Vanessa’s attitude makes it hard to believe that, just over a year ago, she thought her life was over. In early 2016, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease – a chronic inflammatory bowel condition that is very hard to treat – and began a long journey to remission. The symptoms of Crohn’s disease include fatigue, stomach pain and difficulty eating. She was prescribed Prednisone, a steroid commonly used for inflammatory conditions. Just as many patients realize, Vanessa’s regimen of pharmaceuticals resulted in dealing with nasty side effects. She chose to try cannabis therapy and, amazingly, began to feel the first signs of remission after only a few weeks. Many people with Crohn’s disease turn to cannabis because of its anti-inflammatory qualities and for pain relief. Hearing about Vanessa’s experience with treating her Crohn’s with cannabis can give other chronically ill patients hope. Thank you Vanessa!
HMH: Tell us about your experience with Crohn’s. How did this condition affect your life?
Vanessa: When we first moved to Flagstaff, I got very very sick. I thought it might be the change in elevation and was constantly in the ER. In the first month of getting sick, I lost 30 pounds. I was literally wasting away and nobody could tell me why. When I finally got the diagnosis from the gastroenterologist, I thought my life was over and I was just waiting to die. I slept a lot the first year and lost a lot of muscle and weight. My life revolved around restrooms, pills, and hospitals. It was awful. February of 2016, they started me on Prednisone. I felt great the first 2 days, then the side effects kicked in. I was struggling to get off of that medication for over a year. I started taking Cannabis in April of 2017, by the end of May, I was in remission.
How did you become introduced to cannabis as a medicine?
I think I read an article from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation that said that a company in the UK put a patent on a certain type of cannabis as a form of treatment for Crohn’s. That opened a door for me and I started looking more into it. I started of with CBD, but that only helped for a little while and gave me migraines. I was afraid to try cannabis at first, but when my gastroenterologist said I had to get off the Prednisone or they’d put me on a medication I had to self inject, I decided I had nothing to lose.
In what ways has cannabis improved your quality of life?
Cannabis has given me hope and my life back. I never thought I’d be medication free. My husband and I recently did the Tonto Natural Bridge hike, Devil’s bridge hike, and we went down to Fossil Creek. I would never have been able to do that before!
What particular strains do you enjoy and why? How do you prefer to ingest cannabis (ie. smoking, vaping, edibles etc.)?
Edibles are definitely my favorite. Tahoe OG helps control my inflammation. I eat a gummy every night before bed, sleep through the high, and wake up feeling refreshed.
What advice would you give someone who could benefit from cannabis, but is nervous to try it?
I was also afraid, so I understand. I’d say, do your research and start small.
What changes do you want to see in the cannabis industry?
I’d really like the cannabis industry to strive to educate the public more. For example, before I did my research, I thought cannabis was for “pot heads” and made you lazy and hungry. I never would’ve imagined that it would help me get in remission or help people who suffer from things like seizures and Parkinson’s. I’d also definitely love to see more studies on the medicinal benefits of Cannabis.
What other ways do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?
We try to cut out gluten, dairy, fried foods, and high fructose corn syrup. Sometimes we slip (I love ice cream and soda), but that and the edibles definitely help keep me in remission.
Click to view an excellent infographic all about Crohn’s; a basic guide that can help you or others learn more about Crohn’s disease, including symptoms, causes, treatmens, and more! Crohn’s affects many people and understanding is always the first step. (https://www.crohnsandcolitis.com/crohns)