Former hairdresser, Denise Lynch, was only 30 when she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. She reveals us how CBD has helped her recovery.
Denise started taking CBD around five years ago when she was diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis. She was working as a hairdresser which meant she was on her feet all day and bending over to reach clients at the basins.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a long term condition where the spine and other parts of the body are inflamed. It can develop at a young age. Symptoms can include back pain, stiffness and extreme fatigue. Psoriatic arthritis results in more swelling, pain and stiffness in the joints, especially the fingers and toes.
Denise was diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis in the spine, hips and buttocks first. This was before a further diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis due to the stiffness, swelling and pain in her hands and the presence of psoriasis on her knees and elbows.
“I started hairdressing when I was 19 after college but I started to suffer from a lot of back pain. I put this down to the job for a long time but it seemed to get worse and had migrated to my hips,” Denise explained.
“It wasn’t until I was 30 that my doctor diagnosed me with Ankylosing Spondylitis sciatic arthritis.”
Back pain can be common among hairdressers or makeup artists as they spend long periods of time on their feet or bending over to reach clients. But arthritis is normally associated with older people who have developed the condition over time. Denise was shocked at her diagnosis at such a young age.
She said: “It was the biggest shock to be diagnosed with arthritis. at 30. I thought it was for older people but the type I have can actually develop in your late teens or early 20s.”
Arthritis pain management
For pain management, Denise’s rheumatologist suggested anti-inflammatory medication, but over time, she noticed the impact it was having on her stomach, including developing ulcers, and had to introduce treatments to cope with this. Desperate for an alternative, she visited a local hemp farm.
“I visited the Canna hemp farm where they grew their own hemp and used to make their own products there,” she said.
“I decided to try the hemp juice powder which you add to water and then drink. I used to take a spoonful of it before bed because the pain would be worse at night. When you are moving all day then the pain isn’t so bad, but I would wake up at night crying. My husband would have to turn me over because I couldn’t move.”
Denise began to notice a difference from the hemp powder within a few weeks.
“CBD doesn’t work overnight as it has to build up in your system, I was taking the hemp juice for about a week and a half before I started to feel a bit better. My sons said I had more energy and my husband noticed my mood had improved,” Denise explained.
“When you are in pain all the time, it does affect your mood. I could be tired, snappy, irritable and very down. I found I was more optimistic and that was a big thing for me. It was another two weeks before I realised that at nighttime, I could turn over in bed. I was getting a full nights sleep rather than waking up three or four times a night.”
Denise also noticed an improvement in her anxiety. She struggled being so young with a condition normally associated with older people, and worried about what the future would bring.
When all the hair salons were forced to close during lockdown, Denise decided to be proactive and take the opportunity to open her own CBD store in her local town.
“The industry changed completely, andI realised that with arthritis in my spine that it can fuse your bones together and I won’t have the flexibility in years to come and may not be able to do hairdressing,” she said.
The store, D’Hemp shop, opened in May 2021 in Cavan, Ireland. It attracted a huge amount of attention from curious locals, canna-enthusiasts and unfortunately, the gardai. Denise has been subject to raids and products seizures as a result of ongoing confusion over the THC levels in CBD products.
While Ireland, which is part of the EU, must adhere to European regulations, there is a lack of education over the difference between THC and CBD products. Store owners throughout Ireland have been experiencing raids as a result.
Denise has taken the brave step of launching a legal challenge with the high court. She hopes this will force change in Ireland and introduce clarity around regulations. However, the stress has been a difficult time for her mental health.
“It is very stressful, so many people have been closing down shops and unable to recover,” she said.
“I know a lot of hemp farmers who just gave up because of the red tape and obstacles that were in their way. It’s so disheartening and it’s tragic what is going on in this industry at the moment.”
Denise added: I honestly think that if I wasn’t taking my CBD, I wouldn’t be as calm about the whole thing. It’s keeping me level-headed and keeping the fight in me as well.
“We are not against the pharmaceutical companies, there is room for both of us. It feels like we are being pushed out all the time. If I end up in the hospital and need to take medication then I have no issue with that, but I want the choice to take something alternative too. People aren’t getting that choice [at the moment].”