EastEnders legend Pam St Clement today reveals how she has turned to cannabis… to fix her joints.
The actress, who played TV’s chain-smoking Pat Butcher for 25 years, is taking cannabis-infused oil every day to help her arthritis.
And she says: “It’s wonderful… it has these amazing properties.”
Pam, 75, stunned TV viewers last month by smoking cannabis with nuns and getting high on a bong while filming Gone To Pot: An American Road Trip .
The jaunt opened her eyes to benefits of cannabis-derived remedies and she wants the drug legalised in the UK so it can ease the plight of people like her.
Pam suffers from polymyalgia rheumatica, which causes pain and stiffness in her joints.
She says products containing cannibidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound of marijuana, have “given her a new lease of life”.
CBD was recently reclassified as a legal medicine in the UK and Pam told the Sunday Mirror: “Taking this oil has changed my life. I am no longer in pain.
“My joints are no longer stiff, I sleep better, almost jump out of bed and walk longer distances – all things I could never have dreamed six weeks ago.
“I have suffered with polymyalgia rheumatica for the past 10 years. I just woke up with it one day. Until now the only thing that treats it is steroids, which I’ve become resistant to.
“But Gone To Pot changed my life because when I went to America to find out about how cannabis has been legalised in certain states, I also discovered CBD. And I have to say that it’s absolutely wonderful.
“I didn’t realise cannabis was such a complex plant with these properties which you can get medical help from.”
Pam, who has had a knee replacement, says she swears by her daily dose of “CBD + Oil” which she buys from Holland & Barrett.
She admits: “I am very happy using the drops – ones that are legal. I take them every day under my tongue and they don’t give you a high.
“I was prescribed some in LA but they had THC, which is the hallucinogenic part of marijuana.
“But since I have got back from America I have been taking CBD oil consistently and my limbs feel less stiff and less sore.
“There are things I wasn’t able to do before like carrying shopping, walking long distances and going for country walks. For the first time in years, I feel as if I am walking straight and upright.
“I also use a CBD-infused lotion and I rub it all over my back in the evening. It eases everything for any inflammatory condition.”
In Gone To Pot, Pam and fellow actors Christopher Biggins and Linda Robson, ex-footballer John Fashanu and former darts champ Bobby George travelled the US in a psychedelic-painted bus.
They investigated the benefits and drawbacks of legal recreational and medicinal marijuana.
They attended a hippy party, saw police raid an illegal weed farm and went to a dinner party where marijuana was an ingredient – leaving some of them particularly queasy.
Christopher Biggins ate so much cannabis-infused vanilla ice cream that he was violently ill and had to be carried off the bus to a motel.
Pam, meanwhile, was seen taking a deep drag on a marijuana bong at a “Puff, Pass and Paint” art class – and sharing a joint with Californian nuns who grow cannabis for medicinal purposes.
She admits: “A few minutes after I took my first puff with the nuns I had this lovely relaxed feeling and I was in hysterics after smoking the bong at the art class.”
Pam says she smoked weed in the 1960s but had not taken it since until filming Gone To Pot. Backing calls to legalise cannabis, she cited friends who resorted to illegally growing cannabis to ease symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Pam adds: “I don’t like the hallucinogenic (THC) effects but I do like its healing properties.
“Oxford University are doing research into its medicinal properties and we should hurry up with more research. Then we can sling it at the politicians to see if they will legalise it.”
Gone To Pot has had another desirable effect – in boosting Pam’s street cred. She says, with a smile: “The reaction has been incredible because people have said they laughed, they enjoyed the entertainment and they learned things they didn’t know about before.”
The star – who has spoken about being bisexual in the past – is currently single but says she is fortunate to be spending Christmas with good friends.
She is a longtime supporter of Age UK, whose seasonal “No one should have no one” campaign raises awareness of loneliness.
Pam says: “Being lonely is a health condition and that can really enclose you in a cavern of your own misery. And, unless you have got someone to help you, it can be emotionally isolating.
“It’s also hard when you see the Christmas ads featuring a dinner table with three generations eating happily and it hammers it home to people on their own. Christmas is a time for all of us to be aware of what we can do for others.”
Since quitting EastEnders in 2012 Pam has appeared in BBC1 drama Casualty and is set to reprise her role as patient Sally Hodges in a one-off episode on December 23.
But Pam admits she rarely watches TV herself, least of all EastEnders.
She was last seen as a ghost for Barbara Windsor’s final scenes.
And even Pam realises that any repeat of that might require a substantial hallucinogenic to be credible.