Physical therapist Dennis Hessell sells a range of legal CBD products from his office in Royal Oak.

Physical therapist Dennis Hessell sells a range of legal CBD products from his office in Royal Oak.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki


Giving CBD oil a try

‘They’ve tried everything else, so why not?’

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published March 13, 2019

 Dr. Saqib Nakadar, the medical director of DocGreens clinic in Sterling Heights, consults with his returning patient, Amanda Narbut, of Warren. She said she uses medical marijuana to treat severe arthritis pain caused by multiple breaks in her wrist, along with back pain from a herniated disk.

Dr. Saqib Nakadar, the medical director of DocGreens clinic in Sterling Heights, consults with his returning patient, Amanda Narbut, of Warren. She said she uses medical marijuana to treat severe arthritis pain caused by multiple breaks in her wrist, along with back pain from a herniated disk.

Photo by Brandy Baker

METRO DETROIT — It’s an all-natural product that can reportedly treat chronic pain, ease anxiety and bring sleep to those suffering from insomnia — with few to no side effects or drug interactions.

But about half of those who hear about this supposed wonder drug won’t even try it because of its association with marijuana.

It’s cannabidiol, better known as CBD oil.

“Cannabis has a very negative connotation to it, so hemp-derived (CBD oil) is associated with getting high and all the side effects a lot of people don’t want from that,” said Dennis Hessell, a doctor of physical therapy. “But hemp has little to no (tetrahydrocannabinol) in it, but all the beneficial properties.”

Hessell has been a physical therapist for years. Last summer, he moved his practice to Royal Oak and started incorporating CBD oil into certain regimens after his clients began asking about the products to ease their chronic pain when they didn’t care for traditional, medically prescribed painkillers — or when the painkillers just plain didn’t work.

“Some of my clients need chronic pain managements, and they’ll usually be on something topical. For those who take it orally, it’s younger people with anxiety, and they’re not happy taking medications with horrible side effects. Or it’s people with jobs and families who aren’t sleeping well, and they get that racing brain when they lay down and can’t fall asleep,” he explained. “Some are referred by neurologists; some have multiple sclerosis or hyperactive children. And they’ve tried everything else. So why not?”

Clawson resident Holly Juczak shops for CBD products at Hessell’s office. She said her chronic tailbone pain is more manageable when she’s on a regimen of oil.

“I have pain when I sleep. I have tailbone issues that I’ve been in physical therapy for and everything. And I find when I’m using (CBD), my tailbone doesn’t hurt,” Juczak said. “I was having to use a doughnut or sit forward, and I’d see my chiropractor and he’d tell me it was off and straighten it out, and I would be fine for a day or two and then it would go right back. But when I’m taking the CBD, I don’t feel it. I’m not eating Motrin like I used to, and I sleep really sound at night.”

Dr. Saqib Nakadar encounters the same thing at his clinic, DocGreens, in Sterling Heights.

“Nine years ago it was very taboo and very difficult to even get people to understand and use (marijuana) in this way. The options weren’t available, either. But a lot has come along, and we’re seeing people giving it a try as we unlock more and more how these compounds work.”

Nakadar prescribes hemp-derived CBD oil, as well as the more traditional stuff containing THC. The products made from hemp legally must be composed of less than a third of a percent of THC, and they are available to the public without any type of special licensing. THC products require a medical marijuana card, at least for another year or so, while Michigan gets its recently approved recreational marijuana industry in order.

The difference between the two is the psychoactive component, which can cause inebriation. For some, that’s just a nice bonus. For others, it’s a trigger for worse anxiety, plus paranoia or sedation.

“I only sell products that are hemp based — that’s what is legal at the state level and at the federal level under the farm bill,” Hessell said. “My clients tell me they need to be able to function as a parent, as a professional; they need to drive. Some need to take drug tests for work. These products are stamped as having less than 0.03 percent THC, and they’re tested by a third party to ensure that.”

So is a full helping of THC better than hemp-only CBD oil? Nakadar said it really depends on the symptoms a patient wants to treat.

“Anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, some pain issues: Those are typically the things that could benefit from CBD,” Nakadar said. “(Gastrointestinal) disturbances, like nausea, will need the increased effect of THC.”

For some groups, interest in CBD oil is less about efficacy and more about safety. It’s plant based, of course, and most advocates will say it’s significantly safer to use than medications like opiates and benzodiazepines — meds better known as Vicodin and Oxycodone, and Xanax, respectively. Both drugs have been proven highly addictive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“For long-term symptom management — that’s why cannabis has become more of a focus. It’s something that works better than Tylenol but doesn’t carry the side effects like benzodiazepines or opioids. But that’s where you need a medical professional to help determine which group you’re in,” Nakadar said.

Those who want to give CBD a whirl would be well-served by checking in with their doctor first. Hessell noted that those on blood thinners or blood pressure medications should clear the use of CBD with their doctor to avoid medication absorption issues. But besides that, it’s generally safe, he and Nakadar agreed. After all, we’ve had hemp in our clothes, skin care products and even cars — seriously, cars made from hemp-derived plastic — for decades.

“(Hemp-derived CBD oil) might make you feel relaxed, might make you sleep better. But other than that, it’s usually harmless and doesn’t have any drug interactions,” Hessell said. “I wouldn’t call it a miracle drug, but there’s a lot of validity to it. It’s showing results.”