For today’s Spotlight, we’re sharing an interview with Krystal Laferriere – a born and raised Calgarian, a mom of two boys, a Crohn’s warrior and Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer of Kanabé Goods Co.– a therapeutic cannabis company. Krystal is a self-proclaimed nerd who likes sports statistics, murder documentaries, a fiend for miniature Mars bars, and of course long walks on the beach. Krystal worked in the oil industry for most of her career, but felt somewhat boxed in, as the industry is conservative by nature, which didn’t really align with her beliefs. She first discovered cannabis when she was recovering from surgery due to her Crohn’s disease eight years ago. Krystal felt inspired to enter the cannabis industry because it was ground-breaking, she could get creative, and help people much like herself with wellness-based products.
TGG: When were you diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease?
KL: I was diagnosed in 2010 but struggled with symptoms for a great deal longer than that. Since I was a child I had stomach issues and as I got older they became more and more intense. In my early 20’s it was affecting my life in a major way – I missed out on a lot because of my struggles. By 2009 I had lost so much weight and was unable to eat much of anything. In fact, it got so bad that I was rushing to the emergency room very often because I was throwing up so much that I couldn’t even keep water down. It was making me faint and extremely dehydrated, not to mention the intense pain. I was told over and over that I had a stomach virus, but then it would happen again two weeks later. My kids think its cool I got to ride in an ambulance, but I can confirm its not very cool even the first time, let alone the 4th or 5th time.
TGG: How were you diagnosed?
KL: At this point I was still waiting to see a Gastrointestinal specialist and had been on the waitlist for over a year. My emergency room visits were becoming closer and closer together, and no one knew what was wrong with me. Thanks to a husband who wouldn’t take no for an answer – he pushed the doctors at the emergency room to run additional tests and help me see a GI doc, and it worked. I was soon booked in for a colonoscopy and my small intestine was so inflamed they couldn’t get the scope in. They couldn’t confirm it was Crohn’s but had a strong suspicion. The scope caused some irritation and a few days later I was back in the hospital but this time for a longer stay. They ran CT scans and the whole gamut of tests to confirm the diagnosis of severe fistulising Crohn’s Disease. It was a relief to know what was wrong and how to treat it, but also scary to be diagnosed with a disease that has no cure.
TGG: What types of symptoms were you presenting that made you seek a diagnosis?
KL: I had non-traditional symptoms, so it really threw the doctors for a loop. I had intense cramping pain, fever, chills, and vomiting. No bloody stools typical of Crohn’s disease.
TGG: Do you avoid any specific foods because of your Crohn’s?
KL: Being in remission I find my diet to not be very restrictive at all anymore. But, I still tend to avoid highly processed foods, artificial sugars, spicy foods, and overconsumption of alcohol. I am fully able to tolerate gluten and dairy again…yay for cheese!
TGG: Are you currently on medication for your Crohn’s?
KL: Yes – I have been through ALL of the medications from antibiotics to prednisone to methotrexate but have settled on Remicade. I have been on that for about 8 years now and it is still working, so I’m sticking with it. I cope with symptoms using a high dose of CBD (cannabidiol) oil. I also use THC oil to deal with pain, this is much better for my system than the opioid drugs the doctors prescribe.
TGG: How do you cope day-to-day to reduce your Crohn’s symptoms?
KL: I *try* to have a balanced lifestyle inclusive of a good diet and exercise. I also use cannabis daily, mostly in the form of CBD oil for inflammation and anxiety. From time to time I use THC oil to help me sleep at night, it knocks you right out.
TGG: How often do you have flare-ups?
KL: Flare-ups are getting fewer and far between these days. I think the more you come to understand your body and your disease, you find ways to manage before a massive flare comes on. It can’t always be avoided but now I know the habits that can bring me down a bad path i.e. stress, lack of sleep, bad diet.
TGG: How do you heal yourself during a flare-up?
KL: My number one trick is to increase my dose of CBD oil, it works wonders. I also tend to stick to a mostly liquid diet, use a heating pad and get LOTS of rest.
TGG: What is your pro-tip for living with Crohn’s?
KL: My pro-tip would be don’t let your disease hold you back – you can do anything and everything you want to do but must do it practicing moderation. You have to remember to listen to your body and pull back when necessary.
I would also say that you need to find balance between traditional medicine and just finding what works for you – whether that be supplements, herbal remedies, diets, or if you are like me, cannabis.
TGG: In terms of your Crohn’s, what is one thing you never leave the house without?
KL: Water, a snack and rolaids.
TGG: Could you tell us a bit about Kanabé Goods Co.?
KL: Kanabé Goods Co. was started by my husband and I as a health and wellness company that has cannabis in the products. I used cannabis to cope with my Crohn’s disease but wasn’t a typical user. I felt there wasn’t any brand out there that made me feel comfortable to try – so we worked to build something that is inclusive and not intimidating to new users. The products are topical body oils, sublingual sprays, and capsules that are meant for wellness and exclusive of smoking. Many of the products won’t even get you intoxicated so it is a good way to dip your toe into seeing if cannabis could work for you.
TGG: Why did you start Kanabé Goods Co.?
KL: I wanted to develop products that I personally used based on issues and symptoms I had faced with my Crohn’s disease. The goal was to create something different than what was currently available in the market, creating everyday products in a format that are easy and discreet to use. The main issues I experience with my disease are pain, insomnia and anxiety. There are products that help with each of those issues. I felt if it helps me, it could help someone else too.
TGG: How do you incorporate cannabis into your daily healing routine?
KL: My routine:
Dose of 15mg – 30mg CBD oil in the AM (higher dose depending on symptoms)
Another dose of CBD early evening if I am having symptoms
About 45 minutes before bed I take ~10mg THC oil if I am feeling restless
THC/CBD Body Oil – I use after exercise (especially after a bath or shower when the pores are open for better absorption) or specifically on pain points or for cramping. I also like to use the oil on my neck before bed to relax the muscles. *None of the topicals will make you intoxicatedDisclaimer: This is my personal routine, see a health care practitioner for individual advice.
TGG: For someone who has never used a cannabis product for digestive concerns – which product would you recommend trying first?
KL: 100% the CBD Sublingual Oil. The latest clinical research is showing great promise for CBD with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Anecdotally it helps a wide range of gut disorders, is something you can take every day and it is non-psychoactive.
If you are looking for localized pain relief from cramping pain, then topical body oils are the way to go.
TGG: Anything else you’d like to share?
KL: If you are feeling terrible, the doctors don’t know what to do and nothing is helping…keep trying and keep fighting for your medical care. You are your biggest advocate. I was so bad at times I thought I was going to die, and after a lot of trial and error, moderation, and positivity I was able to pull through and live a normal, healthy, happy life.