Fibromyalgia is a difficult condition to diagnose, but millions of Americans suffer from it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it affects approximately 4 million U.S. adults and is characterised by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep, memory, and mood issues (CDC).
Scientists aren’t sure what causes the condition, but they think it has something to do with how the brain and spinal cord process painful and nonpainful signals. Women are more likely to develop the condition than men, though it can affect both genders.
Because there is no known cure for fibromyalgia, the only option is to manage the symptoms through medication and lifestyle changes. Doctors may prescribe prescription medications or recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, as well as exercises and stress-management techniques, to help patients reduce pain and disability.
These treatment methods, however, do not always work, and some may have unpleasant side effects. Meanwhile, fibromyalgia can cause ongoing issues that impair one’s ability to function at home or at work. According to the Mayo Clinic, the frustration of dealing with this frequently misunderstood condition can lead to depression and health-related anxiety.
As a result, many fibromyalgia patients are wondering if CBD oil can help. After all, it has pain-relieving properties. Could it be a gentler, more effective fibromyalgia treatment?
How CBD Aids in Pain Relief
how cannabidiol (cbd) help with pain relief
We have some evidence that CBD products may be able to help people who are suffering from chronic pain. Though the research is still in its early stages due to the regulatory history of cannabis, animal studies have shown that CBD can alleviate pain by interacting with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system (ECS), as well as helping to relieve inflammation.
The ECS is essential for maintaining homeostasis in the human body. This simply means that it monitors all of our systems, including body temperature, hormone release, heart rate, energy levels, and other factors. When something is “off,” it goes to work restoring things to normal.
The ECS is made up of the following components:
Cannabinoid receptors, which are found on the surface of cells, endocannabinoids, which are small molecules that activate these receptors, and metabolic enzymes that break down endocannabinoids after they have been used
Cannabinoid receptors sit on the surface of cells and “listen” to outside conditions before transmitting information about changing conditions. When homeostasis is maintained, endocannabinoids bind to activate cannabinoid receptors.
Cannabis contains cannabinoids, which are similar to our own natural cannabinoids. These cannabinoids can interact with our cannabinoid receptors and alter various processes in the body, such as pain and inflammation.
CBD, for example, does not appear to bind directly to our cannabinoid receptors but can have an effect on the ECS when combined with other cannabinoids. It can, for example, raise anandamide levels in the body, a natural cannabinoid associated with pain regulation.
Is CBD Oil Beneficial for Fibromyalgia?
There are currently no published human studies on the effects of CBD on fibromyalgia. There are, however, studies looking into the effects of cannabis on the painful condition. (Cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant and contains hundreds of different cannabinoids, whereas CBD is only one type of cannabinoid.)
In a 2009 review, for example, researchers discovered that cannabis-derived compounds acted as analgesic (pain-relieving) agents, though they cautioned that the products’ effectiveness was variable. The scientists did say that because opioids are the only treatment for severe pain and because opioids are addictive, cannabinoids “may provide a much-needed alternative to opioids.”
In a 2011 study, researchers compared 28 fibromyalgia patients who used cannabis to 28 fibromyalgia patients who did not. Patients experienced a significant reduction in pain and stiffness, improved relaxation, and an increase in feelings of well-being after two hours of cannabis use, according to the findings. They also had significantly better mental health than non-users.
A later 2019 study looked at the effects of inhaled cannabis on 20 fibromyalgia patients. Four different cannabis strains were tested, as well as a placebo. Patients who used a combination of CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) experienced a 30% reduction in pain when compared to placebo.
Israeli researchers followed hundreds of people with fibromyalgia for six months in a larger study published the same year. They discovered that cannabis treatment reduced pain intensity and came to the conclusion that medical cannabis “appears to be a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms.”
How Much CBD Should I Use to Treat Fibromyalgia Pain?
There is no recommended dose at this time because there have only been a few small studies on cannabis and fibromyalgia. So far, it appears that products containing both CBD and THC are the most effective against fibromyalgia pain, but future research will likely reveal more about which combinations are best.
We do know that CBD does not have the mind-altering effects that THC does, which is a benefit in many cases. Experiment to see what works best for you, but always start with the lowest dose. It’s also a good idea to work with a doctor who is familiar with cannabis’s effects.
CBD and cannabis can be used to treat fibromyalgia in a variety of ways, including:
Tobacco or vaping: These methods allow you to inhale the active ingredients, which can provide immediate relief. Make sure to purchase pure, high-quality products, as lower-quality items may cause lung damage. People with lung conditions such as asthma or COPD should avoid using this method because it may aggravate their symptoms.
Consumables: These are foods that have been cooked with cannabis. Because they must be digested, they usually take longer to work and are not considered the best option for immediate pain relief.
CBD oil extracts: CBD oil can be directly applied to the painful area. This can provide a specific benefit while having no effect on the rest of the body. You can also put a few drops of CBD oil under your tongue. Cannabinoids are absorbed through the mouth tissues and may provide immediate relief.
Topicals are lotions, …