My CBD Journey: Psoriasis, Arthritis, and Anxiety
November 4th, 2019
Author: Nolan Stevens
Why was he surprised?
Because the cause of my exit was something I’d never discussed with him, and, well, something I never considered would force me to leave my job: joint pain in my hands.
It had started as a mild annoyance about 5 years before and steadily progressed until using a keyboard and mouse was extremely painful.
I had to take breaks every 10 minutes and started taking painkillers daily just to make the pain manageable. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and quit.
I type these words about a year later totally pain-free: I can bang away on a keyboard all day and experience no discomfort. How did I get here? I had a few secret weapons that, over time, solved this problem for me, but none bigger than CBD.
A mysterious affliction
My problem started just after I graduated university and left home: a slight stiffness in my joints, barely noticeable at first, that seemed to get worse with each passing day.
My knuckles and the base of my fingers increasingly started to feel like rusty joints, they’d get so stiff sometimes that one of my hands would get “stuck” and I’d have to pry it open with the other. Pretty soon, I could no longer fully extend my fingers. It was like my hands were becoming permanently clutched.
Note: the inflammation in the thumb joint and middle finger knuckle
And this wasn’t just in my head, my joints started visibly swelling: the joint at the base of my thumb in particular almost doubled in size in a few months.
I went to see a doctor who immediately spotted the swelling, but she didn’t have much of an answer for me. I was only 23 at the time. I couldn’t possibly have arthritis, right? Most people who get rheumatoid arthritis are women, and osteoarthritis typically doesn’t onset until much later.
Nevertheless, to be honest, as alarmed as I was I still considered it mostly to be an annoyance rather than some sort of health crisis. My hands were always stiff and swollen, but I wasn’t experiencing pain yet, and otherwise, I was a picture of health. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come.
More (and worse) symptoms
I was overjoyed when I landed a job in San Francisco, and for a while, I only experienced what could be called mild discomfort in my joints. But I started to develop other health issues at the same time (which I would realize much later were connected).
Namely, a pretty bad scalp problem: if I ran my fingers across my scalp, my fingernails would be caked with silvery-white scales.
Was it eczema? Psoriasis? Dermatitis? I wasn’t sure, but none of the common treatments (coal tar, ketoconazole) worked. Even worse was the anxiety that I started to develop.
I’d experienced anxiety in the past (like everyone) but never like this: it was like a ball of tension causing turmoil in my stomach that reached its tentacles up into my mind and poisoned my thoughts, putting me in a permanent state of discomfort that made it hard to socialize and enjoy things.
And all of this was seemingly happening to me out of nowhere for no reason. It was like both my body and mind were failing me, and all these problems seemed to reinforce each other and solidify into a deep depression.
This progressed over a period of years and I just stuck it out, until eventually manipulating a mouse became so painful that even taking frequent breaks wasn’t enough. I just couldn’t do it. So I walked into my boss’s office and quit.
I had saved up a bit of money, but now I was living in the most expensive city in the world with no job and I couldn’t do the only kind of work that was available to me. That’s when I started researching and became determined to fix my problem.
Inflammation: the root cause of my health problems?
After digging around for a while, I realized that my symptoms aligned with that of autoimmune diseases, specifically psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.
I also learned that autoimmune diseases are often triggered by diet. So I tried a number of increasingly restrictive diets: paleo, keto, carnivore. These diets definitely helped reduce the worst of my symptoms, but none of them went away.
Furthermore, none of the psoriasis treatments I used worked, and the only treatment for psoriastic arthritis is anti-inflammatory steroids, which I really wanted to avoid because they can ruin your health in other ways.
This was when I discovered CBD.
I learned that CBD was a potent anti-inflammatory and painkiller, so I figured I’d try using it to help manage my joint pain. I started first with a topical CBD balm applied directly to my hands, and lo and behold, the stiffness and aching I’d been living with for years were significantly reduced.
My hands felt more mobile, my joints were more flexible.
I couldn’t believe it.
So I started looking even deeper into CBD. Could it maybe help relieve some of my other symptoms?
CBD: my go-to anti-inflammatory tonic
The first time I consumed CBD oil was a revelation, not just because it helped further reduce the joint pain in my hands but, unexpectedly, it had a hugely positive effect on my anxiety.
When I consumed about 40mg of CBD oil that ball of tension in my stomach would dissipate and I could focus on tasks and enjoy things more.
Then I read that some people had success treating psoriasis with CBD, and that studies have shown that CBD can actually slow excess skin cell growth, the problem at the root of psoriasis. So I tried a potent CBD balm on my scalp and, voila, it reduced my symptoms more than any other treatment I’d tried almost immediately. The itchiness and flakiness diminished steadily with use every day.
Fast forward 6 months and CBD, combined with diet and exercise, has essentially eliminated by psoriasis, joint pain, and anxiety. Unbelievable right? I now realize that my autoimmune conditions and anxiety were a result of chronic inflammation: by addressing this inflammation both systemically (with diet, exercise, and oral CBD) AND topically (with CBD balm), it mostly went away. Best of all, unlike with the medications prescribed for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, I never experienced any side-effects.
I wouldn’t assume everyone will have these results, some people’s autoimmune conditions are likely caused by something completely different, but if you have a health condition related to chronic inflammation CBD is worth a shot!
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