After 8 months and a dozen doctors, Michele Campbell was diagnosed with chronic Lyme Disease. The above is a first-person account of her struggles with Lyme and how she found relief using CBD.
A Journey to Remember
During the summer of 2015 I traveled abroad with my husband and son. We visited a few cities in central Europe. Our first stop was Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik is located on the southern tip of Croatia, right along the Adriatic Sea. It is an ancient city whose Old Town boasts a distinctive border wall that was built in the 16th century.
On our second day of the trip, trying to stave off jet lag, we hiked a pathway that borders the newer part of the city. The trail looked like many other walking trails you would find in an open space surrounding a city. Little did I realize that that particular trail would prove treacherous for me.
The day after our hike I felt a little worse for wear, tired and achy. I chalked it up to jet lag and we went about our trip.
The Return Home
It was a wonderful adventure. Three weeks full of walking around absorbing history, drinking really good beer, and eating an almost daily dose of gelato or ice cream. However, upon our return to the States, I began to feel pretty lousy. I felt an all-encompassing fatigue, but couldn’t sleep. Had the kind of body aches that one gets as they are coming down with the flu. I was lightheaded and even fainted a couple of times – once while holding my then 4-year-old son. My symptoms didn’t make sense, so I went to my doctor for help. After several tests came back negative he sent me on to a specialist, who sent me on to another specialist, and so on and so forth.
Eight months, eleven doctors, and a gajillion medical tests later I had an answer. I had Lyme Disease. It was a scary and confusing diagnosis, but I was also thankful to have it because so many people with Lyme never get a proper diagnosis and suffer in silence for years or even decades.
Once I had some answers I began my long, epic journey back to health.
The Road to Recovery
The thing about Lyme Disease is that it’s a little bugger – quite literally. Only around 50% of people know that they’ve been bitten by a tick (I didn’t). The tick I was bitten by was likely very tiny, probably as small as the tip of a pencil or the period at the end of this sentence – so basically impossible to see. I had no tell-tale bullseye rash – not everyone does.
Another reason that Lyme Disease is so difficult to diagnose is that its symptoms are different for every person that contracts it. The symptoms that I experienced weren’t all typical. My joints didn’t ache (a stereotypical symptom of Lyme), but I did have full-body aches, often for weeks at a time. I had brain fog and had a difficult time stringing my thoughts together. I had headaches that would pound for days – my longest one lasted 7 days.
But, I dutifully stayed true to the regimen that my Lyme Literate Medical Doctor (LLMD) recommended for me, which was a combination of western prescriptions and eastern tinctures and supplements. While they helped to kill off the Lyme bacteria running rampant in my body, they were also hard on my body – often making my symptoms worse. As Lyme bacteria dies off in the body it releases toxins that can make symptoms worse. This process is called a Herxheimer reaction, or Herx. My Herxes exacerbated my whole-body aching and my pounding headaches. So, I sought remedies that could help my body cope with what was happening to it.
The Relief of CBD
And thus, I came to experience firsthand the benefits of CBD oil. A dear friend of mine who suffers from an auto-immune disease and so well knows the kind of symptoms I was experiencing recommended that I try using CBD lotion to help with my body aches. Desperate for any relief I could get, I decided to try it. And thank goodness I did, because it helped. I found that when I used CBD cream or gel on my back, my muscles ached a little bit less.
Then my friend suggested that I might want to try taking CBD oil for my headaches. Since I’d had some success with my body aches, I decided to give it a go. I tried both CBD oil and gummies. Again, it helped. My days-long headaches went from pounding to a dull throb. I went from barely functioning to being able to work with only a modicum of pain.
Lyme Disease is an inflammatory disease, Lyme doctors try to get the body’s inflammation under control. One of the benefits of CBD oil is that it can help to relieve inflammation in the body. In my case it helped relieve my aches and my headaches.
Another symptom that many Lyme Disease sufferers experience, including me, is anxiety. I’ve always been on the more worrisome side, but with the Lyme I was in a constant heightened anxious state. Many Lyme patients also experience insomnia. Both of these symptoms can be eased by CBD oil.
According to an article in the Harvard Health Blog, a publication of the Harvard Medical School, “CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.”
The blog also states, “CBD may prove to be an option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.”
Three years after my first symptoms, and two and a half years in treatment, I was pronounced to be in remission. The thing about Lyme Disease is that doctors are careful to never say that their patient has been “cured.” My hope is that my chronic Lyme never returns, that I have successfully closed that chapter of my life. Now I use my CBD products to help me with more “normal” life situations: muscle aches after a particularly aggressive workout at the gym or stress headaches brought on by, well, life.
The benefits of CBD oil are still being discovered, studied, and published. However, for people like me who have suffered and found relief, we know that hemp can be worth its weight in gold.