Although it’s not a cure-all magical medicine (or is it?), CBD-dominant cannabis has been gaining popularity for its far-reaching effects. Among its supporters is a diverse group of women living in Barcelona, whose love for the plant brought them together. The circle includes women of all shapes and sizes, ages and nationalities — and therein lies their strength. "Each culture uses plants and food in such different ways," explains Alejandra, 38, whose house we're gathered at. "We started off as a study group. We were all taking a language class together. We’d meet up to study and everyone would make some food to bring. After a while the studying became secondary and we’d discuss our issues and experiences, often over a cup of tea."One fateful week, someone brought a homemade herbal tea blend and the women began swapping ancestral wisdom about infusions and their benefits. Fueled by the enthusiasm of sharing their cultures with one other, the group became focused on plant-based medicine. It didn’t take long for CBD to join the mix.
Plant Medicine for PTSD
Asma, 33, was diagnosed with PTSD years after immigrating to Spain from Syria. Being in full-time survival mode brought on intense anxiety, and constant nightmares robbed her of many nights' sleep. She was no stranger to herbal medicine in her homeland, but she had never found something that could calm her nerves quite like CBD does. While garlic, onions and olive oil are a part of daily cuisine in Spain, for Asma they were key elements of natural medicine in Syria. She added CBD oil to her repertoire, and swears by her nightly joint of CBD-dominant flower."Everything has changed in my life. I never thought I would leave my country and I definitely never thought I would be a cannabis consumer," says Asma. "It isn’t for everyone. I am just asking people to open their eyes and not deny something so simple and so helpful. If I smoke right before going to bed, I don’t have nightmares anymore." She shrugs and adds, "Maybe I am still having those awful dreams, but at least I can’t ever remember them!"
No More Pills
Carmen, 25, was the one that introduced Asma to CBD. A lifelong anxiety sufferer, she grew up in a hippie household that encouraged daily marijuana use. But like any self-respecting teenager, she rebelled and went the opposite way. "I studied pharmaceutics," she laughs. "I tried every pill out there." Then, a CBD shop opened right next door to the pharmacy where Carmen worked, piquing her interest. After a long chat with the woman running the store she bought some CBD oil, which she took that night with a healthy dose of skepticism. "I didn’t think it was going to do anything but I had the most profound sleep I had had in years," Carmen recalls. "After that, I started experimenting with different doses and the time of day that I took it at until I found the perfect balance. I don’t want to say that my anxiety is gone, but I’ve gained back some control, which is all I was ever really after."
Mending the Sleep Cycle
Clementine, 42, knows exactly what Carmen's talking about. She developed a mean case of insomnia after her second child was born: "He just wouldn’t sleep, which obviously meant I didn’t sleep." But even after her son began sleeping through the night, Clementine’s internal clock appeared to have completely forgotten how to nod off."I tried everything," Clementine says. "Exercise, sleeping pills, meditation, counting sheep... but I still wasn’t clocking more than 4 or 5 hours a night, and I used to be that person who could easily sleep in until noon."She told Alejandra about the insomnia. "She was like, 'Listen why don’t you just try smoking weed?' We both laughed it off because I’m quite a nervous person and I’m the most law-abiding citizen I know... cannabis was just so far off my radar. But I was pretty desperate for a solution and the idea just kept nagging at me, so I gave it a try."CBD has helped Clementine bring a sense of control over her sleep cycle, her toddlers, and her life. "Depending on what else I have going on, I might indulge in a little joint. Otherwise, I keep a CBD spray in my bedside table that is really fast-acting and I just do a quick spray under the tongue when I sense that I might have a hard time falling asleep. It’s a lifesaver."
Healing After Cancer
Alejandra, our gracious host, is a breast cancer survivor and a self-professed stoner. A little over a year ago, a routine check-up showed an unwelcome lump, and before she could wrap her head around it, she was in and out of the operating room and on indefinite medical leave."I hadn’t really ever tried CBD because I smoked weed to get high," Alejandra says. "Often, marijuana is recommended to chemo patients because it helps build up an appetite and it helps with pain as well. I was lucky and only had to do a bit of radiation after my surgery. It was a very strange and sudden thing in my life and I wanted to have a really clear head about it.""Even though my procedure went as smoothly as it could have, I was still super nervous about the whole thing. What if it spreads? What if it comes back? So for a while I quit drinking and I quit smoking THC because my anxiety was through the roof." Alejandra motions around the room at her friends. "They were all taking CBD in one form or another, and I had always kind of jokingly turned my nose up at it. I was happy with my ‘regular’ joints." Eventually, she caved and tried a hit off of a CBD joint. "At first I was disappointed," Alejandra laughs, "because it’s something that I associate with getting stoned. But once I settled into it I truly felt a relief. It’s a really hard feeling to describe, because it doesn’t do anything in the way THC does, but I can definitely say that it has done so much for me. It helped me get through a very rough time. Who knows, maybe it was placebo, or maybe it’s because it feels like a familiar friend. All I can say is she’s helped me out."