People suffering from fibromyalgia are finding that cannabis works for treating their symptoms, often with less negative side effects than prescription medications.
What is Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disease characterized by symptoms of chronic pain, insomnia, migraines, fatigue, joint pain, and irritable bowel issues.
People with fibromyalgia suffer from an increased sensitivity to pain. This is thought to be caused by an abnormal functioning of pain signals in the central nervous system.
Commonly used treatments for fibromyalgia are pain relievers like NSAIDs and opioids, muscle relaxants, and sleep aids.
Some patients are instead opting for CBD and THC products to treat their fibromyalgia. They are finding that cannabis products are safer and have fewer side effects than the prescription medications they were previously using.
Why does CBD work for fibromyalgia?
While more data is needed to confirm this theory, it is thought that fibromyalgia is one of the conditions caused by an endocannabinoid deficiency or dysregulation.
An endocannabinoid deficiency/dysregulation is when a person has a poorly functioning endocannabinoid system. This results from having abnormal levels of endocannabinoids.
If a person’s body doesn’t produce a sufficient amount of endocannabinoids, they will be more sensitive to pain. Endocannabinoids are neuro-modulators and they regulate our perception of pain. Without a sufficient supply of endocannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system cannot properly do its job of maintaining balance in the body — and thus people with fibromyalgia experience more pain than what is usual.
CBD can potentially help our endocannabinoid system. CBD interferes with the body’s natural process of breaking down endocannabinoids. This is a good thing – supplementing with CBD can increase our levels of endocannabinoids and take care of the deficiency a person may have.
What are the effects of using CBD for fibromyalgia?
People using cannabis medicine for fibromyalgia are reporting the following benefits:
- Improved mood
- Pain relief
- Improved sleep
- Less inflammation
- Reduction or cessation of prescription medication and henceforth a decrease in negative side effects
What are the side effects of using CBD for fibromyalgia?
Generally, CBD has few side effects. However, it can be sedating for some people, especially if it is used in high doses. Some people have reported upset stomach and diarrhea to be additional side effects.
Always start with a low dose if you are new to CBD and work your way up. It’s a good idea to take CBD the first few times in the comfort of your home, when you do not have to drive, in case you do experience some negative side effects.
How should I use CBD for fibromyalgia?
People with fibromyalgia symptoms are finding the best delivery methods to be vaporizing or sublingual tinctures because of the speed of the effects from these methods.
CBD dominant products, THC dominant products, and a combination of CBD/THC products are all useful for helping with fibromyalgia. When used in combination, THC and CBD have been found to be particularly effective for pain relief.
If you are completely new to using cannabis, it’s always best to start with a CBD dominant product as it will be non-intoxicating and less likely to cause side effects.
5 – 10 mg of CBD is a good, low dose to start with. Increase the dose as needed until you reach the desired effect. Always speak with a doctor before using CBD, especially if you already take other medications. CBD can cause drug interactions.
What terpenes are good for helping with fibromyalgia?
The properties of certain terpenes are useful for helping with fibromyalgia symptoms. These terpenes work synergistically with CBD. Try to find products with lab results that show higher amounts of these terpenes:
- B-caryophyllene – anti-inflammatory and pain relieving
- Pinene – anti-inflammatory
- Linalool – Pain relieving and relaxing
What does the research have to say about cannabinoids and fibromyalgia?
- In one study, a small group of people with fibromyalgia received only THC and no other pain medications. The patients reported a significant reduction in daily recorded pain.
- Dr. Russo wrote multiple articles on the theory of clinical endocannabinoid deficiency. The theory is that some common conditions like fibromyalgia, migraines, and irritable bowel syndrome may be caused by a deficiency of endocannabinoids in the body. You can find them in the list of references below.
Schley, M., et al. Delta-9-THC based monotherapy in fibromyalgia patients on experimentally induced pain, axon, reflex flare, and pain relief. Current Medical Research and Opinion (2006) 22: 1269 -1276