This 16-Year-Old Couldn’t Find Relief for His Arthritis Pain—So He Invented His Own Treatment

When back and joint pain derailed this teen's life, his search for relief led to a remarkable breakthrough—and help for thousands more.

Garret with hemp productCourtesy Uncle Bud's Hemp

At the age of 16, Garrett Greller was a sophomore in high school with big dreams. He was the top singles player on his high school tennis team and he had plans to play in college at Indiana State University. Then he woke up one morning with a dull pain in his knees that wouldn’t go away. The pain would turn out to be a juvenile form of arthritis, and it crushed his tennis dreams. But Greller’s search for relief led him to a solution that’s helped thousands of other sufferers.

When Greller couldn’t practice, his coach suggested he see a doctor. The physician told him it was growing pains—Greller had grown ten inches in less than two years. But the pain only got worse. “I was working at Target at the time. My back, hips, and ankles ached, and it got to the point that I had to quit my job and stop playing tennis. I just wanted to find a solution.”

Greller tried going to physical therapy, wearing ankle and knee braces, and taking ibuprofen: None of it worked. “I went to over ten doctors and had about a dozen MRIs and X-rays before one of them mentioned seeing a rheumatologist. I went and he was able to see some inflammation in my lower back on an MRI. That was when he diagnosed me with juvenile spondyloarthritis.” Juvenile spondyloarthritis is a form of childhood arthritis that mainly affects the spine and lower joints, causing inflammation, stiffness, and pain. Over 50,000 American children are affected by childhood arthritis.

Prescription pain relief was no help either. Some drugs made him nauseous, others gave him a skin reaction. “I tried it all. They wanted to give me opioids, but I didn’t want those chemicals in my body. I tried acupuncture, supplements, and changing my diet, but nothing worked.” If you’re looking for science-backed natural remedies for arthritis, here are 23.

Around this time, Greller saw a documentary on CBD oil—the non-psychoactive form of marijuana—and a light went on: “I told my mom that the people in the documentary had their lives changed from CBD oil, but she wasn’t willing to allow me to try it.” Greller wrote a four-page research paper outlining the proven benefits of the substance—and turned it into his mother. It was enough to convince her; she took him to a marijuana dispensary, and Greller tried a CBD lotion for the first time. “It was a miracle. I couldn’t believe how fast it worked. I went back to before I was 16, I was playing sports again with no braces, and no pain.” The joy was short-lived when Greller realized he couldn’t take his new-found miracle lotion with him to college in Indiana. Greller lives in California; at the time, CBD oil was legal in his home state but not in Indiana. (It has recently been legalized.) Here’s where you can learn more about CBD oil.

“There was no chance I was going back on prescription or over-the-counter drugs that didn’t work. I had to find a way to make our own legal version with hemp oil.” Together with his parents, Greller worked closely with a lab to formulate a similar rub that was made of hemp oil, and not CBD. “The hemp oil worked exactly the same—I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to help others who suffered just like me. I wanted to share it with the world.” He named the product Uncle Bud’s Hemp and began to sell it and grow the business with the help of a vital team. Now 22 years old, Greller is selling Uncle Bud’s Hemp products through big box stores and online retailers country-wide. “The most rewarding thing is the stories and letters I get from consumers who have had their lives changed. It’s not about me but all of the people we’ve helped. When they purchase Uncle Bud’s, they’re not just buying a product, they’re joining a family.” Finding the right pain relief for arthritis is key—but also be sure to avoid the 8 foods that can trigger flareups.

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Jen Babakhan
Jen Babakhan is an author and credentialed educator living in California. She writes regularly about advice and culture for Reader's Digest. She is also the author of Detoured: The Messy, Grace-Filled Journey From Working Professional to Stay-at-Home Mom (Harvest House Publishers, 2019). She earned her BA in Communication Studies from California State University, Stanislaus. You can follow her on Instagram @JenBabakhan , Twitter @JenBabakhan, and Facebook @JenBabakhanauthor.