Fibromyalgia is a painful condition that sparks the onset of other symptoms, including fatigue and insomnia. It has a dramatic negative impact on quality of life, and it is known to impact anywhere from 6 to 12 million Americans. At least 80% of people diagnosed with the condition are female, and if you are a woman with a family history of fibromyalgia, you’re at an even greater 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.
If you have fibromyalgia, you will be hospitalized every three years on average, and up to 40% of people living with the condition are forced to change jobs. With all of these problems, it is no wonder that adults with fibromyalgia are over three times more likely to suffer from major depression than are people without the condition.
Although there is a wide range of prescription drugs available, their efficacy ranges from moderate to useless, and their side effects are potentially as bad as the symptoms of fibromyalgia itself. If you have this condition and are in a state of despair, read on because CBD could be the three best letters you hear in your lifetime.
What is CBD?
Short for Cannabidiol, CBD is one of over 100 identified cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. While most people are familiar with THC, CBD is very different 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, as long as the concoction contains 0.3% or less of THC.
How 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 fibromyalgia is likely to be caused by issues in the nervous system, CBD’s effects on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) are exciting, to say the least. The ECS is a complicated network of chemicals and receptors and when the system is working well, it regulates pain, inflammation, appetite, sleep, reproduction, and mood. Given that it influences so many aspects of homeostasis, research has shown that excess and reduced endocannabinoid levels are possibly the cause of certain medical conditions.
According to Dr. Ethan Russo, for example, Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency is a possible explanation for fibromyalgia and other nervous system issues. Russo says that insufficient cannabinoids could result in certain disorders in much the same way that neurotransmitter deficiencies are the likely causes of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
In a 2008 study on fibromyalgia patients, it was found that they had elevated plasma levels of anandamide, otherwise known as “the bliss molecule,” and 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 an invasive process which involves taking tissue samples or asking patients to agree to lumbar punctures. Also, endocannabinoids are broken 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
A 2009 study looked at the effect of CBD for neuropathic pain, and it found that cannabidiol was a useful analgesic: “rational use of cannabis-based medications deserves serious consideration to alleviate the suffering of patients due to severe pain.”
Additionally, a scientific paper published in 2011 reviewed the effect of cannabinoids on chronic non-cancer pain. Overall, it found that in 15 of the 18 trials it reviewed, there was a “significant analgesic effect of cannabinoid as compared with placebo, and several reported significant improvements in sleep.”
Moreover, in 2011, a questionnaire-based study compared fibromyalgia patients who used cannabis to those who didn’t, and it was determined that those who consumed weed enjoyed a noticeable reduction in pain and stiffness, along with an increased sense of well-being. Similarly the National Pain Foundation surveyed over 1,300 people with fibromyalgia back in 2014, and 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.
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 no known 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 depending on the strength of the CBD oil you use, and the severity of your conditions, the efficacy of the oil may be impacted. If you want a safe, reliable and effective way to tackle your fibromyalgia symptoms, toss your painkillers in the bin and embrace CBD.
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