An Aberdeen woman who has faced a lifelong battle with two severe medical conditions has started a business selling the hemp oil she believes changed her life.
Together with husband Calum, Rebecca Napier launched The Wee Hemp Company out of their Aberdeen home after finding that Cannabidiol (CBD) oil had immense benefits in the treatment of her chronic Crohn’s Disease and Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS).
The company claims its hemp oil provides “cannabis supple-mentation without intoxication”.
Rebecca has suffered with Crohn’s from the age of five and has undergone four major abdominal surgeries – as well as multiple other procedures, medicines and antibiotics.
The disease causes inflammation of the digestive system and can affect any part of the gut.
It most often affects the last part of the small intestine – known as the ileum – or the colon.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhoea and general tiredness and fatigue.
Shortly after being signed off from her job in oil and gas, Rebecca was diagnosed with chronic condition FMS, which causes pain all over the body as well as increased sensitivity to pain, fatigue, muscle stiffness, cognitive impairment and function.
The 34-year-old said: “Pain became my normal. My Crohn’s left me with such immense pain in my limbs I couldn’t walk and my words got jumbled.
“I had experienced terrible cramps in my abdomen and it later turned out that my bowel had become twisted due to scar tissue.
“I was in and out of hospital with bowel obstructions and so in 2009 I had an operation to stretch the narrowing in my bowel. Despite only a 7% chance it could go wrong, I contracted septicaemia and a perforated bowel.
“I lost so much weight that I only weighed five-and-a-half stone after the operation.”
Husband Calum, also 34, said: “It was horrible seeing how she couldn’t get out of bed some days.
“I started looking into alternatives to all the drugs Rebecca was taking, and did some research into CBD oil in its treatment for fibromyalgia after hearing about its use in America.”
Rebecca added: “Finding medication that works for FMS is very much like using antidepressants and painkillers – it’s very much trial and error to see what works. I wanted a more natural and holistic approach so when Calum and my mum came to me with the research into CBD oil I gave it a go.”
CBD is one of the 113 chemical compounds found in cannabis and is legal in the UK.
Using two drops of the oil underneath her tongue twice a day, Rebecca no longer requires medication for either condition and credits the oil for this change.
She said: “When I went back to hospital after having taken the oil for a while the nurses wanted to know what I’d been doing.
“The oil has helped massively – I’m no longer on any medication and I’ll be returning to work in July after 22 months signed off.
“I heard that if you are signed off work for longer than a year you’re more likely to die in general than return, so that says a lot.”
Inspired by the results, the couple decided to start their own company, The Wee Hemp Company, with oils and lotions.
Calum said: “We want to educate people and break the stigma that surrounds CBD oil due to leftover propaganda surrounding cannabis.”
The University of Aberdeen’s Professor Roger Pertwee has conducted research into the pharmacology and the therapeutic potential of chemical compounds in the plant, or cannabinoids, and believes it to be an untapped resource in medicine.
He said: “There is a treasure chest of potential medical uses for cannabinoids and we shouldn’t ignore cannabis.
“Those who self-medicate provide a good source of data but the challenge is when they find a strain that works for them, will they be able to find that particular strain again?”