CBD Oil for Fibromyalgia: Understanding the Benefits

Fibromyalgia is a painful condition that can spark the onset of other symptoms, including fatigue and insomnia. It has a dramatic negative impact on quality of life. Estimates vary, but it may impact anywhere from 3% to 6% of the world’s population. Approximately 10 million Americans live with the condition.

Furthermore, at least 80% of people diagnosed with the condition are female. If you are a woman with a family history of fibromyalgia, you’re at an even higher risk. While the underlying cause of the disorder is unknown, defects in the central nervous system are the most likely culprit.

Symptoms of the condition include:

  • Jaw & facial tenderness that could lead to TMJ disorder symptoms.
  • Sensitivity to bright lights, noise, medications, and certain foods.
  • Constant headaches and migraines.
  • Widespread pain. It is often described as a dull pain that lasts for at least three months.
  • It is normal to wake up and still feel exhausted. In other cases, pain interrupts sleep regularly.

People use the term ‘fibro fog’ to describe the cognitive difficulties experienced. People living with the condition find it hard to pay attention or focus on mental tasks.

Fibromyalgia Risk Factors & Outlook

At present, doctors don’t know what causes the condition. It is likely a combination of factors. We know the disease runs in families. As a result, genetic mutations may make you more susceptible to developing the illness. Physical trauma or certain infections also potentially contribute. Individuals with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis, are at higher risk than the general population.

Researchers now believe that the brains of people with fibromyalgia change due to repeated nerve stimulation. This alteration causes an abnormal increase in the levels of chemicals in the brain that signal pain. The brain’s pain receptors could also develop a ‘memory’ pain. As a result, they become more sensitive and overreact to pain signals.

If you have fibromyalgia, you will be hospitalized every three years on average.

Up to 40% of people living with the condition are forced to change jobs. It is no wonder that adults with fibromyalgia are over three times more likely to suffer from major depression than people without the condition.

Although there is a wide range of prescription drugs available, their efficacy ranges from moderate to useless. Also, their side effects are potentially as adverse as the symptoms of fibromyalgia itself. If you have this condition and are in a state of despair, read on to learn more about CBD.

The Short Definition of CBD

Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of over 100 identified cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. CBD is very different from THC insofar as it is non-intoxicating. You can use as much of it as you like and never get high. That’s why CBD taken from industrial hemp is legal in most states. The main criterion is that the product contains 0.3% or less of THC.

Does CBD for Fibromyalgia Relieve Symptoms?

As of right now, there is no cure for fibromyalgia, which is classified as a chronic pain disorder. As well as hitting sufferers with crippling musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia causes severe fatigue and cognitive problems. Over the last few years, though, research has shown that CBD is capable of easing both chronic pain and inflammation.

As issues in the nervous system likely cause fibromyalgia, CBD’s effects on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) are potentially exciting. The ECS is a complicated network of chemicals and receptors. When the system is working well, it regulates pain, inflammation, appetite, sleep, reproduction, and mood.

It now seems as if cannabinoids influence various aspects of homeostasis. Research shows that heightened and reduced endocannabinoid levels could cause specific medical issues.

According to Dr. Ethan Russo, ‘clinical endocannabinoid deficiency‘ is a possible explanation for fibromyalgia and other nervous system issues. Russo says that insufficient cannabinoids could result in certain disorders. It happens in much the same way that neurotransmitter deficiencies are the likely causes of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Kaufmann et al. had a study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology in June 2008. The researchers analyzed 22 fibromyalgia patients. The team found that the patients had elevated plasma levels of anandamide, otherwise known as ‘the bliss molecule.’ They also had higher than normal levels of norepinephrine, which is known as the ‘stress hormone.’ Ideally, researchers could check the endocannabinoid levels of individuals with fibromyalgia and other conditions.

However, this invasive process involves taking tissue samples or asking patients to agree to lumbar punctures. Also, endocannabinoids break down rapidly in the body after being produced locally. As a result, it is also impossible to get an accurate reading.

Further Research on CBD & Fibromyalgia

Elikkottil et al. had a study published in the Journal of Opioid Management in November 2009. It looked at the effect of CBD for neuropathic pain, and it found that cannabidiol was a useful analgesic. According to the researchers: “rational use of cannabis-based medications deserves serious consideration to alleviate the suffering of patients due to severe pain.”

Additionally, a scientific paper by Lynch and Campbell, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in November 2011, reviewed the effect of cannabinoids on chronic non-cancer pain. Overall, it found that in 15 of the 18 trials it evaluated, there was a “significant analgesic effect of cannabinoid as compared with placebo, and several reported significant improvements in sleep.”

In 2011, a questionnaire-based study compared fibromyalgia patients who used cannabis to those who didn’t. It determined that those who consumed weed enjoyed a noticeable reduction in pain and stiffness. They also benefited from an increased sense of well-being.

Similarly, the National Pain Foundation surveyed over 1,300 people with fibromyalgia back in 2014. It discovered that medical marijuana was more effective than any of the three drugs approved by the FDA. Here is how weed compared:

  • Cymbalta: 60% said it was useless, 32% said it helped a little, and only 8% said it helped a lot.
  • Lyrica: 61% said it was useless, 29% said it helped a little, and only 10% said it helped a lot.
  • Savella: 68% said it was useless, 22% said it helped a little, and only 10% said it helped a lot.
  • Marijuana: 5% said it was useless, 33% said it helped a little, and 62% said it helped a lot.

As you can see, weed is a big winner here, with 95% of fibromyalgia patients saying it either helped a lot or at least a little.

What Do Recent Studies Say?

After a hiatus of several years, researchers finally began looking into marijuana’s impact on fibromyalgia. A study by Stensson et al., published in The Journal of Pain in November 2018, found something interesting. It attempted to see the relationship of endocannabinoidome lipid mediators with pain and psychological distress in women with the condition.

The study involved 104 women with fibromyalgia and 116 healthy people. Each participant rated their existing anxiety, pain, depression, and health status. Ultimately, the researchers found that fibromyalgia is associated with increased blood levels of cannabinoids.

A study by Yassin et al., published in Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology in January 2019, studied the effect of weed on low-back pain related to fibromyalgia. There were 31 volunteers in the observational cross-over study. The researchers began by giving patients three months of standardized analgesic therapy. This included drugs such as oxycodone and naloxone hydrochloride.

Next, patients were allowed to opt for six months of marijuana treatment. Overall, the addition of MMJ provided a significant improvement in the pain experienced by the patients.

Final Thoughts on CBD & Fibromyalgia

It should go without saying that it is time for a greater level of research into CBD’s effect on fibromyalgia symptoms. The federally illegal status of marijuana makes it tough to study effectively, but CBD does mostly come from industrial hemp, which is not as strictly regulated as high-THC marijuana.

Aside from the growing body of medical evidence, though, it is no secret that the sheer scale of anecdotal evidence is staggering.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that CBD oil is legal in most states as long as it comes from hemp. Moreover it is significantly cheaper than pharmaceutical drugs in the long run, it doesn’t get you high, and it has minimal side effects. You can’t overdose on it, and CBD starts to work on your pain symptoms incredibly quickly — what’s not to like about it?

And lastly, it is normal for CBD users with fibromyalgia to experience a huge reduction in pain and fatigue within 24 hours. It usually takes effect within three doses, although the strength of the CBD oil you use, and the severity of your conditions will impact the efficacy of the oil. If you want a safe, reliable and effective way to tackle your fibromyalgia symptoms, toss your painkillers in the bin and embrace CBD.

This article is for informational purposes and not intended to diagnose or treat any medical conditions. Always consult a physician before using CBD for fibromyalgia or any other reason. 

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