Czar Esterak vividly remembers the day doctors introduced him to medical marijuana. Almost immediately, he recalls, it was “life-changing.” The 21-year-old felt the excruciating pain in his back and legs melt away. And with the pressure on his nerves relieved, medical marijuana had given back what the pain had taken away from Esterak: his ability to walk.
Add Another to the List
Restrictions on the research and study of medical cannabis are being loosened across the country. And that allows scientists and doctors to find more and more uses for the drug. So far, cannabis has tackled some of the toughest diseases to treat.
The neuroprotective powers of the cannabinoid CBD can reduce seizures for people with epilepsy and improve the lives of individuals with autism. And the non-addictive anti-inflammatory effects of cannabis make it one of the safest pain relievers around.
However, the case of Czar Esterak is a first for medical marijuana. And this means it’s time to add another disease to the list of ailments that medical marijuana can treat.
That condition is called Ankylosing Spondylitis, a form of arthritis. It’s a rare disease and one that in its worst form causes a person’s backbones to fuse. When the vertebrae fuse or smash into each other, the pain is so intense that it makes it difficult, if not impossible, to walk.
Medical Marijuana Gave Czar Esterak His Legs Back
It had taken years before Czar Esterak was exposed to the possibility of using medical cannabis to treat his pain. At first, doctors were reluctant to diagnose him with the disease at all. They wanted to chalk up Esterak’s pain to “growing pains.” After all, Esterak began experiencing the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis at the age of 10.
When the pain continued past puberty, the Esterak family realized the issue wasn’t growing pains, but a serious and rare disease.
But at first, Esterak began taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. Those pills worked for a few years. But as Esterak began to build up a tolerance, ibuprofen was less and less effective. When Esterak turned 19, doctors diagnosed him with the disease that medical cannabis would save him from.
Right about the age of 19, Esterak’s pain got worse. Soon, he lost his ability to walk. He couldn’t find any relief. Until that is, he experimented with medical cannabis.
Pain-Free and Walking Again
Since turning to medical marijuana, Esterak lives the most pain-free life he has ever known. It’s safe to say that cannabis is a centerpiece of his life now. Not only can Esterak walk again, but he also works as a bud-tender in weed-legal Washington state.
But it took some time to figure out the right dosage. At first, Esterak tried several different strains, including sativas, indicas, and hybrids.
The “Sativas, honestly, didn’t affect me at all,” Esterak explains. “I would still be in pain, but just be high. So I use mostly indica-dominant strains. And these would relieve the pain in my back.” It’s important to know what strains of medical marijuana are most useful for specific diseases.