Being a medical cannabis patient often means knowing two worlds—the symptom-ridden world of being in need of medication, and the world of bodily woes dramatically reduced. Because the endocannabinoid system works with other systems throughout the body, cannabis is able to lessen or even eliminate painful health conditions for millions of patients around the world.
I’m one such medicator, and I often find myself describing the sensation of how cannabis changes my symptoms of illness with illustrative language. I wondered how other medical cannabis patients describe the before and after of symptoms, so I reached out to other fighters of a variety of health conditions for some insight on how it feels for them.
I discovered that I am far from being alone in understanding that magic moment of relief. From CBD giving one woman back her ability to drive and to dream (not at the same time), to one man’s sudden insight into how Popeye must feel when spinach gives him that pep, this plant is helping all kinds of people, in all kinds of ways.
Fighters for health describe how medical cannabis helps
Stefanie Taylor, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, age 36, San Diego, CA
“Before, I feel like my chronic pain is taking up space in my lungs, my skin, and my joints. After I use cannabis, I feel the chronic pain melt away, and I feel like I can take the first deep breath. It feels like all the pain that is creeping just beneath my skin suddenly melts into the rest of my body and I feel heavy/cozy and light/weightless at the same time.”
Brian Penny, Chronic Pain, age 39, Tucson, AZ
“I totally understand Popeye better as an adult than I did watching as a child. The moment the THC hits, I notice a Joker-like smile start to spread across my face. My speech speeds up (if I’m talking to someone), and when I realize it happened, I stop and comment on it. Then I laugh and forget what I was initially talking about.
Chronic pain is what I’m treating, and that’s actually what causes the smile (and that Popeye feeling). It gets pretty miserable waking up in the morning, but as soon as the medication kicks in, it lightens the load on my body immensely. It’s a pep-in-your-step kinda thing that gets me off the couch and getting things done, rather than the typical couch lock stereotype. Without it, the combination of pain and age make me feel like I’m moving through quicksand.”
Seth, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, age 36, Framingham, MA
“I have irritable bowel syndrome, which can be quite debilitating to my lifestyle. Some days are normal and others are a must-get-to-the-bathroom-immediately nightmare. There really isn’t a medication or cure, but my friend Mary Jane has changed everything.
IBS is triggered by my stress and anxiety, and to manage that I consume cannabis in a variety of ways. I’m less anxious at work and in social settings, I sleep without my mind racing, and I have normal bowel movements way more often than ever before. Life with IBS will never be perfect, but with cannabis, it’s no doubt much better.”
Anita Wolf, Fibromyalgia, age 55, Paso Robles, CA
“Part of fibro is bad sleep, not entering REM, not getting restorative sleep. I went years not getting the right kind of sleep. I now smoke some cannabis before bed and I can feel my body melting into sleep. My mind quiets, my legs relax (restless leg is not just disruptive but very painful), my peripheral neuropathy quiets, and once in full effect, I can roll onto my side. I actually wake up and not feel like getting out of bed is useless.
I am still stiff in the morning but I dream! I hadn’t dreamt in years before cannabis! I don’t take pain meds anymore. My body has had a chance to recharge. I still have pain but not nearly as bad. I use CBD during the day when the pain gets too bad. I can actually drive distances without excruciating pain. I drove 5 hours one day and thanks to a fairly good night’s sleep and my CBD vape I made it without tears.”
Sophie Ryan, Optic Pathway Glioma Brain Tumor, age 7, Sherman Oaks, CA
“Cannabis makes me feel healthy and strong! It has really helped me with my boo boo in my brain and it keeps the seizures away. If I don’t have my cannabis my seizures come back really fast, and I don’t like that. My mommy said that my immune system is extra strong too, and that helps me stay well. I love taking cannabis!”
Mary, CPTSD, Anxiety, Depression, Arthritis, age 36, Portland, OR
“Before MJ I often feel stuck ruminating on a subject. Cannabis frees me from repetitive thinking patterns and disrupts me to focus on something that feels good. Physically, my body feels less tight, and I am able to relax.”
Lauren Terry, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Dercums Disease, age 32, San Diego, CA
“I’ve always felt the feeling of a warm gooey egg being cracked on the top of my head, that melts, loosens, and soothes my symptom-laden body as it makes it way down. Without it, I’d be regularly immobile, unable to eat or take necessary medicine, and stuck using opiates, steroids, and NSAIDs, which I now avoid. Cannabis aids my recovery from migraines and reduces the varied neurological symptoms of neuroinflammation or brain fog.
It simultaneously seems to repair my proprioception, rectifies my overactive autoimmune response, and soothes my gastrointestinal illness by activating the rest/digest state of my otherwise hypervigilant autonomic nervous system while stimulating my appetite. Weed relieves many types of pain, most notably, my vascular spasticity, allodynia, neuropathic pain, myofascial tumors, lymphatic flow, and chronic inflammation.
Cerebrally, I literally feel my vibration frequency shift once the purp has done its tasks. I become more mindful, patient, and empathic as minor euphoria highlights the vibrant, radiant colors of life, savoring moments of beauty and expressing our souls highest good through music and art.
This sacred herb services us in the process of honoring our self-love, embracing grounding embodiment practices, and prioritizing the wellness rituals of our self-care. Ultimately it unites people while embracing our need to simultaneously remain autonomous agents. Its miraculous magic just lights me up about life!”
By Meg Hartley