Nurses Day and CBD The first time I did a presentation about cannabis was during my final year of nursing school. In policy class, I had to present a healthcare policy issue I was passionate Laura Kinsella, BSN, RN, CEN, is an emergency room nurse in Washington, DC.
Nurses Day and CBD
The first time I did a presentation about cannabis was during my final year of nursing school. In policy class, I had to present a healthcare policy issue I was passionate about. While this presentation feels like it happened eons ago, and cannabis was illegal at that time, I am proud to say I received an A+ and gave my most impassioned presentation ever!
Being a bedside nurse is physically and emotionally demanding. My back started hurting when I was 23 just one year into the profession. My existential crisis began at 25, and I have not stopped talking about how short life is ever since. When you hear statements such as “nurses don’t go to the bathroom or eat during their shifts”, it is not hyperbole—that is all true. Most hospitals are insufficiently staffed and nurses do not have reasonable time to meet their basic needs. Nurses give everything they have physically and emotionally to their patients, sometimes for 12 straight hours, to help them through their time at the hospital. One can only imagine what this does to our bodies over time. I know nurses that are in their 50’s and 60’s that can no longer feel their feet. They have chronic back pain, sleep issues, among a myriad of other ailments. Nurses work hard and worked even harder during COVID.
Nurses Week, Teacher Appreciation Week, and Mother’s Day all fall within the same timeframe in May. Society should just rename this week “underappreciated women’s occupations week” and give us all the week off! I have been saying this for years, noting that care workers and those in the “pink collar” sector are an underappreciated backbone of society and the economy. We all saw how true this is during 2020. Many of these “pink collar” professions were those who kept working through COVID as key essential workers and were often pulling second shifts acting as caregivers to our own families. The legalization of hemp and cannabis in some states could not have come at a better time.
CBD for nurses can be a useful tool for back pain, anxiety, and sleep issues. I publicly launched my cannabis nursing business in January of 2020. COVID hit in March, so I ran my business while simultaneously working full time as a critical care nurse navigating the pandemic. I worked nights and days sometimes working 16-hour days. I would come home and be unable to sleep. My brain would not turn off; this is quite normal after working 12 hours in a high-stress environment. I would continue to hear beeps and bells. I would think about my patients. I would stressfully review and replay everything that occurred throughout the day. I would also experience pain; my back hurt, my feet hurt, my face hurt from my N95 mask. This is when I started using Equilibria products. After consistently taking them every day, I started to feel a significant difference. I was able to fall asleep sooner with good quality sleep and my pain reduced. In addition, despite the feeling of the world crumbling around us, I was able to tackle each day with more optimism.
I got COVID in early April of 2020. While I had a moderate case, I experienced difficulty breathing, my oxygen would drop with movement, and I was exhausted. I did continue taking Equilibria’s CBD products through this time and I am glad that I did. More recently, researchers in Israel are demonstrating that there may be benefits in taking CBD to manage COVID symptoms, both during and after. I addressed much of this in a previous blog, “What Research Says About CBD and Covid Related Symptoms”. It is exciting that credible research is growing in this area.
As you can see from my journey, CBD is a useful tool for nurses. It is Nurses Week, so if you know a nurse they would not be upset if you gave them the gift of CBD! The only reason that nurses may shy away is if it is Full Spectrum CBD due to drug testing, which we desperately need changes to the policy for nurses working at the bedside. These, in my opinion, are archaic and ableist policies. Since Full Spectrum CBD has .3% THC in it, this can cause folks to test positive on drug tests. There are, however, other great Equilibria options that a specialist can advise on!
Nurses are responsible. The vast majority of us would never risk our careers or our patient’s health by being impaired during or any time before a shift. It is frustrating that in states where cannabis is legal, nurses can still lose their jobs in nearly every one of those states. (One of the benefits of owning my own consulting business is I can use all the CBD I want!) Drug testing for THC not only negatively affects nurses, but also has disproportionately negative effects on other “pink collar” occupations and service workers. Stopping this practice would help women workers enormously and allow them the freedom to safely use helpful supplements.
CBD can be a great supplement for nurses. We do not want to be altered; we just want pain and anxiety relief without side effects. Nurses know all too well the side effects of other prescriptions and over-the-counter medications and try to avoid them. Too much Ibuprofen can cause GI bleeds and harm kidneys. Opioids sedate, cause constipation and can cause respiratory depression (stop you from breathing). Anxiety medication can cause a decreased sex drive and sedation. CBD’s only potential side effect comes from using it with certain other medications, which makes it a very low-risk supplement.
Also, nurses do like cannabis and CBD—many are just nervous to use it. We worked hard to become nurses and nursing often feels like more than just an occupation, it becomes part of who we are; so we are careful not to jeopardize that. Now that I am a cannabis nurse now, I have had a growing number of nurses, current and former, reach out to me about using CBD in confidence. Many use it and feel relief.
Destigmatizing cannabis, reforming drug testing, organizing and lobbying the federal government to reschedule THC cannabis away from being a schedule 1 drug so that we can do more comprehensive research is something that will make CBD and cannabis safely available to nurses as well as our patients! Not only do we want this for our personal use, but we also hope that it becomes an option for patients in the hospital if there was ever a situation where someone might need help with stress, sleep disruption, and anxiety.
Nurses are regularly rated as one of the most trusted professions. It is also wonderful to see that nurses are often the leaders at the forefront of the emerging science behind cannabis and CBD. Since starting my business, I have been so thrilled to meet so many nurses who are passionate about this new, growing field and helping individuals figure out how to use CBD for their health and wellness. CBD is amazing and has the potential to be truly life-changing for many people – nurses included!
The Nurse’s Guide to CBD
CBD (cannabidiol) oil is a popular cure-all that you may have seen hyped or scrutinized by the media. But what exactly is it, is it safe, and how is it different from the use of medical marijuana?
THC, CBD, and Hemp
Marijuana comes from the leaves of the Cannabis plant, which produces a variety of active chemical compounds referred to as cannabinoids. There are dozens of cannabinoids; THC ( tetrahydrocannabinol ) and CBD are two of the more widely studied. THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana that causes intoxication, or a high, by activating the brain’s reward and pleasure center, causing the release of dopamine. By contrast, CBD is not psychoactive and therefore does not cause a high. It is also not believed to be addictive.
Hemp also derives from Cannabis , but generally refers to plants cultivated for non-drug use. Hemp also contains much higher concentrations of CBD and a much lower concentration of THC (<0.3%). Historically, hemp has been used to make rope, fabrics, or textiles.
Medical marijuana is now legal in 33 states and the District of Columbia. For recreational use, marijuana is legal in 10 US states and in DC. In recent years, the number of patients who are turning to Cannabis for medical treatment is increasing. Marijuana has been a therapeutic treatment for cancer patients; it has been shown to treat pain, nausea, and cachexia. Marijuana is also now used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, and many other conditions.
CBD is generally sold formulated into an oil and has been touted as a solution to pain, insomnia, anxiety, and a wide range of other medical conditions. CBD oil is expected to become a billion-dollar industry in coming years. It is important to note, however, that despite the oil’s growing popularity, it remains largely unstudied and unregulated.
CBD is readily available for purchase online, but it has varying levels of legality in the United States. Although several US states have specific laws regarding CBD, it remains a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency, and is classified as a Schedule I drug. This designation remains despite the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill (which legalized the broad cultivation of hemp, under outlined restrictions).
There is a lack of high-quality, large-population studies on CBD use in humans. Large-scale, randomized clinical trials are needed, but it has been proposed as a potential therapy for a range of conditions, including anxiety, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, schizophrenia, and multiple sclerosis. Many users anecdotally claim it has pain-relieving benefits and use it as a treatment for muscle aches, inflammation, and pain. Other people use it to ease anxiety and insomnia.
There currently exists only one FDA approved medication that contains CBD: a seizure medication called Epidiolex, which is used to treat two particularly severe seizure disorders in children.
CBD is most commonly available in the form of an oil or drops. It may also be formulated into a balm, patch, or topical. There are also edible formulations, such as chewing gum, gummies, cookies, and brownies.
It is not likely that a patient will mention the use of CBD oil during a medication reconciliation, so it is important to ask patients about all products they use, including herbs, supplements, and oils. Patients should know that CBD oil may interact with other medications (such as blood thinners), and it could potentially increase the level of certain drugs in the bloodstream. Although side effects are anecdotally infrequent, it may cause sedation, fatigue, or nausea or diarrhea.