I will be the first to admit that being a registered nurse is hard (at times abusive) on the body, from lifting patients, pushing wheel chairs, catching patients from a fall, moving heavy equipment, and bending for long periods of time, to standing on your feet for 16 hours your body aches at the end of the day. If you are a nurse and your body doesn’t ache after a shift, I want to meet you.
I am also no stranger to patients complaints of pain, from back pain to wrist pain, knee pain, arthritis pain, foot pain, and so on. When I recount the amount of over the counter medication and prescription medication that I have doled out in my career, it is gut wrenching to me. The amount of pain and suffering that goes on (breaks my heart) no wonder we have an opioid crisis.
Backstory: The injury - Feel my pain
When I was a dialysis nurse, I was weighing a patient on a very large walk up/wheelchair accessible scale, when the patients blood pressure dropped (can be normal for a dialysis patient) and he passed out (this too can be a normal occurrence after a dialysis session). I am 4’11 and the patient was 6’2. Luckily, I caught him as he was drifting and before he fell, needles to say, I was injured. When a patient passes out, the patient is completely flaccid (dead weight- not that the patient is heavier but the distribution of weight is different and harder to lift and maneuver), and will appear or feel like the patient is much heavy because of this.
My hip, back, and shoulder were terribly injured. After a few days, the pain wasn’t improving and I had to get treatment. Of course, the doctor prescribed prescription medication that I was completely opposed to taking. Mainly because I didn’t want to be impaired at work. With my background, I wanted nothing to do with addictive prescription pain relievers. I tried over the counter anti-inflammatories and pain relievers, and they helped, but I felt that in a 12 - 16 hour shift I was maxing out on the daily recommended dose and got worried the kind of damage, I may be doing to my body by taking over this quantity of counter medications. I became determined to find a healthier solution. I was determined not to work under the constant need of some kind of pain medication.
I began researching natural alternatives to prescriptions and over the counter medications. I discovered there was a natural option. It was cannabis. What? No Way? You have got to be kidding me? All true reactions. I actually poo-pooed the information at first. But my pain was making me a bit desperate. I went back to the research. I had to understand the science behind it all. I devoured every credible piece of data out there.
My turning point: Everything, I ever learned in nursing school about cannabis was flipped on its head. Everything I learned from a young child to that very moment about cannabis was all be B&!!* * S#!%? When I say cannabis, you are likely thinking marijuana or THC (chemical compound name also know as cannabis sativa). This was absolutely a critical part of the research, but what really intrigued me is CBD/Hemp (cannabidiol). CBD also known as hemp, CBD is the non-intoxicating cousin of marijuana/THC/cannabis sativa (btw….CBD is cannabis sativa too). Wholly heck, I learned that you can take cannabis, not get high and relieve pain (and much, much more…. For the purpose of this article I am focusing on pain). Before I could accept this info, I had to go through many stages (almost like stages of grief). I had to unlearn everything I had learned since childhood about cannabis. Geez! If I had known this information earlier in my career, I feel like I could have impacted so many more lives, and so many different conditions. Many of which dialysis patients suffer from. I was completely amazed at the anecdotal evidence of how CBD could help topically for pain, itch and skin conditions as well as consuming it orally could complement so many other ailments.
I began experimenting both topically and taking oral tintures. I found some merit from ingesting, but dosing isn’t straight forward or one size fits all. It takes a lot of finesse and understanding and listening to the body to properly dose CBD. The dosing is not as straight forward as medications that I have been trained to dispense. This is such a novel concept and there is no real dosing guidelines, nor is there regulation behind the products. You really have to be savvy about selecting and using CBD products. We have to remember that it was only recently legalized (December 2018 Hemp Farm Bill), and still, not regulated yet by the FDA, and unclear when the FDA is going to set guidelines around product use. It is uncharted territory, and in some cases the wild, wild west.
I was getting fast and lasting results topically. Which helped me focused my efforts on topical use. What a concept! The ability to target a sore spot or painful area directly at the site for quick relief. Applying a cream or rub pinpointing the area and getting relief in a few short minutes, just seemed unrealistic. Remember, at this point. I am in pain almost every day and quite desperate. Like many pain sufferers, I really was willing to try anything accept another pill. I could not imagine anything like it. I have dispensed a lot of pain meds. The fastest delivery method that I could give a patient was IV.
How topical CBD creams work
CBD cream and rubs bypass the CB1 and CB2 receptors and heads straight for a neurotransmitter middleman that blocks signals for pain and itch by working through chemical agents called anandamide (also known as the bliss molecule) and 2-AG. Sidestepping the CB1 and CB2 receptors means that CBD can mute pain without intoxicating effects delivered by its cousin THC (the intoxicating molecule in cannabis/marijuana).
There is research that supports CBD works against pain and inflammation, and scientists are still learning other ways CBD and Cannabis work in the body. Researchers are also working to identify the proper dose of topical CBD needed to relieve pain. For instance, the dose that brings relief to achy joints may be ineffectively to relieve nerve damage in feet. While rubbing topical CBD onto the skin seems to work, we still need to learn dosing to be more effective. All the evidence at this point is truly anecdotal.
Some skin creams and rubs contain menthols, essential oils and other ingredients and agents that carry their own pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties, possibly contributing to the pain relief effect, some may be enhancing the effect of CBD. The bottom line is we are still at our infancy of research CBD and have so much more to learn.
CBD is one of the hundreds of biologically active compounds produced in cannabis (Cannabis sativa) plants. Unlike THC, its intoxicating cousin that makes people feel high, CBD can ease pain and soreness without the euphoria and/or fear of addiction. CBD has similar effects whether absorbed within the skin or ingested by mouth. Both can be effective, and sometimes consuming CBD and applying topically give extra benefits and may enhance a lasting effect to relieve the soreness. We are learning that ingesting and topically combined or on their own, either can be effective. As well as layering the topicals, can help relieve pain you can apply the topical again (layer it), if the first pass didn’t hit the spot wait 15-40 min and reapply again
How does CBD relieve pain or itch?
CB1 and CBD2 receptors are smart enough to fire off the minute you feel pain, itch or a prick. Signals are fired to lessen the unpleasantness of the pain or itch you may be feeling. These receptors (are part of our endocannabinoid system, yup! we are pre-wired to work with cannabis in our bodies) focus their time responding to chemical messages that help our skin respond and help maintain balance (homeostasis). CBD actually sidesteps the CB1 and CB2 receptors to head directly to the neurotransmitter middleman that blocks pain signals and itch by working via the chemical agents anandamide (bliss molecule) and 2-AG. Fascinating right (I am a science nerd)!
What the heck does all this jargon mean? CBD skips communicating with the receptors and heads right for the muting the pain or itch. This is fantastic news for the pain researchers. They are looking for safer pain treatments and are looking at how they can take advantage of this action because it may mean they have identified a non-addictive approach for pain and pain management.
How CBD helped my hip and back?
The above is a mere fraction of the information that I combed through in order to a commit to experiment for myself. While I tried many products, some worked some didn’t , and what I came to realize is not all products on the market were what they claimed nor were they created equal. So, I I took things into my own hands and formulated a product called Deep Relief and began rubbing it on my sore spots.
This sent me off on an unintended journey of making my own products. For a couple reasons, I have very sensitive skin and really need to know what is in my products, and after learning that some companies didn’t always put the amount of CBD they said they did in the cannabis product, I had to be able to create and control the product and ingredients to see if it worked for my pain. So, I dug into my nursing chemistry background and my aromatherapy background to compile some ingredient that would nurture and be effective on pain. With a bit of trial an error, I can absolutely say, these products became a game changer!
In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I was getting a placebo effect or not. My pain was being muted quite fast. I would rub it on my hip and lower back, and whoa! I felt great. I also started applying it on tight muscles before and after yoga class and when I exercised. I felt it helped me stretch a little deeper and my muscles recovered a bit faster than when I did not use it. It was so liberating to ditch the over the counter meds and not feel like I was over consuming medication that is potentially harmful if consumed longterm. If you ever read the package to your favorite over the counter medication, read the instructions. They are meant to be consumed for a very short term. Read the label of your over the counter medication. Even some of the over the counter pain patches are only meant to be applied a limited time per day.
At first, I didn’t time how long the CBD topical was taking to act (frankly, I didn’t believe it was going to work). To get some more objective data, I started having family and friends try. They were confirming, what I was experiencing or even better. Now, the real test, I did a market test and brought the product to an outdoor market and had hundreds of people trying it. It was amazing and quite different to watch perfect strangers (not family and friends) try out the CBD topicals. It seemed like it helped others even faster than it did for me.
I keep coming back to my nursing practice. I had never dispensed a mediation or been able to relieve pain this quickly for any of my patients. I was floored and encouraged.
That was it! I decided to create this product and sell it. It convinced me if I can help 1 person remove over the counter medications or prescription medication from their pain management tool box than I should be making this product.
Of course, there is so much more research needed to understand CBD and it’s effects on pain, but consumers are motivated by the positive anecdotal evidence. Consumers are not waiting, they are in pain and want non addictive and natural relief, now. The natural market is growing every minute, more consumers are demanding we go back to natural ingredients and kick synthetics to the curb. Synthetic ingredients cause a lot of side effects and reaction to the skin.
With successful clinical trials and research, the future could bring CBD pain relief with medications containing THC, or perhaps pairing CBD with other pain relievers and anti-inflammatories.
The bottom line is applying a topical to target pain or itch is a novel concept and one that I welcome. If you haven’t tried one of our relief products head over to take a look at Deep Relief, Massage Lotion, or Massage Oil to see which product may fit your needs and Rub on some relief and get back to living with ease.