How cannabidiol kept Portsmouth man with multiple sclerosis out of a wheelchair
The life Jacob Stray now enjoys is completely different to the one he led a couple of years ago.
Nowadays, he practices yoga and meditation every day, eats clean and uses CBD (cannabidiol) daily.
Jacob, 25, says: ‘I used to be a bit of a lad. If you’d told me years ago that I would now practise yoga and meditation and use holistic therapies, I would have laughed.’
But when Jacob was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018, his perspective on life changed.
Now, he has set up his own business called The Natural Prescription, selling and educating others about natural therapies – specifically CBD – after prescribed medication didn’t help him adjust to his condition.
Jacob, originally from Drayton, Portsmouth, explains: ‘I was out in Australia when they diagnosed me with multiple sclerosis (MS). However, now when my parents and I talk about it, a lot of the symptoms make sense.
‘When I was younger, doctors thought I might have had IBS. I remember when I was 13 and I was doing the paper round, my stomach cramps were so severe I called my dad to pick me up.’
Jacob packed his bags and left for Australia in 2017 on a working holiday visa and he soon started working at a call centre in Sydney.
‘I lived really close to Bondi Beach and was having a great time. I made some good friends and went out a lot,’ says Jacob. ‘I remember while I was working, I liked to stand up on calls and walk around within reason. I remember one day I experienced a weird sensation in my lower back. A few days later, I lost feeling in my arms and legs and they became really numb.
‘It was investigated and the doctors out there said I may be deficient in B12 so they gave me a shot of it and I felt fine. They said it may be MS but they didn’t know.
‘I remember once I woke up feeling very numb. I got in the shower and it was the next day when I realised I burnt my whole back because the water had been too hot. From then on, I had to ask one of my friends to check the water temperature every time before I got in the shower.’
Once he was officially diagnosed with MS in August 2018, Jacob admits he didn’t fully understand the extent of the condition. MS is a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, which occurs when your immune system starts to attack the myelin which protects nerve fibres.
‘I am a very positive person and I would continue to go to work. I would joke about my diagnosis,’ he explains. ‘I deleted all social media and asked my mum and dad not tell anyone at home about my diagnosis. I hated the way I looked.
‘My parents were begging for me to come home or for them to come out. I did eventually go home but now, I feel because I got through that diagnosis by myself, I can literally do anything. It has taken a lot of time to get where I am today.
‘My balance is sometimes not great. I have partial sight in my left eye, still have back spasms and sometimes my arms and legs go numb.
‘But I do not live my life in a wheelchair, like some doctors hinted at.’
After several discouraging trips to neurologists and doctors in Australia and back home in the UK, Jacob started doing his own research into natural remedies.
‘I started looking into natural remedies such as CBD and found it had helped some people with MS by reading about it online,’ explains Jacob.
‘I did use CBD oil a little bit at home and I have read stories of it helping certain cancers.
‘It was illegal in Australia unless you had it through prescription but I would have it sent to me from abroad.’
Derived from the cannabis plant, CBD is a cannabinoid, which is a naturally occurring chemical compound. It is then mixed with a carrier oil (such as hemp), to create CBD oil.
Unlike the drug marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive and therefore will not make you ‘high’.
Alongside using the CBD oil, which Jacob would rub into his joints and drop under his tongue, he started eating a plant-based diet which helped his symptoms.
After a short stint back home in Drayton during the winter of 2018, Jacob returned to Australia for a second time in October 2019.
‘I still had some friends out there and we went to the gym but I was so incredibly weak,’ explains Jacob. ‘I couldn’t pick up a dumbbell. I spoke to one of the trainers there who put me in touch with a doctor from a company called Traditional Chinese Medicine Australia.
‘One of the doctors put me on an incredibly strict programme of acupuncture massage and traditional Chinese teas.
‘During weeks one to four, I had acupuncture massages everyday at 7am, only drank Chinese tea which I hated and learnt about reflexology. Then weeks four to nine, it was acupuncture a few times a week and then weeks nine to 13, only once a week.
‘Afterwards, I felt incredible. I felt after my purpose was to help bring holistic therapies to others because I believed they had helped me so much.’
Jacob started an Instagram account in December 2019, unveiling where he had been and what he had been up to during the previous few years.
‘I started posting about living a holistic lifestyle and in February 2020, I started selling CBD products on The Natural Prescription,’ says Jacob.
The Natural Prescription sells CBD edibles, oils and balms sourced from Colorado, US. ‘We sell balms and oils which can be rubbed on to muscles and joints to relieve pain. But we also have tincture bottles to put a drop under your tongue,’ explains Jacob.
‘I have had people all over the world contact me about the powers of CBD and how it can be used. I have spoken to people suffering with insomnia, ADHD, autism and motor neurone disease who have used it.
‘I use CBD religiously, around four times a day. I have found it has helped my anxiety and sleep. I like being in control of my own health.’
Jacob says CBD may not suit everyone, but he believes it is worth researching alternative natural medicines. ‘I still have bad days. My balance is not good and I can feel my muscles lagging, especially my shoulders and arms,’ he says.
‘But I would tell others who have been diagnosed with MS not to let it define you and don’t let yourself believe that you’re going to end up in a wheelchair. I live my life as normal as possible.’