By Mary Lou Smart www.medicalcannabisart.com
Erin Hildebrandt first looked to cannabis for therapeutic benefit when she was barfing day and night during her second pregnancy.
Morning sickness typically affects women during their first trimester of pregnancy, and those who suffer full-term are a rarity. The condition is serious, as a lack of nutrition and dehydration due to severe vomiting
can result in miscarriages. Hyperemesis gravidarum caused the hospitalization of Kate Middleton. There is no telling what the Duchess of Cambridge is doing to calm her upset stomach, but The Royals have been known to partake. Queen Victoria once revealed that she used cannabis to relieve the symptoms of morning sickness.
Hildebrandt, who was sick beginning
two weeks after she became pregnant until two weeks before she gave birth, was
so impressed by the therapeutic benefit of cannabis that she wrote an article about
her experience in
Erin Hildebrandt and her youngest son Billy and the Hildebrandt family.
Mothering Magazine. “It was really rough with severe, unrelenting morning sickness that lasts all day and all night,” she recalled. “Many women get morning sick-ness, but it is not debilitating; they can still keep food down and gain weight. For me, it was really hard to gain any weight.”
At that time a friend advised that she try cannabis because by not being able to eat she was jeopardizing her baby’s health. They smoked. She felt better. They ordered a pizza to celebrate.
More than 10 years ago, Hildebrandt, who is 42, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune condi-tion where the body’s immune system attacks the gas-trointestinal tract causing considerable abdominal pain and subsequent weight loss. Five-foot-seven, she had a tough time keeping her weight over 100 pounds. Doctors prescribed medication but nothing worked. Because she could not keep anything, including pills, down when she was having an episode, she often needed a shot for fast relief. “I spent years doped up and going from my bed-room to the bathroom to my doctor’s office and to the hospital,” she said. “I had my head stuck in the toilet half the time, and was in bed half the time. I could not be a real mom to my kids and it was really hard having tod-dlers running around while going through this.”
When nothing else worked, she once again tried cannabis, and was once again pleased with the results.
“Marijuana helps by taking away the nausea, the vomit-ing, and the wasting away from not eating,” she said. “It makes you want to eat.”
She lived in Maryland at the time. She believes that advo-cacy is important, and testified before the state legislature in favor of a medical cannabis program.
“It is so important that folks know that there are so many different symptoms that can be helped with this simple herbal remedy,” she said.
The Hildebrandts eventually moved to Oregon, a more cannabis-friendly state, because of her health condition. The Crohn’s did not respond to conventional pharmaceu-ticals, and she and her husband wanted to be free of the fear of arrest. They didn’t want to risk losing parental cus-tody or having to pay fines for cannabis possession.
“If anyone asks me why I think marijuana is still illegal after all these years, I draw a great big dollar sign,” she said. “Cannabis is no more addictive than chocolate, and it’s safer than most legal drugs on the market.”
A purist, she prefers smoking and vaporizing to edibles. Prone to nausea, she has found that it is difficult to keep edibles down long enough for them to take effect. She is convinced that the anti-inflammatory properties of the plant help her the most, as the inflammation associated with Crohn’s leads to scarring and intestinal blockage. She has been fortunate in that she has not had blockage requiring surgery, and credits that to cannabis therapy.
A great deal of scientific research documents the useful-ness of cannabinoids in treating myriad oxidation-associ-ated diseases, including inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s and multiple sclerosis.
When visiting her doctor a few years ago, she asked if there were other drugs on the market that she could rec-ommend for help with the Crohn’s.
“She said, “You know Erin, there are other drugs but the problem is that we’d be experimenting,”” Hildebrandt said. “Right now this is working really well for you. Stick with it because there is no drug that is safer or likely to be more effective for you.”
A full-time wife and mom with five children ranging in age from 11 to 17, her days are non-stop and even include home schooling, and taking care of five cats and a rabbit. After years spent bedridden, she is happy to be healthy.
“Cannabis is not some sort of panacea, and it did not make all of my symptoms go away forever,” she said. “Marijuana gave me back my life, because it made every-thing so much better. I can bake and decorate and play with my kids. I can help them with their studies. I can work within my boundaries, and still have a very full life doing all of the things that other moms do. It is really remarkable to feel the improvement in my health now that I am generally using this every day. Cannabis is incredibly good medicine.”