I Used to Be Ashamed to Use Medical Marijuana to Fight Myasthenia Gravis

Retha De Wet avatar

by Retha De Wet |

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Cannabis is illegal where I live, meaning my first interaction with it was also illegal. I do not pride myself on that fact. Actually, it has been the root of a lot of shame in my past. Finding relief in something that many perceive as a “gateway drug” never quite made it into most of the conversations about my health. Until I started with cyclophosphamide infusions.

I have had 17 of these infusions in total. Cyclophosphamide is an immunosuppressive infusion used to treat refractory myasthenia gravis and some cancers. I received the infusion in the oncology ward. The oncology pharmacist had to mix my medicine cocktail, and the side effects were, among others, hair loss and a weekend of intense vomiting. That is why I just refer to it as “chemo” now. It helped people understand that this infusion was much different than the immunoglobulin infusions I had been receiving in the years prior to chemo. This infusion did not mean that I would be jumping for joy right after discharge from the hospital. On the contrary, I would lock myself in my house for three days until the side effects had subsided and I felt less like death.

Initially, I followed the doctor’s instructions to the core. I took the antiemetics (anti-vomiting medications) as they prescribed, I took the pain meds they suggested, and I did so without question. I wanted to survive this like I had survived my previous obstacles.

Their advice did work, but there were more side effects from these medications. The antiemetic and pain medications made me incredibly constipated. That resulted in a lot of extra pain in my lower back and stomach. After a while, those medications stopped working, too. I’m no pharmacist, but I do not think we were meant to use Zofran (ondansetron) that intensely for two years.

I needed something else. So, I decided to follow the medical cannabis route. I soon discovered an entire community of people who were willing to help make this horrible chemo-filled journey a little less overwhelming. And that is what they did. They provided me with cannabis medicine galore: There were alcohol tinctures, cannabis oil pills and suppositories, edibles infused with cannabis, and even just the usual buds to smoke. The best part about all of this? It worked.

I got rid of my prescribed pain medication and did not bother with Zofran anymore. I could go through the three days of recovery without vomiting or wallowing in pain. It worked. I was ecstatic.

Cannabis allowed me to endure all that is cyclophosphamide and its side effects without dropping out of university. I passed all my subjects despite needing these infusions every four weeks. I know I could not have done that without cannabis.

Now it is almost a year after my last cyclophosphamide infusion, and it seems that it worked, too. I am in better health and responding to cyclosporine. However, cyclosporine brings its own set of side effects. I am still using cannabis to ease the neuropathic pain and appetite loss that I have been experiencing.

There is no shame in going to extreme lengths to feel better, to cope, or just to ease the burdens associated with falling ill. The only person who can judge you is you, and you do not have to. I am doing everything in my power to be able to function like a healthy individual in a society oblivious to the trials faced by those with rare diseases. This “gateway drug” was my gateway to a better life. I will never stop fighting, in any way I can. Life is too beautiful.


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Charles Olsen avatar

Charles Olsen

Dear Retha, your June 29, 2018 article "I Used To Be Ashamed To Use Medical Marijuana To Fight Myasthenia Gravis" struck an accordant note with me. I have been using CBD hemp oil for about 3 months. On my last visit to my neurologist she said that my lab numbers were down from my previous visit. Wowzer! Additionally it has helped lower my blood sugar. As I am also a diabetic that gives me a double wow!! I am also 5 years post back surgery (fusion of L3-L5) ergo a gross amount of pain daily. The CBD pain cream gives me wonderful relief almost immediately. So I refer to it a my trifecta of benefits. :>)

Kimberly avatar


My name is Kimberly Whitaker and I am 50 yrs old... I have had MG foe 37yrs...I am constantly judged for using Cannabis when dr are not giving me proper medical care... what can we do to fight for this to be approved

Martin avatar


My name is Martin... I got diagnosed with mg when I was 45 yo. I use cannabis on a regular basis and I don't take any pharmaceutical drugs for it... My neurologist put me on cortisone and I became a diabetic... Cannabis lowered my bgls.. cannabis is a great medicinal herb.. best thing ever... Put my mg into remission

Cindy Gass avatar

Cindy Gass

I want to try THC for my MG. But have no idea what type or how much to use. I have weak eye muscles, depression,weak arm and legs. Tired all the time. Also leg and foot cramp at night. I take menstion.Do you have any idea of suggestion what to start with?

Nikhil Suman avatar

Nikhil Suman

Hi Cindy,

I am Nikhil and I got diagnosed with MG recently. What I have read online I am sharing with you, cannabis sativa strains are good for managing MG symptoms throughout the day along with your medication. As you are taking mestinon please drink a lot of water, I used to have similar issue and doc suggested this as these meds are diuretic and cause muscle spasms. Coming back to cannabis, for better sleep take an Indica strain. Better sleep , better healing of muscles less tired you. When you wake up walk for 40 mins each day. Do breathing meditation this will help removing stress in your life. Tell yourself each day 1) I will get better 2) My body will heal 3) I can see a better life ahead.
Focus all your energy in getting better. God bless.

olaf avatar


I am 38 have Myasthenia Gravis for over 6 years now. I have been using THC for most of the time. Am on 25-30mg or prednisone for a long time plus cellsept and mestinon every 3 hours.
I haven't found any direct correlation between THC and MG. The other drugs are what keep me going. But THC can be helpful and also hurtful to your situation. It helps me with short term depression, sleep and appetite. Long term THC use will make life seem dull without it.
Too much THC will make one paranoid and cause anxiety. So I would start with small amounts. One problem with THC is, if you smoke, the smoke. It doesn't help with the ease of breathing long term and the munchies are not to be underestimated. Weight gain is also therefore a problem. Any extra weight is really really hard to tolerate with MG and is really hard to lose as well.
I do think balanced use of THC is helpful for the mood and reduces ones anxiety overall and gives one something that makes being stuck on the couch way more enjoyable. It also really helps with sleep.
Don't get to confused with all the hype and all the different strains and so one. There is a difference between THC (that one gets you high) THC-A and CBD(these don't get on high but are relaxing).
Pretty much all THC is the same just comes in different strengths.
I haven't found any to replace my meds I am usually on, THC, CBD, THC-A are no replacement for your regular meds just something to take the edge of. That can make a big difference though.
A regular dose of THC for beginners in edibles is about 5mg here in California. Vaping is also ok, but leads to more use as does smoking it. Make sure you get it from a good clean source. There are a lot of chemicals you don't want in some dirty stuff, especially in concentrates.
I hope that was I bit helpful... All the Best !!!


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