As research grows, Colorado woman tracks journey from opioids to cannabinoids


Opiates and prescriptions weren’t working for Bridget Seritt.

Seritt suffers from multiple autoimmune disorders, and had been prescribed various treatments.

The disorders have led her close to death multiple times and forced her to leave work for a period of time and rely on disability benefits.

Then she began use cannabis products to help treat her symptoms.

“I use THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBN (cannabinol) and CBG, which is cannabigerol, to manage my immune diseases, or else I wouldn’t walk,” Seritt, the co-founder of Canna-Patient Resource Connections in Colorado Springs, said. “Now it’s night and day. I’m off 10 prescriptions, including two opiates and gabapentin. I’m off disability and back to work.

“It’s phenomenal.”

Using cannabinoids and terpenes to treat various diseases and disorders is a growing trend. And research is finding more and more benefits.

The Food and Drug Administration recently approved GW Pharmaceuticals’ cannabidiol (CBD) Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures, and the World Health Organization has researched the efficacy and safety of canniboids.

More and more people are seeing results similar to Seritt’s, giving hope to those who suffer and become dependent on opiates and pharmaceuticals.

What is cannabidiol?

Cannabidiol is the second-most abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis.

It can be extracted by using carbon dioxide (CO2) or by using chemicals, which are often harsh.

CBD, commonly in oil form, helps treat seizures, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory conditions, bowel diseases and neurological disorders.

“Cannabis works on the P450 channel (an enzyme essential for the metabolism of many medications), which goes in and moderates different things like inflammation and neurological responses,” Seritt said.

Though there is some THC in CBD products, it’s usually a small amount. The THC doesn’t have hallucinatory effects, and products like CBD oil don’t get you high.

The most common disorders CBD is used for are neurological disorders such as epilepsy and hard-to-treat seizures.

An opiate alternative

A benefit to treating ailments with cannabinoids, rather than opiates or other pharmaceuticals, is the ability to specify the treatment in relation to the symptoms.

Different cannabinoids can be used for different symptoms, although which one mainly depends on the patient’s reactions toward the compounds.

“You can actually target your therapy with therapeutic uses of cannabis versus opiates” Seritt said. “After my surgeries, I use cannabinol and I don’t use CBD oil because it’s a little more excitatory.

“So, I use CBN to treat my pain, rather than an opiate.”

In addition, studies suggest that cannabinoids don’t have harmful side effects like opiates and other medications.

Of the nearly 500 families that Canna-Patients Resource Connection works with, Seritt said very few suffer from any side effects, and none are harmful.

“There is no dependency and no addiction with regard to cannabidiol,” Seritt said. “The side effects are almost nothing, if you were to lay the side effects of OxyContin side-by-side with cannabidiol. You’re looking at two completely different substances. Cannabidiol will come out on top every single time.”

Though side effects are minimal, some patients can experience heart racing, paranoia and anxiety. Those side effects typically dissipate when use is discontinued.

“Those have been the most common side effects we’ve seen,” Seritt said. “And we’ve worked with cancer patients, people with autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases and the whole gamut.”

Quality CBD

Despite a low risk in terms of side effects, Seritt still recommends seeking quality CBD oil and other cannabinoids.

She recommends asking the company from which you’re purchasing the product four questions.

“How is it processed? How is it grown? Do you have testing results for individual batches and what extraction method is used?” she said. “Those are the most important things when looking for a cannabidiol product.”

A CO2-extracted CBD oil is a better product, she said. Harsher solvents and chemicals used during extraction should be avoided.

“It’s important for people to find a quality cannabidiol product,” she said. “You really don’t want to use CBD that’s been processed from harsh chemicals.”

Case-by-case

Like all medications, certain cannabinoids will work differently for certain people.

Seritt doesn’t use CBD oil at all because it doesn’t help many of her symptoms. Others have had great success with the oil.

“It is dependent on the person,” Seritt said.

It’s also important to notice changes and reactions, she said.

“You have to really listen to (your) body,” she said.

It does come down to trial and error. But, as Seritt points out, that’s how most prescriptions and medicines work anyway.

“Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the autoimmune diseases I have,” Seritt said. “I have failed every single pharmaceutical they have. But, today I went to a doctor who said I should be on Biologics because they work for everyone.

“That’s not the case. Everyone is different.”

If CBD, or other cannabinoids, doesn’t seem to work, Seritt said adding small doses of THC may make it more effective.

“We find with epilepsy patients, about a third of them will respond to CBD, and after two years they see diminishing results,” Seritt said. “They have to add THC. Cannabinoids and these compounds work together for an effect.

“My advice would be to research compounds and target them to your specific symptoms and disease.”

Canna-Patient

Resource Connection

Seritt and her colleagues aim to educate people on the effectiveness of cannabinoids.

The Canna-Patient Resource Connection is a cannabis patient support group dedicated to providing education, information, medical supplies and advocacy.

“We do (advocacy) at the state level down to the local level,” Seritt said. “We have a medical supply cabinet. If people need feeding tube supplies or just oxygen supplies, we have extra we can hand out until they get their insurance set up.”

Though they do not sell cannabinoids, they can help people find reputable sources.

In addition, Canna-Patient Resource Connection can educate people in helping find the best course of treatment for their diseases and ailments.

“CBD doesn’t work for everyone, but if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s even more overwhelming,” Seritt said. “We can educate people on how to tailor their therapies and target their symptoms so they can get the most bang for their buck.”

For more information, call Seritt at 205-8374 or search for Canna-Patient Resource Connection on Facebook.

llyons@chieftain.com



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