Cannabidiol, or CBD products, continue to gain popularity among active and retired pro athletes. Over the past year, Benzinga has discussed the implications of the therapy with Super Bowl champion Marvin Washington, former NCAA All-American Rodney Peete, four-time NBA champion John Salley, ex-NCAA baller Treyous Jarrells and others.
Most recently, we chatted with six-time Olympic Gold medal winner Amy Van Dyken.
Van Dyken, a competitive swimmer for the U.S. Olympic team, suffered a severe ATV accident in 2014 that paralyzed her from the waist down. The road to recovery was hard and filled with pain. In recent months, Van Dyken has been feeling a lot better, largely thanks to hemp-derived CBD.
Four of Van Dyken's six gold medals were won at the 1996 Summer Olympics. She was the first American female athlete in to win four gold medals in a single Olympic games.
Interested in learning more about her views on CBD for athletes and pain management in general, as well as about her decision to join Medical Marijuana Inc MJNA subsidiary Kannaway as a spokesperson, Benzinga reached out to Van Dyken.
Understanding Neuropathic Pain
Most people don’t know how paralysis feels, Van Dyken says.
"A lot of us, when we become paralyzed, we get neuropathic pain. So, I literally have a band about an inch down from my belly button, and it goes all the way around, and that's like the most sensitive part. If I touch it on a good day, It feels like a sunburn that you’ve scratched too hard. And then, from below there, all the way down, it feels like someone is ripping my skin. It feels like pins [and] needles. It feels like I'm standing in a fire. It's pretty awful and it's really impacted my life in a way that I didn't think anything would.
There are days where I can't do anything, like I have to just lay on the sofa, still, because it's so awful. A lot of times I have to I had to cancel events with my friends and things like that because it’s so bad.
You know I have, of course, done everything that the doctors tell you. I have been on all the oxys and all of that, and very high doses of that, which is not cool. They are so bad. And I didn't realize how bad they were until I got off of them. I’ve watched 'Intervention’ and I always thought it wasn’t really as bad [as the show made it look]. But it’s really that bad."
Getting Into CBD
The excruciating pain changed Van Dyken’s life, and traditional pharmaceuticals weren’t really helping.
“I just wanted to be normal,” she says.
At one point, the Olympic medalist heard about CBD and began researching the drug. At first, she says she gave it to her dog, which had lymphoma, and saw positive results.
Van Dyken remembers shortly thereafter she bumped into former NFL star Nick Lowery at a golf tournament, who talked to her about CBD,
"I was like ‘yeah, blah blah blah, whatever' — I was not interested in trying something that wouldn’t work, something that sounded like Hocus Pocus," Van Dyken says.
The Olympian now uses clear CBD liquid oil on a daily basis, putting one to four tablespoons in her coffee every morning. Lowery gave her Kannaway CBD oil to try, she says.
"One day I was in so much pain I didn’t know what to do, so I just poured that oil into my coffee and within a half an hour the pain had subsided. Now, it's not completely gone when I use the Kannaway products, but it's a point where I can live my life, I can go out and do things [and] enjoy dinner again. I can't explain it but the stuff really works.”
Hemp CBD Is Not Weed
Van Dyken, now a spokeswoman for Kannaway, says she decided to get behind the brand because she uses and benefits from its products. The CBD oils are derived from the hemp plant, not the marijuana plant. In her experience, there is zero psychoactive effect from the hemp-based products.
“A girl needs to know she can drive. I don’t want to stay at home and play video games and watch YouTube videos,” Van Dyken says, laughing.
“I’m at a point where I recommend it [hemp-derived CBD oil] to anyone who is in chronic pain, because it does work and I tell them ‘even if you think that it doesn't, give me a day or two. It'll work.’”
Photo by Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia.
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