Saturday, November 14, 2015

Using Marijuana for Arthritis Pain - An Update

 Hey everyone, I keep talking about giving a summary of my pot usage experiment to date and never get there, so here we go. This is just a quick summary of my experience to date and how it's helping me. However, after my missive at the bottom there is a list of questions people have asked me (Do you get high??  How do you know it really works?? Is there research??) separate from my blog post. Feel free to check it out!

Way back in July, I wrote about my decision to explore marijuana as both therapy and pain treatment for my arthritis/fibro.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, I have severe arthritis in one knee (that affects my walking and makes the other knee hurt), muscle pain, and nerve damage on the knee. I also had restless sleep issues.  This post is about what has happened since I first wrote that post and made that first trip.

If readers would like to learn more about my knee, knee treatments or therapies I have explored, please feel free to read here, here, and here. That first link above also describes my first experience of purchasing pot.

It's now four months later and I am taking pot edibles regularly at at bedtime.  I am thrilled with the results. When I decided to embark upon this experience, sleep and night time knee pain was the first concern on my list. I also felt that by getting more sleep, I would be better prepared to deal with most other retirement challenges.

 Every night, I eat a chocolate chip cookie, and every night it knocks me out. I take this cookie approximately two hours before I plan to sleep ( I am generally in bed a hour ahead of time, reading or knitting). Sometime after that first hour, I start slowly going down. Sometimes if I am doing something and not paying attention, it hits fairly quickly-as when I was doing the NY Times crossword the other night and looked down and realized I could not think of a single clue. I am gone, folks, gone. Just not so far gone that I cannot make a midnight bathroom trip if middle aged nature calls. 

Don't get me wrong, I still do wake up on occasion. I take the above mentioned breaks, and occasionally I get Restless Leg Syndrome from another medication. Invariable, I eventually go back to sleep. I've even considered moving up to more than one cookie, although first I want to try taking non-drowsy marijuana during the day to see how it affects my pain when it is not putting me to sleep.

The bottom line is that taking marijuana has made a huge difference. For example,  I did not take the cookies with me on my trip to SD or my visit to Texas last summer-and I paid the price. In the future, these cookies will go into double Ziploc bags in my purse. If the Texas police actually pull over the middle aged lady with the dog, the SUV and the handicapped plates, my kids will just have to have bail money ready.

At this point I am so happy with my results in terms of sleep, discomfort and help, is that my next step is to move up to non drowsy day time edibles and see how they affect my comfort while not putting me to sleep at the same time. Because I will not drive while taking the edibles, I will only be able to take them on those days when I have no outside commitments-at least until I see how they affect me.

So far, my use of pot has been recreational (in legal terms). That means that while I am using it for comfort rather than enjoyment, I am buying it over the counter rather than via a medical card.  My other next step is to make a doctors appointment and get a medical card.  Why, you may ask?  Because a medical card means I only have to pay seven percent instead of twenty five percent tax (yes, the state is making a killing), because I can then buy a months supply and because I can purchase higher dosed cookies.  All things I am looking forward to. 

I've also purchased topical options, I like them better than traditional topicals, although I am not sure how much stronger the salve I am currently using actually is (I started with the rub that had the least amount of THC and am now ready to move onward).  It seems to work better and keep my leg feeling warmer much longer than say, Ben Gay.  Of course it's also warm rather than cold and has a good smell.  This week I'll be starting on a stronger rub, and I'll let you know how it goes.

Finally, shopping for pot is on a par with shopping for any other item, albeit more controlled. As the pictures show, my local store has a reception area just as any other business would. It then has two entrances, one for medical purchases and one for recreational shopping. The immediate neighborhood has restaurants, a body shop, a burger king and piles of antique shops. Two blocks away are residential homes  Put simply, this is no back alley or head shop, and on any given day I might see a 21 year old kid, someone older than myself, someone ill, or just your average neighborhood fellow stopping by after work.

To make a long story short, as far as I can see, this is the smartest thing I've done in a while-with no down side so far.  Now that I've gotten this far, as I said, I plan to expand to daytime therapy and look at stronger rubs. I'll continue to experiment.

Bottom line? While I am no expert, I would encourage someone with discomfort, sleeplessness, diabetes or other medical issues to at least look at marijuana as an alternative, if you can do so legally. I'm certainly glad I did.

And there you have it, a brief summary of my marijuana experience to date.  Let me know what you think.  Would you do the same??

And so it goes! 

Note: As a follow up, I have received many comments, questions and emails (probably on this topic more than any other in total).  Below I've tried to answer all those comments and questions from my own experience. Some answers may duplicate what I wrote above. However, do remember that this is about my personal experience and observations and not a comprehensive guide to pot use or to pot in Colorado.    

  • First, the obvious. Has it worked? As already mentioned, my answer is a resounding yes, with regard to what I have purchased and experimented with so far. 
  • Are there any side effects?  No.  As always, I wake up when I wake up, except for one morning a week. I have no hangover experience, no lethargy (other than my normal, I'm so not a morning person but I have a meeting at nine, kind of thing). It does not affect my stomach, my appetite, or anything else.
  • Do you get high?  I would say not, I suppose an expert could better explain. I take this cookie to sleep, not to relax, and it puts me to sleep, still allowing me to wake if someone comes in and says its an emergency or to go to the bathroom. I imagine if I ate less, I would take longer to sleep and might get that "wasted" feeling.
  • How do you know it's not just the placebo effect.  I'm an intelligent woman, who, like lots of other intelligent folks, knows her body fairly well. Regular readers know that I've experimented with herbs and supplements, aromatherapy, and arthritis massage, among other things. Some of those have worked, some have not. I think my own anecdotal evidence is pretty good, but there is research and opinion aside from mine.
  • What do your regular doctors think, and do you tell them? I tell everyone. I live in a legal state, and list this just as I would a daily aspirin or multi vitamin. I'm not opposing medical care, I'm supplementing. My orthopedics response was "Well, you can't take anymore Tylenol arthritis than you are. So if this is working for you, then I don't have to move you to prescription pain killers".  This is the same guy that also prescribed physical therapy and knee injections, which I had.
  • Do you really think it's safe?  I can understand recreational pot, but there really isn't any research yet.  Yes, I do, and yes, there is. While the research in this country is limited, it does exist on a small scale-including one study which shows half of the patients with Crohn's disease finding all symptoms gone, and another showing lowered prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users.  Since most research in this country is funded by the NIH or other federal programs, until the feds start shining a light you know where, research will stay stagnant. There are however, research results in other countries, many of which have better research facilities than we do and cutting edge care-even if they don't have legal pot. I can share what I found at request.  Also, let's not discount the huge amount of similar anecdotal experiences.
  • Why haven't you tried it during the day?  That's next on my list. My first concern was sleeping through the night, or getting close.  I was meaning to try edibles during the daylight hours to see if they put me to sleep, and then one of the folks at the place I go shared a candy option that I can use during the day that does not make you sleepy or lethargic.  While I certainly would not drive while using this stuff, I could sew, cook and use it at home on those non driving days.
Now, as to the pot purchasing and regulation
  • The places I buy pot are really like any other regulated retail item. See above for more.
  • The state has regulations in place.  Every time I walk into the place, no matter how often, I show my driver's license even though 21 has been and gone. I assume that's to track the folks that come in from other states, but I have not asked.  The first time I took this step, my son took me. Even though he was just my escort (that was when I had done my spiral knee sprain), he was "carded" as well.  You cannot smoke in public or drive "buzzed."
  • The main difference between medical and recreational is dosage and cost, in my personal experience.  See my comment above I have yet to get a "medical card".  This does not stop me from buying anything so far. It does increase my cost. The total tax on my purchase was, I believe, 25 percent, and with a medical card I would be paying 7 percent or so (that's right folks, the city and state are making a bundle!!).  Also, as the manager of my store told me today, with a medical card I could get a larger amount of marijuana (in whatever form) at one time, and with higher concentrations. So seeing an approving doctor is on my list.
Any questions?


  1. I was really on the fence in my thoughts about medical marijuana and your article plus a book I read recently that cited much research,convinced me it has the ability to relieve suffering with very few side effects. Thanks for sharing!

  2. So happy that this is working for you.

    God bless.

  3. Interesting! I'm glad it's working so well for you, Barb! Pain-free and a good nights sleep are good things! :)

  4. Looking forward to the VA using it. Glad it is working for you. I know several who use it with the same results.

  5. If it works, then good for you. But if your knee is that bad, have you considered knee-replacement surgery? My sister has had both of hers done, and she swears by it. Before, she had pain and walked with a limp; now she goes on 4 and 5 mile hikes.

    1. Hi Tom. Unfortunately I have serious knee damage separate from arthritis that makes this questionable. Also, my research on the percentage of problems and or read do is only so so.


Things I'm Enjoying This Monday-And A Couple Things That Are Frustrating Me!!

One of the many reasons I don't do serious (other than visiting family) travel during the summer is the chance to stay at home. Warm w...