While the country still battles state-by-state on whether to legalize marijuana, a recent change in federal law has opened the floodgates on sales of products featuring cannabidiol, one of the non-psychoactive components of marijuana, or cannabis. With legalization came immense popularity, and now it seems CBD is for sale everywhere and in everything. From CBD bath bombs to edible gummies and oils, it is for sale in gas stations, natural food stores and kiosks in the mall. So what is CBD? Is it safe? And can it help people with spinal cord injury?

What Exactly is CBD?

The ways that CBD differs from marijuana can be hard to understand. Starting with a lesson in plant biology is helpful to define the differences and similarities between the two. Cannabis is the genus of the flowering plants that breaks down into three species: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica and cannabis ruderalis. The word hemp is used to describe a strain of one of these plants that has less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol or THC — the ingredient in the cannabis plant that causes a psychoactive reaction or high. “Marijuana” is commonly used to label the plants that contain more THC, though the industry is taking a stand against the term “marijuana” to rebrand these products as part of the wellness industry.

CBD can be sourced from plants containing small or large amounts of THC. Cannabidiol is just one of many phytocannabinoids (naturally-occurring cannabinoids) found in cannabis. Others are CBC (cannabichromene), currently being studied as a cancer tumor inhibitor and stimulator of bone growth, and CBG (cannabigerol), which treats fungal infections and kills bacteria. Laws regarding growing and processing of hemp were murky until recently. With the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp was removed from the federal listing of schedule 1 drugs, which had placed it in the same category as heroin. Now, farmers can legally produce this crop in the U.S.

With a legal product easily available across the country, people with disabilities have begun to explore relief in many forms. For spinal cord injury specifically, many claim CBD helps with stress and anxiety, inflammation, neuropathy, chronic pain, spasticity and sleeplessness — all without the high from the THC.

A Restful Night

Bert Burns, C6-7 quad, has always been an athlete, and after 37 years of wear and tear he turns to CBD to help calm his tired body. Burns’ first job post-injury was as a sports and fitness specialist for Shepherd Center in Atlanta, which made wheelchair sports available on a constant basis. Burns got hooked on racing and trained his way to becoming a Paralympian. He earned a gold medal in the 4×400 relay at the 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona and went on to be a part of the 2000 Paralympics, winning medals in the marathon and 5,000 meters, and the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. That was his 87th — and last — marathon.

In addition to his career as a wheelchair racer, Burns made time for wheelchair rugby. He loves the game’s intensity, but not the physical degradation that came with it. “There’s cutting, turning and holding people and that puts a lot of pressure on your shoulders,” he says. “Plus, 37 years of using your shoulders instead of your legs and knees takes a toll.”

Currently, Burns doesn’t have everyday pain that he treats with CBD but uses the oil every night to assist in a good night’s sleep. “Even though I take medication for muscle spasms, I’d wake up literally every two hours. I never really got a good night’s sleep because my legs had spasms. I’d take it and within 15 minutes, I would be out and sleep great all night long. The next morning I wouldn’t wake up groggy at all.”  In fact, with the CBD, Burns doesn’t seem to have any side effects — just the benefit of quality rest.

Another value of CBD for Burns is the ability to take less medication. Taking muscle relaxers made him foggy in the morning, hampering his ability to enjoy his life as a father of twins and a successful businessman in the medical supply industry.

Dosages have been trial and error. He’s been taking CBD for around seven months, using a tincture of oil and CBD first. The next time, he ordered gummies from the same manufacturer and didn’t get the right reaction, “It was hard to judge the number of gummies to take. Two didn’t work and three made me feel less clear. I didn’t feel the consistency was there.”

To Read the Entire Article in the August Edition of New Mobility Magazine Written by Jessica Farthing Click the Link Below


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