Despite living in Glastonbury I’m not much of a one for miracles, I’m a pretty rubbish New Ager. Cynicism runs in my family, like short legs and mono-brows (in case you are wondering – I pluck). You are unlikely to find me at a crystal healing workshop or a money manifestation seminar. Gurus make me suspicious, ceremonies make me want to giggle and do the Hokey Cokey, sacred geometry gives me a headache and the 10 minute meditation we did at the end of yoga class always resulted in me wanting to punch someone. I’ve never even submerged myself in the waters of the White Spring because I don’t like the cold.
When I have got enthusiastic about some transformational activity, it’s generally involved discipline and a bit of pain (No, not what you are thinking!). I once got rather addicted to lifting weights and the treadmill (the dreadful pop music we endured in the gym eventually cured me). I got really into Tai Chi, which was both mentally and physically challenging, but I somehow never learnt the full form and eventually lunched it out completely. After a bike accident I went for craniosacral sessions, which were amazing, but once over the initial trauma I decided my wallet couldn’t take the strain. Even the Chinese medicine sessions I had with Joseph, which aided my total recovery from a supposedly lifetime thyroid condition, meant I had to subject myself to porridge and spirulina breakfasts for a couple of years.
I’ve always been distinctly wary of cure-alls, trusting neither substances that are claimed to have miraculous properties, nor healers who boast of being proficient in more that three healing modalities – especially if one of them is Reiki.
I often get contacted by people wanting advice on moving to town, some tell me they are planning on setting up as an Energy Healer, as if this is something Glastonbury is suffering from a desperate shortage of.
Trouble is, although I’m hugely interested in self development, good health and all that stuff, I’m 1. Lazy 2. Inclined to think a lot of what’s on offer, particularly when it comes with a high price tag, is total bollocks. Every so often I get tempted along to a workshop or healing only to have my worst fears confirmed (yeh, yeh I know, ‘I create my own reality’). I once received a Hawaiian ‘healing’ where the woman jabbed me so hard in the solar plexus I feared she had done me permanent damage. Also, some people just don’t make good advocates for their cause, if you charge people oodles of cash for your therapy it helps if you emit a radiant glow of health and benevolence.
Saying that, I try to be open-minded and I’m always up for trying something new, especially if I don’t have to pay for it. Back in November last year I was interviewing Free Cannabis, of Glastonbury’s Hemp In Avalon shop for a post I published as “Free Cannabis in Glastonbury”. There’s something cherubic about Free, he’s got the open-hearted smile of a little boy. That coupled with his clear complexion, energy and enthusiasm make it hard to believe he’s in his early 50’s. I’m a year younger and I fear that if you compared us closely it would appear that I had had a very hard paper round.
Despite his obvious good health Free has never quite enthused me enough about the benefits of hemp seeds for me to start eating them. I’d not thought of trying CBD either – I’d assumed it was something people only took in desperation when they were suffering from a long-term health condition and that it was very expensive. I was dimly aware that it had been in the news a lot and was becoming increasingly popular. While interviewing Free in the shop I witnessed a steady stream of customers asking about CBD oil. I’m surprised at how ‘ordinary’ they look, visitors to the town rarely look so normal.
My Relationship with the Nicotine Monster
While I was chatting to Free I was noticing a gnawing, hollow emptiness just above my solar plexus, its demands to be filled were becoming more insistent, I was on the edge of irritability. The nicotine monster was demanding appeasement. I had that morning given up smoking. Again. My relationship with cigarettes began in my hometown when I was 16, I was hanging out with punks and smoking appeared to be the fast track to maturity and sophistication. Which is funny really as I couldn’t afford my own cigarettes so I would accept the final couple of puffs on their butt ends before extinguishing them in the ashtray. I well remember the clammy sweats and nausea I endured after smoking my first whole fag.
Still, I persevered. Progressing from smoking other people’s Marlboro to buying my own packets of More Menthol, which being slimmer, longer, minty and brown were the height of sophistication. During my few years of living in London I smoked Benson and Hedges – I guess I fell for the ‘aspirational’ gold packaging. Moving to Glastonbury meant taking up roll ups, being as they were cheaper and rolling tobacco made better spliffs. I’d been smoking, on and off, for over 30 years. Although the spliff smoking had tailed off considerably, I was still addicted to the fags, and my ‘giving up’ was frequent but not long lasting.
Anyway, I’d given up, again and wanted something to make the irritation go away, otherwise the next bad busker or evangelical with a megaphone I encountered on the High Street was getting it, both barrels. Free was still explaining something complicated and scientific about the chemical composition of cannabis and how it worked with the endocrine system, he hadn’t noticed my brain glaze over. “Does CBD help with giving up fags?” I demanded.
Free is careful not to prescribe, he just says “people have used it for that, here try it”, passing me a plastic syringe containing 350mg of 14% CBD, with a negligible and legal amount of THC <0.2%. Great, free stuff!
How Do You Take CBD?
Since then I’ve been taking about 10mg of CBD a day (a grain of rice size bit in the morning and last thing at night under my tongue), it’s got quite a strong, warming vegetable flavour, but it’s not unpleasant. For the first couple of weeks I noticed an effect immediately on taking it – I felt calmer, more relaxed, less reactive. Also, I didn’t want to smoke. I’d have the occasional pang, but then I’d remember I didn’t do that anymore, and it would go away. I could finish a meal, or sit with a cider in the back garden of the Arthur and not miss sparking up, even people smoking around me didn’t make me think about having a fag. Plus, my curious mind was rather enjoying observing the effects of the CBD.
I felt that CBD gave me the positive effects of cannabis without the side effects of the THC that can make it difficult to function normally, (it’s the THC that gets you ‘high’). A few days after starting to take it, I was going to a Charlotte Church concert in St John’s Church on the theme of Grief for the Glastonbury Death & Dying Festival. Not my usual Saturday night. A spliff beforehand would probably have seen me collapsing in a fit of giggles or sneaking out half-way through, worried that everyone was looking at me.
Smoking cannabis with a high THC level can increase my social anxiety, CBD reduces it.
It is unfortunate that pro-cannabis campaigns have focused on the use of the plant to get high. While it’s relaxing and mood enhancing qualities are considerable, this focus associates the enthusiasm for cannabis purely with stoner hippies. When I heard people enthusing about the other uses of cannabis I assumed its benefits as material and medicine were exaggerated to strengthen the case for its legalization as a drug. In other words, it’s hard to take a stoned hippy seriously. Now, I’m seeing people on the Archers Appreciation Group on Facebook enthusing about the benefits of CBD and hearing stories of elderly WI ladies who have successfully used it to treat crippling conditions
A few weeks later and I still hadn’t smoked tobacco, I looked around on the internet to see what people were saying about CBD in the treatment of addiction. There’s been little in the way of full controlled studies, because despite an overwhelming amount of anecdotal evidence for cannabis’ usefullness, it’s still illegal to use it in medical research.
The Ministry of Hemp say: “In the 1970s, President Nixon declared a “War on Drugs” and signed into law the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. This law established a set of banned drugs and created the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It also unintentionally outlawed one of the world’s oldest domesticated crop, hemp.…….Marijuana was grouped with all types of cannabis and was made illegal to grow in the US. This, unfortunately, classified hemp as a drug even though it doesn’t include any of the chemicals that make marijuana a drug”.
Prohibiting hemp is like banning mushrooms because some of them are magic. Or potatoes because of poteen.
My research turned up plenty of anecdotal evidence for cannabis being used with considerable success in the treatment of addiction – including to tobacco, opiates, alcohol, CBD can be particularly useful in the treatment of cannabis addiction. This sounds counterintuitive until you hear scientists have discovered that we have an endo-cannabinoid system (that is to say, that we have built in receptors in our central nervous system for cannabinoids). When hemp grew freely over most of the planet, it was a natural part of the food chain – we ingested it as part of our diet. It is being suggested by some scientists that many of the chronic illnesses we now suffer are caused by cannabinoid deficiency. Could it even be that cannabis smoking is an attempt to right that deficiency?
I also learnt that CBD appears to positively affect the dopamine pathways which are so strongly involved in causing addictions and habits. It reduces smoking cues – bringing you into balance so you don’t get triggered by the normal things that would make you want to smoke. This was exactly what I’d experienced. I found lots of interesting articles on the net, this being one of the best – click here,
Meanwhile, I was planning on reviewing Free’s last Hempathy event on the 12th of December last year. I attended his afternoon function in Hemp in Avalon, where I sampled some Hemp Edibles and Free’s cannabis cake, which contains a higher concentration of THC than any of his CBD products. I got as far as the Town Hall, but I was late as I couldn’t find find my gloves, keys, scarf or boots. Seeing the full hall, I realised I wouldn’t be able to listen to Cannabis Poetry without collapsing into giggles. Also, I remembered I still had two packets of biscuits and some chocolate to finish at home.
Three months later……
It’s three months since I last smoked a fag. I’ve got loads more energy, I’m clear headed and my lungs feel much better. I’m still doing the CBD, £16.50 worth lasts me about 35 days, less than 50p a day. Obviously a lot of my health improvement is down to stopping smoking, but I’m feeling more relaxed and calm and noticing a general feeling of well-being that I strongly suspect is thanks to the CBD, which is apparently drip feeding me with progesterone – CBD is a hormonal balancer. I understand why the most unlikely people are enthusing about its properties for a wide range of health problems.
I still don’t believe in miracle cures, but I’ve become an enthusiastic proponent of giving CBD a try.
Free makes no medical claims for CBD to customers, he does not have a license to prescribe, so if you want CBD for a particular condition do your research before you go in the shop, Free can only tell you what products he has available and their relative strengths of CBD and THC.
For more information see Free’s website www.freecannabis.net and check out Hemp in Avalon, 1A Market Place, Glastonbury. You can contact Free at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01458 835769.
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