Amy Black suffers from a condition so rare even her doctors couldn’t tell her much about it.
Having battled the illness for four years and suffered “horrible” side effects as a result of her medication, Amy has now turned to a controversial treatment in a bid to lead a normal life — cannabis oil.
At the age of 19, the former Morgan Academy pupil’s life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis.
Affecting one in every 10,000 people in the UK, it causes small patches of red and swollen tissue, called granulomas, to develop in the organs of the body. It usually affects the lungs and skin. There is no cure.
Amy, 23, from Menzieshill, is currently taking co-codamol, amitriptyline and gabapentin but said the drugs have terrible side effects.
Now, the Dundee and Angus College student is taking cannabis oil in her efforts to lead a “normal life.”
Now she has spoken out in support of cannabis oil and called for the drug to be made available free on the NHS.
She said: “I feel this is the first step to getting my life back to the way it was before diagnosis and I was told I’d never feel that way ever again by doctors.
“My family have seen an incredible transformation in me and I believe there is a strong case for this to be medically regulated. From being a fit and healthy teenager I became too unwell to get out of bed was a major shock. Since I’ve started taking these capsules I feel my life is no longer dictated by sarcoidosis.”
Those backing the oil believe the ingredient CBD offers significant health benefits.
Cannabis oil is very low in the psychoactive substance THC, which means that the use of the oil does not create a “high”.
Therefore it does not fall within the drugs classification categories for illegal drugs.
A CBD vaporiser is reportedly being tested by an NHS unit.
Amy has been using the oil capsules since December and said she has seen a reduction in her tremors, sickness and migraines.
When she first became ill, She thought she had suffered an allergic reaction to a tattoo when a rash appeared on her skin.
But Amy was “stunned” when doctors at the dermatology ward at Ninewells diagnosed her with sarcoidosis.
The disease sees her experience painful symptoms — including crippling migraines, tremors and temporary blindness.
Amy said: “I’ve had days where I can’t get out of bed from the pain.
“I lose sight in my left eye, I get crippling migraines, wake up in the night with horrible nerve pain, have regular tremors, difficulty breathing and get raised rashes on my skin.
“I’ve been in and out of hospital for the past four years and been close to heart attacks and seizures, with my body attacking itself.
“I’m taking tablets daily but they have horrible side effects.”
The beauty therapy student was researching alternative medicines to treat her illness and was recommended cannabis oil.
She said the capsules make her feel “normal again”.
She added: “I discussed the option of herbal alternatives with the doctors who were against me using it.
“But having spoken with others I was recommended CBD capsules — I was told people facing long-term diseases were able to stop using other medicines. I’ve been taking the capsules since December and I’ve had no pains, no migraines, no tremors, no sickness, nothing.”
Research is still at an early stage
Cannabis oil is the concentrated, distilled form of the plant mostly commonly known as marijuana.
Brands marketed for medicinal use typically contain CBD, which proponents claim can help people suffering from a range of conditions including arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The cannabinoid CBD does not make people feel “stoned”.
It’s now possible to buy CBD tinctures, oils and ready-to-use vape pens from an ever-growing number of websites in the UK.
Any product containing CBD alone is not illegal. Another cannabinoid — THC — has a psychoactive effect and is the mind-altering substance found in marijuana.
If sellers offer products which contain THC they could find themselves on the wrong side of the law.
Researchers first looked at the anti-cancer properties of cannabinoids back in the 1970s, and hundreds of scientific papers have been published since then.
Some research supports the claim that cannabinoids such as CBD can reduce chemotherapy-related pain and other symptoms such as nausea and vomiting in patients.
Other research has shown cannabinoids can uniquely target and kill cancer cells.
But investigation into the health benefits of cannabinoids including CBD is still at an early stage.
Hundreds of scientists around the world are investigating their potential in treating cancer and other diseases — as well as the harms they can cause — brought together under the blanket organisation The International Cannabinoid Research Society.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While the treatment and prevention of drug problems are devolved to the Scottish Government, policy on the use of controlled drugs is currently reserved to the UK Government.
“All medicinal products must be fully tested and researched before they can be licensed for use in the UK, and the licensing, safety and efficacy of medicines is also currently reserved to the UK Government.”