Why I’ve started taking cannabis oil – Hayley Matthews

Karen Gray with her son Murray, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
Karen Gray with her son Murray, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
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After speaking to her doctor, Hayley Matthews has decided to stop taking an antidepressant and try cannabidiol (CBD) oil instead.

A few months ago when I was in BBC Radio Scotland, I met Karen Gray who was in to talk about cannabidiol (CBD) oil. Karen had launched a petition for the oil to be prescribed to her son Murray, five, who had been diagnosed with myoclonic astatic epilepsy. She told me how the oil would help him cope with up to 600 epileptic seizures a day and have a chance at a “normal life”. The mum, from Edinburgh, had mentioned in the Evening News previously how “people who are supplying the CBD oil are saving lives and surely that’s a job for the NHS”.

Calling for medical cannabis to be made legally available on the NHS has been a controversial topic, but not one that is completely unheard of before. Karen’s petition states that it has been proven in other countries that medical cannabis helps people with similar illnesses and that in the USA it has been used to help stop aggressive seizures.

From what I’m hearing and reading, people are becoming more open to the uses of CBD oil and I think we’re starting to see less of a stigma around it. I remember thinking how crazy it seems that this plant can’t be used freely yet we’re prescribed millions of chemicals each year for our ailments. Surely a plant is more beneficial and more natural for us than man-made chemicals?

READ MORE: Call for urgent Commons debate on wider access to medical cannabis

I understand the controversy and scepticism surrounding CBD oil but being on pain medication for suspected arthritis at 38 (I’m still going through tests), taking antidepressants for anxiety and depression as well and living with a partner who pours and rubs various chemicals on his body for psoriasis, I had become curious about the power of the plant and was quite open to trying it.

I researched a few online companies and decided to try one called Prime CBD because of its use of refined coconut oil in the products. I’m desperate to get Mr Hayley off the steroids as he bleeds like a vampire after meal times when he gets the slightest little cut. I blame the steroids for thinning his skin. I decided to speak to Prime CBD and chatted at length with Mark, who founded the company after seeing the difference CBD oil made in people suffering with Parkinsons. But before deciding what to try – and as with anything like this – I asked the doctor too. Now doctors can’t prescribe it but I have heard of some who are aware of the benefits and open to people trying it for themselves. I’ve also spoken to a friend who had switched to CBD oil after taking the antidepressant sertraline (which is the drug I’ve been using for years) and she’s feeling good.

READ MORE: Edinburgh cannabis shop: Will products make you high?

I wondered how it worked and here’s what I understand so far. The human body has an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that receives and translates signals from cannabinoids. It produces some cannabinoids of its own, which are called endocannabinoids. The ECS helps to regulate functions such as sleep, immune-system responses, and pain.

My understanding is cannabidiol oil has direct effects on the endocannabinoid system in the brain which enhances the effects of other brain chemicals, such as serotonin and anandamide, to reduce pain perception. It’s also anti-inflammatory which helps pain also.

We definitely need more research to be sure if it is safe but it’s a plant so surely its better than pumping ourselves full of chemicals and steroids? In the meantime, I’m finding out the benefits for myself by taking the oil, which doesn’t get you high, instead of setraline.

And I can only hope that the young children who are suffering so badly with life-crippling conditions get the relief they’re looking for soon.

Time to normalise breast-feeding

I’m sitting in a café in Leith Walk typing this out but things don’t stop for a hungry baby just because you need to write your column. So out comes the boobie bar despite the six degree temperature outside with a wind chill of minus 10. Yes, I nearly poked my own eyes out but that didn’t bother me.

It did, however, bother the elderly woman sat opposite me who was keeping one eye on me and one on her hubby. Take a chill pill, these are not on display for anyone other than my six-week-old little Oryn who is currently living off the nourishment that they’re providing.

Plus, I’m pretty discrete at it. Twice I’ve been out (once in M&S at the fort and once along Portobello Promenade) with a boob out and no one has noticed. I know it must be strange for some people to see a women with her tatties out during the day but I think we need to really normalise breastfeeding and support mothers who are able to do so.

I also put my boobie bar success down to a good bra that’s easy to get open and get that baby fed. I’ve using the bravado bras and they’re really good if you’re on a breastfeeding mission, they’re also very soft because lets face it, after child birth we’ve been through enough pain and could do with a comfy bra. FYI, bras are the most uncomfortable thing ever invented next to tights! Leggings and non-wired all the way for me.

I love seeing mums go for it and doing their best to normalise breastfeeding despite the googly, beady-eyed prudes of the city. The mural in Glasgow by artist Sam Bates of a mother breastfeeding fills me with joy. Let’s get one in Edinburgh please and I’ll happily get the boobie bar out for a pose!

My pastel-blue-haired boy
So today I let my six-year-old go to school with pastel blue spikey hair. I didn’t think twice when he wanted to have cool hair like one of his friends who’s had it lightened, plus it washes out should it not be to his liking after a day or two.

However, on the way to school I had a sudden panic about getting a call from the school or finding a note in his bag complaining about the new hair colour and started to think up reasons why he shouldn’t have his hair blue. I still can’t think of any.

I’m not a raging hippy of a mum, however I do believe in letting kids express themselves. If it makes them happy then let them show their personality with some hair chalk. I mean what’s the difference between going to school with blonde hair and going to school with pastel blue hair?

I do believe we need to conform when it comes to kids wearing uniforms etc. However, we also need to let them have a little fun and experiment. We are in the age of social media after all, so when the kids are old enough to have phones and post pictures, I’m sure they’ll want to have the blue hair phase out their system by then. I’m hoping Harris will thank me for letting him experiment as he’s gone to school this morning one very cool-looking, happy little guy.