try to respect these, even on my bad days. Maybe you could try these too or write your own.

1. For the times when my body and mind actually allow me to rest;

I will comply without beating myself up about all the things I “should” be doing. Whether this rest period lasts for hours, days or weeks, I will listen to my body and respect it’s need to restore and repair.

2. For the times when my mind is so active I cannot rest;

Rather than berate the 3 year old child in my mind constantly asking “but Why?”, I will thank my foggy brain for still functioning, and make the most of the rare moments of clarity.

3. For the times when I’m overwhelmed by the need to cry;

Instead of chastising myself for being over-emotional or over-sensitive, I will allow myself to cry and feel these emotions, and acknowledge these feelings are what make me a compassionate human being.

4. For the times when my pain levels are high;

When every minute feels like a day, and every breath is an arduous task. I will remind myself; this moment will pass, I will survive, and things will get better.

5. For the times when I fuck up;

Instead of beating myself up and replaying every mistake in minute detail, I will practice self-compassion and forgiveness, and remind myself I am only human.

6. For the times when I am alone;

Instead of fearing my own company because I’m forced to listen to the voices inside my head, I will embrace this time of reflection and use it as a opportunity for growth.

7. For the times when I look in the mirror and I don’t like what I see;

Instead of criticising every lump, bump, wrinkle and grey hair, I will practice being kind to myself, and acknowledge I’m beautiful, no matter how hard this message is to believe. Every line, wrinkle and scar represents a step in my journey through life.

8. For the times when I’m full of anger and everything irritates me;

Instead of calling myself a bitch, I will acknowledge that all my feelings are valid. Instead of turning this anger and hatred on myself, I will remind myself I have been through so much, and negative emotions are just a “human” reaction to the stress and discomfort I experience. These emotions do not make me a bad person, and I will try to forgive myself.

9. For the times when it feels like my body is betraying me;

Instead of focusing on the many ways my “broken” body has let me down, I will thank it for keeping me alive through everything I have thrown at it. I will focus on what I can do rather than what I can’t, and remember how far I’ve come.

10. For the days when I feel like a failure and I’m consumed by self-loathing;

I will do whatever it takes to survive the day. I will fight to see the many positive characteristics that I possess, and give myself the love, understanding and compassion I so freely give to others.

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6 Effective Ways to Consume CBD

Please head over to my new Facebook page CBD Resource Centre, for everything you need to know about CBD, along with the latest discount codes and promotions. 

CBD comes in many forms, with products ranging from oils, edibles, capsules, topical creams and vape liquids.

But with so many options available, how do you choose an effective method for your needs?

The method of consumption you choose is largely down to personal preference but each method offers its own individual benefits too.

In this article, I break down 6 effective ways to take CBD, so you can decide which is best for you.

What is CBD (Cannabidiol)?
First, a brief introduction to CBD and the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found in cannabis and hemp. While beneficial for wellbeing, CBD doesn’t have the psychoactive properties of it’s more famous cousin THC. Even at high doses CBD will not get you high and it’s safe for all the family to use on a regular basis.

CBD provides many health benefits through its interaction with the body’s native endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS regulates many vital functions within the body including; mood, appetite, sleep, hormone production, and even pain, stress and immune system responses.

If you would like to find out more about how CBD works within the body please read my article: How CBD Works: The Endocannabinoid System Explained.

What does bioavailability mean and why does it matter?

Throughout this article you will see the term bioavailability mentioned. I just wanted to briefly explain what this means.

In short, bioavailability is the degree and rate at which a substance is absorbed into the bloodstream. So the bioavailability determines how much CBD is absorbed and how quickly the effects are felt.

The bioavailability (absorption rate) of CBD varies based on the the consumption method and concentration of CBD in the product in question. So bioavailability becomes an important consideration not only when it comes to choosing your method of taking CBD, but also the amount of CBD you take.

Methods of consuming CBD.

As I have briefly explained, there are many effective ways to take CBD. By knowing the options available you can find a CBD product that is not only effective, but also fits into your lifestyle.

1. CBD oil.

First up, CBD oil. CBD oil is probably the most popular way of consuming CBD. It is taken by placing drops under the tongue (sublingual administration). CBD oil comes in many strengths and variations, so it offers a wide choice when it comes to dosing.

To take CBD oil, simply place the desired amount under the tongue, and leave there for 2-3 minutes before swallowing. It’s best to take CBD oil 2-3 times a day as the effects of CBD only lasts about 4-6 hours.

Advantages.

  • CBD oil administered sublingually allows for quick absorption through the mucous glands (under the tongue). This means you experience the positive effects of CBD more quickly than some other methods.
  • There is a lot more flexibility when dosing, using CBD oil, compared to some other methods. It’s easy to increase your CBD dose in small increments just by adding an extra drop.
  • CBD oil is one of the most cost effective ways of consuming CBD.

Disadvantages.

  • Some people struggle with the earthy taste of CBD oil, although this can be overcome by brushing your teeth beforehand or drinking a glass of water after. Here are a few more suggestions if you struggle with the taste of CBD oil.
  • Those wishing to be discreet about their CBD intake when out in public may not find this method suitable.
  • Some CBD oil bottles have a tendency to leak if not stored upright. This means they are not always a portable option.

2. CBD Paste (whole plant extract)

CBD paste or “whole plant extract” is a concentrated form of CBD. Basically, it’s what CBD oils are made from. Paste is diluted in a carrier oil to make the CBD oils you see on the market.

To take CBD paste, rub a grain of rice size (8mm) into your gums. The amount you take will vary depending on the strength of the product you are taking. As with other methods of taking CBD, it’s best to take CBD paste 2-3 times a day.

Advantages.

  • Some people find CBD paste is a more effective way of taking CBD than oil, and the effects are felt more quickly than some methods.
  • CBD paste is generally the most cost effective way of taking CBD.

Disadvantages.

  • As with CBD oil, the taste of CBD paste can be challenging.
  • Taking CBD paste can be fiddly. Some people find transferring it from the syringe/tube onto their gums, challenging.
  • It can strain your teeth.

3. CBD capsules.

Another common way to take CBD is to ingest it orally in the form of a capsule. Capsules are probably the easiest way to take CBD, but the bioavailability is a lot lower compared to other methods.

When you ingest CBD capsules, it passes through the digestive system first and is metabolised by the liver, meaning it takes longer for the beneficial effects of CBD to noticed.

Capsules contain a premeasured dose of CBD but as the absorption rate is lower you may need to take a higher dose to feel the effects. It’s best to take CBD capsules 2-3 times a day as the effects of CBD only lasts about 4-6 hours.

Advantages.

  • CBD capsules are a really easy way to take CBD, which makes them the most convenient option.
  • They are tasteless (great if you struggle with the taste of CBD oil), portable and discreet.
  • The CBD dose is pre-measured, making capsules a convenient and easy-to-dose option.
  • Although the effects tend to occur later, they also last longer. So, this solution works best for people who need a consistent dose of CBD throughout the day.

Disadvantages.

  • The bioavailability is reduced when CBD is consumed orally as it first passes through your digestive system before circulating throughout the liver.
  • CBD capsules are also, generally, a less cost effective option than CBD oil and paste.

4. CBD E-liquids and concentrates (vaping).

Vaping CBD is favoured by many as it offers a quick and efficient method of consuming CBD. During vaping, CBD enters your lungs and diffuses directly into your bloodstream. Because it doesn’t have to make its way through the digestive system or liver, the CBD enters your circulation faster. This means you can achieve the same beneficial effects with a much smaller amount of CBD.

The effects from vaping CBD only last about 1-2 hours so it’s important to vape regularly throughout the day to feel the full benefits. Although, many people use vaping as a “top-up” to their CBD oil or capsule intake.

Advantages.

  • With the CBD directly entering your bloodstream, the beneficial effects are felt very quickly.
  • Less CBD is lost during vaping compared to the ingestion method. So the absorption rate (bioavailability) is a lot higher than for other methods, like CBD oil and CBD capsules.
  • Flavoured vape liquids make for a pleasant experience and many people find it a very relaxing way to consume CBD.

Disadvantages.

  • Unlike other methods of taking CBD, you will need to buy equipment alongside your CBD E-liquid. Although, if you are already a vaper this is not an issue, as a standard vape pen is often sufficient.
  • Not everywhere allows vaping, so if you are looking to consume CBD at work, vaping may not be the option for you.

5. CBD edibles and beverages.

CBD can also be ingested in the form of gummy bears, chocolates, cakes and even CBD beverages like hemp tea, CBD coffee and CBD beer. They offer another choice for anyone that struggles with the taste of CBD oil.

But this option isn’t the most cost effective and is normally used in addition to other CBD products like oils and capsules.

As CBD edibles have a premeasured dose, and this dose will vary from product-to-product, the amount you take will be dependent on the strength of the CBD edible in question.

Advantages.

  • Edibles are a tasty, discreet and convenient way to take CBD.
  • They contain a pre-measured dose which takes any guesswork out of CBD dosing.
  • While it takes longer for CBD edibles to take effect (between 30 minutes to two hours), the effects last longer than methods like vaping. In fact, CBD edibles can last between two and four hours longer than inhaled CBD.

Disadvantages.

  • As we have mentioned previously, CBD ingested orally has a lower absorption rate than other methods, so it can take longer to notice the benefits of CBD, and you may need to take a higher dose.
  • CBD edibles are a less cost effective way to consume CBD.
  • CBD edibles are not be the healthiest way to consume CBD because they often contain high levels of sugar.

6. CBD topical balms or creams.

CBD topical creams offer another way to administer CBD. When CBD is applied topically, it is absorbed directly through the skin. Cannabinoid receptors are located throughout the skin, the body’s largest organ, making CBD a potential therapy for a range of conditions. Because it is applied right on trouble areas, the CBD works directly where it is needed the most.

When using CBD topical creams, just apply a thin layer to the affected areas 2-3 times a day. Please take note of any additional ingredients if you have sensitive skin or allergies.

Advantages.

  • CBD topical creams can be applied directly to the area where they are needed. This allows for quick absorption and targeted relief.
  • CBD creams also contain many other active therapeutic compounds that can work alongside CBD to increase the benefits you receive.

Disadvantages.

  • CBD topical creams tend to contain lower amounts of CBD and are only really effective in the areas where they are applied.
  • If you have multiple health conditions you wish to target, you may benefit from taking another form of CBD along with your CBD balm.

Should CBD be taken with or without food?

There is a lot of contradictory information about whether CBD should be taken with or without food. The truth is, it’s largely down to personal preference.

But as CBD is a fat-soluble cannabinoid, meaning it breaks down and is stored in fat rather than water, the addition of food containing fatty acids may increase bioavailability of certain CBD products, particular those ingested like capsules and edibles.

What is the best way to consume CBD?
Now you are aware of all the options available, you may be asking; What is the best way to consume CBD? Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. Each person is entirely unique, and as such, there is no method of consumption that can be declared “better” than another. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages.

The method you choose may have more to do with your lifestyle than bioavailability, and you may find a combination of methods most effective for your health needs.

Please head over to my new Facebook page CBD Resource Centre, for everything you need to know about CBD, along with the latest discount codes and promotions. 

For Many People the Festive Season is Not a Time of Celebration

Social media is full of posts telling us how to have the perfect Christmas. Every other advert is forcing upon us ideas of perfect Christmas gifts. At this time of year it’s impossible not to be bombarded by the festive season and all its glittery glory – it’s everywhere we turn.

But what if Christmas brings misery, not joy? What if you are forced to observe this “happy” occasion from the isolation of your bed? Or, what if you cannot afford to buy your kids the perfect gift, or even provide a christmas dinner with all the trimmings?

For many people the festive season is not something to be celebrated. People living with chronic illness, bereavement or mental ill-health, can find this time of year extremely stressful and upsetting. And let’s not forget the many families living in poverty, the homeless, and those that live alone. Christmas can be a lonely time, and observing “happy families” and festivities on social media, can be painful.

Christmas themed blog posts are everywhere.

Most bloggers have already started their “Christmas posts” with “how to” guides about everything from buying the perfect gift, to tips on how to cook the perfect Christmas dinner, or ways to cope with the additional exertion the festive season brings. And reading all these posts makes me feel pressured to do the same. But I made a promise to myself when I started my blog, that I would keep my posts authentic to who I am.

So, I just wanted to say that, I’m sorry but you won’t be getting an abundance of Christmas posts from me. I could go through the motions of writing them, but it would be false advice. It would not be true to who I am. Let me explain why.

Why the festive season is a tough time for me.

As someone living with chronic illness and mental ill-health, Christmas is a challenging time for me. I am not well enough to visit family or friends. I’m not well enough to participate in the revelry. I’m not well enough to party. Funds are limited, so I can’t afford to spend loads on presents. My diet is very restricted, so no Christmas pudding or mince pies for me.

When you are severely affected by chronic illness and are housebound, it can often feel like you have been forgotten. The outside world continues on without you, and this only adds to your isolation. Christmas time can amplify this feeling of isolation and loneliness.

And winter can be a particular difficult time for those living with depression, and the cold weather can bring additional distress to those living with chronic illness and pain.

But also, as a child, our family did not celebrate Christmas for religious reasons. And as an adult I have never really seen the point of Christmas. To me it just seems to be a time of excess and waste. People spend too much and get in debt, and people consume way too much. I find the amount of waste quite staggering, especially when there are so many people going without in the world.

I’m not against Christmas, I don’t want to come across as a scrooge. But I think the message of love is lost amongst the mountains of gifts, excess, and the stress that the ridiculous amount of expectation brings.

So, I practice avoidance a lot during the festive season. I avoid listening to the radio because every other song is a Christmas one. I avoid social media, seeing everyone playing happy families and enjoying the “perfect” Christmas just reminds me of what I’m missing out on. I isolate myself more than normal just to survive the season, and I know I’m not alone in behaving this way.

I’m not saying this to get sympathy or attention. I’m extremely lucky to have loving family and friends – but I just don’t “do” Christmas.

Christmas can be such a distressing time.

Christmas can also be a distressing time for  those who are mourning the loss of a loved one. They are bombarded by memories of happy times together, which can exaggerate their feelings of loss. This time of reflection can be particularly hard for those who are recently bereaved.  

And let’s not forget the stress Christmas brings into our lives, and not just for those who are chronically ill. There is so much pressure to spend extortionate amounts of money and to “perform” the perfect Christmas. Although I don’t really celebrate the festive season, I can see that the only thing that really matters is the time you spend with those you love, not the amount you spend, or the number of presents you give.

How to help a friend who may be struggling.

“Sitting silently beside a friend who is hurting may be the best gift you can give”

If you are a friend or family member of someone who you think may be struggling to cope with the additional stress that the festive season brings, what can you do to help?

Most importantly, just be there for them. Let them know they are not alone and have not been forgotten. Ask them how you can help ease their stress. Are there any errands you could run? or maybe you could help wrap presents and write cards.

And, for your loved ones living with chronic ill-health – they may need a little extra love and understanding at this time of year. Please check up on them. They may be overwhelmed and not want a visit, but a text or phone call letting them know you are thinking about them could make their day.. They may “hide” from the world to avoid the pain of Christmas, but please don’t forget them.

Instead of buying expensive gifts, why not gift your time and company?

Your time and company can mean so much more than expensive gifts, especially to someone living with chronic ill-health. There are many ways you show your love and make a real difference in a loved ones life. Here are a few ideas;

  • Offer to take them shopping or shop for them.
  • Offer to visit them and cook a meal.
  • Run a few errands to ease their stress.
  • Ask if there are any jobs you can do around the house.
  • Offer to drive them to see family.
  • Offer to drive them to doctors appointment
  • Walk their dog.
  • Babysit their kids to give them a break.
  • Treat them to a pamper day at home.
  • Help them wrap presents and write cards.

How to help others in your community

Christmas is a time of giving, but it’s also an opportunity to help others, not just friends and family, but also the community you live in.

The amount of waste over Christmas upsets me, when there are so many people living in poverty. So I counteract this by donating to a local homeless charity. But there are many ways you can make a difference in your community:

  • Rather than buying one more present to add to the mounting pile, why not donate some toys to a local children’s charity?
  • Instead of spending £100s on food, most of which you won’t get round to eating, why not donate some to a food bank, or a homeless charity?
  • Or why not donate your time? There are many ways you can volunteer in your local community, and I can promise you the rewards far outweigh the time you sacrifice.
  • If you find yourself with unwanted gifts that you know you will never use, rather than leave them festering in a cupboard, why not donate them to a local charity shop?
  • Do your kids no longer play with their “old” toys because they were given so many shiny new ones as Christmas presents? If they are still in good condition your charity shop would love to receive them. The same goes for unwanted clothes.
  • And please don’t forget about your elderly neighbours who live alone. A simple card could make their day, or a visit to see if they are ok or need anything. The cold weather adds another dimension of isolation and your presence could mean the world.

You are not alone, even if it feels like you are.

If you are someone reading this nodding along, fearing the stress that Christmas brings, please know you are not alone. Do whatever you need to do to survive the season. Reach out and ask for help if you feel able, or hibernate for a couple of months if that’s what you need to do.

Please don’t feel pressured to conform to stereotypes at Christmas. Please don’t feel you have to compete with others. Please remember the “perfect” images you see on social media are just edited highlights of someone’s life, and no one’s life is perfect. Try to take your own path, celebrate Christmas within your means, and most importantly, try to enjoy this time. Take care x

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.

What Happened When I Tried Cannabis to Treat My Chronic Pain?

Foreword: I am not a medical professional, and I am not promoting trying cannabis to treat your medical conditions on your own, without the guidance of your doctor. The following is just an account of what I experienced when I tried cannabis to treat my chronic pain, it is not meant as a study or a “how to” guide.

I, like many others in the UK, waited patiently for medical cannabis to become available on prescription. I have wanted to try full spectrum cannabis oil for a long time now, but I didn’t want to have to take the illegal route, not because it’s illegal, but because I didn’t feel I could “trust” the safety and potency of the source.

But after being let down so badly by the new legislation, I felt I had no option but to try cannabis oil on my own. If the NHS can’t or won’t help me, then I will help myself.

If you would like to find out more about the recent changes in legislation with regards to medical cannabis, and my personal thoughts on this, please read my article; Why I’m not celebrating the introduction of medical cannabis on prescription.

Why I decided to try cannabis.

There are two reasons why I decided to try THC/cannabis, illegally, for my chronic pain:

If cannabis-based medicines, including THC, do become available to me on the NHS in the future, I want to know:

  1. Can my body can tolerate it? I’m hypersensitive to everything, including cannabinoids, so how will my body react to THC?
  2. Will it be effective for treating my pain? How effective will a combination of cannabinoids, including THC and CBD, be for my pain?

The process of gaining a medical cannabis licence, when or if the option ever becomes available to me, is likely to be difficult, stressful, time consuming and exhausting. I want to KNOW for certain that cannabis is an effective treatment for me before having to go through this process.

I’m optimist that, as I’ve responded well to CBD and CBG, and these cannabinoids have been somewhat effective for many of my symptoms, that adding THC will help further reduce my pain levels.

Please note, there are many different strains of cannabis which each contain varying levels of cannabinoids and terpenes. Just like CBD products, it is possible to tailor the strain or method of consuming cannabis, to meet your specific needs. 

Unfortunately, because full extract cannabis oil including THC is still illegal in the UK, I did not have the luxury of choosing the strain or method. If you would like to find out more about the main cannabinoids found in cannabis and their therapeutic properties, please click here.

For those of you that are new to my blog, I have ME/CFS, migraines and fibromyalgia, all of which cause me considerable pain. 

My dosing plan.

My plan was to add a THC oil to my current full spectrum CBD oil.

The first thing I needed to decide was, how much THC should I take?

As I’m hypersensitive to everything, I decided to start with just 3mg THC (1 drop of a 6% THC oil) once a day. But, most importantly, this will be taken alongside my usual CBD – 5mg, 3 times a day.

CBD not only offers its own health benefits but it can also counteract the negative side effects of THC. I know not everyone will see feeling “high” as a negative, but for me, I don’t want to feel “out of it” – I need to be able to function.

So, what happened?

The following is my account of what happened when I tried cannabis oil. I am keeping a diary of any side effects and my symptoms. I hope it helps others who want to try cannabis as a treatment option, by answering some questions and setting people’s minds at ease.

My cannabis diary

The following is taken from my “Cannabis Diary”. Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with every diary entry – just a few highlights.

Day 1. (5th Nov 2018)
Dose: 1 drop – 3mg THC (3mg per day).
1 drop, 3 times a day – 5mg CBD (15mg per day)

THC side effects: Nausea. Very Thirsty. Very drowsy – slept most of the day. Although this is not surprising considering how hypersensitive I am, and, of course, fatigue is a big problem for me because I have severe ME/CFS.

My symptoms.
Before cannabis: Pain and anxiety levels both low to moderate. A bit achey.
After cannabis: Stiff neck and headache. No change in pain and anxiety levels.

Day 2
Dose: 1 drop – 3mg THC (3mg per day).
1 drop, 3 times a day – 5mg CBD (15mg per day)

THC side effects: Thirsty, drowsy, “fuzzy” head. Although I feel lethargic, I also feel a little agitated (on-edge). I don’t feel “high” but I can definitely tell I’ve taken THC. Increased appetite. Craving fizzy drinks and sweets.

My symptoms.
Before cannabis: Pain and anxiety levels both low to moderate.
After cannabis: I forgot to record how I felt but I don’t remember being in pain. This could be because I was too focused on the THC side effects, or it could be because the cannabis oil worked for my pain.

Day 3
Dose: 1 drop – 3mg THC (3mg per day).
1 drop, 3 times a day – 5mg CBD (15mg per day)

THC side effects: Really agitated after today’s dose – I feel “tired but wired”. I can’t settle as I’m really on-edge. Very thirsty and can’t stop eating. I think I may have to rethink my dosing.

My symptoms.
Before cannabis: Very achy today. Pain and anxiety levels moderate.
After cannabis: No change in pain levels but my anxiety has increased.

A change of plan..

3mg of THC may not be a lot for most people, but my body is hypersensitive to everything, so it’s no surprise that I’m also struggling with THC.

I’ve decided to try microdosing, instead.

Microdosing is basically taking a much lower dose, but more frequently throughout the day. This should hopefully mean I will still feel the benefits from the THC, but the unwanted side effects should be reduced. Although there isn’t any scientific evidence to prove microdosing is effective, many people swear by this method of administering cannabis.

New dosing plan.

I’ve diluted the 6% THC with olive oil – 1 part THC to 3 parts olive oil. This should give me 0.75mg THC per drop. I’m going to try 1 drop 4 times a day to start with, which will give a total of 3mg THC a day. But I’m also going to take 2.5mg of CBD per dose too – 10mg CBD a day.

Day 4.
Dose: 0.75mg of THC 4 times a day (3mg a day)
2.5mg of CBD 4 times a day (10mg per day)

THC side effects: No noticeable side effects with first microdose. Second dose brought increased appetite and thirst. So did the next 2 doses. But no noticeable drowsiness or nausea.

My symptoms:
Before cannabis: Pain levels low to moderate. Stiff and achy, Anxiety levels low.
After cannabis: No change although I do feel “calm”.

I’m not going to bore you with every diary entry. Instead I will give you a summary of my first week microdosing THC. It’s been a positive week.

My first week microdosing THC.

The only side effects which are persisting, even while microdosing, are increased appetite and thirst. I have a history of weight problems and eating disorders, so this has caused me some anxiety, but I’m sure I will adapt.

I have felt more alert, but not “high”. The microdosing seems to have eradicated the drowsiness and nausea.

So the big question is; do I feel any better? It’s hard to tell because my symptoms fluctuate so much from day-to-day, but I actually feel “ok”. I know “ok” may not be a very helpful description, but for someone living with multiple chronic illnesses, feeling “ok” is a rarity.

My pain levels are manageable, although I wake up each morning at about 3am in pain. I then take a dose of cannabis oil which lowers my pain levels enough to go back to sleep for

a couple of hours. My anxiety levels have fluctuated quite a lot, but that’s common for me. I don’t feel as exhausted as I often do, and I’m sleeping well (for me).

Dosing plan.

My plan was to wait a week and then increase my dose, but as my pain levels are manageable, I’m going to stick with this dose for another week.

In summary

I haven’t felt “high” at any point, although I’m aware the doses I’ve taken are very low. The side effects I’ve experienced so far have been manageable and not in any way scary. I’ve been feeling “ok”, and my pain and anxiety levels have mainly been low to moderate. But it’s too early to tell if this is due to the cannabis oil or whether it’s just been a good week for me.

As this post is already getting quite long, I’m going to leave it there for now. I will update you about my progress in my next instalment.

Have you tried cannabis to treat your medical conditions? Would you like to share your story?

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.

10 Tips to Try if You Struggle with the Taste of CBD Oil.

CBD oils are by far the most popular way of consuming CBD. But many people struggle with the earthy, often pungent, taste. Personally I like the taste, although tastes vary considerably from brand to brand. But if you find your CBD oil too much to stomach, please don’t give up on CBD altogether. There are many ways to disguise the taste, and there are also other CBD choices available which may be more favourable.

What does CBD oil taste like?

Firstly, I don’t want to put people off who haven’t yet tried CBD oil – not all CBD oils have a strong, pungent taste. And the benefits of CBD far outweigh the sometimes challenging taste.

How a CBD oil tastes will be influenced by the extraction method used and also the carrier oil the CBD extract is suspended in. I find CBD oils with olive oil as the carrier, less appealing than those that use MCT oil, but people’s tastes vary.

Some CBD oils have a mild, earthy taste, while others have a taste which some have described as “like Iicking an ashtray”. But please remember that you only have to hold the CBD oil under your tongue for a couple minutes before swallowing, and there are no taste buds under the tongue.

Why do some CBD oils taste so pungent?

I would like to briefly mention the different types of CBD oils you can buy, as it can really affect the taste.

“Full spectrum” CBD oils fall into two main categories which are commonly called: “Golden” oils and “Black” oils.

Black oils are made by simply mixing whole plant extract (hemp extract, although this is sometimes called paste) with a carrier oil. Whereas golden oils go through an additional extraction process known as winterisation. Winterisation takes out all the unwanted “debris” from the oil; plant matter, waxes and lipids, leaving the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. This unsurprising, leads to a milder, cleaner taste, and a lighter coloured oil.

People often wrongly assume that lighter coloured CBD oils are inferior in quality. This myth was started because many scammers were just mixing small amounts of CBD isolate with MCT oil, which was very light in colour. But as CBD isolate is now banned in “foods” e.g. oils and edibles, theoretically, this should no longer be a problem.

But I will also add, both black oils and golden oils, if produced properly, are just as effective.

How to disguise the taste of your current CBD oil.

I know a lot of people struggle with the taste of some CBD oils. Here are some simple, and cheap tips on how to disguise the taste of your current CBD oil:

  1. Brush your teeth before taking the oil – it helps mask the taste.
  2. Place the oil onto a piece of chocolate before placing it under your tongue. A great excuse, if you need one, to eat your favourite chocolate.
  3. Or have a mint ready for when you swallow the oil.
  4. Add a few drops of peppermint oil into your CBD oil bottle.
  5. If you really can’t stomach the taste you could make your own capsules using the CBD oil or paste. The absorption rate is lower with capsules, but if you also add some coconut oil, it aids absorption.

But don’t worry if you are still struggling. You get used to the taste, I promise, so don’t give up.

Here are a few more options if you struggle with the taste of CBD oil.

  1. Buy a flavoured CBD oil. Companies have cottoned on to how “challenging” some consumers find the taste of CBD oils, and many now offer flavoured option
  2. Buy an oil with a milder taste.I have tried a lot of CBD oils now and they vary quite considerably in taste. “Golden” oils have a much milder and more pleasant taste. Also, the carrier oil will contribute to the taste. I find CBD oils that use MCT oil as their carrier are much more palatable than ones that use olive oil or hemp oil.
  3. Buy a water soluble CBD oil spray. These sprays are becoming more popular and can be added to any drinks or food to disguise the taste, without reducing bioavailability.
  4. Edibles. Whether you make your own or buy them already made, edibles are a great way to disguise the taste of CBD oil. The absorption rate is lower so you may need to increase your dose. You can also now buy CBD beverages, but the CBD concentrations tend to be quite low.
  5. Buy CBD capsules. If you don’t fancy making your own capsules, there are many options available on the market at varying strengths. They do work out more expensive than CBD oils, and the absorption rate is lower. But they are a very convenient, tasteless and easy-to-dose way of consuming CBD.

I hope some of these suggestions help. But I would like to end this post by stating; Please don’t base your product decision solely on taste. Quality and effectiveness are far more important. How effective a product is for you will largely be determined by the cannabinoid and terpene profile.

If you would like to find out more about the beneficial properties of different cannabinoids please read my article: The Main Cannabinoids and Their Therapeutic Properties.

You may also find my Comprehensive beginners guide to buying CBD products useful.

Thanks for reading.

If you would like to find out more about CBD, or you have any specific questions you need answering, please head over to my Facebook page CBD Resource Centre

Tips For Surviving the Cold and Flu Season. 

It’s that time of year again. The cold weather has set in, and viruses are rife. Flu season can be miserable for even the healthiest of people – but for those who live with chronic illness, catching a cold or flu can truly wreak havoc on our bodies.

But there are steps we can take to reduce our chances of contracting these viruses, and also ways in which we can minimise the damage caused to our health, should we fall ill.

Practical tips to help prevent colds and flu.

Many of us living with chronic illness are at a higher risk of contracting viruses, such as a cold or flu, because our bodies don’t function as well as healthy people’s. But we can take steps to reduce our chances of catching viruses, and introduce practices that can try to help boost our bodies natural immunity.

Here are a few tips, some are quite obvious and apply to everyone, while others may just be relevant to those who have a chronic illness:

1. Wash your hands frequently.

Washing your hands often throughout the day is probably the single most effective measure to prevent the spread of the common cold and germs in general. The cold virus usually spreads via mucus and saliva from people’s noses and mouths, which gets on to their hands and everything they touch.

2. Avoid touching your face.

The cold virus reproduces in your upper respiratory system, so it needs to get into your nose, mouth or eyes to infect you. As such, in addition to washing your hands, avoid touching or rubbing your face, especially your nose, mouth and eye areas.

3. Disinfectant spray/gel

If you are unable to wash your hands regularly, a disinfectant hand gel may be a good options. Also, by keeping surfaces clean using a disinfectant spray you can help to stop the spread of viruses.

4. Wear a Mask.

During flu season, many people may choose to wear face masks to help prevent the transmission of bacteria and viruses. Studies have suggested masks may not be 100 percent effective at stopping the spread potentially harmful airborne particles, but they can help reduce the risk of contamination.

This is something I’ve been considering, but not yet tried. If my husband picks up a virus or if my carers are ill but still working, I believe a mask for me would be an extra barrier for prevention.

5. Ask family members and carers to wear gloves.

As I’m housebound, my risk of picking up a virus is limited to my husband, family and friends visiting, and my carers. My care agency has a policy that all carers should wear disposable protective gloves, sadly not all carers abide by this rule. But as carers are preparing my food, I always insist they wear gloves, or at the very least use a disinfectant hand gel, which I have at home.

6. Stay well away from people who are visibly ill.

This may sound obvious but avoidance of sick people is also a very good strategy to prevent getting the common cold. It’s not always obvious who is ill, but start by keeping your distance from people who are repeatedly coughing, sneezing and/or sniffing.

7. Drink plenty of fluids.

Drinking lots of fluid throughout the day is important for protecting against viral and bacterial infections because the mucus membranes lining your nose, sinuses, mouth, throat and lungs need water to remain moist and protective. This first line of defense against germs is called the mucociliary clearance system and it depends on good hydration to function well.

Boosting Immunity Naturally.

I know our chronically ill bodies do not react the same way as healthy body’s, but we can take steps to boost our natural immunity and give our bodies a better chance of fighting viruses.

8. Immune boosting foods and supplements.

Foods rich in vitamins A and C such as citrus fruit, dark blue and red berries, mangoes, apricots, carrots and beetroot support the immune system. In addition, avoid refined sugar as much as possible as this can interfere with both digestion and the immune system.

But if diet restrictions mean you are unable to consume all the vitamins and minerals your body needs, you may want to consider taking supplements to boost your natural immunity.

  • Take vitamins. Taking a daily multivitamin is especially important in the winter when we may be less likely to be eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables, and are also more at risk from infection.
  • Supplements that may boost immune system: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Echinacea, probiotics.
  • Take Probiotics. Probiotics such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, are ‘friendly’ bacteria in our intestines and increasingly recognised for their importance not only in maintaining a healthy digestive system, but for improving the body’s natural defence mechanisms.

    Studies have shown that taking probiotic supplements can improve the body’s resistance to bacterial and viral infections.
  • Take CBD oil. CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). One of the main functions of the ECS is to regulate immune system response. So, by taking CBD oil, we can actually boost our bodies natural defenses and help prevent catching viruses, and increase our bodies ability to fight them. If you would like to learn more about CBD and how it works within the body, please read: How CBD works. The endocannabinoid system explained.

9. Stay warm and dry.

Although getting physically cold is not the direct cause of the common cold (it’s a viral infection), it can reduce your immune system’s function because your body needs to spend its energy on maintaining an internal temperature of around 36.7°C or so. Therefore, keeping yourself warm allows your body to expend energy on the immune system if needed.

10. Sleep is essential.

Good quality sleep is essential for strong immunity because it’s during sleep that your immune system recharges. Research suggests that people who get eight or more hours of sleep per night are less likely to come down with a cold compared to those who sleep for fewer than seven hours. I know this isn’t easy for those of us living with ill-health, especially chronic pain, but we can adapt our sleeping routine where possible.

11. Consider getting the flu jab.

Prevention is the key. The flu jab is considered to be the best preventive measure by many. But people living with chronic illnesses can sometimes react badly to medication or anything alien in their body. The pros and cons of having the flu jab need to be weighed up and the decision whether or not to have it, needs to be decided by each individual.

I personally have severe ME/CFS and I react particularly badly to all meds, so I have decided not to have the flu jab. But the decision is yours and yours alone.

There is no simple answer as to whether you should have a flu vaccine if you have a chronic illness. The ME Association has compiled an article which provides you with the most up to date information on all aspects of flu vaccination, so you can make an informed decision. The points discussed are not just relevant to ME/CFS, but also most other chronic illnesses.

Self care tips for when cold and flu viruses hit.

No matter how many precautions we include in our lives, we cannot always avoid catching viruses.

There are, however, a few steps we can take to help our bodies cope should we fall ill, and also ways in which we can minimise the damage caused to our health.

1. Rest and be kind to yourself.

The colder weather often brings with it an increase in our symptoms, most notably pain. This can mean we are already tired and run down. Therefore, it is especially important that we rest and look after ourselves. We may need to adjust our daily routine to allow additional rest breaks or include extra self care habits. Taking the extra time to look after ourselves may actually reduce our risk of picking up viruses but also give us enough reserves of energy for our bodies to fight colds if they appear.

I don’t know about you, but when I have a cold I crave comfort food and I lack any motivation. Don’t beat yourself up about needing extra rest or for eating whatever makes you feel a bit better.

2. Eat a nutritious diet or include supplements.

If a cold virus gets into your body it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get sick because your immune system is designed to kill viruses, bacteria and other invaders. I know our bodies do not work as efficiently as healthy bodies but we can help boost our immune system by eating nutritious food, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, with each meal. If you diet is restricted, you may want to add some vitamin and mineral supplements.

3. Herbal remedies.

Echinacea may reduce the severity and duration of symptoms when taken during the early stages. But this isn’t backed up by any evidence.

CBD oil. For the same reasons as included in the preventative section, CBD oil really is a great natural way to boost our bodies ability to fight viruses.

Vitamin supplements. I have already mentioned vitamin C, D and zinc to boost immunity, these are just as important after contracting a virus, as they are a preventative.  

4. Essential Oils.

I do not use essential oils myself because I’m hypersensitive to fragrances, but I know a lot of people find they provide multiple benefits when viruses hit.

  • Diffusing essential oils can help cleanse the air and clean surfaces. (cinnamon, rosemary and clove)
  • Adding essential oils (diluted in a carrier oil) to hot water and inhaling the steam to open up your nasal passages (such as lemon or peppermint)
  • Applying essential oils (diluted in carrier oil) topically, as some have antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial properties (such as oregano, thyme and eucalyptus)

5. Over-the-counter medicines.

There are many over-the-counter remedies that can help ease the discomfort caused by cold and flu viruses. These can often reduce symptoms such as, fever, sore throat, headaches, general aches and pains, and congestion.

6. “kind” tissues with aloe vera

Frequently blowing your nose when you have a cold or flu, can lead to skin irritation. This irritation can become painful, but using tissues containing aloe vera can reduce the discomfort.

For me, breakage of the skin inevitably leads to cold sores. Yep, I get cold sores on my nose. I swear by Aloe Vera tissues in preventing irritation and cold sores, in fact I use them all year round.

7. Stay hydrated.

Good hydration is just as essential when we have a cold or flu, as it is as a preventative. It doesn’t just have to be boring water though. I personally find orange juice and herbal teas comforting when I have a cold. Lemon & ginger, echinacea and elderberry are my go-to herbal teas, adding a teaspoon of honey can help ease a sore throat.

Hopefully, by following a few practical tips you can survive the dreaded cold and flu season. Do whatever you need to do to survive. Listen to your body, rest as much as you can to give your body chance to fight the virus, and most importantly, be kind to yourself.

Do you have any tips you would like to add? Any home remedies you swear by?

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.

Perfection vs Happiness

“Perfectionism is a dangerous state of mind in an imperfect world”

I’ve spent most of my life beating myself up about not being perfect. I ruminate over every little mistake, and I used to avoid many new hobbies and new adventures because I was scared I wouldn’t be any good. Fear of failure stopped me from even trying, and because of this I missed out on so many new life experiences.

But when I fell ill, perfection wasn’t an option. Apart from the fact that it’s unreachable, I just didn’t have the energy or ability to strive for perfection. I was forced to accept mediocre or “ok” or “that will do”.

Coming to terms with this was hard. I was always taught that “if you’re going to do something, do it right” and “don’t start something unless you are willing to give it 100%”. But the truth is, it’s perfectly OK to do something just for fun, without any expectations or goals. You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it, or strive to be perfect just to rationalise your choices. Acknowledging this was quite liberating.

It has opened up so many new doors for me. I’m now able to try new things without the fear of failure. I can try new hobbies “just because”. And I’m able to write about my experiences for my blog knowing that, although my writing is far from “perfect”, it has an impact, and I enjoy it!

But, most importantly, letting go of perfection has made me reevaluate what is important in my life. My new adventures have brought me much enjoyment and I’m a happier person because of this.

I’m not saying I’ve completely let go of my need strive for perfection, my anxiety doesn’t let me. And I still ruminate over my mistakes sometimes, it’s part of my personality. But my life definitely has more balance now.

So, I urge everyone to try to ditch the notion of perfection, and embrace life along with all its messiness and unpredictability. Try new things, do what you love and strive for happiness. Take care x

For more personal stories, reviews, news, inspirational quotes and in-depth discussion, please head over to my Facebook page.


Would You (or do you) Take Cannabis Illegally to Treat Your Medical Conditions?

I’ve been quite vocal, not only about my strong believe than cannabinoids (and terpenes) found in cannabis are pretty amazing and should be available to all, but also in my anger at the government’s implementation of new legislation that theoretically allows medical cannabis to be prescribed on the NHS.

I, like many others, waited patiently for medical cannabis to become available on prescription. I have wanted to try full spectrum cannabis oil for a long time now but I didn’t want to have to take the illegal route, not because it’s illegal, but because I didn’t feel I could “trust” the safety and potency of the source.

But after being let down so badly by this new legislation I felt I had no option but to try cannabis oil on my own. If the NHS can’t or won’t help me, then I will help myself.

So, I recently started taking THC along with my CBD oil. It’s still early days but I’m writing a diary, and I intend to be very open about my use of this illegal substance.

It shouldn’t be illegal. It should be an option for anyone who wishes to try it. And it should be a right for all to be able to access ‘safe’ cannabis medicine – we shouldn’t be made criminals just because we want some relief from our symptoms.

✔So my question is: Would you (or do you) take cannabis illegally to treat your medical conditions?

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9 Tips to Guide You Through a PIP Benefit Application

We all know the anxiety inducing feeling of the dreaded brown envelope falling on your door mat. Being assessed, or reassessed for health and disability benefits, is both exhausting and scary. We are often made to feel we are faking it or exaggerating our symptoms. But when you are genuinely ill, you should not feel ashamed to apply for benefits you are entitled to.

You may have been discouraged from applying for the health benefit PIP after reading so many horror stories about the process. It can be challenging, but following a few practical tips can make the process easier and improve the chances of your application being successful.

Please note, although this article is based on a PIP application, the tips also apply to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) applications.

What is PIP?

Let’s start with the basics; what is PIP? Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a benefit that is designed to provide money for people who have extra care needs or mobility needs as a result of a disability.

There are two parts called “components”, the daily living component and the mobility component. You may qualify for one or both of them.

The amount of PIP that you get depends on how many points you score in the PIP test for daily-living and how many points you score in the PIP test for mobility.

PIP is not means-tested so your level of income will not affect your eligibility or the amount of money you receive.

So now we can move on to the application process. Over the years I have completed my fair share of benefit forms, and I’ve appealed and successfully had decisions overturned. I’ve picked up some tips along the way, which I will now share with you.

1. My biggest tip! Complete the form based on a “bad” day.

The severity of symptoms with the majority of chronic illnesses fluctuate from day-to-day, and even hour-to-hour some days.

When you are asked if you are able to carry out a task DO NOT say “it varies” or “it depends” or “my symptoms fluctuate” – you will be penalised for that. ALWAYS complete the form based on a “bad” day. This applies to all health benefit forms.

2. Enlist help.

Tip number two; ask a friend or family member to help you complete the form. Ask someone who knows you well and the restrictions your chronic illnesses places on your life. This person could complete the form with your guidance or just be a sounding board. Either way please don’t do this alone.

Having someone else to bounce questions off and give you reassurance will make the process a lot less stressful. They may also notice things you don’t. We often adapt tasks around our illnesses and disabilities without realising it, someone looking in from the outside is more likely to observe these things.

If you don’t have anyone that can help you, you may be able to find a local charity that can assist you.

You may also find some helpful tips online on charities for specific conditions. For example; Action for ME provides some great information and advice for people with ME/CFS, who are completing benefit forms.

3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.

Don’t just dive into the form head first. Read through the whole form first and make notes. I tend to photocopy the form and complete a draft copy first.

Also, have your medical records, or at least the dates of diagnosis etc to hand. And compile a list of your medical conditions and symptoms, and all the ways they restrict your life and your ability to carry out tasks.

4. Take your time.

Although there is a time limit for forms to be completed and returned, and you probably just want to get it over and done with, please don’t be tempted to rush the form. Complete a couple of sections each day, and read through the whole form before returning.

5. PEM (Post-exertional malaise) – “Payback”

This is an important point for people with ME/CFS but also for people with any other chronic illness that experience “payback” after increased activity.

If you are able to carry out a task but you spend the next few days in bed suffering with pain, fatigue or whatever delightful symptoms your illness throws at you, then DO NOT write on the form that you can complete the task. If doing a task causes you harm then you cannot safely carry out that task. Again, do not say your symptoms fluctuate.

5. Gather evidence.

Send as much evidence to backup your statements as you can. This can include:

  • A print-out of your patient summary record. My GP refused to write a letter supporting my PIP assessment but did offer to print off my patient summary. This record will have details of your medical conditions, test results, referrals etc. Mine also states that I require home visits.
  • Ask your GP or other health professional to provide a supporting letter. But please be aware, not all GPs are willing to provide this service, and sadly some health professionals may charge.
  • Any hospital appointment letters.
  • Test results.
  • Medication list.
  • Care plan or letter from your care agency.
  • A diary of your symptoms and how they affect your ability to carry out tasks.

6. Photocopy everything!

Photocopy the form and covering letter for your records. Only send copies of your “evidence” unless the originals are requested. Also keep a record of any subsequent letters from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and all phone calls. Note time of the call, the person you spoke to and what was discussed.

There have been mistakes made by the DWP on every application I have made, I have even been accused on lying on applications. But as I had photocopies for everything, I was able to prove the mistakes were not mine. By keeping your own record you can safeguard against these mistakes.

What happens next…

Your application will now be processed. You may be asked to provide additional evidence, and with the majority of applications, a medical assessment will be required.

7. Medical assessment tips.

Once your benefits form has been processed, 95% of the time a medical assessment will be required. This will either be carried out at a local assessment centre or in your home.

My first tip here is; don’t be afraid to ask for a home assessment. If travelling to your local assessment centre, and sitting through an hour-long appointment will leave in so ill you are unable to function properly for weeks, then you should qualify for a home visit. You should not be expected to cause yourself this much harm. If your home visit request is denied please consider appealing – ask your GP if they would provide a letter in support.

More tips:

  • Don’t assume the person carrying out the assessment knows anything about you or your medical conditions.
  • Plan your trip to the assessment centre.
  • Reread your application form to remind yourself of the questions and your answers, and take a copy with you.
  • Mobility aids. Use whatever mobility aids your need on a “bad” day.
  • Contact the assessment centre to ask about accessibility. Don’t just assume there is wheelchair access.
  • Make notes to take with you.
  • Attend with a friend or relative. Have someone present for support – they can also take notes. In stressful situation we don’t always take everything in.
  • Take any additional evidence.
  • Ask if you can make an audio recording of the assessment – but you must do this 3 days before your assessment and ask your provider about the rules for using recording equipment.
  • Remember; DO NOT say your ability to carry out tasks fluctuates – base all answers on a “bad” day.

The Decision.

You will then get a letter either stating you application has been declined, or stating the level of benefit you have qualified for. If you have been declined or have been accepted on a rate lower than you believe you are entitled to, please don’t be afraid to appeal the decision- it’s your right to do this.

8. The appeals process.

The latest government statistics show that more than half of PIP decisions are changed after mandatory reconsideration or an appeal to a tribunal. So please don’t be afraid to appeal – it doesn’t cost any money.

I know it might seem a bit scary but there is a lot of helpful advice online and you may also have a charity local to you that could help you compile your appeal.

The first step in the appeals process is to ask the DWP to look at the decision again. This is called mandatory reconsideration.

If the DWP didn’t change their decision when you asked them to look at it again, you can appeal to an independent panel, called a tribunal.

The tribunal looks at the evidence from both sides, then makes a final decision. The tribunal is part of the court system – it’s not part of the DWP.

There are many guides online to help you through the appeals process. Citizens Advice and Advice Now have comprehensive but easy-to-follow guides.

9. Create a file for all your paperwork.

My last tip is to create a file for all your paperwork. Keep all your photocopies, records of conversations, letters from the DWP and all evidence, in one file. This will mean you are more prepared for the next assessment but also means you have a “back-up” if the DWP question you about anything on your application.

In the past, I was accused of not recording an income from an insurance policy I was receiving, on a benefits assessment form. Basically, I was accused of lying (making a fraudulent claim) and ordered to pay back £1500 of benefit based on this. Thankfully I had a photocopy of the form which proved I had recorded it correctly, and the mistake was made by the DWP, not me. This happened 2 years after I initially completed the form, so safely storing all paperwork is essential.

I know the application process can seem very daunting, and its definitely exhausting. But hopefully these tips will help you get access the benefits you are entitled to.

Good Luck!

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7 Potential side effects of CBD and tips on how to minimise them

People often assume that because CBD, and other cannabinoids, are natural substances, that they do not pose a risk of any side effects. This is untrue. Although the potential side effects of CBD are minimal compared to other treatment options, they do still exist.

CBD is safe for all the family to take on a daily basis. And according to a report published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) “naturally occurring CBD is safe and well tolerated in humans (and animals), and is not associated with any negative public health effects” but there are potential side effects which you need to be aware of before starting CBD.

The following article is not designed to scare you, but rather arm you with all the available information, so you can be prepared. If these adverse effects do occur, I have also included steps you can take to minimise the discomfort you experience.

What is CBD?

First up, a brief introduction to CBD and how to it works.

CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the many cannabinoids, or chemical compounds, found in cannabis and hemp. While beneficial for wellbeing, CBD doesn’t have the psychoactive properties of it’s more famous cousin THC. Even at high doses CBD will not get you high and it’s safe for all the family to use on a regular basis.

CBD is a wonder of health and wellness because of its powerful interaction with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).The ECS regulates many vital functions within the body including; mood, appetite, sleep, hormone production, and even pain, stress and immune system responses. CBD has been shown to positively influence the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to maintain balance and promote good health.

If you would like to read more about how CBD works within the body please read my article; How CBD works. The endocannabinoid system explained.

Potential side effects.

Now let’s move on to discuss the potential side effects of taking CBD. Although CBD is generally well tolerated and considered safe, it may cause adverse reactions in some people. Please note, not everyone will experience these side effects but it is important you are aware of their potential.

1. Dry mouth.

Probably the most common potential side effects of using CBD oil isthe unpleasant feeling of dry mouth. While researchers aren’t completely sure why this can happen, a study published in 2006 showed that the endocannabinoid system receptors CB1 and CB2 are present in the glands responsible for producing saliva. When these receptors are activated, the saliva production can drop, leading to dry mouth.  

This side effect is experienced by quite a few people who use CBD oil. However, it is very easy to overcome by maintaining an adequate level of hydration, so that the dry mouth does not occur at all or becomes very minimal.

2. Dizziness or lightheadedness.

Another potential side effect is dizziness, although this tends to occur with higher doses of CBD. Dizziness, similarly to dry mouth, may appear immediately after taking CBD oil. It may be accompanied by small headaches, blurred or vague vision and problems with maintaining balance. Temporary drop in blood pressure appears to be the cause.

This typically passes within a few minutes on its own, or can usually be resolved by laying down for a few moments, drinking a cup of coffee or tea, or snacking on a little piece of chocolate. But please be mindful of this potential side effect when you first start taking CBD, and don’t drive if you are feeling dizzy or lightheaded.

3. Drowsiness.

After a high dose of CBD oil, some users may experience drowsiness, although some people who are very sensitive to CBD may experience drowsiness at lower doses. The feeling of drowsiness may be in part due to your body relaxing. Many people start taking CBD in an attempt to treat conditions like anxiety or chronic pain. Our bodies are often in a heightened state when battling these conditions, which is exhausting. CBD can help us relax and also reduce pain. When our bodies relax we can often feel drowsy. Listen to your body and rest if you feel drowsy.

It needs to be noted that in some people a completely opposite reaction can occur. Many find CBD stimulating, which gives a feeling of alertness.

When you first start taking CBD, spend a few minutes gauging how your body responds. If you feel drowsy please don’t attempt to drive.

4. Reduced blood pressure.

This is one of the most important potential side effect of using CBD oil, as it affects all other issues. High doses of CBD can cause a small drop in blood pressure in some individuals. This will usually occur within a few minutes of the CBD oil entering your system.

This doesn’t happen to everyone, and the worst you should expect is a few minutes of feeling lightheaded. However, if you have any problems with low or high blood pressure, or are taking any medications for blood pressure, talk to your doctor before trying CBD oil.

5. Diarrhoea and nausea.

Diarrhoea and nausea have been reported as a side effect by some CBD users, although these symptoms are more likely to occur in people who already have pre existing digestive disorders. The cause may not only be CBD, but also the carrier oil which is used e.g. Olive oil or MCT oil, so please check all the ingredients listed. Symptoms normally only last a couple of weeks. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

6. Delay, or even inhibition of certain medicines’ effects.

CBD can also interact with several medications because it inhibits the activity of specific liver enzymes, in particular cytochrome P450, which is responsible for metabolising nutrients.

The way that CBD is metabolised by your body can interfere with how your body normally metabolises other drugs you take. If those other drugs aren’t metabolised properly, they can hang around and stay in your system longer than you want. This can cause negative side effects and complications.

This side effect can normally be avoided by leaving a 2-4 hour gap between your medication and CBD.

If you are taking other supplements or medication please check with your GP or pharmacist about any possible interactions. Typically a 2hr gap is required between CBD and your prescription meds but certain drugs like: Beta blockers, blood pressure tablets, anticoagulants and any other medication that carry a grapefruit warning, generally require a 4hr gap.

Before you start using CBD oil, discuss it with your doctor to ensure your safety and avoid potentially harmful interactions.

7. Herxheimer Effect or “Herxing”.

Some adverse effects may be caused by a phenomenon called “Herxing”.

People commonly report feeling worse before they feel better, when they first start taking CBD. Common symptoms include headaches, itching and rashes on the skin. These symptoms appear to last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, but they disappear as quickly as they started.

Many believe a phenomenon called “the Herxheimer reaction” or “Herxing” is to blame.

What is Herxing?

Herxing is a short term reaction to the body as it detoxifies. This is common when people take antibiotics and it is sometimes referred to as the “die off effect”. It is quite common to experience flu-like symptoms which can include a headache, joint and muscle pain, body aches, a sore throat, sweating, chills or nausea. If it occurs, it generally lasts a few days but can last for a week or more.

Herxing is actually helpful to your system as it is creating a detoxifying effect. In basic terms, you have ‘herxed’ because the effective treatment releases toxic chemicals from the cell walls of dying bacteria.

Our immune system reacts to these toxins, but we are not able to eliminate them quickly enough. As a result, the toxins are capable of causing some unpleasant symptoms, and the original symptoms may even get worse for a short while.

Many ask why CBD would cause herxing, as it’s normally associated with antibiotic treatments. But CBD has powerful antibacterial and antioxidant properties, so it isn’t really a surprise that it could also lead to the herxheimer effect.

You can minimise these unwanted side effects by introducing CBD slowly, and drinking plenty of water.

Biphasic properties of cannabinoids.

Although not a side effect as such, it is important that we acknowledge the biphasic properties of cannabinoids like CBD. But what does “biphasic” mean?

A biphasic medicine or drug is one which can have different effects on the user depending on the concentration levels in the blood. Alcohol is a biphasic drug too, it works by acting as a stimulant until blood alcohol levels reach a certain percentage (0.05%). After this point, the amount consumed acts as a depressant and causes sedation.

When it comes to CBD, low doses may be stimulating while higher doses appear sedating. But with some people low doses may improve conditions like anxiety, while larger doses may actually heighten anxiety. Please be aware of this when you start taking CBD.

This is why we always recommend the “low and slow” approach to introducing CBD. And also why less is often more when it comes to cannabinoid therapy.

“Low and slow” approach to introducing CBD.

Many of these side effects can be avoided or minimised by using the “low and slow” approach to introducing CBD.

I will explain this is more detail in my next post about CBD dosing. But the general advice is to start with 2-3mg of CBD, 2-3 times a day. Stay with this dose for a week, and then gradually increase if necessary.

Please note; this approach is not always suitable. Some medical conditions, like epilepsy, may require higher doses of CBD from the outset.

Is it possible to have an allergic reaction to CBD oil?

While it appears to be a rare side effect, it is possible, as with all substances, to have an allergic reaction to CBD oil. Please check all the ingredients in any CBD product before you buy, against any substances you are known to be allergic to.

When you first start taking CBD, take the smallest dose possible so you can gauge how your body responds. This is particularly important if you suffer from medical conditions like MCAS or are known to have multiple allergies. If in doubt please consult your GP.

Please consult your doctor.

Research has shown that CBD can be an effective treatment option for a myriad of symptoms and medical condition. The reason for this is it’s positive interaction with our native endocannabinoid system.

But although CBD is a safe options for all the family to use on a regular basis, it does come with some potential side effects. These side effects are mild compared to most prescription medication, and can be avoided or reduced by taking some simple steps.

But please be aware of these potential side effects when you choose to start your CBD journey.

Please note; I am not a medical professional. If you have any concerns, please consult your GP before commencing CBD.

If you would like to find out more about CBD, or you have any specific questions you need answering, please head over to my Facebook page CBD Resource Centre

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