U.S. Army veteran Bryan Fant was a helicopter crewman suffering from service-connected neck and back pain. After 17 years of service and three months in rehab, he was discharged from the Army and on the brink of a downward spiral. He alienated his friends and family, he was suicidal, and he was hospitalized following a seizure derived from overmedication, fatigue, and malnourishment.
He decided to make a change. He quit using pain medication and switched to medicinal cannabis — and yoga.
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Fant says medical cannabis, meditation, and yoga saved his life.
"I was on all these medicines and pretty actively suicidal, you know, in any given week, there was probably three or four nights out of that week where I would sit up all night and make deals with myself to make it to sunrise," he said.
Cannabis changed all that.
Many veterans are actively trying to persuade congress to expand Veterans Affairs research into the benefits of medical marijuana.
"There is currently substantial evidence from a comprehensive study by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academic Press that concludes cannabinoids are effective for treating chronic pain, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, sleep disturbances related to obstructive sleep apnea, multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms, and fibromyalgia –– all of which are prevalent in the veteran population," said Vincent Lawrence, commander-in-chief of Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Cannabis has also been linked to the reduction of opioid abuse as well. According to Lawrence, "states that have legalized medical cannabis have also seen a 15-35 percent decrease in opioid overdose and abuse."
(At the same time, it should be noted that the inhalation of marijuana can cause chronic bronchitis and large airway inflammation — so check out edible or topical alternatives and consult with your doctor.)
Yoga is being increasingly used as a therapeutic treatment, improving conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
Other organizations within the military community are picking up on the healing power of yoga. Team RWB and Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness introduce veterans to yoga and see very positive results.
For Fant, who has been practicing yoga for five years and now teaches in Camp Hill, PA, the combination of yoga and cannabis have drastically reduced his pain and restored his quality of life.
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