“Chronic pain is something that’s not spoken about often enough. It’s a constant pain that’s very difficult to cope with because it’s tiring to feel pain all of the time. You need a special mindset every day,” media professional Frédérique Buck told Delano.
Since undergoing two back operations in 2012, Buck has suffered constant pain from arthritis, causing extreme muscle tension. She took traditional pharmaceutical painkillers for six years but out of concern about the side-effects of these drugs she sought alternatives. A few weeks ago, Buck began taking cannabidiol or CBD drugs, composed of a non-psychoactive cannabinoid offering therapeutic benefits for a range of conditions.
“I have CBD that you inhale through a machine, a cream to put on my foot because the arthritis gives me foot problems, and an oil to use when I travel,” she explained, adding: “It’s been a few weeks my life has improved very much.”
Luxembourg fashion designer and tailor Eva Ferranti takes CBD-based medicine in a tea to ease the chronic pain she experiences as a result of a nerve condition and help her to sleep.
Photo: Mike Zenari/archive. Since undergoing two back operations in 2012, Frédérique Buck, pictured, has suffered constant pain from arthritis
These alternative therapies have been legal on prescription in Luxembourg since 2012 and today there are at least two producers in the country. A new law, voted on 28 June, 2018, means that any doctor, provided they are a specialist or have undergone specialist training, can prescribe cannabis-based medication to treat patients suffering from cancer, sclerosis, neurodegenerative or chronic and painful diseases.
CBD producer Nico Wagener told Delano in a previous interview that it will improve care for patients who can now be prescribed ratios tailored to their individual needs and conditions.
The new drugs will be supplied by the Canada Cannabis Agency and available from the four pharmacies serving the country’s hospitals. Patients eager to be among the first to try these medicines after the law passed will have been disappointed as at the time of writing no pharmacy stocked the medicine.
Availability end 2018
“Therapeutic cannabis will most likely be delivered only by hospital pharmacies, but not before the end of 2018,” the health ministry told Delano on 11 July. It added that the only cannabis-based drug currently available is Sativex, used to treat spasms related to multiple sclerosis.
The pain clinic at Luxembourg’s central hospital, meanwhile, has yet to decide whether or not it will adopt such medicines in its pain therapies. A spokeswoman told Delano on 11 July they were “still in flux” over the matter.
What is clear is that CBD-based medicines should not be considered a “wonder cure” and other pain management alternatives to pharmaceutical remedies exist. Ferranti, who suffered pain so severe at one point she was unable to speak, was treated at a pain clinic in Switzerland through which she obtained a spinal chord stimulator. This device masks the pain signals before they reach the brain by sending a low-frequency current.
“People might not be aware that such a stimulator exists. Not all doctors will give this solution. They prefer that we take medication and in the end we die from medication,” Ferranti told Delano.