[#AD] Many thanks to CBDDirect2U for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions are my own. If you’re interested in CBD or in making any changes to your own medication or condition management, always speak to your GP or a medical professional beforehand.
So. Let’s talk about CBD.
Like many people in the chronic illness community, I’ve been following the increasing popularity of CBD Oil in the UK with interest. Although there hasn’t yet been a great deal of research studies examining the clinical impact of CBD over the long-term, time and time again I’ve heard glowing recommendations of how this natural and non-invasive approach has transformed people’s quality of life for the better.
Personally, my own thoughts on CBD and whether it was something I’d be willing to try have fluctuated over the last couple of years. There were days where I told myself I’d rather wait until we had more evidence on the long-term effects freely available, so I could make a more informed decision. And then there were other days, so many other days, where I felt so broken from my chronic illness that I thought anything would be worth a try. If this approach really was having such a game-changing impact on other people like me, why on Earth was I sat here not-so-patiently waiting out these poorly days when there may well be something that could actually make a difference? Ultimately, I concluded that it had to be worth a try.
Thus began my further research into CBD, and the various products and brands available in the UK. Now you know I always like to be transparent with you lot, and I will say that I’ve had various CBD brands approach me over the last year in particular, looking to work together on promotions and sponsored posts. I reflected on each of these opportunities individually, and never quite felt as though each one was right. That is, however, until CBD Direct2U reached out.
Based in the North West of England and made up of scientists, nutritionists and even a former GP, CBDDirect2U is a trusted brand that delivers on taste. They provide a wealth of information on their website, and proactively encourage potential consumers to do their research and make informed decisions on whether their products will suit them as individuals. And what sealed the deal for me was that they weren’t looking for me to push a hard-sell of their products in this post: instead, they invited me to document my honest and authentic first experiences with CBD. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
If you’re new to CBD yourself, I’d highly recommend heading to Jo Moss’ blog, where she has a wealth of comprehensive information about this approach, and the personal benefits she (as another person with ME/CFS) has experienced. You can also find more in-depth discussion of the science and manufacturing of CBD in these CBD Direct2U articles.
In a nutshell, CBD is also known as cannabidiol, a chemical compound found in cannabis and hemp. However, unlike recreational cannabis known for psychoactive properties and making people ‘high’, CBD is made up with naturally occurring hemp oil with the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol – the compound that causes these psychoactive reactions) fully extracted. As Jo Moss explains here, CBD works by targeting receptors of what’s known as the endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for various physiological processes in the body. As such, CBD has had documented positive effects in areas such as pain management, hormone production, appetite, sleep hygiene, mood… and of most appeal to me, inflammation in the body.
What were my hopes and expectations?
As you may know, I have a debilitating neurological condition called ME/CFS. I’ve lived with the illness for years and talk about it often online, and yet I still haven’t found an accurate way to verbalise what over-exertion and post-exertional malaise, characteristic symptoms of the condition, actually feel like. All I know is that when these symptoms are at their peak, I feel broken. I feel like an empty shell, like there’s this thick fog settling over every part of my body that’s impossible to wade through. The pain I feel isn’t necessarily acute, or sharp, or stinging. Instead, I just feel… inflamed. That’s the best way I can describe it. It’s like all of my muscles and organs are agitated, and from experience I know that there are no prescription or over-the-counter treatments that can fully and clinically target that feeling. Generally, all you can do is ride it out and wait for a better day.
I do have prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs that have helped me over the years, but these drugs alone come with side effects. In the grand scheme of things, the benefits have outweighed the costs… but the idea that a naturally occurring product like CBD could offer similar benefits without the harmful side effects immediately appealed.
As such, my first step in this process, as recommended by the brand due to my condition and existing medication, was to consult a medical professional. Luckily, I have a good relationship with my GP: she’s seen me struggle over the years and has always approached my condition with an openness to my own thoughts and experiences on how I should be managing it.
During our telephone consultation, my GP supported my intentions of trying CBD, but urged me to take care given the fact I was already taking prescribed medications. She explained how CBD can alter the metabolising process of each of the medications I was on, and how each pose various levels of risk. Fortunately, most of my medications posed an acceptable risk, with the only likely consequences being that they could stay in my system for longer and have more of a noticeable impact on me: a risk I accepted given I was only on small doses of each to start with. Quite frankly, anything that could help my sleep medications affect me more significantly would be a blessing. Only my seasonal allergy tablet posed a high risk, and so my GP and I made the decision to deter trialling the product until I could suitably cease taking this antihistamine for the year.
CBD Direct2U let me choose a product from their website, and on their recommendation, I opted for the Pure 10% CBD Oil in the flavour Mixed Berry. The product arrived in small and sleek packaging, bundled in protective materials to ensure it arrived in peak condition.
To use this product, 1-3 droplets are to be placed under the tongue for 60-90 seconds before swallowing. This approach offers the fastest method of absorption, and appealed to me far more than a tablet format would have done: the last thing I need is to be adding any more of those bad boys to my daily cocktail.
Now, one of my concerns about using CBD products was the taste. I’ve experienced hemp flavouring before and can safely say that the earthy, grassy sensation is not for me. And this leads us nicely to what I feel is one of CBDDirect2U’s biggest assets: the taste. The company are reputable for producing a wide variety of flavours in their products, and even though I knew this ahead of time, I was indescribably pleasantly surprised by my first taste of the Mixed Berry Oil. It wasn’t only tolerable as I was expecting… it tasted and smelled really, really good. Almost like liquidised sweeties. And believe me, that’s high praise indeed coming from one of the fussiest humans on the planet. I had no problem at all with holding and then swallowing the one small droplet I placed under my tongue for the desired time, and then moving on with my day.
Since that one small droplet on that first day, I’ve slowly and carefully increased my dosage in line with what I felt worked best for me. During my first three days with one droplet once or twice a day, there were no noticeable effects. However, when I moved up to two droplets once or twice a day, I did begin to experience some subtle changes.
I noticed that I felt… lighter. Almost as if some of that heavy hazy fog I described earlier had been partially lifted, making the weight less cumbersome to bear. It was almost as if there was some distance put between myself and the difficult symptoms I was experiencing. A subtle difference, but a noticeable one.
Being honest, there was no magical miracle “I’m FREE!” moment that I think all of us secretly hope for when trialling new treatments or pain relief. There was a tiny part of me that deeply hoped this approach was going to be the thing that targeted my post-exertional malaise and provide the respite that modern medicine is yet to encompass. And I was about to conclude this post with this very sentiment, the idea that CBD Oil could be helpful but wouldn’t be the be-all and end-all cure or treatment we’re all hoping for… and then one more thing happened that once again altered my perceptions.
At the time of writing, I left the house yesterday. I had one of those days where I knowingly ‘overdid it’. I pushed myself past my limits, and on cue, the suffering and payback began. My muscles were deeply aching, and my limbs felt like lead, even before the dreaded post-exertional malaise fully took hold. However, by taking two drops of CBD Oil in the evening, and two drops this morning, I cannot deny that in my opinion, my usual pain has been lessened. The fact that I’m sitting here writing this, the day after leaving the house and pushing myself too far, is a testament to that. The pain is still here and still debilitating, but from past experience I know the weight of this is once again less cumbersome than it otherwise would have been. It’s important to make clear that I cannot make any medical claims about the product, but for me, that was all the validation I needed to know that CBD Oil is worth trying. Even for the one function of pain relief, I personally believe it’s worth it.
So, to conclude…
Is CBD Oil a targeted treatment or cure for ME/CFS? In my opinion, no. Can CBD Oil offer some relief for the symptoms of ME/CFS? In my opinion, yes.
If you can in any way relate to my experiences and you’re opening to trialling some new approaches, I would wholeheartedly recommend doing some research into CBD and whether it could be worthwhile for you. Carefully consider your circumstances, and always talk to a medical professional first. If you do feel ready to explore this approach further, CBDDirect2U is ready and waiting to support you along your way.
Based on my experiences I highly recommend the Pure 10% Mixed Berry Oil, but you can explore other products in their range here. Take care, stay safe, and here’s to hopefully many more comfortable days.
Thanks so much for reading, and many thanks again to CBDDirect2U for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own… and I’d love to hear any of your own thoughts or experiences!