Benefits of Using CBD For Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Why do Fibromyalgia Sufferers use CBD? Effects, Benefits, Research, Science & More:
Introduction to CBD For Fibromyalgia
Many people that deal with complex, hard-to-treat conditions like fibromyalgia are turning to CBD in hopes of finding some relief.
Fibromyalgia is a poorly understood condition which causes a host of potentially disabling symptoms including chronic pain, sleep disturbance, mental “fogginess” and more. While CBD is not a cure for fibromyalgia, there’s some evidence that this natural compound found in hemp and cannabis can ease some symptoms.
Today, thousands of people with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia have tried CBD, and many take it every day. In this article, we’ll look at a bit of the science behind both CBD and fibromyalgia, including a provocative theory which links fibromyalgia with other conditions that respond to cannabinoids.
If you’re here, you probably know about CBD, the very popular supplement made from hemp. CBD is just one of dozens of compounds found in the hemp plant called cannabinoids. To date, scientists have identified well over 100 cannabinoids in the hemp plant.
Fibromyalgia is a complex, painful and poorly understood chronic illness that can be disabling for sufferers.
What is fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia is a complex, painful and poorly understood chronic illness that can be disabling for sufferers. (1)
While fibromyalgia can cause different symptoms in different people, the primary symptoms include intense and hard to treat muscle pain, overwhelming fatigue, and sleep disturbances. People with fibromyalgia often have areas of their body which are consistently tender or sore, even if they haven’t been working out or overusing those muscle groups. Fibromyalgia is most common in women, but people of all genders can suffer from fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia frequently causes painful periods in people who have menstrual cycles.
In addition, sufferers describe a symptom known as “fibro fog,” where it becomes hard to concentrate. Symptoms may ease and then dramatically worsen, which sufferers refer to as a “flare.” People with fibromyalgia often also suffer from anxiety and depression, though these are common side effects of almost any lingering, painful condition. Since fibromyalgia causes mental confusion in addition to an intense lack of energy, it’s often linked to chronic fatigue syndrome. (2)
The causes of fibromyalgia aren’t well understood. Many people suffer from an initial illness, such as the flu, pneumonia, or other infections (including COVID-19) then later present symptoms of fibromyalgia. Researchers think intense stress and physical or mental trauma may also cause fibromyalgia. A genetic link is suspected, but not yet proven.
One avenue of future research into fibromyalgia is a neurotransmitter called “Substance P.” This brain chemical, found primarily in the spinal column, seems to be linked to the body’s response to injury. People with fibromyalgia may have higher than normal levels of Substance P, all the time, even when they haven’t received an injury.
Can CBD help with symptoms of fibromyalgia?
Surveys of CBD users consistently show that people seek out this supplement to help with chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia.
“Based on these results,” the researchers wrote, “we believe further investigation is warranted to see if CBD-containing products should have a more prominent role in the treatment of acute and chronic pain.”
There are lots of studies looking at how CBD can help individual symptoms of fibromyalgia, but there aren’t many rigorous studies looking specifically at CBD and fibromyalgia. The initial evidence is very promising, and research is ongoing, according to a survey of existing fibromyalgia research published by Best Practice & Research Clinical Anaesthesiology in September 2020.
“Evidence supporting cannabis in chronic pain conditions is plentiful; however, in fibromyalgia, they are mostly limited,” the authors noted. But they added, “many retrospective trials and patient surveys suggest the significant alleviation of pain, improvement in sleep, and abatement of associated symptoms.”
People who have fibromyalgia frequently report that CBD reduces pain, helps them fall asleep faster and get more restful sleep, and can even reduce other troubling symptoms like anxiety, lack of focus, muscle spasms and more.
In one anecdotal report submitted anonymously to project CBD, a 72-year old woman reported that CBD helped her reduce fibromyalgia pain while weaning herself from prescription opioids. The woman used homemade CBD she created using olive oil and hemp flower, and also juiced raw cannabis leaves.
What about other cannabinoids? Can THC or CBG help fibromyalgia?
There’s also research and lots of anecdotal evidence that THC, the active ingredient in cannabis that makes people feel high, can help people with fibromyalgia, particularly when it’s combined with CBD. This is known as the entourage effect, where multiple compounds (or “cannabinoids”) in the plant work better together.
Medical cannabis appears to be a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms.” – Journal of Clinical Medicine (2019)
For example, a study published in 2020 by Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology looked at 100 people with fibromyalgia who were already taking pharmaceutical drugs but still suffering from intense pain. The study used a tincture that had roughly equal parts CBD and THC. 47 of the participants reported that the tincture helped significantly enough to cut back on the use of pharmaceuticals.
“Given the intensity of the drugs people were already taking, it was astounding to find that half of patients (47%) got enough relief from cannabis to reduce or cease their painkiller usage,” noted Adrian Devitt-Lee, a writer at Project CBD.
In another study, published in 2019 in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, researchers in Israel gave medical cannabis to 367 fibromyalgia patients. They asked participants to rate their pain on a scale of 0-10. At the start of the study, they all reported pain in the severe (8-10 range). After 6 months, most reported their pain had reduced to around a 5.
“Medical cannabis appears to be a safe and effective alternative for the treatment of fibromyalgia symptoms,” the researchers concluded.
People with fibromyalgia may also benefit from CBG-rich products. Scientists believe CBG may activate some of the same receptors in our nervous system as THC but without causing the stoned feelings brought on by THC.
Chronic Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome: Theory links fibromyalgia, epilepsy, IBS, migraine and more
There’s an intriguing but not yet proven theory that links fibromyalgia to other conditions that respond to hemp and cannabis.
People with fibromyalgia consistently report that CBD, THC and other cannabinoids help them feel relief of symptoms. That’s also true of people with other difficult to treat conditions like epilepsy, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and migraine headaches. In 2004, this led neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo to theorize that there could be a common cause, which he called Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome (CEDS).
Our bodies produce natural compounds, called endocannabinoids, which are similar to those found in cannabis and hemp. Scientists know that CBD, THC and other plant compounds (or “phytocannabinoids”) work by activating some of the same receptors in our “endocannabinoid systems,” a unique part of our nervous system.
Russo thought that people suffering from all of these conditions could actually be suffering from a chronic imbalance in their natural endocannabinoids.
Russo revisited CEDS in a 2016 article for Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, where he gathered over 10 years of evidence which suggests there could be a link between these diverse conditions and imbalances in the endocannabinoid system. However, he also warned that the research is far from conclusive, and that “contradictory findings are not only possible but also common” due to the complexity of the topic.
One lingering problem? We’re still unable to effectively measure the levels of cannabinoids (and neurotransmitters like Substance P) without performing a spinal tap, a painful procedure that very few people are willing to undergo in the name of scientific research.
If conditions like fibromyalgia and IBS really are linked, there could also be a common cause in the human gut microbiome. Cannabinoid receptors abound in our digestive tracts, and could be closely linked to these beneficial bacteria, and our overall health.
Living with fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia is a painful and challenging condition that does not have easy answers. Although some relatively new non-opioid prescription drugs can help, there are no cures. Even for people who report incredible benefits from cannabis, it typically does not completely eliminate the pain or the occasional worsening of symptoms caused by flare ups.
In general, a hybrid approach can be the most beneficial. People often report that a combination including conventional Western medicine, cannabinoids like THC and CBD, careful exercise or physical therapy, and even lifestyle changes, can offer the most long-term relief. When it comes to CBD, consumers report relief from the supplement in almost every form, from CBD oil to topicals.
With a challenging condition like fibromyalgia, patience and self-care are always key. Whatever works best for you, we hope you can find the perfect regimen that helps you feel better.
Absolute Nature CBD offers discounts for people with disabilities like fibromyalgia. Find out more about our CBD Assistance program.
If you’re curious to learn how CBD could help, we hope you’ll give us a try. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Absolute Nature customer service if you have any questions about using our products.
Writer: Kit O’Connell is a writer and journalist with fibromyalgia from Austin, Texas. His work has also appeared in Yes! Magazine, the Texas Observer, and elsewhere. He served as Editor in Chief of the Ministry of Hemp from 2017 until 2021
Common FAQ’s for CBD for Fibromyalgia
Early studies and anecdotal evidence from patients are promising and indicate that CBD oil, particularly full-spectrum CBD, may reduce pain and inflammation, which may help aleviate the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Unfortunately at this time, there are few studies looking into the dosages required for illnesses like fibromyalgia. Due to FDA restrictions we are also unable to give any advice on dosage or our products effectiveness if used for any medical condition.
As with OTC medications, there are many variables and each person will respond differently.
CBD topicals may help with localized relief in some cases. Many users report that warming sensation topical salves alleviate discomfort. As with all CBD products, and medications, everybody responds differently. We can’t advise you on our products due to legal restrictions.