COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A Midlands Army veteran is finding healing, away from the front lines, after a health crisis ended her 25-year Army career.
Nichole Tavares-Gibbs was told she had a brain condition called Chiari Malformation in 2015.
Chiari Malformation is a structural defect in the part of the brain that controls balance.
“I started with headaches, then it went to problems seeing vision problems, I started having problems swallowing,” Tavares-Gibbs said.
The list of problems went on, and doctors told her she needed brain surgery.
“The surgery had took longer than the doctor anticipated because he said once he opened up my brain it just seemed a lot more crowded than the MRI showed,” Tavares-Gibbs said.
Days continued to pass, yet Tavares-Gibbs says she wasn’t getting better.
It was pain she describes not even a solider could bear.
“I cried, you name it I’ve done it,” Tavares-Gibbs said. I’ve been in very dark places, very dark depressive states, suicidal. So many things all at one time, and it just didn’t feel like anything was getting better.”
Doctors put her on numerous pills. Sometimes taking upwards 28 pills a day.
“I just didn’t get better, I would wake up and my pain was at a 9 or a 10 every day,” Tavares-Gibbs said. “It was taking a toll on me. I had no quality of life.”
That was until year three of seeing her pain management doctor, where she found what she says is a new solution.
“I went in one day and she said listen I’ve been doing some research and I want you to try CBD,” Tavares-Gibbs said.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of several cannabinoids, chemical substances found in cannabis plants.
The primary source of CBD in nature is the hemp plant, a cousin to marijuana.
According to CBD Oil Review, CBD oil from hemp is legal. CBD oil from marijuana is only legal in specific states.
Tavares-Gibbs says she did her own research on CBD and with her doctor's approval, “I bought the oil and after a couple of hours I started to feel comfortable, relaxed, not edgy, anxiety kind of relaxed a little.”
It was a feeling of comfort she said she did not get, from her prior medications.
Fast-forward three months later, she and her friend Latrice Belton opened their own CBD store in the Vista called Infusion 420.
Tavares Gibbs says her results were positive and believes others can benefit from CBD.
While some critics are not comfortable with the idea of CBD products, Tavares Gibbs says there is very little risk.
“You can’t get high from CBD,” Tavares-Gibbs said. “You may not get all your pain gone, but it’s absolutely bearable.”
Tavares-Gibbs tells WIS everything in her store is 100 percent legal, with lab testing reports in the store to prove it.
She says, even though it’s a business, money is secondary to her right now.
“At the end of the day this was available years ago while I was struggling on 28, 23, 25 pills a day and I could have had this and reduced some of the chemicals that I was putting in my body,” Tavares-Gibbs “My standpoint for this store and collectively Latrice and I just want to put the word out there that there are options, it’s natural and it helps.”
Tavares-Gibbs tells WIS she and Belton have tried all the products they sell on their shelves.
“I could speak to everything that’s in here,” Tavares-Gibbs said.
CBD can be used in numerous ways.
Tavares-Gibbs sells oral and topical products, such as food, drinks, gummy candies, oils, creams, shampoos etc.
Infusion 420 is open Tuesday through Sunday, and is located at 620 Gervais St. Suite D. They have been open for 10 weeks.
Click here to read how to How to Choose and Buy the Right Kind of Medical Marijuana for you.